Ultraman Blazar ep 1 Review: It’s Monke Time!

Another year, another Giant of Light. But this year Tsuburaya surprised us with a VERY different first episode. The atmosphere, the execution, the shots, and of course, the Ultraman himself – all feel massively different from the previous “New Generation” heroes. Ultraman Blazar signaled a breath of fresh air for this long-running Tokusatsu franchise.

One thing that you will notice when you start the episode is the time of day. Yes the first episode of Ultraman Blazar is shot entirely at night. Whereas recent series have always started off with a lot of light and well-lit areas (of course, for the Giant of Light theme), Blazar threw you off the deep end straight into an anti-Kaijuu operation happening in the middle of the night. We got a brief introduction to Captain Hiruma Gento through his subordinates – this is also one of the few new gen Ultra protag who is a mature man with a position of leadership.

The start of the episode – or rather – the entire episode as a whole – has a very Shin Ultraman/Shin Godzilla feel to it with the use of military protocols and filming style. We see the Mobile Team deploying in a very cool fashion, dropping down with thruster-equipped gauntlets and backpacks, the deployment looks pretty professional and the communication between department are crisp, short but there’s also intimacy thrown in to show that they are on the same team and respect each other. Gento’s squad is also filled with different personalities that balance between seriousness and comic-relief.

Usually the Kaijuu destructive scenes in Ultraman are filmed with props and fake buildings etc…But for Blazar they utilize CG to blend the Kaijuu suit with actual scenery and blend the destroyed cars and buildings with very realistic effecet and texture. Of course this method looks much more real but also more costly which is probably why it’s shot at night. The action director for Blazar’s first ep is none other than Kiyotaka Taguchi – whose works are praised in the Toku community for his amazing perspective and style.

Of course, the Kaijuu prove too much for human weapons – even special anti-kaijuu rounds. And in comes our main character – the giant warrior Blazar. Blazar’s debut is super simple and impactful. Gento risked his life to save his team members and fulfilling the plan on his own. And then the Blazar brace just…appeared on his arm and basically forced him to transform without any explanation, there’s no speech about joining two entities and there’s no chant. Blazar name absolutely wasn’t spoken in episode one – just Ultraman. Making Ultraman a tale circulating between astronauts was pretty genius, and human have zero idea if Ultraman is an ally or hostile entity. Usually when they see an Ultra fighting against a Kaijuu, some people will regard him as an ally of justice and a hero to protect the Earth. However, Blazar’s “fight” is quite different from the rest.

His “beckoning” pose at the start was very unique – and it was said to be a “prayer” of sorts – and that’s pretty cool. And his stance remind me of kickboxing/Muay Thai and the assymetrical design really highlights his uniqueness. Blazar’s fight was both primal and sophisticated. There are times where he went full monke and literally climb up a skyscraper like King Kong – or trying to scare off the kaijuu with his roars – which sounds pretty funky to be honest. But there are also times where Blazar “recognizes” that others are in harm’s way, so he tries to defend them. This show that Gento’s subconsciousness still exist inside of Blazar – despite the episode didn’t show us any indication of that. For Trigger and Decker, and even Z, we can see the human host existing in a sub-dimension inside the Ultra and performing actions with the Ultra rise devices, however, Blazar started off with just pure, un-adulterated giant-on-giant violence. This also create a contrast where Gento is super tactical and very caring to his comrade, Blazar just go head-on and dove right into the Kaijuu with some really random attacks.

The episode also debuted another of SKaRD’s member: Emi Aobe. Her appearance was brief but impactful. Carrying a large bazooka with hot-pants showing off her physical characteristics make quite an impression on fans. I reckoned they will slowly debut the other members as the series progress.

Captain Gento is also another breath of fresh air for Ultraman. He’s mature, dependable and just stoic enough to carry himself as a Special Force soldier. His “catchphrase” is also very mundane yet filled with determination and courage. No more weird “Smile! Smile!” or the super naivete of a civilian, Gento will surely be an interesting protagonist to follow.

Blazar’s debut fight was…strange and unique. Not a lot of flashy attacks or quick finishers, he struggles with Bazanga at some point, got frustrated and screamed at him (lol!). His grunt is also quite unique as it sounds like an old man grunt rather than the deep gruntle like previous ones. The action in this epsiode hasn’t got the super crazy effects or dynamic perspective just yet, but it serves as a perfect setup to introduce our two main characters.

Blazar’s first episode was very nice. The atmosphere and feels of the series is completely unique and is much more “dark” in a way compared to previous series. However the ending song by MindaRyn is very upbeat and cool. The preview for next episode will be the formation of SKaRD. Looking forward to it.

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