Last Friday, July 7, 2017, Crunchyroll began to simulcast Tsuburaya Productions newest addition to the Ultra series, Ultraman Geed. The series stars Ultraman Zero: The Revenge of Belial’s Tatsuomi Hamada, who portrays Riku Asakura/ Ultraman Geed. Riku Asakura is a boy without a clear knowledge of his past, but soon discovers he is fated for more! Riku discovers he is an Ultra, Ultraman Geed, and sets forth to defend the world from various threats. Even if it means that one day he must face-off with his father, Ultraman Belial! Now, similar to last year’s Ultra, Ultraman Orb, Geed assumes his forms by combining the powers from previous Ultras via the Ultra Capsules.
Since his return in Ultra Fight Zero, Belial has grown much stronger and manages to erase the known universe. However, something occurs to prevent this incident and in the process the universe has a vague memory of the event. The people of Earth label this event the Crisis Impact! Six years pass, and the world discovers a photo of Belial, which could be the answer to the Crisis Impact. Meanwhile, teenager Riku lives in an upstairs apartment that a convenient store owner has. There Riku lives together with his friend, the illegal, Alien Pegassa Pega. Yet, on this day their world changes as a kaiju (Skull Gomora) appears nearby. Riku, Pega, and the owner barely escape the monster’s rampage. Riku lies to the owner, and says he will stay with a friend, while the owner joins his family.
Riku and Pega decide to campout for the night near an abandoned observatory; where Riku claims his parents took him to it once. Soon they are greeted by a drone, U-Tom, which leads them to an underground base, as Skull Gomora disappears briefly. In the base the A.I., later named REM, claims Riku is its inherent master, and he must claim his destiny to be an Ultra. REM presents Riku with a device, the Geed Riser, and the Ultra Capsules which will allow him to regain his true form. Luckily enough it is just in time, as Skull Gomora returns, and draws near to the owner and his family. Skull Gomora is seemingly attracted to the owner’s niece, but Riku turns into Ultraman Geed and defeats it. That morning Riku watches the news report on the battle, as well as hears REM’s analysis of his blood confirming him to be the son of Belial.
Going into Ultraman Geed, my interest and expectations for the show fluctuated several times. There were a few things about the series that gave me an uneasy feeling. The first issue was the fact Tsuburaya Prod. was continuing the Fusion gimmick for another Ultra. I liked the Fusion gimmick with Ultraman Orb, but felt re-using the concept takes away from Orb’s uniqueness. The second issue I had was with the casting, especially when Zero’s new host was confirmed to not be a returning, Yu Koyanagi. Originally there was mistranslations, or misidentifications that exclaimed Yu Koyanagi would be returning the series to pseudo reprise the role of Zero’s host, but as the new character, Reito. Later it was confirmed to be Yuta Ozawa, a member of Gekidan EXILE and band-mate to Kamen Rider Ex-Aid’s Hayato Onozuka (Kiriya Kujo/ Kamen Rider Lazer). For me, this was somewhat discouraging because I enjoyed Yu Koyanagi as Run. I also wondered how the aesthetic would change between Koyangi, and Hamada as these different characters. Yet, aside from those minor gripes I attempted to remain enthusiastic.
Upon viewing the premiere, I found myself stuck between a rock and a hard place. The episode feels lackluster when comparing to its predecessors’ premieres, specifically Ultraman X and Orb. Whereas, it is stronger than the premieres for Ultraman Ginga, and its sequel Ultraman Ginga S. Yet, even being better than Ginga I still found the episode hard to enjoy. The acting and dialogue is not the best; Tatsuomi Hamada is like a Japanese Andrew Gray as Troy in Power Rangers MegaForce. Just unlike the robotic Troy, Hamada’s portrayal as Riku is smiling robotic bland protagonist. Now, the only commendable attribute about Riku is that he is depicted to be a tokusatsu fan. Then as for the other main characters, they are barely featured in the episode aside from Alien Pegassa Pega. The others briefly appear to deliver a few lines, or act mysteriously to set-up further episodes. One thing that sucks is this episode insinuates that the antagonist, Kay Fukuide, must be Belial in disguise or that he is possessing someone.
Now, the tokusatsu portions of the episode heavily relies on Skull Gomora’s rampage. One shot even invokes a reference to Shin Godzilla; where a red trail of flames traces Skull Gomora’s path. An issue with Skull Gomora’s rampage however, is it does not really face off with any real military intervention throughout the episode. The only struggle it faces is when Riku finally transforms into Ultraman Geed. Yet, the fight between the two is interesting, as the battle is directed to focus on Riku’s inexperience and the strength of a Belial Fusion Beast. Even when Riku begins to come into his power, he still cannot phase Skull Gomora until having to firing off the Wrecking Burst to defeat the monster. It goes to show how the series is approaching Riku’s rise to power, and evolution into becoming a hero. One thing that is sort of comical, is that by transforming Riku begins to regain lost or repressed memories. Also, through the course of the battle Geed’s Color Timer is fully established! For Geed’s Color Timer, Geed will have the ability to fight for 3 to 5 minutes, however if he times out he will not be able to transform again for another 20 hours. That last part is somewhat a new concept, as a time-out has never received a definite recharge time!
Overall, I find Ultraman Geed’s premiere to be very bland in comparison to other Ultra series, but still not too terrible. The episode really sets up the main plot for the series such as the Crisis Impact, Riku’s backstory, and the mystery of who is Kay. Hopefully, that means all the future episodes will build off that, and use it to establish the rest of the cast. However, some would say this is foreshadowing of a bad production from Koichi Sakamoto, which I doubt. Never the less, the next few episodes need to step-up their game!