Hello and welcome, readers! All of us here at Ultraman Connection hope you enjoyed your holidays, ate lots of good food, and had a nice break from work! You know who else desperately needs a break? Captain Gento of the SKaRD team! When episode 23, “Visitor 99” starts up, we learn that he’s been running himself ragged. It’s understandable, considering his dual duties as captain and as Ultraman Blazar, and the sheer number of Kaiju attacks back-to-back in such a short period of time. At this point, his condition has deteriorated so much that Blazar himself takes control of his body again – to knock him out cold!
It was the wake-up call Gento needed though, especially when the GGF’s medical examination reveals some unpleasant new information. He’s been suffering nasty side effects from transforming to fight as Ultraman so many times without resting. The doctor describes his symptoms – loss of bone density and muscle atrophy – as “pushing your body too far”, which makes sense. I can only imagine the punishing toll required to provide the energy needed to fight as Ultraman for such a long period of time without giving his body time to catch up.
Gento’s also not the first Ultraman protagonist to face this dilemma in the franchise. Ultraseven and Ultraman Mebius both set up their finale arcs in similar ways, by showing the immense physical strain of fighting against stronger and stronger enemies. In all of these cases, and now in Blazar, the question is clear: will their responsibility to protect all the lives on Earth eventually cost them their own?
Of course, Captain Gento isn’t alone in this fight – even if he needs reminding of that fact periodically. The rest of the SKaRD team makes sure he stays behind at their command post when the team is mobilized against a swarm of Taganulars.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen these bug Kaiju in the show, but you probably remember that they love slurping up teaterium, a powerful energy resource. Unfortunately for SKaRD – and the rest of us – its dietary habits aren’t just a pesky nuisance to the energy industry. Taganular’s metabolism poses the risk of causing a runaway fusion reaction. In episode 3, that energy was released as an energy beam into space, but everyone fears for the worst when even more of them appear around the globe!
And that’s not the only threat the SKaRD team has to worry about either. Emi finds some worrying observations from one of her contacts, an amateur astronomer. He spotted something big on its way to Earth, following the same trajectory as the previous “Space Kaiju” like Bazanga and Gebalga. Could this be the feared arrival of the “Third Wave” predicted by the GGF?
Meanwhile, yet another Taganular appears halfway around the world, in Nevada! Gento rushes out, digging deep to find the strength to transform and fight again as Ultraman Blazar, in order to stop it in time. Even though Gento swore to his team – and to Blazar himself – to rest when he needed it, It seems like the universe is conspiring to overwhelm our heroes. There’s just so many things going wrong all at the same time, now that the “Third Wave” is arriving right on top of dramatically escalating Kaiju threats on Earth!
Or…. perhaps it’s not a coincidence after all?
There’s been a few running themes throughout Ultraman Blazar, defining the conflicts and challenges our main characters face, and how they choose to respond to those challenges in turn. Many times during this series, we’ve seen the SKaRD team and their actions in contrast against the GGF as a whole, particularly in how they respond to Kaiju. For the GGF, they are always something to be destroyed with extreme prejudice, out of fear for what might happen if they are left alone. In the mind of the GGF’s commanders, that fear of the unknown justifies these extreme responses, the cost of collateral damage, and – let’s not forget – the destruction of these living creatures themselves.
Yes, that in and of itself, is also a cost.
Vice Captain Teruaki is perhaps the one member of SKaRD who best understands that cost. In many episodes, we’ve seen him agonize over the loss of biodiversity which results from their operations against Kaiju. He also was the only member of SKaRD to consider this destruction of the natural order when trying to convince Professor Yokomine to help them stop Nijikagachi. It very clearly pains him when the duties of his position in SKaRD necessarily demand the deaths of Kaiju, even when those Kaiju threaten his own hometown community!
So, why does Teruaki care so much about these natural ecosystems? Does he think Kaiju are cute? I certainly don’t think so, but hey, as the saying goes, “There’s no accounting for taste…” Anyways, regardless of aesthetics, the ecosystem around us isn’t just about what seems “nice” or “cute”. The Kaiju from Earth we’ve seen in the show all have some sort of natural niche which they serve. Even the terrifying Mogusion from episode 16 typically uses those terror-inducing visions to hunt as an apex predator. The Zugugan insects from episode 20 – which threatened Teruaki’s family farm – also were thought to live harmlessly underground in normal circumstances.
In both cases, and in many others throughout Blazar, these threats were only brought into conflict against humanity after other stressors forced them to the surface, and into inhabited regions of the Earth. Some Kaiju threats were even the direct result of human action, like the abyssal Kaiju Gedos. It left the ocean to attack fish processing plants on land, in search of food after its usual habitat was depleted by overfishing.
To summarize a much longer thesis, Teruaki recognizes that Kaiju (the Earth-bound ones, at least) don’t attack human civilization without a reason according to their natural impulses. This point might seem blatantly obvious in hindsight, but nobody seemed to consider it in relation to one weird, unexplained incident way back in the third episode.
Why did Taganular use the teatrium energy to shoot a beam into space? It was almost a comedic moment in that episode, a belch of titanic proportions, and a relief from the nuclear explosion that everyone anticipated. However, just like the appearance of multiple waves of Kaiju all over the Earth at this critical moment, that beam was no coincidental accident. Taganular was responding to something in its environment, according to its natural instincts, the same as any other creature on this planet.
In this episode, we finally learn what that stimulus was – the arrival of Gebalga, the Second Wave.
All the Taganulars appearing now, twenty episodes later, are responding to the same threat, the Third Wave on its way to Earth. It’s just too bad that nobody else other than Teruaki connects the dots until after GGF’s commanders send the order to fire thermobaric warheads at the poor Kaiju.
If the GGF commanders were more experienced with the history of the Ultraman franchise, they might have realized what was happening. This plot twist is very similar to something that happens in Ultraman Gaia, which is an appropriate homage considering the show is celebrating its 25th anniversary! In the final few episodes of Gaia, the Earth was almost consumed by an attack from extraterrestrial threats, which completely enshrouded the planet. At this moment, when all hope seemed to be lost, many of the Kaiju from previous episodes reappeared. They all rose up together, to break through that cloud of darkness, and fight back against the aliens which threatened all life on Earth.
The efforts of those Kaiju, alongside the courage and hope of humanity – and of course, the power of Ultraman with them – all were needed to overcome the “Radical Destruction Bringer” and save the planet. In the modern day, during this episode of Ultraman Blazar, the members of the SKaRD team, along with Ultraman himself, all make a single, crucial choice that will determine the course of the show’s final battle. They unanimously decide to protect the Taganulars from GGF’s missiles, and allow them to fire off their beams.
Unfortunately, the beams aren’t enough to destroy the oncoming threat, and one has to wonder if things might’ve turned out differently if all the Taganulars were allowed to survive before this point. Regardless, they do enough damage to force the Space Kaiju off course, and it crashes onto the moon, instead of directly impacting the Earth itself.
Even more unfortunately, the Space Kaiju reflected the beams back to the Earth, and destroyed the heroic Taganulars in two massive fireballs.
Rest in peace, you magnificent bug buddies, I salute you, and will be sure to honor your sacrifice in the new year.
Now, the stage is set for the final two episodes of Ultraman Blazar. The greatest existential threat against the Earth since the K-T impact event has crash-landed on the lunar surface. Captain Gento is on the brink of death, and risks his life every time he transforms to fight as Ultraman now. The rest of SKaRD is facing reprisal from the GGF command for their direct insubordination. Can things get worse at this point? Should I even ask?
Things might seem hopelessly dire now, readers. But never fear! You’ll just have to stay tuned right here to Ultraman Connection to find out what happens next.