Character development and new crystals are the order of the day in the latest two episodes of Ultraman R/B!
Episode 4 is a very personal one for Katsumi, the older of the Ultraman brothers. The plot centres on Katsumi’s amateur baseball team trying to win one final game for their retiring coach, who was a mentor to our hero in high school. As you would expect, shenanigans ensue and the plan goes off the rails. From interpersonal drama to Kaiju attacks, seemingly every roadblock that could come up does. Along the way, we see that the brothers are not so good at keeping their identities a secret, with Isami, at one point, even calling out his brother’s name while in Ultraman form.
Going by the size of these men when this happens, the voice must have been booming. Likely the entire city of Ayaka heard this call. By episode’s end, even the baseball coach is able to discern the identity of Ultraman Rosso, supposedly based on the hero’s pitching technique. Along with this, we finally get a full-body, day-lit shot to confirm that Makoto Aizen is, in fact, the human host of the upcoming villain Ultraman Orb Dark and the one behind the string of Kaiju attacks. What remains unclear is his motive, though it becomes a bit of a man-versus-item tsundere situation, as he is seen at the end lovingly touching his Ultra Crystal items, holding all the Kaiju at his disposal. In this episode, he uses the familiar Red King type, and even praises the crystal after his failure.
This episode also marks a milestone in being the first time that either brother obtains Ultraman crystals other than their base, even if it is a weapon upgrade rather than a form change. The new crystals allow the R/B Slugger to be upgraded and the brothers perform a new team attack with this upgraded weapon, mostly due to necessity with Katsumi’s injured shoulder. This injury, sustained early on, is smartly played as a weakness as an enemy combatant would use with an injured foe in the real world, and it does noticeably hinder Katsumi’s baseball performance.
After Aizen sets off the Red King attack, the coach himself is forced to step in and close out the baseball game as pitcher, ultimately failing as the opposing team lands a grand slam in the 9th inning. Despite a solemn promise to go out on a victory for the coach’s final game, he is not disappointed, or upset. He knows they played a good game and that that is what matters more. It’s a lesson in sportsmanship, and in perspective in life and as the coach and Katsumi leave the field together one final time, the shot is fittingly artistic in its composition.
In this episode, we are given a glimpse of the more human side of the citizens of Ayaka, with Isami even being given something of a romantic interest in the form of an engineering student, Ninomiya Yuuha, nicknamed Icarus for her propensity to build flying machines that can be worn by humans. In truth, her experiments are dangerous and even Katsumi and Asami see it. They go so far as to convince Isami to get her to stop and give up on her dreams of achieving flight while wearing wings. I cannot argue with their logic, seeing the machine Icarus builds for herself.
After a visit from Aizen, a bug is planted in Quattro M so he can gather information, hoping to overhear the brothers talk about being Ultramen. He is quickly foiled by Asahi, thinking the bug is a cookie (as it was disguised), and it is thrown away. It’s a slightly comedic moment as the bite sends a burst of high-pitched sound into Aizen’s earpiece, causing him to do a literal spit-take with the tea he is drinking in that moment.
Working with this new character, Isami helps her fix her wings, and the pair discover a new Ultra Crystal, for Ultraman Tiga and a new Wind form. Aizen decides to take it for himself, and unleashes a new Kaiju on the city, leading the brothers to waste zero time in jumping into action. This time around, unlike in previous weeks, they don’t waste time hiding their secret identities from Asahi or Icarus, who are both led just out of range of where the battle will take place before the brothers transform. The new Kaiju is reminiscent of Toho fan favourite King Ghidoriah, though with only one head instead of three, combined with a large bird.
With the wind crystal in the open, Isami is the first to take its power and becomes Ultraman Blu Wind, with a deep purple colour palette and many of the same powers as the Kaiju. It’s a genius move and ultimately ends up leading to Aizen only getting more excited, and after the battle is over we see the Ultraman Orb Dark crystal for the first time. It’s a detailed, close-up shot, and for anyone curious about the odd letters on the crystals, they have been partially decoded by a Facebook user, who deciphered that the letters are simply the Ultraman language versions of whatever character is pictured on the crystal.
Overall, Ultraman R/B continues on an upward trajectory, even if only scratching the surface of its lore up to this point. With the debut of Ultraman Orb Dark now set for episode 8, we are only a few weeks away from a massive spike in the conflict. But until then, I would love to see these characters and this world continue to grow.
What did you guys think of these episodes? Leave a comment and let’s discuss!