Hello and Welcome, Ultraman Connection readers! If you’re like me, you’ve been on the edge of your seat with anticipation for the conclusion from last week’s cliffhanger, so I’ll cut to the chase. This article will contain open spoilers for both “Rainbow Appears” parts 1 and 2, so if you haven’t gotten caught up yet, now’s a perfect opportunity to do that. Go ahead, we’ll wait for you.
Back? Great, let’s get started.
Last week, Captain Gento and the SKaRD team faced two awful realizations. First of all, a legendary Kaiju, Nijikagachi, had been summoned by the esteemed Professor Yokomine, with the intention of destroying humanity in order to save the balance of nature on Earth. But even worse, SKaRD was unable to stop the Kaiju with the Earth Garon, and even Ultraman Blazar was defeated in battle and was forced to retreat!
Although the typhoons summoned by Nijikagachi are still wreaking havoc across the country, the focus of this episode is contained within the “eye” of the storm – both literally, and metaphorically. While the chaos of the Kaiju’s attack surely rages around them, we follow the SKaRD team in much quieter scenes most of the time.
Like last week’s episode, this story still feels very cinematic, but in a way that uses the scale of the story much differently. Part 1 developed a dramatic impression of Nijikagachi’s formidable power and dreadful arrival from wide shots, and aerial views showing the extent of destruction. In comparison, many of the most memorable parts of this week’s follow-up come from scenes of dialogue between the SKaRD members. There’s some fantastic acting throughout the whole episode, with each characters’ own unique personalities and performances shining through these interactions. Honestly, just watching how everyone brings their own talents and perspective to these planning meetings was fascinating and builds a lot on characterization details we’ve seen throughout the show so far.
Of particular note is the team’s vice-captain and strategist, Teruaki Nagura. He’s served as an oddball mix of comedic relief and serious technical exposition before this point– or comedic relief because of his earnest seriousness in every situation. The earnestness of his steadfast resolve quickly made him a favorite of mine, but Teruaki also gets a chance to show off why he’s an important part of the team throughout this episode. After all, he’s not vice-captain, the second-in-command under Captain Gento, just because he’s smart or because he’s good at following orders. Remember, Gento was impressed with the fact that he disobeyed orders in the first episode during Bazanga’s attack, because he was convinced that those orders would cause further casualties within the GGF’s teams on the ground.
Similarly, in this episode, Teruaki actually challenges Gento when the captain claims they need to consider the possibility of killing Professor Yokomine in order to stop Nijikagachi. Teruaki is convinced that he understands the professor well enough to convince him to recant, and stop the attack, and that conviction drives him to speak out against Gento’s orders! Funnily enough, I think this speaks to Gento’s strength as a leader, that his subordinates are willing to stick to their convictions in times like this, and the fact that he actually listens to them and takes their advice seriously. In this scene, Gento relents and gives the rest of the team a chance to do what he couldn’t – to reach Professor Yokomine.
The discussion that results between Yokomine and Teruaki also became one of my favorite scenes in this show so far. As I mentioned last week, there are a lot of manic, wild-eyed mad scientists in the Ultraman franchise. The professor’s claim, that humanity is an enemy of the Earth which needs to be eradicated, is also a common point which comes up in many series. The way in which that claim was addressed this week however, reminded me even more strongly of a specific case. One, in fact, where the scientist demanding humanity’s eradication also happened to have the power of Ultraman.
Hiroya Fujimiya, aka Ultraman Agul, started his early career as a brilliant prodigy who hoped to save the world. Unfortunately, his greatest invention – a computer so powerful it was reputed to have the ability to predict the future – determined that could only be accomplished by the destruction of humanity. Anyone would have a hard time coping with that, and Fujimiya quite understandably took it pretty hard, becoming a recurring antagonist who tried to carry out that destruction in Ultraman Gaia.
In many ways, it’s rational why both Professor Yokomine and Fujimiya would come to the same conclusion about mankind’s irreparable cruelty and failures. It’s all too easy to look around our own world and see the same flaws magnified on huge, destructive scales in modern times. They know no other alternative to repair those flaws, and so both characters come to accept human deaths on a massive scale as necessary sacrifices to ensure the survival of the Earth.
Shockingly, Gento even has the same view of “the ends justify the means” at first, and thinks the team will be forced to take Professor Yokomine’s life in order to ensure the survival of humanity! This clash of mutually exclusive viewpoints – both of which are predicated on an assumption of a zero-sum game pitting humanity against the Earth and its Kaiju – made it impossible for either side to come to an agreement that didn’t involve violence.
Teruaki comes to the professor with a different take. While Yokomine can’t be convinced to take mercy on humanity itself, Teruaki rightfully points out that such a huge swath of destruction caused by the typhoons would also destroy other living creatures. Other animals would die in those typhoons and floods, and have their habitats and homes taken from them! The professor might be willing to sacrifice humanity, but what about the rest of the balance of nature?
It was also by reaching out with this kind of understanding that Fujimiya was eventually redeemed in Ultraman Gaia. (Is that a spoiler? The fact that Agul becomes an ally of Gaia is kind of spoiled by literally everything else that has the duo featured, so I’m probably safe.) Even though both he and Gamu Takayama – who fights as the titular Ultraman Gaia – were scientists, it wasn’t simple rational facts or dispassionate analyses of costs and benefits that convinced him to eventually protect humanity. Rather, by making connections with other human beings, and learning to empathize with their own unique struggles and viewpoints, Fujimiya begins to value human lives in the particular sense, rather than just being abstract data points in a computer.
Teruaki’s effort to understand Professor Yokomine’s viewpoint also works at reaching his heart, and makes him realize the awful consequences of Nijikagachi’s attack. But as the saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water…” but you can’t make them give up their revenge against humanity so easily. I’m pretty sure that’s how the saying goes, right? Some people just can’t admit they were wrong, or can’t bear the responsibility of the full consequences of their mistakes. Fortunately, Teruaki’s impassioned speech wasn’t completely for naught, and they’re able to destroy the bracelets off of the professor’s arm, rather than being forced to kill him to try and stop the Kaiju.
Unfortunately, destroying the seven rainbow-colored bracelets didn’t slow Nijikagachi down at all. If anything, it seemed to empower the Kaiju further! But when human efforts fail despite our best intentions, Ultraman is there to make those impossible ideals a reality. He’s not fighting alone either, the Earth Garon got a sweet new upgrade this week to help out! The Mod. 2’s addition of giant shoulder cannons make the mecha look even more intimidating, but it’s clear that this was a rushed last-ditch effort that needs fine-tuning. Even so, the massive firepower SKaRD can now bring to bear alongside Blazar helped to give him the extra edge he needed over the Kaiju.
Speaking of an “extra edge”, Blazar gets one more trick up his sleeve to finally bring down Nijikagachi. After Earth Garon’s missile attack breaks open the Kaiju’s armor, it releases a spray of rainbow light, and is clearly injured. I thought this was a sign that Blazar was going to bring out the Spiral Burrade again for a finisher – but something even more spectacular happened instead! Blazar literally reached out, grabbed ahold of that light and turned it into a new finishing move, a spinning wheel of energy that cut straight through Nijikagachi’s armor. The attack actually reminded me a lot of the classic “Ultra Slash” sawblade that Ultraman uses in the original 1966 series!
And with Nijikagachi’s defeat, we get the best possible ending for everyone, not just our main characters. The typhoons break apart and disappear, humanity is saved from eradication, and Teruaki can still get his book signed by Professor Yokomine. I really loved how this episode wrapped up, as we see Gento pitching in to help on Teruaki’s family’s farm, and the professor still enjoying an opportunity to fish under a bright blue sky instead of the ominous grey clouds from last week.
This challenge helped characters like Teruaki and Gento to better appreciate the value of other creatures – whether they be tomato plants, fish or giant Kaiju – with which they share the Earth. On the reverse side, I feel like the professor is happier now because he finally has seen how human beings can understand each other and the balance of nature around them, and preserve that balance without the need for violence or destruction.
There will certainly be even greater challenges in the future for the members of SKaRD, and for Blazar as he fights alongside them. Until the next time we face them, stay tuned here at Ultraman Connection for all your news, updates, commentary and more!