After a short break from the high drama discussed in our last review, the Ultraman Geed series picks right back up for the final leg of its sprint toward the finish line. And with only four episodes left to make it happen, this show is pulling out all the stops, laying one side of the story to bed while digging up others from a restless tomb. It’s daddy issues galore in episodes 22 and 23!
We begin as the opportunistic writer Ishikari Aire arrives at her secluded home at night and senses she’s being watched. Out of nowhere, the villainous Fukuide Kei is upon her, as creepy as he’s ever looked, just standing there motionless, as if he’s been waiting in that spot the whole time. It’s a bit alarming, since she helped the poor alien through his hobo phase after Big Daddy Belial was killed, leaving the dutiful servant in pretty dire straits. I guess a world-conquering monster such as him wasn’t going to return the same loyalty she gave him. That kind of devotion was reserved for only one person, and since he’s currently dead (lolol), that makes Kei the most unpredictably dangerous baddie in town.
AIB gets the message soon after, which is then relayed to the rest of Team Geed: Kei has kidnapped the poor woman and wants them to hand over his recovered Kaiju Capsule devices or he’ll do something unkind. Riku agrees to be the one to make the trade, despite his best buddy Moa quietly freaking out about the possibility of losing him. Silent But Deadly, aka telepathic partner Zena assures her he’s got a plan in mind. And it involves the bumbling salaryman Leito, who was just about to get back to a normal life full of briefcases and glasses that never seem to stay on his face for more than a few seconds at a time. Before he can get to his next meeting, the AIB agents basically kidnap him to get his help dealing with Kei’s latest scheme.
When Riku, Laiha, Zena, and Moa arrive at the appointed spot, they find Aire dangling from a distant height at an industrial site, where Kei could easily blast her away if need be. Never one to miss an opportunity to reference his boring novelist career, Kei talks about their lives as though it’s merely a storybook, the days flipping by like pages toward the final chapter. And, according to Kei, only one who is chosen by his master Belial can mark the end to their story. The servant or the son. Who’s more worthy?
The question is put on hold as Leito, currently backseat-driving while Ultraman Zero takes over their shared body, leaps onto the scene to fight Kei. Their plan here is… curious. You’d think someone would want to sneak off and grab Aire instead of randomly jumping in and attacking Kei. I mean, anyone could have done that, couldn’t they? And there’s half a dozen people on the playing field right now, none of which are currently concerned with the woman screaming her lungs out while the rope she hangs from cuts off her circulation. But it sure is pretty to look at!
Leito and Zena battle to prove which of the two can out-badass the other as they engage Kei in hand-to-hand combat. That is until Zena reminds Leito that he should probably go save the hostage before Kei shoots the structure she’s hanging from and the helpless damsel falls to her death. And, though the moment of impact is shrouded in debris clouds, I’m going to assume he catches her using Ultra power, because it’s too insane to think that anything else could have happened with her dropping from such enormous heights and him emerging from the mist with her unconscious form in his arms.
Kei and Zena trade energy blasts until Laiha shows up. She and her whirling sword are ready for a rematch, but Kei is in a hurry, so he upgrades to monster form as Moa speeds off in the car with Aire. After Riku and Leito transform, the young Geed is barely able to shield the car from Kei’s attack, taking the brunt of the blast with his own body, but the vehicle crashes anyway. As the battle rages, Laiha and Zena find Moa in the car, alive but alone. It seems gratefulness, along with empathy and respect for life, is another thing Miss Aire lacks, as she has simply disappeared in the midst of the commotion.
Their spectacular battle ends with Ultraman Zero Beyond pulling out the showstopper. With the Twin Giga Break, he carves a glowing “Z” into the monster and it erupts into an explosion behind him. Kei stumbles away from the aftermath, exhausted and furious at another apparent loss. Until Aire suddenly approaches with the case holding the Kaiju Capsules he had done all this for. In the end, he didn’t win the brawl, but he accomplished his goal nonetheless.
Yes, Aire was faking the whole “clueless victim” routine. Which, to me, is not entirely surprising, as the show had done an exceptional job at driving home the dark fascination she held for Kei and his sinister plot to bring the world to its knees. There just was no way, in my mind, she wasn’t faking it. Fortunately, the show pulls a double-fakey and, despite her loyalty, Kei immediately murders her. Team Geed watches in horror as the stabbed woman collapses and Kei vanishes with his capsules.
Moa is crushed. It was her job to protect this woman, evil or not, and she feels as though she’s failed. I have to say that I love this story of Moa internalizing her perceived shortcomings here, feeling as though she doesn’t measure up to the rest of the group, as it’s basically what the show has been telling us this whole time, whether that was their intention or not. Now, what I want is to see some redemptive action taken before the story ends. If she doesn’t achieve a major personal victory, I can’t say I’ll look back on this too fondly.
A distraught Riku begins to hear Kei’s voice in his head, and he sets out on his own to locate and finish him. Of course, that’s not going to sit well with Laiha. She barely has the patience to sit through the kid’s sappy goodbye letter, let alone his proposed solo mission. Interestingly, the rest of the team surmises that Riku is headed to Okinawa, after AIB recovered notes in Aire’s home about that being an important location to Kei and his long-term plans. Which means the upcoming battle will be a bit of a preview of the Okinawa-based events we’ll be seeing in 2018’s Ultraman Geed movie.
The wandering Riku is haunted by phantom visions of Kei, who keeps flapping his gums about marking the end of their story, and who is more worthy, only further emphasizing the villain’s psychosis. Long after believing his master dead, he’s still determined to carry out his will, by hook or by crook. Fukuide Kei: the loyalest hoe in all the universe.
Kei goes on about his Sturm homeworld, once the seat of art and culture, until it was “destroyed by savages” and he found himself in Belial’s employ. It’s all a bit vague, but it sparked a thought. Wouldn’t it be interesting if the real reason Kei’s so devoted to Belial was because they had the same enemy in the Ultramen? Not just because of the generic, ever present “good versus evil” conflict, but because something happened ages ago, and the Ultras were responsible for his planet’s destruction. Possibly just an accident as a result of some cosmic battle, but regardless, it would be an event that fundamentally would not have happened if they hadn’t been fighting in Kei’s neck of the woods. Since Belial has a hatred for the people who rejected him, he and Kei would be a perfect match. That’s all just sleepless fanfiction on my part, but it would certainly explain a lot.
As my eyes glaze over and his eyes turn gold, an explanation is made about how Kei absorbs energy from the cosmic rays of Sturm, which only pass over Okinawa every thirty years or whatever. This somehow empowers Kei like never before, so when he becomes a giant monster, he’s more formidable than he has been in all his past battles with Geed. Kei and Riku transform together, and that nostalgic Ultraman henshin sound effect has never seemed more prominent to me than in this moment, as Laiha arrives to witness their beachside confrontation.
More great action ensues, and a dedicated fan could easily mock up an emotion chart with the amount of crazy faces Kei makes within the void as he directs his outer shell to attack Geed. He forcibly shoves the retrieved Kaiju Capsules into his body, increasing the monster’s size well beyond that of a typical kaiju. With the Sturm lights shining above and Kei’s shadow stretching across Geed’s face below, it looks like this may be the “end mark” our charming supervillain keeps yammering on about. But a determined Riku, who has declared it his duty to stop Kei as one who was born an Ultraman, switches his Royal End beam to wide sprinkle and delivers a devastating final blast.
The trembling Kei has his Crying Vegeta moment, cursing his inability to beat Riku, the favored son. Kei reaches for the expelled Kaiju Capsules, but it’s Aire who picks them up.
… Wait, what? Didn’t we just watch this chick die? Apparently not, because dead chicks don’t slam their hand down into people’s backs and yank out the glowing organs within, as Aire does to Kei. It seems the late, great villainess has been underestimated. She devours Kei’s innards and reveals the true reason she was so unwavering in her loyalty to him this whole time. She was secretly giving him the power to summon monsters even after the supposed death of his master, which should have meant an end to all of that. Because she herself is his master. The whole time, Belial was there with him, in the body of Aire. But now that he’s amassed the necessary power, Belial can drop the charade as quickly as he drops Kei.
What delicious irony. Kei used up Aire and her devotion, killing her as soon as he got what he needed from her. Belial, in turn, does virtually the same thing to him. Except, while the leeching of Aire was for a fleeting moment, this pitiful Sturm has been put through absolute hell for ages now, and Belial doesn’t shed one ounce of remorse. Horribly, Kei responds with a twisted joy in his tone, watching Belial disappear into the sky. He’s served his purpose, for better or for worse, and is pleased to have done so. At least that’s what he tells Riku and the others before AIB agents close in to capture him.
Not going out like that, Kei makes a stunning drop off the edge of a cliff, as though he’s falling back onto a feather bed. He’ll be back, of course, but there are worse ways to peace out on a hated enemy who presumes to take you alive.
I admit I did suspect the possibility that Aire was Belial, but I’m overjoyed that it happened in such a way. If Belial won’t be a “real” villain, with a life and a personality and a complete story, then this crippling deception and chess game of evil makes a pretty arresting substitute. He’s still not my favorite bad guy, but I do appreciate when a plan this devious comes together so smoothly, leaving the jaws of our heroes in a perpetual state of slack.
When the dust settles, Laiha rightly chastises Riku about trying to fight alone. After everything they’ve been through, Team Geed’s not letting him do this without backup. Especially now that Belial is finally confirmed as having survived their last battle, and is stronger than ever. At last, Ultraman Belial Atrocious makes his debut, ready to mark the end of the story of Ultraman Geed…
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