Ultraman New Generation Stars episode 20 is called “The Story of the Fourth Member! Buddy Go!” The title refers to the Tri-Squad, a team comprised of Ultraman Taiga, Ultraman Titas, and Ultraman Fuma, and how Taiga’s human host, Hiroyuki Kudo, is so integral to the group’s dynamic that he earns the title of the fourth tri-squad member. The episode honors the role of the human host and selflessness is what aligns Ultras and humans so closely.
But first, Ultraman Titas and Ultraman Fuma’s Dimensionizer cards are redeemed by Taiga, and he picks up reminiscing where we left off last week. Ultraman Tregear is cultivating his dark energy and continuing to run from the other Ultras, who are all actively trying to prevent any more collateral.
The Ultras corner Tregear and plead for him to stop his schemes. Even Taro veils a threat when he ensures that the Utras “cannot allow one who has fallen to darkness approach the Land of Light.” However, Tregear had considered the intervention outcome and challenges the Ultras right back. Tregear replies, “Stop playing the universe’s guardian! Who decided that light was good?”
In this Tregear surfaces a lot of the darker themes we see reoccur throughout the various Ultraman series. Should any living being, no matter their power, intervene on the natural chaos of the universe? What justifies vigilantism and who decides that? Is there a universal moral law to be respected at all? How do we know that light and dark are diametrically opposed? What if darkness needs light and vice versa? Are we all just space cowboys looking to do what’s right with what we have?
With that, Tregear disappears once more, and Taiga assembles the Tri-Squad to hunt him down. Although they get in some good hits, Tregear defeats Titas and Fuma, sending Taiga into a frenzied rage whose passion even Tregear admires.
It becomes apparent that Taiga is fighting for love and utilitarianism while Tregear is fighting out of reactivity. He is not working to defend a fellowship or subscribe to a code of honor or in favor of a collective goal. He is behaving out of a colonization-mindset and that is built on consumption, greed, and individual mobility over group consciousness.
Taiga’s human form, Hiroyuki Kudo, represents the opposite of Tregear’s sentiment. Though the chaotic nihilism that Tregear entertains can ring true for many of us at times, ultimately it is service to a greater good that provides a genuine sense of relief in this challenging life. Hiroyuki embodies the idea of unconditional service and that is showcased in Taiga’s first memory of him.
Hiroyuki is on duty for the E.G.I.S. squad (Enterprise of Guard and Investigation Services), escorting the mysterious Mr. Kawazu to an undisclosed destination when aliens attack and throw them off their course. To protect Hiroyuki and his fellow squad members from alien pursuit, Mr. Kawazu severs his contract with E.G.I.S. But Hiroyuki refuses to leave Mr. Kawazu to fend for himself.
When Alien Magma the Saber Tyrant steals Mr. Kawazu’s secret capsule, Hiroyuki jumps in and stalls Magma, but in the process the capsule bursts open. We come to find it’s been incubating the adorable Baby Zandrias the Chick Monster!
We learn that Mr. Kawazu protects Zandrias’s species from being harvested by predator Kaiju and has taken it upon himself to prevent the furthering of their extinction, but before we can even take a moment to appreciate how sweet that is, Alien Magma threatens Baby Zandrias with a knife, baiting Young Mother Zandrias to come protect her baby. Alien Magma also summons Zegun the Dimensional Demolition Lord to come attack Mother Zandrias and serve as Magma’s contribution to a black-market universal gambling scheme where Kaiju, aliens, and life forms from across the galaxy put money on likely opponents.
Tregear watches all of this unfold from his human form, Kirisaki, who summons Hellberus, the Ultimate Disaster Monster. Hellberus descends upon the scene and immediately impales Zegun with his tail. He debilitates Young Mother Zandrias and crushes baby Zandrias under a demolished building but Hiroyuki refuses to accept this fate. Instead, he ignores the voices trying to deter him from the scene and breaks the threshold of self-doubt, entering a role of pure martyrdom. He proves he is willing to sacrifice anything to save a child belonging to an entirely different species.
This grand act of selflessness committed by a mere human is what creates pure light in energy form. Giving without expecting, submitting before defending, and protecting without rejecting are all variables that create an honorable Ultra and an honorable host. Reaching that point is what allowed Hiroyuki the openness to receive Taiga’s link and ultimately soul-bond. Reaching that point is what empowers Ultraman Taiga to Supreme Blast the stubborn Hellberus even as Taiga’s Color Timer blinks red.
And so Young Mother and Baby Zandrias are reunited, Tregear’s plans are foiled once again, and Taiga is left reminiscing on how his bond with Hiroyuki has taught him the complex power of earthling love, which might not be any stronger or weaker than Ultra love but is undoubtedly different and therefore expansive. Taiga admits that knowing and experiencing the human capacity of love has made him the Ultra he is. This realization causes Taiga to activate his Dimensionizer card and sparks a declaration that no matter what, Taiga will fight to make Hiroyuki proud.
Ultimately this episode reaffirms the hopeful but often overlooked reality that humanity has something to offer Ultras in return for their valor and strength. It also affirms the idea that good and evil might be represented by symbols of light and darkness, but more importantly good and evil take shape in whether we make a conscious effort to lead by humbly serving or through grandiose individuation.
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