Ultraman X Series Recap Part 3

Last time: there was a rugby match for the ages, the origin of mountains was finally revealed, putting decades of geology research into moot, and Daichi and Ultraman X’s relationship was taken to the next level. And now, the conclusion to this epic saga!ultramanx3-1

The monster for episode 15 is Gomess, the first ever (antagonistic) monster from Ultra Q, making it the first Ultra kaiju to ever appear on the small screen! As Xio is investigating Gomess’ attack pattern, Commander Kamiki gets an invitation to his daughter’s wedding, asking him to “come if you can”. Hah. Even without a stressful job, there always seems to be something.

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Good thing his phone is covered with the Ultra Protective Case in case the screen cracks.

Since the ceremony is tomorrow, Tachibana convinces Kamiki to spend the day with his daughter, Hiromi. When he visits her, the conversation he has with her is incredibly awkward, and wouldn’t feel out of place with a laugh track and the Seinfeld theme blaring afterward. But instead, it’s a rather dramatic flashback to when Kamiki was called on duty during a time when his wife was sick, and there’s not much to laugh at there.

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JESUS!!! What happened to your eyelids?!

Kamiki mentions Gomess to Hiromi, and Hiromi responds by saying that even though she understands the importance of her father remaining on duty, it still hurts when incidents like this happen. Ouch. As it so happens, right about that moment Gomess is terrorizing the populace so Kamiki has to go. As usual, Xio’s weapons are not proving to be very effective, and so Ultraman X has to be deployed early on.

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This is kinda like the police station in my home town.

X manages to hurt the monster badly enough so that it has to hide away for a bit until the episode episode is ready to reach a climax. The Xio team urges Kamiki to go watch his daughter get married as things are calming down, to which he reluctantly agrees. Unfortunately, he comes back almost as quickly as he left, as he has predicted where Gomess will return, and sure enough, it returns, ready to wreak more havoc.ultramanx3-5

Once again, Ultraman X has to step in, and once again he is no match for Gomess’ superior strength. Seeing this, Kamiki decides to step in himself by connecting to Cyber Gomora, and pummeling the beast himself. His interference, combined with the Xio team’s combined attacks along with a well-timed transformation into Exceed X provide the turning point for the battle to end explosively in Xio’s favor.

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He’s so busy, he couldn’t even watch his conjoined twin get married, either.

With his task done, Kamiki finally rushes to the altar… to find that the ceremony has ended. But his daughter is still there, ready to take his hand and be walked down again, even if no one else is watching…

This is another one the great Ultraman X episodes, emotional from beginning to end, and perfectly displaying the immense cost on personal relationships that working for Xio can have. Kamiki is more than a captain of a defense team; he’s a father, and one who will do whatever it takes not to miss an important occasion in his life. Throw a monster at him? He literally throws a monster right back, and the result is one of the most beautiful stories in any Ultra Series.

Episode 16 is done in the form of a documentary detailing Xio from the perspective of an in-universe film crew. The special report begins by introducing the main characters from the Xio investigation team, and asking them random questions. Hayato and Wataru are interviewed together, and the actors’ chemistry really gets to shine here more than ever. Also, in this scene, it’s revealed that Wataru’s favorite movie is Roman Holiday 😛

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And yet he still thinks that this training program is an accurate simulation of real combat situations.

Next up is Daichi showing previously unseen areas within the research division of Xio. This is arguably the funniest scene in the series, as Daichi shows off his Spark Dolls, which basically looks like a geeky guy showing off his action figures. Not helping matters is Daichi talking to the Spark Dolls and mentioning things like Birdon about to lay an egg.

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Well, Xio can kiss its grant goodbye.

Next up is an interview with Lt. Tachibana, who botches answering a question about how she determines if a monster is threatening. As she is about to change her answer, however, the alarm sounds, and the team investigates a potential alien attack! The alien in question was seen by a college student, who Asuna questions, with such gems as “How many eyes did it have?”

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A drunk guy walking down the street? Why doesn’t the alarm sound more often?

The man who Wataru and Hayato interrogate is actually the alien they were looking for, a Kemur Man. Daichi and Asuna apprehend it with the help of Ultraman X (unknown to Asuna). After a rather hilarious scene of Wataru and Hayato stuffing Kemur Man into their car, Dr. Gourman deducts that Kemur Man wanted to shrink the college student from earlier to create a human specimen.

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I don’t care what anyone says, this wall paint will always be my favorite!

Captain Kamimki is introduced through his interrogation technique of askin Kemur Man about his personal life. After 6 hours, Kemur Man confesses everything. This segues into Kamiki’s interview, where he continues to preach about respect for all life, including monsters.

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I fail to see the need for a disguise, considering you’re hiding anyway.

The Xio crew follow a mysterious woman in red (mysterious women do seem to prefer that color, don’t they?) at the location that Kemur Man described. She’s actually a Cicada Woman, working with a Dada as well. A fairly tense shootout occurs, and the Dada is apprehended, and the women it has captured rescued.

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New LeafyIsHere material!

During its interrogation, the Dada predicts that humanity is doomed. It mentions the Dark Thunder Energy that has been striking monsters as of late, and claims that it wanted to capture cute girls before the apocalypse happened. That is actually a pretty awesome plan in my opinion.

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Enough of this monster shit! I wanna know the latest stocks in the fishing business!

After the commercial break, yet another monster attack happens, this time by Gubila. Hilariously, the cameraman shooting this whole report spots Daichi trying to unite with Ultraman X, and Daichi stutters around awkwardly before Rui distracts the cameraman enough for Daichi to transform in secret. And so the battle begins.ultramanx3-14

X makes short work of Gubila, and right before he takes off, the reporter requests an interview. Of course, X can’t do it, because his time on Earth is limited, and he leaves anxious that he came across as rude. The documentary special finally concludes with some final words from both Kamiki and the narrator.

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Sure hope there was no actual person holding the camera in this shot.

But right before the episode proper ends, we see the Xio crew the next day, and none of them are especially happy with the way they were portrayed on TV. Eventually, they start making fun of Lt. Tachibana’s gaffe during her interview, when she arrives to silence them. The final scene is of Tachibana calling her kids, and them assuring her that she was really cool on television. And with that…

This is my favorite episode of Ultraman X, which is saying a lot. The episode takes advantage of its unique documentary style to see sides of the characters that we don’t normally get to see, make some rather meta jokes, and see the action from an outsider’s perspective. There are funny moments, inspirational moments, and awesome moments, all packed into a neat 24-minute package. The only real complaint I have is that sometimes the footage looks a little bit too obviously shot in a studio to believably be from a live news broadcast, but that’s a very minor complaint.

Episode 17 is another child empowerment fantasy episode, about a girl named Sakura, who discovers a Pigmon near her new house. Pigmon is one of the most popular monsters from the original Ultraman, and always a reliable source for these sorts of stories. Meanwhile, the Xio lab is investigating the Dark Thunder Energy.

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…Or so they say…

Sakura befriends Pigmon, and over dinner asks her mother what she thinks of monsters overall. Her mother claims that she is fine with them as long as they don’t attack people. Despite this, Sakura keeps Pigmon’s existence a secret. Obviously, the secret is not kept for long, as one day, when Sakura is visiting the mall with her friends, Pigmon follows behind, scaring some people with its appearance.

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Just to clarify, this isn’t Pigmon.

The resulting stir results in Xio being called over. Xio sees the Pigmon tied up, and this combined with Sakura’s testimony causes them to doubt Pigmon’s malicious intentions. Xio’s database can easily detect that historically Pigmons have never been known to attack humans before, but obviously the people at the mall are not so easily convinced.

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In loving memory of the guy who died under the floorboards.

During the commotion, King Guestra gets released by the Dark Thunder Energy. As Guesra is busy making quite a few people homeless, Pigmon saves a man who especially cruel to him earlier from falling debris. Sakura sees this, and so Asuna goes to help Pigmon for her. Meanwhile, Daichi does what he always does in every episode.ultramanx3-19

Since King Guesra was hit by Dark Thunder Energy, it is very strong, enough so that Ultraman X has a tough time beating it. Even its dorsal fin, its supposed weak point, does not budge when attacked. Too bad that Ultraman X doesn’t have a more powerful form that he acquired a few episodes ago that could easily put him on par with Dark Thunder Energy-charged monsters. Oh, wait…

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Whether or not X emerges victorious, some losses will never be recovered.

Although the battle is won, Pigmon is still unconscious from the debris from earlier. Sakura cries while Xio calls for its relief squad. Of course, Pigmon is fine, and is able to resume playing with Sakura again some time later, this time without the burden of secrecy.

As the other “kid befriends a monster” episode, this one is another classic to add to Ultraman X‘s winning streak. The cuter, quieter moments don’t detract from the more serious, darker moments, and the morality of people in general is a little less black and white than usual. I do have a complaint that during the second half, we don’t see quite as much Sakura, which makes this episode feel a little more standard (and is primarily why I prefer the Houlinga episode slightly), but again, minor complaint.

Episode 18 is another comedic filler episode about the romantic tribulations of Wataru and Hayato. Specifically, a love triangle between the two and Wataru’s childhood friend Nanako. Wataru likes her, but she seems to only have eyes for Hayato. During a rather disastrous rugby game, a Space Cat attacks the city, causing all  electronics to go haywire. ultramanx3-21

After getting everything back in working order, the Xio crew attempts to deal with the Space Cat, named Mu by Rui, but Mu just leaves for seemingly no reason. Actually, the real reason is so that Wataru can be off duty and have time to catch Hayato and Nanko eating together.

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The monster attack made me miss the breakfast menu?!!

Xio discovers that Mu (or rather Mu-chan, as Rui insists) is more likely to appear in areas with Dark Thunder energy, so the team is dispatched again. Hayato confirms that he has gone steady with Nanako. Wataru, not wanting things to get more awkward, assures him that it’s fine and that he and Nanako are merely friends.

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Of course, in Japan, friends come with extra benefits.

Wataru and Hayato cannot do much, as Mu-chan once again causes anything electronic to malfunction. This leaves the Dark Thunder Energy that is following Mu-chan free to awaken any underground Spark Dolls, such as Red King. Daichi unites with Ultraman X again, and prepares to fight, but…

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Ultraman’s got a Wuzzle!

Mu-chan instantly falls in love with X, and Red King, hilariously, gets confused and decides to get over his confusion in the only way it knows how, by destroying shit. Nothing like the meaningless slaughter of more innocents in this romantic comedy filler episode! Wataru actually figures this out, and finds it amusing because Xio had assumed that Mu-chan was part of some bigger scheme.

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YA THINK?!!!

While X fights Red King (“aided” by the hopelessly outclassed Mu-chan), Dark Thunder Energy strikes it, and it becomes more powerful. Not that it matters, because Ultraman X has a more powerful form, too, and so the fight ends rather quickly. While Mu-chan admires the aftermath, she farts, which causes amnesia for some reason. Yeah, this is the kind of show where “Those who inhale my flatulence will forget who I am, and that I exist” is an actual quote.ultramanx3-26

Seeing some strange Space Cat that he has never encountered before, Ultraman X takes the alien and throws it out into space, where it can no longer interfere with electronics. While Wataru continues to witness Hayato and Nanako acting lovey-dovey towards each other, Mu-chan comes back and starts crying. It turns out that X saved her from a Dorako before the series took place, and X forgot about it due to Mu-chan’s inconvenient indigestion issues. Mu-chan’s tears relay that memory back to Ultraman X, but the tears also cause the memories to leave Mu-chan, so now she doesn’t remember him. And so Mu-chan flies off, never to return.

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And now X has made a girl cry, too. His flawless track record continues!

This episode is a pretty definitive break in Ultraman X‘s winning streak, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It is relatively amusing, but not as much as the news report episode or even the rugby episode. It’s mildly diverting, and that’s all there really is to it.

Episode 19 begins with another, more successful lab test, this time actually getting Gomora to materialize as himself for 3 minutes. Even more exciting is that Gomora can understand Daichi, which increases hope for human-monster coexistence. Unfortunately, now is the perfect time for Dark Thunder Energy to make its pesky appearance again. Unsurprisingly, it hits Gomora this time.

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How long would it take Daichi to put sunscreen on Gomora?

Gomora digs his way into an area where it makes more sense to have a bunch of extras running towards the camera. However, before Gomora can do too much damage, Ultraman X steps in again, supported by the Xio crew, who don’t seem to question the fact that Daichi isn’t around for this.

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In several years, this will just be seen as an adorable family photo.

Daichi suggests turning Gomora back into its Spark Doll form, but a voice asks him telepathically if that is really his idea of “coexistence”. This voice belongs to the alien M1, originally from Ultra Q. And I have to say, the “Q” is especially appropriate, as that is the Star Trek character whose role he’s basically assuming for this episode.ultramanx3-30

Daichi and Ultraman X watch Gomora’s destruction unfold on a monitor in M1’s lab (bonus points for mentioning that there was an evacuation, so the usual building-busting is justified). Daichi pleads to be sent back, but M1 refuses, believing that Daichi merely wants to destroy Gomora.

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This isn’t making “Spark Doll Science” seem any more legit.

Finally, Captain Kamiki decides that there is no other choice than to eliminate Gomora, seeming to confirm M1’s suspicions. Daichi screams for the team not to fire, but of course they can’t hear him, and M1 has more reasons to preach about how humans and monsters could never coexist to Daichi.

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Monsters can only exist as really cool desktop wallpapers.

Asuna refuses to fire, and instead runs up to Gomora, and gives him a heartfelt speech, talking about how, having connected with Gomora before, she feels connected to him, and doesn’t want to hurt him. Impressed, M1 lets Ultraman X and Daichi return to Earth just in time for X to block against DTE-controlled Gomora’s fire breath.

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Gomora’s just jealous ’cause he can’t do this.

The episode’s end is the same as usual, except instead of Ultraman X’s Xanadium Beam turning Gomora back into a Spark Doll, Gomora turns back due to the 3-minute time limit running out. The episode ends with Daichi putting Gomora away with the other Spark Dolls, promising that they will meet again.

This is one of Ultraman X‘s most mature, emotional, and provocative episodes, and displays just how adult the Ultra Series can be when it wants to be. There are no gimmicks, no distractions, only serious drama that brings the questions that this show has always asked about human nature to the forefront. But the morality play doesn’t overshadow the underlying emotions, and the simple story of a boy trying to meet his friend in a world that complicates this task. I came pretty close to crying at the end; this episode is just that good.

Episode 20 is Tachibana’s focus episode, focusing on her relationship  with her daughters, who are quite a deal younger than Kamiki’s grown daughter. They currently live in Canada, because Tachibana’s husband wanted to move somewhere where monster attacks aren’t as frequent. Wow, even kaiju don’t give a shit about Canada. Also, her daughters are named Michiru and Kaoru.

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Goddamn it, show, are you even trying?

Sure was nice for the lieutenant to adopt them after their defection from Dark Fall. Daichi detects strange space waves on his electron radio thing. Obviously, monsters have struck again, this time a bunch of Bugbuzun, from Ultraman Nexus. Tachibana joins in the offense, this time, but while she stuck under some rubble, Michiru and Kaoru call, mentioning that another monster has attacked in Canada.

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Is it bad that I laughed at this?

Desperate to save her kids, Tachibana suddenly sees a cool toy appear before her eyes, which somehow can turn her into an Ultraman, specifically Ultraman Nexus. Nexus quickly takes care of the Bugbuzun before defeating the kaiju in Canada, which is another Bemular.ultramanx3-35

Tachibana reveals that she became Ultraman Nexus, which is rather refreshing to see, considering there’s basically no reason for Daichi to keep X a secret. She admonishes herself for her “selfish” actions, and wonders why she was chosen to be an Ultraman. She decides that she is unfit for duty, because she will always priorituze her daughters over her duty.

Daichi, for reasons known only to him (and the audience) asks Tachibana how it feels to be an Ultraman, to which she replies that it is like being focused on being the only one who is able help in some situations, which she admits is not all that different from being human. Ultraman X himself believes he has made Daichi suffer after hearing this, but Daichi assures him he has no regrets.

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I can’t believe I’m just realizing how wrong this sounds.

Another giant Bugbuzun attacks, and this time Ultraman X fights, but can’t keep up. Seeing this on screen, Tachibana abandons her post again and turns back into Ultraman Nexus. As usual, the crossover portion is spectacular, and Bugbuzun is swiftly defeated. After the battle, Tachibana loses the ability to transform, with Nexus leaving her with the words, “Don’t give up”, to relay to Daichi. She reasons that Nexus wanted to cheer Daichi up. The episode concludes with Daichi about to intercept his mother’s voice…

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You spelled “spaghetti” wrong.

This episode left me speechless. Yeah, it’s another amazing episode in a string of them. This one is probably the most thematically rich episode in the series, bringing up the bonds between humans and Ultramen in ways that have rarely been explored in the past. The questions of duty vs. heroism is brought down to its purest elements as arguably the most unquestionably dutiful character on the show is given the power to rise above duty. It is an episode that shows the essential humanity behind the Ultra Series. The key word being “shows”, not just telling as a children’s superhero show could have done. Ultraman X‘s writing amazes me even more after another viewing. But all good things come to an end, and the finale is finally up next.

The finale continues on the previous episode’s ending, with Daichi trying to track his mother’s voice, in the site where Daichi’s parents’ research lab used to be. His parents believed that certain radio waves travel backward in time, and thus could allow prediction of the future. Mamoru and Wataru are scouting up in space, and as usual they don’t need space suits or helmets or anything. They are also having a philosophical debate.

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Apparently those two have never seen Independence Day.

In all seriousness, I really love the random conversations that the Xio members have with each other when there are no monsters attacking. This peace is not to last, for the monitors detect that the source of Dark Thunder Energy is getting closer to Earth. Meanwhile, up in space, Mamoru and Wataru discover an unidentified object emitting light, which seems to sap the Space Musketty’s energy.

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Maybe love can save the Earth fro being shattered by noodles?

As it turns out, the mysterious light (the source of Dark Thunder Energy) is literally nothing, and that is the source of the DTE. So, literally nothing is making the monsters stronger. I don’t know in what universe this makes any sense, but it is a universe where Ultraman X resides, so I can’t question it too much.

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Dark-Thunder-Energy-a-Gogo?

The light lands in America, destroying everything within 1 km, and releasing Greeza, an entity that exists to erase life. Seeing this as an emergency, Ultraman X finally talks to everyone in Xio directly, explaining that the Ultra Flares fifteen years ago were actually caused by X pushing Greeza into the sun. However, Greeza was apparently not completely defeated…ultramanx3-41

All Unver organizations are going on the offensive, to unsurprisingly little avail. When Greeza goes after the Japan branch next, due to its massive Spark Doll collection, Daichi finally reveals to Asuna that he is Ultraman X, something that definitely needed to be kept a secret until now. Asuna, after revealing this information to everyone else, connects with Cyber Gomora again to aid Daichi.

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Sauron needs his Spark Dolls to keep his power!

As Xio installs its energy shield and Hayato joins the giant duo in the Sky Musketty, the final battle begins and seems to end pretty decisively in Greeza’s favor, with the Sky Musketty quickly forced into a crash landing, and Ultraman X swallowed by Greeza’s… stomach thing. However, X manages to destroy Greeza from within, at his (and Daichi’s) expense…

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The Ultraman X insignia, useful as a gravestone, a memorial, or a messianic symbol. Take your pick.

This is a fairly solid entry contracting setup-episode-syndrome, displaying the Xio members just having a relaxing day before it all goes downhill, making the impact of Greeza’s appearance more pronounced when it happens. The action is fairly good, and there is reasonable suspense to find out what happens next. But I don’t really think the explanation of Greeza’s nature and agenda makes much sense, and frankly overhypes what is really just another Ultra Series big bad. Next, we move on to the final episode!

In the final episode, Dr. Gourman theorizes that someone will have to digitally enter X’s insignia to rescue Daichi. Asuna takes it upon herself to fulfill this duty, ’cause you know, she’s a tsundere. Meanwhile, Daichi sees a vision of the night when his parents disappeared. His mother says that the X-Lugger is giving her visions of the future, in Daichi’s voice, alluding to saving the future. Dang. I wish my Figuarts could give me visions of the future, one in which Bandai has been overthrown by hyperintelligent rhinoceroses.

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This won’t hurt a bit. At least not physically.

Naturally, Greeza hasn’t really been defeated, and it promptly regenerates, forcing Xio to re-activate its energy shields. Hayato, having returned from his crash landing (and gotten a sweet bandage to remind us that he’s definitely injured), offers to connect with Cyber Gomora. He does, but it’s only to get his ass handed to him, as Greeza destroys Cyber Gomora and directly attacks the Xio base.

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New, from Shake Weight!

Greeza starts swallowing Spark Dolls, which allows it to turn into a more powerful form. As the Xio crew sets up its final lines of defense, Asuna gives another impassioned speech within Ultraman X, about wanting to pursue Daichi’s dream with him, which proves enough to get Daichi back from his vision.

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Without this phrase, there would be far less competition in the computer world.

Wataru and Mamoru are revealed to be alive and well (they were merely trapped on the dark side of the moon) by showing up again to launch the Space Musketty’s second unit into Greeza, setting him back a little. After this, Daichi finally comes back, reuniting with Ultraman X one last time (at least for his series), and ready to take on Greeza again.

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Well, no one said that Time Lords had to be humanoid-looking.

X strikes Greeza in his feed hole, freeing all the swallowed Spark Dolls, and absorbing them himself. This results in a new armor, the Hybrid Armor, which easily allows Ultraman X to emerge victorious against Greeza. With the threat gone, Daichi sees one last vision of his parents, and finally returns to the rest of the Xio team, faced with the much heavier responsibility of writing a report of everything that he has ever done with X, now that everyone knows his identity.

And that was Ultraman X, and what a show it was. It started off strong, and from there only got better and better, with the last third being an almost flawless run of near-perfect episodes. The drama was well-done, the comedy was well-timed, the action was well-produced, and the underlying themes well-explored without being preachy. Definitely check this one out if you haven’t done so, as it’s easily the best Toku series of 2015.

Next time: something completely different. But not too different, if you know me at all.

PS: No, I haven’t seen Kamen Rider Amazons yet. But I will get around to it, and I shall some things to say about it when the time comes.

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