Last week on Ultraman Decker, Kanata took on new responsibilities as the GUTS Falcon’s newest pilot, but also discovered a new ability as Ultraman Decker—the powerful Strong form. Just like the previous episode, this week’s story touches on points of continuity that provide momentum for our main cast of characters, their development, and the overall fight against the Spheres. Episode 4, “The Destructive Monster Awakens” continues to build on this foundation, focusing on Kanata’s friendly dynamic with HANE2, now nicknamed Hanejiro.
It would be easy to look at the adorable yellow robot and think he would just be a cutesy, marketable mascot—and let’s face it, he is. More than that, however, the back-and-forth banter in this episode helped Hanejiro feel like an actual character, a dynamic member of the team alongside Kanata and the others. Hanejiro even kept the same casual, friendly tone of conversation after Kanata’s request at the end of the last episode.
Though Kanata probably regrets it, after he is utterly roasted by Hanejiro for messing up a training mission in this episode’s cold open.
The main plot this week also helped to highlight their dynamic, showing how the two of them come together to defeat Mons-Ahgar after it appears and attacks a hot springs resort. This nasty Kaiju first appeared in canon back in Ultraman Dyna, the series that most closely matches Ultraman Decker.
The plot itself was very straightforward. A tourist location which was already down on its luck, put into an even worse situation when an alien capsule burst from the ground and released a monster designed—and marketed—to destroy human civilization! (Mondays, am I right, people?)
Within that straightforward plot, however, was a lot of room for fun riffs on an otherwise-familiar story. Between the earnestly corny sales pitch accompanying the “Destructive Monster Mons-Ahgar Series”, Hanejiro trying his best to imitate Kanata’s goofy over-eagerness over the radio, and bits of pitch-perfect comedic timing from Decker’s fight against the bespoke Kaiju weapon, this episode was genuinely hilarious to watch.
Aside from setting up punchlines, this episode also introduced a new feature for the GUTS Falcon and Hawk jets. The audience, along with the rest of the team, found out the jets were originally designed to join, to provide even greater firepower against the different threats the GUTS-Select team may face in the future.
It’s only appropriate that Kanata immediately geeked out over the idea of piloting giant machines that combine, since this whole episode was so reminiscent of a Super Robot show! Many of his arguments with Hanejiro this week sounded like scenes taken straight out of that genre of anime, as they debated whether a hot-blooded spirit or a cooler and more rational judgment would be best when fighting monsters.
Of course, the answer ended up being “both”. To defeat Mons-Ahgar, Kanata had to use his own hot-blooded spirit to charge into danger as Ultraman Decker, but also relied on Hanejiro’s careful observation and strategy. Their cooperation allowed them to overcome impossible odds to save the day, just as we would expect from a story like this—regardless of whether our main protagonist fights as Ultraman or by piloting a giant combining Super Robot.
The ability for Ultraman shows to adapt different elements from other science fiction tropes has always been one of its best strengths. It’s wonderful to see that tradition of remixing and remastering various influences continue here. Overall, it makes Ultraman Decker feel at once very familiar—with a monster attacking an old hot springs resort—while also engaging new audiences with original characters, styles and unique elements drawn from other sources.
There are plenty of other elements that helped this episode to stand out. We haven’t even mentioned how the other members of GUTS-Select are given small but effective ways to contribute to the team. For example, there’s Ichika’s knowledge of local folklore and legend, or Captain Murahoshi’s steadfast faith in his team hidden behind a deceptively stern-looking and commanding demeanor. The team might pretend to be a group of serious professionals, but it was also very funny to see how excited they became when the newly christened GUTS Gryphon combined for the first time. I don’t blame them though, it does look very, very cool.
And while this whole episode was a very fun spectacle to watch, it also laid the groundwork for some other worrying questions in the background. Now we know that the Spheres aren’t the only threats against the Earth, and there are other alien beings in the universe that want to destroy human civilization! The threat of the Spheres themselves also continues to hang—literally—over the heads of GUTS-Select. How long before they make another move, and will they try to assimilate and use another Kaiju, or try to control an even greater weapon against humanity? What other aliens might attack the Earth in the meantime? Or will something else rise against humanity that is completely unforeseen?
Even though this episode took a step back into some comedic relief, the anticipation for what the future holds has only grown more intense. Next time, watch along with us on Ultraman Connection as we head towards that future, with Ultraman Decker!