TsubuCon 2023 was a year of several anniversaries — one of which was the 25th anniversary of 1998’s Ultraman Gaia! To celebrate this momentous occasion, Sunday, November 26th marked the date of the Ultraman Gaia 25th Anniversary Show, “XIG Fighters, Get Glory!” Ultraman Connection was there to enjoy the festivities, so let’s take a quick look at what happened!
The show started, shockingly, with an invasion, as the Metal Organism Apatee and the Destruction Devil Blitz Blots taking the stage to end humanity in the name of the Radical Destruction Bringer. However, for 25 years, two giants have protected the Earth from any and all threats, and this day was no exception! Ultraman Gaia and Ultraman Agul appeared and quickly defeated the two invaders, finishing them off with their Photon Edge and Photon Crusher attacks.
With that, the show could start properly! Maria Theresa Gow, who once played Georgie Leland in the original run of Gaia, was the host, reintroducing herself and greeting fans. After that, she waited for her special guests to appear — and a moment later, they did… but not exactly the ones she expected. Gow had been expecting to welcome Takeshi Yoshioka and Hassei Takano, the actors who portrayed series protagonists Gamu Takayama and Hiroya Fujimiya… Instead, however, Gamu and Fujimiya themselves appeared! Perhaps that mysterious Red Sphere was still causing problems…
Gow, assuming that the two were merely deep in-character (and to a certain extent, she wasn’t wrong), went ahead with the show, asking them questions about things like what they considered the strongest Kaiju they’d faced. (Gamu answered C.O.V., the first Kaiju he’d ever had to battle as Gaia, and Fujimiya, giving a rare chuckle, answered Zog, the Angel of Destruction.)
The question and answer segment got interrupted quickly, however, when Gow was suddenly kidnapped by a mysterious hooded figure that stormed the stage! Armed with the aforementioned Red Sphere, a wish-granting object that can blur the lines between fiction and reality, the figure revealed that he had pulled the two heroes out of the Ultraman Gaia TV show! Summoning more Kaiju and aliens to defeat the two and menace the convention, Gamu and Fujimiya transformed into Gaia and Agul again (complete with Gamu’s signature eardrum-bursting GAIA! call), and the battle was joined!
Though Gaia and Agul were able to defeat their foes, they faced a deadly problem — as long as the hooded figure possessed the Red Sphere, he could simply resurrect his pawns! Unable to fight an endless battle, the two Ultraman were defeated by the villains, their master almost unbelieving in his own victory. When all hope seemed lost, however, the Red Sphere itself seemed to intervene, taking in the wishes of humanity as the mastermind unleashed his minions on the audience… and not only reviving Gaia and Agul, but empowering them to reemerge as Gaia and Agul Supreme, alongside Ultraman Dyna and Ultraman Tiga!
Each of the four giants battled to raucous applause, each battle ending in the Ultras’ victory. Finally, the mastermind himself took the stage as Gaia and Agul defeated Blitz Blots, cursing them and demanding to know how they had returned. The answer was simple — the wishes held by the fans for 25 years had kept them going. With a final pair of Photon Streams, the evil force threatening TsubuCon was vanquished… Just kidding. The power of the Red Sphere was used one more time with evil intent, summoning the powerful King of Mons to destroy the heroes!
The two and a half decades that had elapsed since Battle in Hyperspace had clearly only made King of Mons stronger, as even Gaia and Agul Supreme struggled against the titanic Kaiju. Thankfully, Gaia and Agul, and the people that support them, have been growing as well. Reiko Yoshii, the energetic reporter that had supported Gaia and Agul in their fight to protect the Earth, returned to lead the audience in an “Ultra Charge” that revitalized Gaia and Agul once more.
The power within them swelled and overflowed, allowing them to grow further into Gaia Super Supreme! Joined once again by Tiga and Dyna, Round 2 against King of Mons went far better for the forces of light, with the exponential power of Gaia Super Supreme able to banish the malice that empowered the Kaiju. Finally, the three generations of “TDG” were able to destroy King of Mons once and for all with a triple finisher attack!
Though Agul was a bit confused how Reiko got to TsubuCon, he and Gaia were more interested in thanking the audience for their support, and pledging their continued efforts to protect the Earth from danger, asking the audience to keep them in their hearts before leaving.
Now that the metacrisis had been resolved, the planned panel could resume, with Gow returning to the stage, confused where her guests had gone. While she tried to figure that out and set up the upcoming talk show segment, fans were treated to never-before-seen behind the scenes footage on the creation of Gaia, showing Yoshioka and Takano, as well as their castmates and crew, making the show that had lived in audiences’ hearts for 25 years. For a series as dedicated to “preserving the magic” of their various shows, this look behind the curtain was exceedingly rare, and deeply heartwarming, showing just how much effort went in to making Gaia, and the friendships that were formed on-set.
After that, Gow returned to the stage to welcome the talk show segment, featuring not only the arrival of the actual Yoshioka, but other talented performers who had made the fighters of XIG come to life. Koji Nakamura, who had played Team Hercules’ Takanobu Kuwahara was first, followed by the man who played Team Hercules’ leader Satoru Yoshida, Yu Matsuda. Next came Shunsuke Gondo, who had portrayed Team Seagull’s leader Atsushi Koyama, then Kagawa Kuronosuke, who had played Team Falcon’s leader Tatsuhiko Yoneda. The last captain to come out was Masami Nakagami, who played Team Lightning leader Katsumi Kaijo.
With the cast assembled, the talk show segment began, and audiences were treated to fascinating discussions about the dynamics of Gaia, a show with the largest cast of any Ultraman Series entry to date. With rotating specialized teams within XIG, all the captains and members had very different experiences, not just on-screen, but behind the scenes as well, with Yoshioka’s Gamu one of the few constants. The discussion did a lot to help illustrate just what makes Gaia such an exceptional series, even two and a half decades later.
However, there were more reveals to be made as the panel went on, as Gow cut from the talk show to reveal something new for fans of Gaia — the announcement of the S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Ultraman Gaia [V2], as well as a special effects set! As with all Shinkocchou Seihou figures, this new iteration of Gaia was designed using the proportions of the original suit actor to make the most accurate possible representation of the character!
After that, two more guests joined the panel — the actress for Reiko Yoshii, Yukari Ishida, and the actual Hassei Takano! Immediately, the two performers (who are actually married in real life) put on the charm, reminding the audience just how different Takano is from the character he plays.
As the panel continued, the various iterations of Gaia and Agul appeared, reuniting the actors with the characters they had fought alongside on screen 25 years ago. With a call for Gaia and Agul from the audience, they appeared, and then some, with Gaia and Agul V1, V2, Supreme, and Gaia Super Supreme appearing. With the incarnations of the Earth and Sea assembled, the panelists posed with the heroes, enjoying a return to the past together with the Ultras, and shared their final messages. With that, the panel was over — but, of course, TsubuCon certainly wasn’t! Check back in to Ultraman Connection to learn more about other panels and events from TsubuCon!n