What are you afraid of, readers? What’s the worst that could happen?
After last week’s episode of Ultraman Blazar, I’m sure many of you were fearing for the worst, as our characters were. It’s an understandable emotion, considering the dire circumstances faced by SKaRD, and humanity as a whole during this finale!
That fear – the horror of facing the worst possible scenario, where there are no good options to choose, when all avenues of escape have been closed off – underscored much of the emotional impact of that penultimate episode. But while fear is an emotion which forms an inevitable part of our human experience, our actions in the face of that fear define real courage and heroism. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how our heroes, in the final episode of Ultraman Blazar, truly prove their courage.
First of all, the episode started with a surprise – in fact things were not as bad as I feared last week. The Earth Garon and the SKaRD members piloting it were relatively unharmed by their encounter with Varallon. It only takes a moment for them to reboot Earthy’s systems and return to Earth, carrying Blazar with them.
It was heartwarming to see that all of them consider Blazar to be a fellow teammate, and refuse to leave him in space alone. Regardless, there doesn’t seem to be much hope that they can overcome this threat now, without Blazar to fight alongside them. But even in these circumstances, they have many other allies to rely on.
Like we’ve seen before, there’s a lot of other units within the GGF who aren’t completely obstructed by its bureaucracy, and immediately jump at the chance to help out Captain Gento when his team needs it the most. I really liked this contrast between the higher-level directors of the GGF and Captain Gento’s own leadership style. One side seems to run things through subterfuge, secrecy and outright corruption, but Gento always has allies willing to go above and beyond the call of duty just because they’re grateful for his work and want to follow his example.
And also as we’ve seen before, this is ironically Gento’s biggest character flaw. Throughout the show, he’s struggled with his responsibilities as a leader, and only allowed himself to be the one in front, taking the risks, and making the sacrifices to protect others. Stated another way, he sees leadership as a sort of zero-sum game – if sacrifices must be made, he feels like he is the one who must make that decision by himself.
So, as you might imagine, last week’s episode was a huge wake-up call because it put him on the other end of this. Blazar made his own decision and sacrificed himself to save Gento’s life instead.
What do you do after that? How can you answer the enormity of that challenge, knowing that another person held your life as dearly valuable enough to make that sacrifice? Without the power of Blazar to aid them now, it would’ve been very easy for Gento and the rest of the SKaRD team to simply give up in despair. But they don’t. Gento doesn’t. They still have hope, against all odds, that they can protect the lives of Earth.
And while that hope still exists, the power of Ultraman is never truly dead.
Shockingly, this episode features the first words we hear from Blazar himself. He doesn’t simply echo something from Gento’s memories, but truly communicates with him this time – saying “We’ll go.” Not one going ahead of the other, but both of them united together in their choice to fight against Varallon.
Neither of them knows what will happen in this fight. Both of them probably do not expect to even survive. But they do not act out of fear of that failure, instead they are united by the hope that their allies and friends will fight alongside them as well.
Those allies don’t just come from the GGF’s resupply divisions either! General Retsu Haruno also makes use of the secrecy and subterfuge, which seems to be characteristic of the GGF’s commanders. But like Gento, he also commands tremendous respect from the people who work for him, enough to go against the formidable influence of the GGF Director, Yu Dobashi.
Previously, it seemed like Dobashi destroyed the journal from Emi Aobe’s father, the one piece of evidence left that might reveal the truth about the V99 and the Space Kaiju. In addition to that, Emi was arrested, right when it seemed like she was about to uncover these secrets! When her search seemed hopeless, General Haruno showed up at exactly the right moment – with her father’s journal – to make sure that the truth finally could come to light.
What is the truth? Only that the V99 aliens, who have been sending the Space Kaiju attacks, are not so different from us. The message they send ahead of their “Fourth Wave” forces repeats one phrase over and over again, a familiar refrain to the GGF.
Every response by the GGF against these “waves” has been driven by fear, starting from the very beginning of this conflict, when then-acting-Director (for real at the time) Dobashi ordered the GGF to shoot down an unarmed V99 ship. Faced with this aggression, it’s no surprise that the aliens responded by launching Space Kaiju like ambulatory WMDs against humanity. They were also acting out of the same fear which drove the GGF to make that decision twenty-five years ago.
Even on a personal level, fear drove Dobashi’s actions ever since that fateful event. Fear that his mistake would be found out. Fear that his carefully-cultivated prestige and influence would be ruined. And maybe even fear that the GGF itself would not survive the scandal that would result if the public learned the truth, which might have left the Earth defenseless against the Space Kaiju attacks.
It would’ve been easy for this story to paint Dobashi as a complete monster, and humanity in general as selfish villains who were entirely at fault. However, that’s never been the aim of Ultraman Blazar. The theme of the show was always communication, coming to understand the world around us in a new way. The conflict against V99 doesn’t end after humanity recognizes itself as monstrous – although we have plenty of examples of that already. Instead, this reveal allows us to see a shared humanity in these unknown beings, which also share our flaws. Both sides fell into an easy deference towards violence, seeking to destroy what each side did not understand – and what was feared because of that lack of understanding.
I’m taking my time to outline this thesis, because I think it highlights how radically heroic Emi’s choice was, to stand up to the GGF’s orders. It emphasizes how much of a risk she took by staking her beliefs, and her father’s hopes, on this choice to disarm against the V99’s “Fourth” wave. Just like Gento and Blazar, she didn’t know what would happen. All they knew was that decisions made only from fear caused this conflict. Making those same decisions would only perpetuate it.
Thankfully, Blazar has a happy ending, because the V99 also make the decision to stand down and leave the Earth after seeing us withdraw our attacks when confronted by their final “Fourth” wave. It’s important to note that this decision doesn’t instantly fix everything. The relationship between the Earth and the V99 is still irrevocably broken by the actions taken by Dobashi and others.
And we still have a giant Space Kaiju to fight.
Varallon doesn’t stand much of a chance when all the forces of Earth team up together to take it down, however. The GGF finally acts to assist the Earth Garon and Blazar, rather than obstructing them. The terrestrial Kaiju pitch in by literally eating the bombs Varallon sets. Even when that seems like this cooperation wouldn’t be enough to stop its rampage, Blazar and Gento also find the strength to finally defeat Varallon from an unexpected place.
Okay, maybe not that unexpected if you’ve ever seen an Ultraman show before this point, but what can I say, I love it when the heroes overcome their final battle with the power that literally comes from hope and courage. As Gento’s family cheers on Ultraman, we see the bracelet that Jun made for him – and his wedding ring! – glow with a light that gives rise to the second most shocking moment of this finale.
The Blazar Beam.
I particularly like the imagery of Blazar’s hands – right and left, symbolizing how he and Gento interact together while transformed – coming together to use this power in a new way. It really emphasizes how their partnership has evolved through the show to reach this point.
And so, the show reaches its final roll of the ending credits. There’s still lots of questions left unanswered, even after the truth about V99 was revealed. What is the final fate of Emi’s father and the other scientists? Can they still be rescued? What are Blazar’s origins, and how did he come to Earth in the first place? And the most important question of all… will Gento ever tell his family that he’s the Captain of SKaRD?
The upcoming epilogue in Ultraman Blazar The Movie: Tokyo Kaiju Showdown, might have some surprises related to those questions and many others!. We here at Ultraman Connection will also have our final thoughts on the show for you all next week. In the meantime, continue to stay tuned right here for all your Ultraman news, events, commentary, and more!