Spoilers for Ultraman Decker Episode 2, “Kanata’s Resolve”
In its premiere episode, Ultraman Decker introduced audiences to the latest Ultraman hero, Asumi Kanata. We clearly saw his unfailing drive to go above and beyond expectations, always jumping wholeheartedly into whatever challenge he faced for better or worse. So, it wasn’t surprising to see this episode begin as Kanata continued with that same passion, training as a member of GUTS-Select, newly-revitalized as a Monster Response Team.
What might be more surprising for viewers, however, is the one-year passage of time between these episodes. For a whole year, the barrier isolating Earth from the rest of space has remained in place, and the Spheres have not been heard from since the day of their invasion. Humanity has seemed to be waiting for the other proverbial shoe to drop. More concerningly, the Ultra D Flasher, and thus, the power of Decker, has not appeared to Kanata Asumi since that day either. Facing this kind of anxiety, it would be understandable to see why even Kanata’s characteristic passion started to flag a bit.
His concern for his parents, presumably stranded on Mars during the Sphere’s attack, drove Kanata to continue his hard work. But he still had his doubts. The question Kanata asked during the show’s cold open—wondering why he was chosen to become Decker, and why he couldn’t use that power now—also drove the focus of this episode’s story.
That may seem like an obvious point; the title of the episode is “Kanata’s Resolve,” after all. However, Kanata isn’t the only character in this show, and isn’t the only one who fights to protect the Earth in this universe either. To really understand the “resolve” that characterizes him as an Ultraman hero, we should also consider the resolve of the rest of the cast, and how they united by the end of the story.
In the previous episode, the audience was only briefly introduced to the other two Monster Response Department trainees—Ichika Kirino and Soma Ryumon. A lot could already be inferred about their characters just from those short appearances, however. We already knew Ichika desperately desired to join her friends in space as an astronaut, a dream that seems impossible now with the Spheres’ barrier still in place. Ryumon appeared immediately to be highly self-serious, even as a trainee. He quickly jumped to organize others around him during the Sphere’s attack, taking charge of a dangerous situation.
Both characters contrasted Kanata’s more carelessly cheerful enthusiasm, but all three of them also shared the same aspirations to join the newly reformed GUTS Supreme team, as well as the same dedication to meet its exacting standards.
However, those similarities became a challenge for the trio, when they were assigned together on their final training exercise. Ryumon immediately assumed his role as a team leader, but his idea of “leadership” apparently involved just being ahead of everyone else. He barely paused to even consider his teammates following him, even after Kanata was injured during the exercise.
That injury might have seemed like a small setback to viewers, but the thought of falling short of perfection in this test was enough for Ryumon to simply give up. Kanata, of course, still tried to continue the hike even on his injured leg. He wanted to push himself to his limits heedless of the risks involved.
Both characters have a point; Ryumon is right about Kanata being injured, but Kanata is also reasonably certain that he can continue, which Ryumon refuses to accept. Neither one of them is exactly wrong, but both of their perspectives collided in this scene. Ryumon’s pragmatism and exacting standards faced off against Kanata’s impulsive, but earnest push to attempt the impossible.
Thankfully, there’s a third member of this team—Ichika. She resolved this argument as a peacemaker, and her heartfelt speech in this scene helped Ryumon and Kanata understand each other, not as obstacles to be overcome, but as teammates who all share the same passion.
As she pointed out, they all want to fight, not just to win, or to prove themselves as the strongest, or even to overcome the impossible. She wanted to continue to fight “because it’s the right thing to do.” If that heartfelt speech was all there was to this episode, it would still be a very charming piece of development for our core characters. Of course, this is still Ultraman, and there still needs to be a giant monster to fight by the end of the story.
Rather than being an afterthought, however, Ultraman series always use these fights to reflect and reinforce such character developments, just on a much, much larger scale. With explosions.
Ichika and Kanata had both just expressed their desire to fight against impossible odds only a minute before Deathdrago’s appearance. It’s fitting, then, that they were also the first ones who ran to a nearby town to help civilians caught in the monster’s path of destruction. Then, when the TPU’s attack failed to stop the Kaiju, Ichika’s words also encouraged Kanata to run into danger—yet again.
One wouldn’t think he would particularly need encouragement to do that, but her speech reoriented the way Kanata—and the audience—might understand his role as Ultraman. He didn’t throw himself into the path of the Spheres in the first episode just because he had a death wish. Instead, he fought his hardest because he wanted to protect the lives around him. Even if he were to fail at that mission, he still chose to fight because it’s the right thing to do.
That was the resolve that Decker’s power responded to in his first fight, and it was also how Kanata called it forth again here. But Decker’s power alone wasn’t enough to defeat Deathdrago. Luckily, Kanata’s resolve also called forth other powers to help him out.
First, we have our introduction to the three monsters that can be called from Kanata’s Dimension Cards, all of which will look very familiar to viewers who have seen Ultraseven. These three monster buddies, Agira, Miclas and Windom, appeared to Kanata, and Miclas joined the fight himself to help Decker gain an advantage against Deathdrago.
As was stated earlier, Ultraman series always use spectacular large-scale fights to reflect much smaller character developments. And so, another power made apparent by Kanata’s resolve while fighting as Decker, happens to be the resolve of his teammates with the TPU.
Not just Ryumon and Ichika, either. Captain Taiji Murahoshi joined the battle by personally piloting one of the GUTS Falcon jets. It was quite funny to see him chastise the three trainees for recklessly endangering their lives, when he pulled the exact same stunt this episode. At the end of the day, however, Captain Murahoshi recognized that recklessness for the same sort of resolve he holds as well.
It’s no surprise to see that he selected the three trainees to finally join his team as a result. In addition to Vice-Captain Sawa Kaizaki, and AI pilot HANE-2, all six together now make up the new GUTS-Select team. More than just being a group thrown together by chance, or chosen for perfect test scores or fighting ability, this episode demonstrated the resolve of our main cast. Kanata himself was picked to become Decker because of his resolve, but it is equally shared by every other member of this team—a bond that unites them.
In this episode, the audience could see that our main characters—despite each having wildly different personalities, strengths, and flaws—still made an effective team. In a similar way, this episode was able to effectively show that growth as a team by combining wildly different tones, using the quieter, more personal struggles of its cast to emphasize the bigger, more dramatic struggles against earth-shakingly huge monsters. As the show continues, hopefully the other members of the team, Vice-Captain Kaizaki and HANE-2, can be the focus of similar personal stories. But it will surely be exciting to see where GUTS-Select can go from this foundation, and what challenges they will face together.
Ultraman Decker can be seen each week when the latest episode gets uploaded, for free, on Ultraman Connection, every Friday night. And for more Decker and Ultraman Series news, stay close to Ultraman Connection!