After months of build-up, Ultraman R/B made its long awaited debut this past Saturday. Did the red and blue brothers live up to the hype?
Ultraman R/B does an incredible job of setting up its world and characters early into the first episode. Before the OP has even played, we see our heroes, Katsumi and Isami Minato, in their Ultraman forms, as well as Grugio, the Kaiju of the week and resident legend of the brothers’ hometown, Ayaka. We see Ayaka itself, a quaint small town in the mountains of Japan, complete with its own local legends and folklore. When the cutaway begins, the feeling is almost like the cliched-but-entertaining, “Record scratch. You’re probably wondering how I ended up here,” situations that come up in films from the 1980s.
Isami is a scientist, and Katsumi works with his father selling clothes out of the family’s store, Quattro M. As the episode goes on, the brothers remark that their mother was a scientist as well but has been missing or gone for close to 15 years. Katsumi is shown to be the more responsible of the pair, as the older brother, and Isami, for all his knowledge, is painted as a bit more reckless. While the pair banter back and forth, we are given a glimpse of another character we know will be a major player later, Makoto Aizen, an industrialist who seems to specialise in human augmentation.
The brothers play off each other very well, from a comedic standpoint. More and more as the episode goes on, we see their exchanges in the way of friendly banter, one-liners, and quick jabs at each other’s personality quirks, meant in a friendly way. This extends all the way to their teamwork in the first encounter they enter, against the Kaiju, Grugio. In fact, it’s one such exchange that leads to the brothers getting their Ultraman powers in the first place, if indirectly.
Isami begins to detect movement near the mountain just outside of Ayaka, and ropes Katsumi into going along to the park. Complete with odd backpack gear and too much jargon, Isami is able to dive full on into his research, and Katsumi is left confused. When Grugio attacks, though, the brothers are fearless and act immediately to save a child. Grugio catches them both in a blast but they awaken as Ultraman Rosso and Ultraman Blu, rather than being killed.
During combat, they show little to no aptitude, making for a few moments played for laughs in which they accidentally hurt each other. Going along with this motif, their first form change comes from an improvised idea by Isami to see if they can switch power sets by switching crystals. They can and do, inverting their abilities to finish the fight.
When defeated, Grugio reverts to a crystal and falls into the palm of someone’s hand. Though we do not see this new figure’s face, the implication is that this person is the human host of Ultraman Orb Dark. The brothers awaken to find their younger sister, Asami, trying to give them candy and get them home. It seems being an Ultraman is exhausting.
Overall, this episode serves as a great introduction to this series, while offering a slightly more light-hearted take on Ultraman than previous series have. The comedic dialogue and snappy one-liners from the brothers made this episode very entertaining, and I would easily recommend Ultraman R/B as a jumping on point for newcomers to the franchise.
What did you think of the premiere of Ultraman R/B? Leave your thoughts below and let’s discuss!