We are now down to the finale three episodes, and this time around Kei Fukuide prepares to launch his final attack! Riku is summoned to Okinawa to duel Kei, however he is unaware why it the location for their battle. Yet, Riku friends who in pursuit of him, slowly piece together this is a trap that he may not return from…
Laiha notices a letter from Riku explaining that he has left to battle Kei Fukuide. Furious at Riku’s decision, Laiha calls everyone to assist in locating where the battle may take place. AIB already has a suspicion that Riku is going to meet Kei at Okinawa, due to various maps found at Arie’s residence. The maps and additional notes indicate Kei needs to be at a specific location in Okinawa to receive some sort of power booth from his home world. Zena decides he will lead a small team, featuring Laiha, to Okinawa to stop Kei. Whereas, Moa will lead AIB with Zero and Reito, as a last line of defense if things go wrong.
Meanwhile in Okinawa, illusions of Kei lead Riku to their battlefield. Yet, each illusion reveals bits of information about Kei’s past; Planet Strum was a planet destroyed in a war, which Kei sees at fault with his own race’s weakness. Zena and Laiha are still in pursit, as Moa and the others slowly begin to pinpoint their desired location, Naka Gusuku castle. Riku finally arrives to Kei’s location and questions Kei’s decisions that lead them to this point in time. However, Kei expresses he was not fooled by Belial, and followed him for the power he sought. This leads the two to transform and conduct what maybe their last battle, as Kei basks in the light of his home world.
For every second Kei baths in the Strum’s light he grows stronger and larger, but Riku manages to counter each attack. Eventually, Riku summons enough power to defeat Kei. Then as Riku and the others attempt to capture Kei, Arie reappears from the dead! However, it is revealed to be Ultraman Belial, himself, possessing Arie’s corpse. Belial reveals he was hiding within Arie the entire time, waiting for his moment to steal Kei’s Strum Organs. Belial then takes his leave, as Kei has a mental breakdown and makes his escape. Laiha then takes the time scold Riku, for leaving without his friends help. Yet, unbeknownst to Riku or the others his father, Ultraman Belial assumes his new demonic form… Ultraman Belial Atrocious!
Episode 23 “Strum’s Light” is a decent episode to kick-off the finale, and a lead in for the battle with Ultraman Belial Atrocious. To start off I like the beginning with Riku’s letter to Laiha explaining his reasoning to go alone, while it may be a stupid decision it is a heroic trope. I personally enjoy moments like these in almost any tokusatsu, because normally one can expect an awesome fight as well as great character development. What the viewer got was not entirely development towards Riku’s progression as a character, but development on Kei’s past. The use of illusions to tell the story of Planet Sturm, and lead Riku right to Kei’s location is wonderfully coordinated; the scenes feel more like a supernatural dream than guided messages.
Now, as for Riku and Kei’s fight, I found it to be great. However, I would not say that it tops the first two battles with Pedanium Zetton, which means it is my third favorite fight for this Belial Fusion Beast. Yet, the fight still manages to standout! For starters, the two are seemingly even at the beginning with Kei eventually overpowering Riku. There is a cool moment when Kei pushes Riku up against a mountain side, and furiously Riku throws a rock at him; I did not catch the rock throw during my first viewing of the bout, but once I did it added to my overall enjoyment. Then when Riku uses his shield to deflect Kei’s blast to become Magnificent, and tackle him down it was incredible. Magnificent form’s contribution to the fight is maybe my favorite part, since they both did the anime-trope simultaneous punch to one another. In addition, Geed is forced to use the Geed Claw in the form, which I think was a first for the form. Once Kei enlarged himself I found the resolve slightly underwhelming since Riku defeated swiftly.
Belial’s return is another interesting twist because I did not think he was possessing, or latched himself onto Arie; had the light on Kei’s back not been explained as his organs, I still would have believed it was Belial. The reveal is rather shocking especially since Belial is walking around in a corpse, and makes viewers wonder was he in control of Arie the entire time. In addition, Belial strips Kei of Sturm Organs and absorbs them into himself before taking his leaving. Belial’s departure is a little awkward because he just leaves, without lashing out at his son or the others. However, Kei’s mental breakdown at the betrayal is incredible to behold; I think Kei’s breakdown is one of the more emotional scenes seen within the last few episodes. When that one tear trickles down Kei’s face it does not make the heroes pity him, but the audience too. Yet, due to the preview for the next episode Kei seemingly will overcome this betrayal, and attack Reito’s family.
Honestly, I think this is wonderful set-up for the final two episodes! I like how it attempts to wrap-up most of Kei’s story before he eventually dies, or somehow redeemed; yet, I highly doubt Kei is truly redeemable though because of the various crimes he committed. The preview for Episode 24 excites me with all the action, but has me wondering where this is all leading to! Will this finally be the end of Belial? Will Kei die a hero, or as a villain? Also, will Moa be stuck in the friendzone?! Find out either in the next episode, Episode 24, or in the finale with Episode 25!