Episode 8 of Ultraman New Generation Stars moves the plot of the series storyline forward while exposing a painful truth through Ultraman Zero, Ultraman Ginga, and Ultraman Z: Not all legacies are positive ones. Painful experiences and memories of cruel, hateful people stand like tombstones in the garden of one’s life, marking moments of great difficulty, and reminding the bearers to avoid becoming like the people who inflict such traumas.
The episode starts with a major piece of plot development in the series: the reveal of the villain who attacked the Land of Light! Well… sort of. Instead of a villain to battle, Ultraman Zero is confronted with a voice, one that seems to be using their acrimony towards the Land of Light and its heroes… strangely.
“I already told you. This is a challenge to the bonds of the Ultras,” the mysterious voice says to Zero, unrecognizable to both the hero and to viewers. There is a clinical element to this foe, one who viewed the erasure of the Land of Light’s history as a fascinating experiment… at least, until the advent of the Dimensionizer to recover that history from the memories of the New Generation Heroes
This alone opens up countless questions about this malefactor — the loudest of all being, why pursue history as your target? Even Zero is a bit stumped. The Land of Light has faced innumerable foes in the past, and each of them used some kind of force to try and exert their will upon the Ultras. There is a cunning to this threat that worries Zero, and makes him think back on some of the great villains the New Generation Heroes have faced up to now to try and find an answer in the past.
And that, dear viewer, brings us to the primary element of legacy to be discussed in this episode: The legacy of hardship. Just as a scar on the leg can change the gait of one’s walk, traumas can act as spiritual scars, developing the victim’s very spirit to grow around it — for better or for worse.
It was Etelgar, the Super Dimensional Demon, who in many ways helped to create the New Generation Heroes through his vile actions. Though both Ultraman Ginga and Ultraman Victory had formed bonds with one another, their battles had rarely put them in contact with the greater continuum of heroism around them; something Etelgar changed by force. The dimension-hopping devil had been defeating and collecting the Ultras who were Ginga and Victory’s forebears, taking them as trophies to his overwhelming strength.
Faced with a raw strength that the two could not overcome on their own, Ginga and Victory were driven to the wall, and were compelled, more than any trial had compelled them before, to truly unite and battle as a team, not only between the two of them but with their seniors from the previous generation. Granted, Ginga and Victory took this union literally, fusing into a single Super Ultra called, sensibly, GingaVictory. Such a warrior was more than the sum of his parts, and more than a match for Etelgar, proving how a great trial can bring out the best in those who undertake it.
However, the fight with Etelgar extended beyond battling just the demon himself; and it was in his “reinforcements” that the darker elements of legacy must be noted. Etelgar could manipulate and manifest fear, and he did so by wrenching the traumas from the hearts of the Ultras he had captured, and forming them into new, “Eteldummy” bodies. The great traumas of brutal foes that the Ultras had faced in the past once again rose to menace them.
Human beings fight through their own traumas and painful experiences every day, and the Ultras had to do the same, albeit in a more… physical sense. Alien Empera left deep emotional scars on Ultraman Mebius’s heart, for example, and upon his return as an Eteldummy, Mebius had to confront those painful memories all over again. That pain, too, is an integral chapter to the story of Mebius’s development, just as, for better or worse, our own traumas come to define how we engage with the world.
Sometimes, we don’t even have the luxury of easy freedom from the things and people that traumatize us. For months at a time, the mysterious space parasite Celebro menaced the Earth that Ultraman Z protected, launching attacks from within the body of host Shinya Kaburagi, as well as others. Celebro’s plan made extensive use of a campaign of trauma, using his summoned and modified kaiju to scare and manipulate the humans of that Earth into accelerating their development in a warlike direction, peaking with the false Ultraman, Ultroid Zero.
Once the humans had created the Ultroid, a weapon so destructive that it could scarcely be matched, Celebro’s plan came to fruition, as he took over the robot and forced it to consume a number of Kaiju, mutating it into the King of Death and Destruction, Destrudos. Calling his plan the “Civilization Self-Destruction Game,” Celebro’s unsettling grasp on psychology allowed him to manipulate the traumas in the hearts of humanity to force them to keep making decisions that would end in their destruction.
And yet, there is no pain that cannot be overcome. People need their pain, but they cannot — should not — let it define them, and it was the human forces of STORAGE, alongside Ultraman Z, that destroyed Destrudos and allowed for Celebro to be taken down. Their traumas were reckoned with, and humanity was able to overcome the sadistic trial Celebro set for them, and move forward.
Zero’s musings about past threats ends with further questions — why did this mysterious foe attack the Land of Light in this way? And why was the Dimensionizer sent from the future? There are countless questions still to be answered, but Zero and the New Generation Heroes will not let their fears of the unknown and the pain of their past keep them from finding a way into the future.