Hello once again, and welcome to this week’s Ultraman Decker recap! I’ve been anxiously waiting for the new episodes to start now that we’re full tilt into 2023, so it might seem like an odd time for the show to take a break, this close to the end! However, as Marlulu reminds us in this “special” recap episode, sometimes you need to take a deep breath, have a seat, and enjoy a cup of tea. After all, this isn’t the first time the Earth has been faced with almost-certain destruction from otherworldly threats, so what better time than now to look back on those events?
It might seem a slightly contrived excuse for a recap episode, but I actually appreciated the chance for the audience – and Hotta – to catch our breath before hurtling headlong into the final few episodes of the show. It’s hard to believe it’s almost over now!
Anyways, it’s no surprise that Marlulu and Hotta first begin by recapping the final fight of last year’s show, Ultraman Trigger. Although for them, ten years have passed since the battle between Kengo Manaka, Ultraman Trigger, and his allies against the Dark Giant Carmearra who had been taken over by the even darker power of Megalothor. As they noted there, things certainly seemed desperate in the moment, but the power wielded by our heroes together managed to be even stronger in the end.
The lines of continuity between that climactic showdown, and the rematch against Megalothor after it was revived by the Spheres in Ultraman Decker, was an interesting point to see them make explicit in this episode. Sure, it’s not very shocking from a directorial perspective to bring back the deadliest, most memorable challenge from the previous series in order to hype Trigger’s guest spot in Decker. But I’ve always appreciated the way in which Ultraman as a franchise frames those storytelling conceits from the perspective of its characters.
For us, the viewers, there’s a very clear difference between how Trigger fought to save the world from Megalothor’s darkness, compared to how he and Decker reunited with a redeemed Carmearra to save the world from an even larger threat. After all, we have ring-side seats for all these events, as well as insight into the characters themselves from our perspective within the audience. The fact that Marlulu and Hotta were also able to pick up on that point simply by watching the plain unfolding of events was a nice detail.
It reinforces a lot of the impact of both this show, and Trigger in retrospect, by allowing the audience to see how other individuals within that universe interpret and respond to events. That’s why I enjoy these special episodes in the first place, they don’t tell us any new events within the story, but we still learn something new about the TPU and the characters within it.
You know what else I enjoy? Getting to hear “Pull the Trigger,” the theme song for Trigger, again in this show. I must’ve had that song on repeat for two weeks straight when Ultraman Trigger started airing last year. Er, I mean, two years ago? Darn, I’m still writing 2022 on all my checks too…
Moving on, the next example Marlulu brings up on their list of “times the Earth almost was destroyed” is…. The Ultraman Saga movie?
Well, that came as a surprise to me, I expected this episode to discuss the legendary three-part finale of Ultraman Dyna. I can only guess that the writers felt that the Saga movie would be more widely remembered since it’s more recent. Or maybe spoiling the end of Dyna could be spoilers for what we’re able to see against the Spheres in Ultraman Decker.
All of this is wild speculation, I’m just as much in the dark as my readers on that question, not that I’m complaining!
Wild speculation aside, the Ultraman Saga movie is an interesting piece of Ultraman lore to draw from, but it does connect to the major “theme” of this episode in several important ways. Just like in Trigger, this year in Decker, and even in the finale of Dyna I hinted at, the climax brings a double-edged threat with it. That threat isn’t just about the physical destruction of the Earth or humanity, but the destruction of hope. Victory in the Ultraman franchise often is snatched from the jaws of defeat, but that victory is impossible to achieve if Ultraman or the humans who fight alongside those heroes never even try to snatch it in the first place.
Perhaps a bad metaphor but let me explain what I mean. In the events of the Ultraman Saga movie, the villainous Alien Bat forcibly abducts almost every person on Earth, and then slowly exterminates the individuals left. This isn’t only because he’s a sadistic jerk, but the hopelessness which engulfs the remaining survivors becomes literal fuel which eventually gives rise to the ultimate weapon against Ultraman – the horrifying Hyper-Zetton.
Ultraman Dyna was assumed to have died fighting against Bat and his Zetton creation at the start of the movie, but Dyna’s power was necessary for even the formidable, combined strength of Ultraman Zero and Cosmos to stand a chance against it. I won’t spoil everything here (especially not when you can watch the movie for yourself now!) but simply the smallest, almost-overlooked spark of hope revives Dyna’s power, and then allows all three of them to combine to fight as the titular Ultraman Saga.
All the recaps in this episode relate back to that same theme – of hope overcoming despair. Even hope that comes from very small things, like Hotta fretting over the idea that he’s been inculcated in some sinister multi-dimensional conspiracy, can provide that same spark. In the previous episode of Ultraman Decker, appropriately titled “The Sky of Despair”, we all saw how despair destroyed Agams. Now, faced with the terrifying fallout from his complete and utter collapse, one might wonder how the heroes could possibly save the Earth from all the threats bearing down on them.
Including the threat of the corporate accountants demanding the proper forms for your department’s expenses. Boy, do I know what that feels like.
However, on a more serious note, this episode makes the answer to that dilemma very clear. Nothing can happen, nothing will be saved if the characters do not hold on to hope that it can be saved, and act on that hope. That idea has formed the core of Kanata’s character ever since the beginning of the show, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing how he – along with all his friends and allies – will use that spark of hope to save the day in the end.
I hope you’ll join me then, and continue coming back for more, right here at Ultraman Connection!