So, here we are at the finale of the Ultraman Geed television series. And while there’s so much to have loved about this story of the son of a corrupt titan taking his place among vaunted heroes, I can say that my feelings about the show’s end, in many ways, mirror the same complicated thoughts evoked by its first few episodes.
In recent weeks, the villainous Ultraman Belial returned with a vengeance, revealing himself to have been secretly watching his follower, Fukuide Kei, long since his supposed demise at the hands of Ultraman Geed. Kei took the news pretty well, considering the absolute torture his master put him through, giving him no sympathy and pretty much telling him straight to his face how little he means to him. Kei is a villain of a special breed. It’s rare to have such a sniveling wretch be the one given such enormous screentime, but I suppose the fact that we didn’t recognize the depths of how pathetic he could be until much later was part of the plan. He was a suave bad guy, who always acted as though everything was under his complete control, until the hammer dropped and he was suddenly found powerless, if not physically then at least emotionally. Belial used up all that was left of Kei’s composure as a dignified person, and with no remorse at all.
The first of the two-part finale sees Belial rise into space and take his final form as Ultraman Belial Atrocious, announcing to the world that he intends to wipe it out. Naturally, our heroes plan to fight back. They come up with a rather convoluted plan to use their base, the Nebula House, in its original form as the space vessel Neo Brittania (I don’t know either) to weaken Belial with a specially-synthesized enzyme that may give the team a fighting chance. With ten hours remaining, everyone goes to their corners to prepare for the fight of their lives.
No doubt, the best of these short subplots involves everyone’s favorite put-upon office man, Leito, who returns to his family just in time to celebrate his daughter’s birthday before he has to ship off to battle as Ultraman Zero. When he first arrives home, the scene plays out as though the wife suspects poor Leito of doing something very different with his time away from her. And honestly, considering what we saw a month ago, I wouldn’t entirely blame her. What’s even funnier is that the young lady that seemingly charmed him away from a battle in that previous episode was actually Belial in disguise, though we didn’t know that at the time.
Fortunately, their marital status remains intact, as the interruption of their beautiful day out as a family yields a surprising result. Leito’s wife reaches into his jacket and pulls forth his transformation device, explaining to him how badly he’s been keeping the secret this whole time. The most emotionally affecting sequence in the final two episodes, it honestly makes me ponder the futility of the secret to begin with. I mean, I can understand the argument that he wants to protect them, but to exactly what end? This is the kind of thing that, at a certain point, looks to be more of a hindrance than a relief to anyone, for any reason. We’d do well to further remove these kinds of plots whenever possible.
Speaking of removing plots, let’s talk about Moa. She spends her part in the show’s final hour prepping for the AIB operation and helping everyone with their plans. Zena suddenly hatches an idea to use the kaiju Zegan from a past adventure to open a portal that may trap Belial beyond this universe’s reach. Sounds like a plan, and certainly a fun way to get these two involved. Though it’s really more like getting Zena involved, and Moa just happens to be around. The most she gets in the way of meaningful stuff is being everybody’s friend. There’s a moment where she misunderstands a gesture from Zena that makes her think he’s attracted to her. Which, now that it comes to mind, might have been better than what we ultimately got, tacking Moa and Laiha onto a love triangle that neither works nor even coheres into anything by the end. Like Moa herself, it’s just there, trapped in an endless holding pattern.
Fundamentally, Moa has no tangible place in the finale. And it’s sad because I remarked about this very possibility in our last review, hoping that when her character experienced doubts about herself, it might lead to something more triumphant for her later. Instead, she’s added to the unfortunate list of female characters whose role is apparently to recognize that they’re simply not as good as other people and somehow “come to acceptance” about that fact. As if that was a positive takeaway for someone watching. While I would hope this sort of thing is not altogether intentional, it’s astounding how often this same theme seems to recur in the subgenre. Characters whose purpose seems more about them coming to understand that they’re less special and finding some kind of happiness about it. And it would have been fine if we had framed that in a more uplifting way. Like, say, with a character who constantly strives to do better, and ultimately pulls out some big wins despite not being the biggest hero ever. That’s just not what happened here with Moa. Not really. And I’m struggling to figure out why. It’s not like we didn’t have time.
Belial finally descends, and his old foe Ultraman Zero is waiting for him. After countless battles, it’s all come down to this. Their battle is appropriately awesome, ripping up the city around them as they trade one epic blow after another. Until that pesky Kei shows up again, threatening Leito’s family in their home. Zero begins to take damage, told not to fight back if Leito wants to keep his wife and child alive. Luckily, Belial didn’t account for one simple fact: They have a Laiha.
Out of nowhere, Laiha leaps into action to face Kei, chasing him out the apartment window in escape, freeing Zero up to fight on knowing that Leito’s family is safe again. As the giants continue their brawl, the Neo Britannia takes heavy damage and crashes, and Laiha catches up to Kei on the streets. What follows is a rather flimsy origin story that Kei chucks at us, explaining that he pledged his life to Belial after the alien overlord saved him from his dying world. From there, Kei dutifully stole the Ultra Capsules and other gear necessary to enact Belial’s plans without question. It confuses me that this is the ultimate reveal of Kei’s motivation in the series, reduced to a drop in an ocean of potential that, at one point, I was convinced could be something more vast. I suppose it’s my fault for dreaming so big after a few really great moments with this character. That it all comes down to this alone is a little disappointing.
My consolation prize is that it plays out amongst the most thrilling action choreography the show has delivered so far, with Laiha and Kei whipping about the battlefield, showcasing their considerable skills. But even as Zero pulls out all the stops on Belial, the evil Ultra proves too much for his eternal nemesis. The plan having gone awry, Riku is forced to transform prematurely into Ultraman Geed and defend Zero before it’s too late. Even when Zero is able to force the enzyme payload into Belial, it’s not enough.
Belial claims he’s stronger than his son, having absorbed the revered Ultraman King’s considerable power which had been spread across the universe, whereas Geed only fights with a small portion of it. But, having sensed the threat from across the cosmos, the Father of Ultra suddenly appears, engaging Belial in a forcefield that will allow this world’s heroes to regroup.
Now… I can’t call this an entirely random event, since Father’s power is being used by Geed already and we had a whole two-parter dedicated to it. But the character himself isn’t really a person within the story, and I can’t help but see his abrupt appearance here as an intrusion. I mean, it’s the finale. If the show wanted to do this, I would have liked to see more indications that this could happen earlier. Putting myself into the shoes of an uninitiated viewer, this guy is just… some dude. In fact, there’s quite a few aspects to this finale that would have played better to me if we had given them some attention before the closing minutes instead of just suddenly tossing them in.
Meanwhile, Leito is rushed to the hospital, where his wife is freaking out. And Moa is there because she’s such a good friend. It’s nice that she’s not totally forgotten, but this is frankly not impressive. Certainly not as much as the great Zena, who gets to pilot his own giant monster in an attempt to stop Belial for good.
When the forcefield drops and Father is beaten back, Riku and Laiha prepare for the true last battle. And as the two of them fistbump, I’m struck with the thought that this may actually be the first time I’ve seen that gesture performed between a male and a female character in this subgenre. I’m not sure if it’s happened in anything else I’ve seen. Maybe it’s nothing to some, but I couldn’t help but smile at that. The two go their separate ways, Riku transforming as he walks toward his father to end this.
As Geed and Zena join forces to blast open a dimensional portal, Laiha takes her last shot at Kei, who desperately claims that she won’t be the one to mark the end of this story. Newsflash, buddy: you’re not the hero here. Belial destroys Zena’s monster with one blast, and Moa is right there as the non-verbal agent is thrown from the explosion. Because she’s such a good friend.
When it becomes clear that Kei isn’t going to win against the ultimate badass that is Laiha, he becomes increasingly more pathetic. Perhaps hallucinating, or just simply envisioning his master Belial, asking if he proved useful to him. Laiha, in a moment of reserved compassion, acts as Belial’s surrogate, taking his hand and giving him the ounce of credit the real Belial would never have blinked long enough to consider giving. And I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, I’m fascinated by a villain with such total, unwavering devotion, and a boss that wants almost nothing to do with him. It’s not something you see often with a character that has so much focus. On the other hand, it’s that level of focus that makes his ultimate part in the story seem more hollow than it otherwise would have if he was just some tertiary underling standing next to someone more important. The Loki to Queen Bansheera’s Diabolico, to reference Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue. In that case, the “pathetic” one was a villainous ally and servant but not the one whom we placed all our expectations onto the shoulders of. And yet, his story had great impact in the end.
Not that Kei’s story has no impact. I just suppose that it would have worked out better if I had learned more about the backstory they decided to throw at us like a TV commercial in-between the stuff the show clearly cared about more. This along with Moa’s absence of usefulness are a bit of a downer to me. As are the many, many, many small plot details concerning the powers of Geed, King, and the other Ultras that just sort of materialize for the sake of convenience and don’t really mean much to me otherwise. I keep talking about my eyes glazing over in these reviews during these expository moments. I think the best of these shows manage to get by with a lot fewer instances that would pull that kind of reaction from me.
Which is why I can’t say I was blown away as much as I was probably meant to when Geed is granted a miraculous gift in the final battle. As Riku shows his determination to win, the godlike spirit of Ultraman King responds as the hearts of the Ultras before him reach out and give Geed the power to summon all his form changes onto the field at once. Multiplying him into separate bodies that can all attack Belial together. A super-cool idea, sadly given too little time to breathe. But hey, the finisher with all the Geeds firing off their signature beams is cool!
I really did not want the final review for the Ultraman Geed series to end up looking like a bitter list of grievances, but as the battle raged, I couldn’t help but be almost blinded by things that bothered me. When Belial talks about how he’ll “finally get revenge” for the Ultras that dismissed him long ago, all I could think was how the Geed series barely showed that. They never showed almost anything, actually. Only brief clips of faraway things are implied to have happened and then we’re back to Riku (not the greatest of lead heroes) and his standardized battles to save the world from truly undefined threats. It’s completely understandable that Ultraman, as a franchise, doesn’t do a lot of deep exploration of villains, as the focus actually is more on those individual adventures, where the enemy could be something new each week. But this was different. This was Belial. An enemy that deserved some extra attention. Especially if Belial’s enemy is meant to be his son, and the whole concept of legacy is a continuing theme, intentional or otherwise. This show deserves more. And I can’t pretend not to be bothered by the fact it won’t be getting it.
At last, as Geed’s beam smashes through Belial’s own, Riku defeats his father in a burst of flame. Though it’s honestly so vague that I almost feel like nothing happened. He just drops out of the sky as the swirling portal closes behind him, seemingly trapping whatever might remain of Belial on the other side. The city rejoices, the news services claiming one more time that they now trust Geed, as if they had almost any reason at all to doubt him after the countless times he saved their lives in an excruciatingly public way.
This might have been a nice time (assuming the show wasn’t going to bother doing anything else with her) to show Ishikari Arie, whom Belial had possessed like a ghost for weeks, to be seen cheering along with the rest of the saved civilians, at the very least showing that she’s okay and might still make something of her life after such trauma was brought to her door. I guess that was too much to ask…
There’s a nice moment where the two victorious warriors, Riku and Laiha, meet again after having separated earlier. Laiha presents Kei’s cane as a prize from her win, and Riku releases the stored Ultraman King energy from his Ultra Capsule, restoring the enormous space deity to corporeal life. King and Father stand side-by-side, acknowledging Riku as one of them and remarking on his great potential. Leito and his family say goodbye to Zero, who has now separated from the recovering salaryman and will leave them to live out their lives in peace. Moa decides she’s going to move into the Nebula House when she realizes Laiha isn’t moving out, as assumed. And, if I never see another love triangle in tokusatsu with two competing women again, it will be too damn soon. I love you both, Moa and Laiha, but I don’t love that.
Team Geed gathers one last time as friends, and Riku leads them in shouting his catchphrase in a Full House moment. I think the only thing that stops my cringe attack is watching Zena silently leap into the air for the freeze-frame, completely stone-faced while the others are just bursting with joy. Never change, Zena-san.
It may be fair to assume, based on this review alone, that my opinion of Geed as a series is unfavorable, but I honestly enjoyed it. It just so happened that the finale somehow brought out practically all of my biggest complaints like it was running down a survey. What I take with me is the memory of characters like Leito, Zena, Laiha, and yes, even Moa, though I continue to be disappointed by the show’s handling of her character. It’s who they are at their best that grabbed me, and they had some of the strongest episodes of the show. Riku himself was a bit more of a mixed bag, and I’ll never stop wishing his story (and by extension, the story of his father) was told differently. But they still have a chance to bring it home, with the upcoming movie, Ultraman Geed: Unite the Wishes.
One last go-around with Team Geed? Here we go.
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