Spoilers for Ultraman Decker episode 3, “Move Out, GUTS-Select!”
Last episode, Ultraman Decker highlighted the resolve of the three newest recruits to the elite GUTS-Select squad. Each of these characters—Asumi Kanata, Ichika Kirino and Soma Ryumon—showed a strong sense of determination which drove them to struggle and fight against obstacles in their paths, and sometimes against each other. Now, that resolve has brought them to the GUTS-Select team, where they fight alongside each other to protect the Earth.
Since Decker has established our main cast, it makes sense to let them loose into new situations each week. Rather than just being disconnected episodes with small, static threats however, these new challenges provided the characters with new opportunities to learn from each one.
In other words, we’ve built up the foundation of the team, but any strong building needs more than just a foundation. This week started the task of constructing the rest of the skyscraper, complete with steel supports, rebar, adequate plumbing—and this metaphor might just be getting slightly carried away. However, it must be emphasized how this episode effectively and economically builds on top of what the audience saw from the previous two episodes.
First, the characters continued to develop in consistent, meaningful ways. Kanata, Ichika and Ryumon were given a challenge to overcome once again, learning how to pilot the GUTS Falcon, alongside the new GUTS Hawk. And like the previous episode, Kanata and the others didn’t find their place on this team just by becoming perfect soldiers without any possibility of failure.
Kanata was the first one to make a breakthrough while struggling with this training, because he discovered a new approach—he tried to make friends with the Falcon’s pilot, HANE2! Even if the robot happened to be an artificial intelligence (an incredibly adorable one at that), he was still a member of the team, and Kanata treated him like it. They all learned more about each other and their new co-pilot and created a bond which allowed them to work together even more effectively.
In addition to these three young recruits and their new robot buddy, the GUTS-Select team also has older members who provided a different perspective in this episode. Captain Murahoshi, Vice-Captain Sawa Kaizaki, and newly-introduced scientist Yuichiro Asakage, all lent their expertise to the team’s mission.
In addition to discussing his high expectations for the team, Captain Murahoshi also provided some insight into the rest of the world around them. He mentioned the fact that people are still wary of Ultraman’s appearance, not knowing where he appeared from or what role he has yet to play in the drama of the Sphere’s invasion.
In fact, the captain seemed to be wary of Ultraman himself in the first two episodes. But by the end of this episode, he wholeheartedly threw himself and the rest of his team into helping fight alongside the Giant of Light, so maybe the rest of humanity will follow the same example as the show continues.
A few other interesting details, which were only implied earlier, were also mentioned in this episode. Vice-Captain Sawa clarified that the barrier around the Earth was actually made from the same Spheres which invaded a year ago. The audience also learned that the GUTS Falcon was retrofitted with cockpits to be manually piloted after the Spheres’ attack. The original model seen in Ultraman Trigger was remote-controlled, so an explanation for the change is welcome, and made for some tense, high-stakes scenes with the characters when they piloted it directly into danger.
These details provided some interesting continuity, showing how the setting has changed over the past year since the Spheres’ attack. However, they also proved to be more significant to the story than just aesthetic afterthoughts. These pieces of exposition and character development all tied into the major conflict of this episode.
That conflict kicked into high gear when Gomora appeared, seemingly for no reason. Almost every time Gomora appears in other Ultraman series, it’s because the monster is woken up by human interference. This could be another connection to last week’s episode, where Sawa also noted that Deathdrago’s appearance was an aggressive display because of feeling threatened. That threat revealed itself this time, since the Spheres appeared for the first time since their initial invasion, infesting this Gomora and sending it on an even more dangerous rampage!
Whether it’s being rudely woken up by humans, airlifted to become a museum exhibit, suffering from hay fever, or now this, poor Gomora just can’t catch a break!
No one in GUTS-Select or the TPU could have predicted that the Spheres could take over and assimilate other monsters. Despite that, Captain Murahoshi warned about this kind of unexpected new danger in the beginning of the episode, and his fears were realized here. This was why he wanted to train the new rookies on the team in the first place!
Unfortunately, Kanata’s un-honed skills as a pilot weren’t enough to defeat the Synthetic Sphere monster, and he was faced with the age-old dilemma of all Ultraman heroes—how does he fight as Ultraman while keeping his place on the team? Luckily, he didn’t have to choose one over the other. Kanata’s own resolve drove him to fight as Ultraman Decker in previous episodes, and now against the Sphere-infested Gomora. He was only able to push himself to his limits and beyond, however, to call on Decker’s power in the first place, because of the support of his team!
Kanata didn’t just trust HANE2 with piloting the GUTS Falcon in his place when he transformed in this episode, but also trusted him with his secret as Ultraman! Again, this sort of support was only possible because of the bonds Kanata built with the rest of the team throughout the challenges they faced together.
Those bonds of trust go both ways too. Kanata relied on the rest of the GUTS-Select team when he went out to fight as Decker, but they also relied on Ultraman in this episode! They trusted Decker to stop the monster from destroying a hospital during the attack. And when Kanata feared his own strength might not be enough to stop Gomora’s rampage, his determination to prove himself—both as a member of GUTS Supreme and as Ultraman—revealed itself as a new power.
A very, very cool looking new finishing power. Decker Strong type showed off this impressive physical talent by punching through the monster until it exploded dramatically, and the day was saved. Quite unusual for an Ultra…and very satisfying.
It was wonderful to see the team happily celebrating together at the end of the episode—as a team of friends, rather than just coincidental coworkers. However, the events of this episode also raised more uneasy questions. What are the Spheres’ goals? What other forms of life could they seize control of? Are they sending Kaiju attacks like this against Mars? The fight against these mysterious invaders will surely escalate even further as the show continues. But for now, at least the members of GUTS-Select—and the audience—can have hope that the characters will continue to work together, grow even stronger, and overcome these threats in the future.
And when that future arrives, you’ll be able to learn alongside the rest of the world here on Ultraman Connection. See you then!