In last week’s recap, Yapool was described as a “sore loser,” which might be the understatement of the century, and he demonstrated why he’s the reigning champion at the end of episode 18. Even though Decker defeated his “terrible-monster”, Aribunta, as well as the Terraphaser, Kanata still fell into Yapool’s real trap. Exhausted after the fight, Decker was launched into Yapool’s extradimensional space, leaving the Earth defenseless.
Yapool is unmatched when it comes to mind-game schemes like this. In fact, you could say that it comes from his very nature as an opponent of Ultraman. Throughout this week’s episode “Warriors on the Moon” he describes himself as a “demon” against the light that Decker and other Ultra Heroes represent. This depiction has been true throughout the Ultraman franchise, ever since Yapool’s first debut in the Ultraman Ace series back in 1972.
In that series, Yapool proved himself to be one of the most fearsome threats against Ultraman because of how effectively he strikes at the heart of their power – the bonds of hope, trust, and compassion that each Ultraman hero shares with humanity. Last week, Yapool took advantage of that trust to lure each of the main characters into various traps, isolating them from each other.
However, one unexpected arrival throws a proverbial wrench into his plans for episode 19. Even after he was sent through dimensions and stuck on the moon outside of the Spheres’ barrier, Kanata isn’t completely isolated from his friends. He finds a familiar ally on the otherwise-deserted GUTS-Select base – Kengo Manaka, Ultraman Trigger!
Watching Kanata and Kengo team up earlier in this series (in episodes 7 and 8) was an absolute blast, and I was thrilled to see their teamwork again here. I’m continually impressed at how well Kengo fits into a mentorship role alongside Kanata’s character serving as an eager-yet-inexperienced rookie still trying to figure out his role as Ultraman. That insecurity has taken on a new bitter sting at this point in the series, after Agams revealed the extent of his hateful grudge against humanity. In an excellent little quiet scene, Kanata confesses his hesitation over his new mission and looks to Kengo for direction and advice.
In response, Kengo doesn’t give him a simple answer, but does provide the encouragement that Kanata needs to keep moving forward – and to keep fighting as Decker. He brings Kanata a message from his parents, who are thankfully safe and sound on Mars under their protection.
It’s no exaggeration to say I was literally in tears watching the scene with his parents’ pre-recorded message. Good tears, mind you, it’s a very touching moment in an episode which otherwise heavily features Koichi Sakamoto’s signature flashy style of stunt fighting and explosions.
That’s a credit to the fantastic acting from everyone in this episode, but also the simple, plainly stated writing and direction around this moment. Here you have Kanata, on the run from killer robots hijacked by Yapool, fighting for his life on the moon, not knowing if he’ll be able to return to Earth or if any of his friends and teammates are in danger while he’s away, and probably terrified at this moment. That’s exactly what Yapool wants, after all. It seems like the worst time to open a holographic greeting card from your parents, but paradoxically, it proves to be exactly the thing Kanata needs to keep fighting against Yapool.
Kengo seems to have a knack for reaching into dark places and bringing people back to the light, whether that’s Kanata when all hope seems lost for him, Carmearra, or even himself in the past to unlock his own power as Trigger. Personally, I hope he keeps it up in future appearances, I’ve really enjoyed both times he’s been a guest star in Decker.
Yapool, however, isn’t very happy about this interruption, and reappears before Kanata to try and destroy his power of light for good. But the tables turn on him again – from a completely unexpected angle this time.
Forgive me for another tangent, but I think I need to explain a couple things for the reader to understand how utterly, unprecedentedly bonkers the rest of the episode goes from this point.
Remember, Yapool is a demon. Not just in the sense of being evil, there are plenty of evil things throughout the multiverse of the Ultraman franchise. Rather, his self-applied description portrays Yapool as something fundamentally opposed to the light represented by Ultraman, but also something undying, eternal, and lying outside of our full understanding of the physical world around us.
Yapool has appeared in many other series after his initial defeat in Ace, like the subsequent series Ultraman Taro, then later in Ultraman Mebius, Ginga S, and most recently in Ultraman Z. Each time he’s defeated, the heroes might be able to destroy whatever monsters Yapool controls, or some physical representation of his body, but they never destroy his substance. He merely waits – outside of time and space – for another opportunity to rise against the Ultras once again.
In this episode, we have finally met some force that is powerful enough to destroy Yapool’s substance. And even more shocking, it’s not the light of Ultraman.
It’s the Spheres.
Negative emotions and desires like rage and despair from other characters usually make them easy targets for Yapool’s manipulation. I was waiting to see how this tentative partnership was going to blow up in Agams’ face when Yapool inevitably turns on him and causes his own destruction. How ironic is it that Yapool’s machination causes his own downfall here. First, by giving Kanata the opportunity to reunite with Kengo and his parents, reigniting his determination to fight for his future. Secondly though, it also makes him a target for the Spheres, and they absorb the formless spite and hatred from him, leaving just a shell behind.
Things aren’t entirely hopeless for our heroes at this point. The Spheres reactivate a spare Galactron Mk 2 that they just found lying around, and the following fight against it highlights the teamwork of Trigger and Decker in a very cool-looking sequence of explosions.
Even with the spectacular fireworks behind our heroes marking the demise of that giant robot, even with the funny B-plot where Hanejiro tries his best to cover for Kanata’s absence through this episode, those seemingly happy endings can’t put the thought of the Spheres’ terrifying potential for annihilation out of my mind. Before, the Earth and other planets only faced the threat of destruction – this is something wholly different. With only the last 10 minutes of this week’s episode, the Spheres went from just strange invading UFO blobs to something that can consume a literal physical embodiment of hatred and then use it as fuel for its expansion throughout the universe.
Forget Yapool, that thought will keep me up at night for the rest of this week. I’ll be on the edge of my seat waiting to see how Kanata and the rest of GUTS-Select will fight against this threat now, and I hope you’ll join us at Ultraman Connection to watch the endgame of Ultraman Decker.