Looking Back at Leito Igaguri, the Ultra-Salaryman

Looking Back at Leito Igaguri, the Ultra-Salaryman

Hello and welcome, Ultraman Connection readers! This week we’re stepping out of the darkness, from looking at the villains of the Ultraman franchise, and instead focusing on a very unlikely hero. The path of Jugglus Juggler’s character teaches us that darkness can come from unexpected places, from people who we thought of as heroes, and even from our own envy and pride. The reverse is also true – the power of light also comes from unexpected places. The same hope and courage which defines Ultraman’s role as a hero is often closer to our lives than we think, and drives seemingly-ordinary people to be heroes in the same manner.

Many of the protagonists of the Ultraman series follow this path, accidentally stumbling into their role as Ultraman and finding confidence in their newfound strength as their stories continue. But one character embodies this ideal above the others. This week, we’re talking about Leito Igaguri, who served as Ultraman Zero’s partner and host in the Ultraman Geed series.

This series wasn’t the first time Zero had taken on a host, but Leito was a very different character from Zero’s previous partner, Nozomu Taiga from the Ultraman Saga movie. Taiga was a brash, hotheaded pilot, who butted heads with Zero throughout the events of the movie – mostly because Zero himself was also notably brash and hotheaded. At first glance, Leito couldn’t be more different from the young Super GUTS recruit, or more different from Zero himself. Most people would only see a meek, dutiful, and quite frankly boring salaryman, but Leito caught Zero’s attention when he tried to save the life of a child during one of the attacks against the Earth in the Geed series.

Notice that I said “tried to”. Leito ran towards the scene to try and help, then accidentally tripped into oncoming traffic! When he woke up, he didn’t find himself transported to a fantasy isekai world, but instead had become Zero’s host. As if he didn’t already have enough on his plate already, working as a businessman in a marketing firm, and supporting his wife, Rumina and their precocious grade-school daughter, Mayu.

The fact that Zero and Leito are so different ironically seemed to make them better suited as partners. Zero had been through many battles, victories and defeats as Ultraman, however it’s important to note that he hadn’t really been on any normal version of Earth before this point. Unlike the other heroes from the Land of Light, Zero had never lived among humans in the same way, or even among the other Ultras on the Land of Light itself. Zero had been taken away to train from a young age after he attempted to take the Plasma Spark’s power for himself – just as Belial had done before. 

While he eventually finds something of a family, being reunited with Ultraseven in the Ultra Galaxy Legends: Mega Monster Battle movie, it seems like neither he, nor his father, had much interest in a domestic home life. The chance to follow Leito’s life as a father, to see how seriously he takes his comparatively mundane responsibilities towards his job and his family, all help Zero to understand their shared role as Ultraman in a new way.

Leito also learns a lot from his time with Zero. He has a big heart, and dearly cares for his family and others around him, but Leito starts out as timid and weak-willed – one might even call him cowardly in some respects. He wants to help protect lives around him, and only lacks the confidence to see it through. Zero gives him the strength to do exactly that, both figuratively and very, very literally as Ultraman. 

I should also mention that Leito is played by Yuta Ozawa, who is something of a character actor when it comes to portraying delinquent punks. He’s very much playing against type as the mild-mannered salaryman… until Zero whips off his glasses and takes over, that is. And yes, that is also him doing all the breakdancing stunts himself. I want to credit him with this role because I feel like the physicality of his acting contributes a lot towards making Leito such a memorable, well-liked character in the franchise. 

Leito isn’t just a comedic relief character, however. There’s a really powerful moment in episode 8 of Ultraman Geed, when it seemed as if Zero had been killed, and Leito was left alone with the responsibility of protecting their city. His first impulse was to run, to take his family and leave the city in order to save their own lives. But he couldn’t do it. Paradoxically, because he cared so much for his family, he couldn’t bear to disappoint them by abandoning his role as Ultraman. That same courage, which drove him back into the fight, was answered by Ultraman Zero regaining his own strength to transform and join the fray alongside Geed.

Leito and Zero would stick by each other, lending each other their own unique strengths through the course of the Geed series, and even during the events of the epilogue movie! At the end of the day though, they each have their own roles and responsibilities which take them in different directions. Leito returns to his 9-to-5 desk job, and Zero returns to traveling through the universes alongside his friends in the Ultra Force Zero. Maybe one day in the future, they’ll reunite for another battle. Until then, readers, we can all learn something from their example. No matter how ordinary or unassuming we might be, every one of us can also be Ultraman. We just might need a little encouragement first!