Divine Power — Human Failings

Divine Power — Human Failings

Hello and welcome, Ultraman Connection readers! Last week, we examined the tragic events around the invention of the Terranoid from Ultraman Dyna. Although it was a project supposedly engineered on behalf of humanity’s progress and protection, its debut very nearly enabled humanity’s destruction by the shapeshifting Spheres.

This wasn’t the first time misguided humans have attempted to reach the power of Ultraman without understanding the responsibilities of that power. Even within the “Neo Frontier” universe, which includes both Dyna and its preceding series, Ultraman Tiga, other individuals had tried to attain the sheer cosmic strength most readily associated with Ultraman through other means.

The Terranoid itself was part of “Project F”, a shadowy program within the TPC. The individuals behind this project knew of the existence of the ancient Giants of Light – including Tiga – and the fragments of their power standing as lifeless, immobile stone statues. Unlike others who might have been awed or humbled by that power, certain individuals instead looked on those ruined remains with envy.


This “Project F” first was inspired by the efforts of Keigo Masaki, a genius inventor and scientist who conceived a process by which he could essentially become another Ultraman Tiga, in a way which was very similar to how Daigo Madoka gained the power of the titular “Giant of Light”. He stole Daigo’s Sparklence, the device used to transform into Tiga, and used it to fuse with another ancient statue, taking on Ultraman's power… but while still carrying his own twisted pride and jealousy.

Instead of becoming a new Tiga, or a betterand more powerful version of Tiga as he hoped, Keigo instead became a figure named as Evil Tiga. Instead of becoming a strong, admirable leader of humanity, his own hatred of humanity’s flaws, its petty weaknesses, drove him to attack human beings in a rampage. For someone who tried to position himself as an infallible genius, it’s a deliberate stroke of irony that he couldn’t plan for his own failures when he gained the power of Ultraman.


Keigo finds an opportunity to truly prove his genius later in the Tiga series however. After he falls short of the power of Ultraman – and spent a stint in a TPC jail cell – he was humbled enough to instead use the “light transfer” process he invented to help Daigo fight as the real Ultraman Tiga, in his climactic battle against Gatanothor.

Unfortunately, while Keigo learned his lesson, others within the TPC did not. The search for other stone giants from the Earth’s ancient past would later release the three Dark Giants who terrorized humanity during the events of The Final Odyssey. And, as we’ve already seen, “Project F” would eventually lead to the tragedy of the Terranoid during Ultraman Dyna.


Most of these individuals – despite their misguided aims – are driven by a noble cause. I say “most” because Keigo explicitly wanted to rule over humanity as an absolute tyrant with his power, but it’s more understandable to consider petty bureaucrats and other individuals within the defense teams who resort to such extreme means. It must be unbearably frustrating and terrifying to face such powerful threats against the Earth and to feel so utterly helpless when considering the meager physical strength of humanity’s own defenses. Like with any other defense team, these individuals want to live up to Ultraman’s ideal, but doubt their own ability and know their own flaws all too well.

Things go wrong when the “strengths” and “weaknesses” of humanity are confused with each other, just as these individuals misunderstand the “strengths” of Ultraman as well. Another series, Ultraman Z, builds its major characters and their conflicts around this concept of strength through the entire show. Haruki Natsukawa and Ultraman Z himself both start out on their journeys seeking strength, and arrive at a similar conclusion about what truly defines them both as heroes.

Acting as a pilot within the defense team STORAGE, Haruki wants to live up to the expectations of his friends and commanding officers. He has a deeper motivation however, and continually puts his life on the line to fight Kaiju in memory of his father, who died during a Kaiju attack while also trying to save other lives. During their many battles together, both Haruki and Z discover the important part of their mission is that last part – protecting lives. Rather than seeking an escalating threat of violence by gaining more power, by the end of the show both of them become united in their desire to end such violence. After all, Z himself was given his name to bear out that same hope, to become the last hero in a future which has no need of violence.


It’s a startling paradox – to gain strength in order to not need such strength in a battle – but it is necessary to be able to fight as Ultraman. Both Haruki and Z mature in their understanding of the role of Ultraman by learning how to hold these ideals in tension, and to never lose faith in their hope for a peaceful future regardless of that tension.

So when Haruki’s commanders in the defense organization GAFJ choose to discard those ideals in the pursuit of incontestably destructive power, Haruki and his comrades are rightfully horrified.


To those commanders, the Ultroid Zero represents the ultimate fulfillment of a process which also produced the mecha piloted by the STORAGE members. And maybe under better circumstances the Ultroid Zero could truly be the most praiseworthy fulfillment of humanity’s ideals, our desire to live up to the examples of the Ultra heroes. Only one thing holds it back from this noble aim, or rather, only one thing has dangerously accelerated this process in order to make a weapon by which humanity will destroy itself instead.

Not like the GAFJ commanders and engineers needed much prodding, but unlike “Project F” in the Neo Frontier universe, there’s another outside influence taking advantage of humanity’s flaws this time. The alien “puppet master” Celebro had been hiding behind the scenes of the defense team’s operations, taking control of different individuals within the organization, and eventually even its director. Other alien invaders may have tried to use their own Kaiju or giant robots to attack the Earth, but Celebro gets its kicks by influencing different civilizations to engineer their own downfalls, and then hijacking their most powerful technology to use for itself as a weapon. The Earth became the next target for its twisted “Extinction Game”, and Celebro gets terrifyingly close to winning that game during Ultraman Z after it takes control of the Ultroid Zero.


Thankfully, the rest of the STORAGE team, alongside Haruki and Ultraman Z, all force him to take a cosmic-sized L in their final showdown. To further illustrate how strong Haruki and Z have grown as partners, fighting as Ultraman throughout the series, they even manage to fight and beat Celebro’s horrifically mutated version of the Ultroid without using any of their powerful fusion forms or weapons!

I’m sure that the events of Ultraman Z won’t be the last time we’ll see human beings try to achieve the power of Ultraman without the same sense of humility and compassion which truly gives our heroes their strength. The flaws which lead to these incidents – and also to the catastrophic failures of such attempts – remain all too easy to find in human nature around us. But just as the heroes of these shows discover their own strengths in spite of, and because of their perceived flaws, all of us can truly live up to their example as well. In victories and defeats, in successes and mistakes, the true power of Ultraman lies in an ideal which never fails unless we give up hope.

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