News Stay At Home With ULTRAMAN| Ultra Science Fiction Hour on YouTube

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Kai "the spy", May 1, 2020.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Hot out of the oven, it's Blazar #4, "Thus Fought Emi":


    This was a pretty cool one, an undercover mission for Emi at a corporation that may be exploiting a kaiju for profit. It's a solid story that feels like something from the early Heisei Ultraman era, but with a modern attitude. Nice use of the idea of antibiotic overuse promoting resistance. Good character-building for Emi, and we get to see what a badass martial artist she is too.

    This is the first time that it's apparently been Gento's idea to summon Blazar, instead of Blazar initiating it. I thought that would be a bigger deal, with Gento having to ask for Blazar's help, but the Blazar Brace just appeared on his wrist between one shot and the next. Also, you'd think he'd have some hesitation about transforming indoors for the first time. How did he know it would work?

    Although for a moment, I was wondering if we'd have one of those episodes where the Ultra manifests at human size for an indoor fight. That's usually a nice twist when it happens.

    Looks like next week focuses on Anri, so I guess we're into the stage where we get individual focus episodes on the characters.
     
  2. Kai "the spy"

    Kai "the spy" Admiral Admiral

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    I really enjoyed the spy-fi of this episode, and the kaiju was something different from what we mostly get to see in this franchise. So far, this series has been really good and on par, if not surpassing, the last best of the current crop Ultraman Z.

    Meanwhile:

    Taro #17


    Seven #43
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Here's Blazar #5, "The Mountain Roars":


    This is one of their episodes where the kaiju is basically benevolent, a mountain guardian deity awakened when a military weapon test disturbs its sleep. It takes place in Anri's home village, and she's initially uncomfortable being reminded of her rural origins, but eventually embraces her heritage to save the day. Not bad, but I wish I were more fluent or the subtitles were better, since apparently some moments relied on characters speaking in the local village dialect, so they didn't quite come through. (I wonder how the English dub handles them.)

    Weird kaiju this week, Dorgo or Dorugo, with a horseshoe-shaped arch attached to its head. At first I thought it was part of the weapon system the military had inadvertently built on its back, but it was part of Dorgo's own anatomy, one of inbuilt weapons in its head.

    Next week is the first recap/clip episode already. Looks like the frame will be a group of TV reporters trying to understand recent incidents. That might have some merit. Focusing on reporters seems like an echo of Gaia. I hope they do something worthwhile with the characters rather than just having them be an excuse for recapping episodes.
     
  4. Samurai8472

    Samurai8472 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Obon Festival in Japan during that week.
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    By the way, the scale on Dorgo seemed really wonky. I mean, officially, Blazar is 47 meters tall, which means a human's height would be nearly the diameter of his color timer. But Dorgo was supposed to be the size of a mountain, with Gento and Anri being these tiny specks on its back when the camera pulled back. It seemed to me like Dorgo should be 2-3 times as big, though it would've been a more difficult and expensive visual effects challenge to pull that off.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Here's the first recap special, "Uncover the True Identity of the Giant Creatures":


    In keeping with the approach of the series, the special is a little more grounded and less goofy than previous years' specials. It's got a fairly realistic situation of a news producer, a reporter, and a tech guy from a TV station brainstorming a special about the kaiju and the GGF (though apparently they aren't familiar with the name SKaRD yet). The reporter's name is Reiko, a clear Gaia homage (though Kamen Rider Ryuki also had a reporter named Reiko). She's the same reporter who appeared at the start of episode 1 reporting on Bazanga's attack.

    I was hoping there'd be something substantial about civilians' reaction to living in a world of kaiju and Ultraman, but I guess that was expecting too much. It was basically just the trio recapping the five kaiju fights so far and musing about how they could get a news special out of them. But it ends with the producer resolving to investigate the GGF further, which I expect will be a setup for future recap specials.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Blazar #6, "The Invading Aurora":


    Our first alien-invasion episode in this series, in a story that has a very Showa-era feel to its premise and its aliens, though with Blazar's sense of humor and character. It's Yasanobu's turn to be the focus character, revealing his tendency for overwork and his habit of forming attachments to machines as if they were alive -- which turns out to be kind of true thanks to the Cannan-seijin's Aurora Beam. Interesting how matter-of-factly the Cannan agent approached Yasanobu and tried to recruit him. And the scene seemed to be written as an excuse to show off how muscular the actor is, despite playing a techie nerd.

    This is the second episode in a row (not counting the clip show) where Blazar has revealed the capability to contort in an inhuman way. Last time, it was bending way, way back before flinging his double Burrade; this time, he twists his waist around 360 degrees to wind up for the throw. Very strange. I mean, it kind of makes sense; Ultras are supposed to be "beings of light," so there's no reason they should be bound by the limits of human anatomy. If they can change size at will, there's no reason they couldn't distort their shape as well. But it's still rather silly-looking.
     
  8. Samurai8472

    Samurai8472 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Gotta have something for the moms stick around for.

    There's been a suspicion for years among fans that some of the handsome actors(kamen rider,sentai,ultraman) also attract the moms that are caring for their kids while they also watch the toku shows.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I hadn't realized that the Cannan-seijin are legacy aliens from Ultraseven: https://ultra.fandom.com/wiki/Alien_Cannan

    I should've guessed that from the very Showa-esque design. Their aurora weapon and rocket disguised as a human-built tower (a lighthouse in the original) are from the U7 episode too. So this is the first reused creature design in Blazar.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Blazar #7: "Rainbow Appears, Part 1" appears:


    It's another deity-kaiju, evidently a recurring thread in this show. It bugged me that the GGF immediately started shooting at it when it was just standing there not doing anything. Even aside from ethics, it's a stupid move to risk provoking a kaiju that might not otherwise have been hostile. (Didn't they ever see "Miracle of the Third Planet" from Ultraman Max?) But then Gento and his old mentor got into a debate about whether kaiju should be fought or coexisted with, and it gives me hope that the show will continue to engage with that question.

    I mean, really, episode 2 established that SKaRD's main mission was to study kaiju, but all they've really done is shoot at them. The show's also done nothing with the thread set up in episode 2 where SKaRD's boss ordered them to study Blazar and determine if he was friend or foe. This is a fun show on a character and stylistic level, but it's dropping the ball on developing its ideas.

    By the same token, it struck me that none of Blazar's fights since the pilot have had the same level of distinctive personality he showed in his debut, which had unforgettable bits like the slow reveal from behind the building, the bit where Blazar jumped up onto a building, and the chimp-like aggressive posturing to drive Bazanga away from an endangered soldier. Blazar's shown some vulnerability and pain and alarm while fighting the kaiju, and he does come off as more childlike and undisciplined than the usual Ultras, but the fighting style hasn't had the same kind of distinctive moves as in the premiere.

    Overall, though, this was a well-directed episode with some nice touches, like the shot of the banners whipping around in reaction to the sudden gust.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Blazar: "Rainbow Appears, Part 2":


    An okay conclusion. It was nice to see Teruaki reasoning with the professor whose books he loved, trying to talk him down. Otherwise, the rest is mosly an excuse to introduce power-ups, new weapons for both Earth Garon and Blazar. I like how they had trouble with the unexpected recoil on Garon's new shoulder cannons (which I think are the Mega Shot cannons from the mountain-deity episode), and the way Yasanobu resolved it by firing from a prone position.

    Blazar's new Rainbow Kourin weapon is a bit silly, but the way he creates it by seizing Nijikagachi's unleashed energy and harnessing it for his own use is kind of interesting. The Kourin comes with its own power coin, and apparently they haven't entirely abandoned the "interior space" scenes of the host using the power devices inside the Ultra (so the kids can emulate with their toys, no doubt), except it's done entirely as a close-up on Gento's arms, implying it's the same kind of first-person POV shot like the one that opens the main titles and the one in Gento's dream here.

    The Rainbow Kourin is similar to the R/B Kourin from Ultraman R/B. The wiki says "Kourin" means "light ring," but I did some digging on Wiktionary, and apparently it actually means "Halo." Oddly, the subtitles and English dub call it "Rainbow Slash."
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Sorry I'm late -- my wi-fi's been out since Thursday. Here's Blazar 9, "Planet of Music":


    This is an Ultra Q tribute, with Cicada People controlling a Garamon robot (the original giant, evil version of the suit that was repurposed as Pigmon) with music including a new arrangement of the Ultra Q theme, which also takes the place of the usual end credits song.

    But the really interesting part is the interaction between Gento and Blazar early on. Blazar briefly takes over Gento's body to try something he's curious about, and then Gento finds himself in an interior space where he tries to communicate with Blazar. This is something we need more of, since it's a nice, novel take on the host/Ultra relationship, with more of a sense of mystery to it. I think the only other times I've seen an Ultra take control of a host's body were the two times Ultraman Zero was in reluctant hosts, though he was able to do it much more successfully in Geed than earlier in Saga.

    Once again, SKaRD has a disturbing tendency to pre-emptively shoot at a kaiju who hasn't caused any harm yet. I mean, Garamon was literally just dancing when they shot at it. They really need less aggressive rules of engagement. In this case, Garamon was sent to pillage, so they should've shown it pillaging to establish the threat. Is the budget so low that they couldn't even afford to do a brief city attack scene?
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    And here's Blazar #10, "Parent and Child":


    A double meaning, since we get to see Gento on a day off with his wife and son, while a mommy Demaaga comes to the rescue of her newly hatched baby, and the GGF goes for its usual shoot-first approach to kaiju.

    This one confused me. At first, it looked like Blazar was seeing the baby Demaaga (Dema-aka-chan?) in danger and trying to compel Gento to transform and go to protect it. But then there was this weird bit where Blazar summoned his Spiral Burrade to kill Demaaga, and his own left hand rebelled and stopped him, with his right and left sides fighting each other. What I wasn't clear on was, which of those was Blazar and which was Gento? Was it Gento in control at first, acting on his training and duty to kill the kaiju, and Blazar trying to stop him? Or was it Blazar acting on his hunter instinct to kill the kaiju with Gento trying to stop him?

    And then it got really wild. Blazar's facial scarring (the blue part that's supposed to be his crystallized energy "blood" leaking out) basically ignited, and he opened his mouth and roared to destroy the incoming missiles and protect Demaaga. Okay, that had to be Blazar doing that, right? So did he win the argument, or did Gento win the argument and convince Blazar to take his side?

    It's frustrating that this show has such an interestingly complex relationship going on between Ultra and host, yet is barely giving us more than glimpses of it, without any real exploration of Gento's reactions or thought process. Although the way Blazar seems to be increasingly acting up and making Gento act erratically, I suspect this is building toward some climax in the next two episodes culminating the first half-season. I wonder if it'll lead to Gento's secret being outed, with the back half doing more exploration and explanation once Gento can finally actually talk to other characters about Blazar.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Blazar #11, "Escape":


    SKaRD and Blazar take on Starro the Conqueror! No, not really, it's a starfish-like space kaiju named Gebalga, which has impenetrable defenses and an EMP, and apparently Blazar chickens out of the fight and tries to compel Gento to run away. Which seems like the payoff to a lot of Blazar's previous behavior; he often seems vulnerable in fights, showing pain and alarm and disgust at the various things he endures. (Although I do find it ambiguous whether we've been seeing Blazar or Gento in control, because these past couple of weeks have made it seem like Gento's steering until Blazar intervenes to stop him.) I'm starting to wonder if Blazar is a child.

    We've got an arc building of Gento having doubts about the other being inhabiting his body, but true to form, there's barely any exploration of it. I'm frustrated at how implicit it all is. I wish Gento weren't so reserved and silent. Hopefully we'll get something more next week, which will be the climax of the first half-season.
     
  15. Kai "the spy"

    Kai "the spy" Admiral Admiral

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    The novelization of the original Ultraman series from Titan Books, which was originally scheduled to be released this past summer, has now been resolicitated for a December release. Glad it was just delayed, as I'm really looking forward to that.
    Coincidentally, in November, a US edition of the original novelizations to the first two Godzilla films from the 1950s will be released. Looks to be the winter of kaiju novels.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I'm curious how the novel handles Hayata/Ultraman. I have this pet theory that Hayata spent the whole series in a healing coma and Ultraman was pretending to be him the whole time. After all, he had no memory of his time joined with Ultraman, and the only other time we've seen that was in the second Ultraman Zero movie where he bonded with a humanoid alien host to save his life and spent the whole movie in total control of the comatose host's body. (And sort of when Kazamori was healing inside Heisei Ultraseven's capsule while Seven was impersonating him, but that's not quite the same thing.) Also, Cap, Ide, Arashi and Fuji got plenty of character development, at least by Showa-era standards, but Hayata was pretty much a cipher in the personality department.
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Blazar #12, "Let's Go, Blazar":


    The conclusion of the Gebalga 2-parter, with Haruno chewing out SKaRD for their failure and their overdependence on Blazar. The team plans to use a rod made from Garamon's super-hard tilsonite as a spear to destroy Gebalga's EMP generator, firing it from the Mega Shot, and they reunite with the Mega Shot development team and Gento's old team from episode 1. Gento mistrusts Blazar after recent events and leaves the coin in his locker.

    When the battle goes badly, Blazar shows Gento memories of their first meeting 3 years ago, and Gento realizes they both just want to protect people. Gento says Blazar was "trying to take us back there" when he rebelled in the past two episodes, and I'm not clear on what that means. Anyway, it reconciles them, the coin flies to Gento, and Blazar gains a new power to turn the tilsonite rod into a sword which is his midseason power-up weapon, destroying Gebalga.

    It's clearly the writers' preference to take a very minimalist approach to the relationship between Gento and Blazar, but it's a bit too nuanced and implicit for me to follow clearly. Gento's a man of few words and Blazar doesn't talk at all.

    There's an odd bit at the end where Haruno calls a superior after Gebalga's destruction and says the "second wave" has been defeated. Which kaiju was the first wave? I guess the bosses know of an external threat targeting Earth.

    Next week is the midseason clip show, whose premise will involve Emi going through the team's records, and the preview text said something about those records concealing a secret. I have a suspicion that
    Emi is going to figure out from Gento's movements and absences that he's Blazar.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Blazar #13, "SKaRD Nocturne":


    The annual midseason clip show, framed by Anri compiling the team's battle reports and the SKaRD members conversing and getting to know each other a little better. There's a fair amount of dialogue that's just narrating the clips as reminiscences, but there are some nice character moments, and some hints about the arc for the second half of the season. My guess last week was completely wrong; the discovery is that the first and most recent space kaiju came from the same place, and that a meteoroid shot down in 1999 (which Emi learned about in her undercover episode) followed the same trajectory as well. It looks like there's some alien force behind several of the attacks, a pattern we've seen before, e.g. in Dyna and Cosmos. But as usual, Blazar is very understated and minimalist in the way it sets that up.

    This is the last time we'll hear "Black Star" as the closing theme; as usual, they'll debut a new closing theme for the back half of the season.
     
  19. Samurai8472

    Samurai8472 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Blazar #14, "Moonlit Memories"

     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Oh, you just beat me to posting the episode. Good to see someone else posting here again.

    The second half of the series gets underway with Emi digging into the mystery of V99 over the objections of her boss Haruno. Turns out her father disappeared in the explosion that Gento's been flashing back to all season, and Haruno doesn't want Emi digging deeper. But she's encouraged by Haruno's predecessor Yu Dobashi, played by Minori Terada, who was the main villain in Kamen Rider W and the voice of Colonel Muska in Miyazaki's Laputa: Castle in the Sky.

    The kaiju Deltandal is a high-speed flier, and it doesn't seem like it's done much damage to justify SKaRD going after it so aggressively, but that's just the way SKaRD rolls, I guess. There's some pretty dynamic CGI aerial action and some unusual angles on Blazar, zooming into and out of Gento's interior space through Blazar's color timer, which seems to confirm that Blazar follows the usual convention first hinted at in, I think, a Tiga or Dyna movie and confirmed in Ultraman X, that the host exists in a pocket dimension inside the Ultra's color timer.

    There's also an interesting bit in the aerial battle where Blazar draws the Rainbow Kourin and then taps his temple contemplatively the way Gento does. Interesting that he does it on the left side, which I believe was established before to be the side that Blazar controls when the two are at odds.

    Oh, and since it's the second half, we get a new closing theme song, "Brave Blazar," by the same singer as "Black Star." I kinda liked "Black Star," but I like this song significantly better. The singer, MindaRyn, has a lovely voice.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2023