“The end is here. The game is over. No more pretending, no more, no more!” … For the third episode in the final five within Ultraman Orb it is the start of the finale, stringing together the final three into a trilogy. Now, as mentioned in the previous review it is all set to begin with the final duel between Gai and Juggler.
Juggler unleashes an attack onto a building in a process of training, while remember to when Gai first received the Orb Calibur and became Orb. The following day Gai is visited by Haruka who has had another vision of the future, a world shrouded in darkness. Gai tells her that will not happen under his watch, but she thought he should know that this battle was coming soon. S.S.P. in the meantime stumbles upon the cracks in the building, and wonder if a kaiju could be the cause of the attacks as Juggler begins to destroy the city. S.S.P. and Gai run into each, as Gai easily figures out that Juggler has been readying himself for this very moment, the moment where he and Gai finally settle their rivalry. Shibukawa takes S.S.P. away from the scene as the two enlarge themselves for their final battle.
Gai begins the fight as Thunder Breaster, believing that Belial’s darkness is the best method to counter Juggler. However Juggler has found a new power, and uses his Serpent-Hearted Blade to unleash his signature move, Crescent Moon Shockwave. Shibukawa tries attack Juggler but is ineffective; this causes Juggler to retaliate with Shin getting injured from the blast. Gai finally turns to the Origin form, where their blades finally meet! Gai attempts to make a quick finish of Juggler, but is unsuccessful and is distracted by Shin’s possible injury. Juggler strikes down Orb and proceeds claim victory in their rivalry. Juggler taunts S.S.P, as Orb lives revealing the true strength of a hero! The battle continues with Orb overpower Juggler and defeat him. Gai goes to his friends and discovers Shin is fine, as well as learns that Naomi knows he is Orb. Meanwhile Shibukawa and VTL corner Juggler to arrest him.
Episode 23 is simply incredible, focusing on what seems to be the end of one of the most solid rivalries seen in Tokusatsu within the past few years. Its depiction can be regarded as a bumpy road at times, most likely due to exterior forces such as the 25 episode limit, but always maintained its intensity. Now, a part of me hopes that this final duel is not the true last battle for this duo as I wanted to see it be settled with each character in human form, so it would be decided by the actors fighting one another to further the drama. For me that would be the best fitting end for Juggler and it could maybe still happen since Juggler was arrested by VTL.
When Juggler had his flashback earlier on I found it to be effective, and moment that series needed ages ago. However the scene was also used to promote the Amazon Prime Exclusive, Orb the Origin Saga, seeing that the clip was filmed for that series. Originally I thought other clips from the Origin Saga would have been incorporated into this episode revealing a few more moments from Juggler’s past, and further tease the prequel but that obviously did not happen. Yet, out of all this chaos we got the confirmation that Naomi has fully realized Gai and Orb are one in the same even if the others did not figure it out, when Juggler called him out in the start of the freaking battle!
Overall this episode is one of those episodes where everything about it was good, and there really was not anything wrong with it. The battle between Orb and Juggler is just one than one should really see than have it fully described. It would also be hard trying to find comparisons to it using other battles from the Ultra series, or other toku entirely as I felt it was completely original aside from basic tropes associated with sword duels. Since this was the opening act to the finale I now wonder what is in store for the viewer with the final two episodes…