Fukuide Kei is back with a fiery vengeance in the latest episodes of Ultraman Geed. After recent adventures saw him stumbling through the streets as a penniless vagrant, things weren’t looking so hot for the dark Ultraman Belial’s dutiful underling. Despite the big red guy having treated him like utter crap, Kei’s not taking his boss’ apparent demise very well. Meanwhile, the growing sentience of Geed’s supercomputer may become a problem in the days ahead for the young master Asakura Riku as he locks horns with Kei once again.
A series of ridiculously convenient coincidences all line up back-to-back, as Laiha and Riku happen to be near a TV as the news services report on Kei’s disappearance and suspected murder of his editor a while back (when people thought he was just some random novelist), explaining what the rest of the world thinks of his sudden vanishing act. Cut to Moa and Zena, their talk of gathering up Belial’s Kaiju Capsules being cut off as they just happen to be right there when Kei is walking by, still clearly screwed up after repeated defeats and suffering the ill effects of Geed’s Ultra Capsules forcibly shoved into him. Immediately after, Leito just happens to be walking along the same street and notices him from around the corner. In a matter of seconds, Moa, Zena, Leito, and Riku are all there to confront Kei simultaneously. No one called anybody. They all were just in the neighborhood at that exact moment. Just because.
I wonder. If I start talking a lot about Chris Pratt while someone in the next room is watching Guardians of the Galaxy and my neighbor is watching Parks and Recreation, will Chris Pratt suddenly appear in my bedroom? Stranger things have happened, right?
In any case, Kei would normally be laughing in their faces that they’d dare to attack him, but he’s also had a bout with amnesia (it’s been going around lately). Which is interesting because the last time we saw him, I could have sworn he was still repeating Belial’s name to himself. This amnesia, like Kei, comes and goes, I guess. While the humans try to wrangle him, an alien from one of the races Kei has murdered in the past shows up to fill the power vacuum left by his dead (lol) master, Belial. He summons a repainted giant robot that quickly begins destroying the city while Kei slips away in the ensuing chaos.
He finds his way into the arms of the opportunistic young author Ishikari Arie. This sneaky little minx craftily hides him before Riku can spot the man, and she spirits him off to her secluded home. This… is a very interesting and unique character. The kind one might not expect to see too often in a recurring role on Ultraman. She’s apparently human, and will soon learn of Kei’s status as a Sturm alien bent upon defeating Geed and causing havoc, but she cares more about being able to take the credit for writing the story later than about the lives that will almost certainly be lost in the process of harboring this space terrorist. An intriguing, dark foil whose intentions can’t be boiled down to the usual world-conquering vagaries of most villains, but rather, she’s just a selfish person trying to get ahead, whatever the cost. The stunning beauty Kobayashi Ryoko plays her with an understated hunger for personal gain and a curiosity that won’t be satisfied until she’s got what she’s after. A wonderful contribution that I welcome to the show for as long as they’ll have her.
Arie references Kei’s best scene to date, when he halts his frightened editor from fleeing after his alien nature was revealed, leading to an off-screen death. This seems to spark memories in Kei, but not quite enough to wake him out of the haze, as Arie makes him a snack and butters him up like they’re about to make beautiful music together. Kei, on the other hand, expresses fear. He doesn’t want to remember. In his sorry state, there may be a part of him that feels guilt and regret over the things he’s done. Or his inner self is just sick of all the shame and failure he’s endured and decided to close up shop for the winter, I dunno. Either way, Arie doesn’t seem like the type to take no for an answer.
She follows Kei until that sweet-looking repaint finally tracks him down and blasts them both. In the flames, Kei’s memories are reignited, and he’s quick to summon a monster to deal with his attacker. Even after threatening to end Arie, despite her fear about what may happen next, she sticks with him. You’ve got to admire her determination, if not despise her complete lack of empathy for the coming victims. The two are clearly made for each other, though he hasn’t the presence of mind to realize it just yet.
When Kei remarks that Riku has acquired Ultraman King’s power along with all the others, the young Ultra corrects him: “Not his power. His dream!” And rightly so, as this arc is very much centered around the hopes and dreams of those involved. Riku only hears the news broadcast after pouring through his options for future employment (much of those under consideration are jobs where he can be of service to his fellow man, of course). Kei is having a crisis of faith, having seen his dreams crumble before him at the righteous hands of Geed and Zero. But then he meets someone whose own dreams may be just the thing he can exploit to revive his dark ambition. Their downfall may be that a dream achieved through nefarious means comes with a heavy toll. And we’ve yet to see if they’re truly ready to pay up.
After neutralizing the robot threat, Kei’s monster form battles Geed, but he’s still clearly too weak to be taking him on. He’ll need medical treatment before he’s strong enough to do any real damage. And the cure for what ails him has been right in front of us the whole time. The next episode sees Kei doing what he probably should have done a while ago: Attack the Nebula House, the underground base he’s known about this entire time, having practically gift-wrapped it for Riku before the first episode.
Stepping out of the CG elevator and blasting Riku, Laiha, and Pega, he’s not playing around. Riku’s best defense is to throw stuffed animals at him, while Laiha badassedly deflects the Sturm’s attacks with her whirling sword. After a rushed evacuation from the peanut gallery, Kei accesses the supercomputer Rem to turn over all its functions to him. What he doesn’t account for is that Rem has become even more helpful to Riku than originally anticipated, and she somehow produces a physical body.
With what sounds like a dubbed voice, she introduces herself, and Riku’s shop manager friend is all up in her grill because she’s chosen the appearance of a L’oreal model or something. In fact, it really is Mimori Suzuko, the genuine voice of Rem.
Elsewhere, Leito is surprised to hear someone had requested to learn about his company’s products, but the real surprise is that it was Arie who put in the request. She’s seemingly here to get the measure of this man, maybe even intentionally distract him while bad things are happening beyond his sight. And I guess I have no choice but to accept that, when another kaiju starts rampaging and Zero tells him it’s time to get to stepping, Leito just stays there anyway, first mentioning that he’s got a family to provide for (despite the fact that they’ll be dead if someone doesn’t fight to protect them soon) and then apparently is swayed by Arie’s feminine wiles, the juxtaposition of those two things alone is maybe funny in a not-so-great way. I mean, I know Arie’s amazing but Leito doesn’t strike me as someone whose priorities are that outta whack.
Once Kei realizes what Rem is doing, he forces her to “pilot” Mecha Gomora in its attempts to defeat her master, and Riku must transform in order to deal with it. And in this battle we have the character development I was aching for during the show’s requisite clip show that recapped prior episodes, in which Rem had faked losing her memories and I couldn’t really feel much about it. Here, they fulfill this wish and then some, when we’re taken within Rem’s inner programming, where she converses with a version of herself.
Here we see a hidden parallel between Rem and her charge, Riku. Both were created for reasons beyond their control, as eventual tools for evil, waiting for their ultimate purpose to be activated. But along the way, they found a different purpose, and after the truth came out about their dark origins, both are now able to choose a different path for themselves. Rem denounces the reductive statements from her more obedient former self, siding against her creators to continue helping Team Geed.
Hearing about Mecha Gomora’s weakpoint from Rem, Riku transforms into Ultraman Geed Royal Mega-Master, delivering the finishing blow. The monster’s destruction comes only after Kei’s primary mission is finished at the Nebula House, and he emerges from the CG elevator a fully restored supervillain. In fact, as Rem later reports, he may be even more powerful than he had been this whole time. And if Belial’s not here to rip up the Earth, Kei will just have to do it himself. With a little help from his new protege, Arie.
I can’t wait.
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