Ultraman Blazar Episode 20 Review “Night of Chirping Insects”

Ultraman Blazar Episode 20 Review “Night of Chirping Insects”

Hello and welcome, Ultraman Connection readers! Last week was a thrill ride episode which revealed new answers and new mysteries alike, and featured Blazar defeating the massive “Brood” Gelbaga along with his new partner (Friend? Pet?) Firdan. Now would be the perfect time to take a short vacation to recover, right? Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, up in the countryside with plenty of space and time to relax… which is exactly where our main characters find themselves this week! 

They’re not there exactly by choice, or even to relax, as we’ll see, but their duties as members of SKaRD take them all over the country. In this week’s article, we’re tagging along for the ride. 

After their insubordination last week, the upper brass of the GGF have gotten creative with their punishments for the SKaRD team. They’ve been sentenced…. to make goofy public service announcement skits to teach grade school kids about Kaiju attacks! Just from my own personal experience, readers I would rather face down Gelbaga again.

Spearheading the production of this year’s award-winning stage show is Vice-Captain Teruaki Nagura. He’s already one of my favorite characters in this show because he’s so consistently committed 100% to whatever he decides to do. That character trait makes for comedic moments, like we see in this cold open. Here, he’s earnestly directing the silly educational play with the same serious demeanor he wears while commanding the Earth Garon’s operations, or serving on comms at the team’s base. But the team’s project is interrupted by an urgent message for Teruaki himself – his father has collapsed back home! 

Once he hurries back to the family farm, he discovers that it’s a ruse by his brother to talk to him about… marriage interviews? Settling down to help run the farm? Hey, wait a second, this plot sounds awfully familiar. 

In fact, this is almost the exact same dilemma that we saw Furuhashi face, as a member of the Ultra Guard in the episode “Return to the North!” during Ultraseven. Readers with a good memory might recall that we’ve already discussed this episode, since it also introduced the Cannan aliens we last saw in episode 6 of Blazar! They’re not behind the mysteriously withering crops in the village this time though. 

Rather than revisiting that episode a third time for Ultraman Connection, I wanted to mention just how all these scenes between Teruaki and his family are so well-acted and quietly framed. It would’ve been very easy to just have this conflict between his dad’s wishes and Teruaki’s own commitment to SKaRD play out in a black-and-white way. In another story, his dad might’ve been controlling and overbearing, or Teruaki might have been too quickly dismissive of his family’s concerns. 

Their relationship is complicated, but it’s complicated because they care about the others’ well-being. His father is clearly worried for his safety just as much as he’s worried about the future of their farm. In the same way, Teruaki drops his own disappointment and grievances and immediately goes to help the rest of the farmers when he gets word of something ruining the crops in their fields.

While investigating the surrounding forests, Teruaki and his father discover a strange cave… which also happens to be populated by massive, swarming insects! If I were confronted by a five-foot tall chittering bug with razor-sharp teeth and glowing eyes charging at me, I’d be running smartly in the opposite direction too! 

Actually, come to think of it, other than the sentient aliens we’ve encountered so far, I think this is the first time we’ve seen human-sized Kaiju in the show!

What? “Kaiju” just means “strange beast”, it doesn’t have to be gigantic – that’s specifically Daikaiju. 

Anyways, after they escape from the bugs, Mr. Nagura is amazed that Teruaki deals with these kinds of threats for a living. But I loved Teruaki’s response even more; he said that everything he does, the way he “lives his life”, the same steadfast – even stubborn – commitment to his position in SKaRD, comes from following his father’s example! Despite their disagreement over his chosen path, both Teruaki and his father share the same serious commitment to their different responsibilities. Ultimately, his father understands that, and allows him to continue his work at SKaRD.

Right, that just leaves an entire nest of these creepy-crawlies to deal with. 

Teruaki calls in the cavalry by alerting the rest of the SKaRD team – who I’m sure were very disappointed they had to cut their dress rehearsal short. At the village, they work quickly to evacuate the citizens to a shelter, and construct a plan to do some pest control. Teruaki realizes that the insects have been siphoning off nitrogen from the soil, feeding on the same nutrients they need to support their own crops. It’s a shame, but it seems like the only way to protect the village and its people is to wipe out the Zugugan hive. 

That’s the other reason I like Teruaki’s character so much, he’s often the most idealistic member of the SKaRD team. No one else has worked so hard to find solutions which preserve the balance of nature, and he always considers the role and responsibilities of humanity alongside other living creatures on the Earth. The audience has seen that conscientious concern several times already, like in episode 8 where he talked Professor Yokomine out of his desire for vengeance against humanity, embodied in the form of Nijikagachi. Teruaki was also the first one out of SKaRD – aside from Gento himself, of course – who has stuck up for Blazar, treating him as an equal member of the team.

The rest of the SKaRD team launches an operation to fly the Earth Garon directly into the Zugugan nest, hoping to eliminate the pests without further damaging the farms around the village. It works… at first, but their attack wakes up something even bigger. Emphasis on the “big”. I can only assume this is the “Queen” Zugugan of the underground hive, and she’s even taller than Blazar himself! In addition to the huge jaws and claws, the Daikaiju Zugugan also employs the sticky mucus the smaller bugs used, which does a terrific job of pinning down both the Earth Garon and Blazar, rendering them almost helpless. 

Once again, however, the day is saved thanks to Teruaki’s quick thinking and his wide knowledge of these natural creatures. He didn’t just learn stubbornness, or dutiful stoicism from his father, but also the same knowledge of natural resources and respect for the environment that characterizes any worthwhile farming tradition. By understanding the lives of other creatures on Earth as living creatures – not just as obstacles, threats, or terrifying monsters, but necessary parts of the same environment – Teruaki can consider solutions that lead to the best outcome for all those lives. 

Unfortunately, that solution still requires the Zugugan nest to be exterminated. The gigantic bugs were only following their natural instincts to grow, feed and reproduce, and Teruaki takes advantage of their natural cry of warning – the titular “chirping” of this episode – to distract them long enough for Blazar and the Earth Garon to gain the upper hand. Even so, their victory feels more like a tragedy at the end of the battle. The look on Teruaki’s face as he watches the fiery destruction of their colony is a picture worth a thousand more words in another article. 

I think his father summarizes it the best in the final shot of the episode. Holding a clump of soil, which would seem like just ordinary dirt to others, he realizes the importance of Teruaki’s position within SKaRD, and how hard he fights to protect the land on which they rely. While Teruaki may not be running the farm directly, that fight is just as important to ensure the future of their family’s traditions.

Sometimes in these shows, it can be easy to paint all the threats faced by the defense team with the same brush, as monsters that must be fought and killed. It might seem like an odd tangent for Blazar to take, when we’re so close to the endgame of the series, but I think the break provided in this episode is necessary to make an important point. The threat from the Space Kaiju may be growing increasingly dire, but they are a unique threat from outside of the Earth’s natural ecosystems. As this battle escalates, it will be even more important for SKaRD to find ways to defend against the Space Kaiju without destroying those ecosystems – the land which Teruaki’s family and the rest of humanity relies on – in the fallout.

In other words – for humanity to match the threat of the Space Kaiju without becoming an even greater threat to the rest of the Earth. 

Are there other threats still waiting to be revealed? You’ll have to stay tuned for the next episode of Blazar, and stay right here with Ultraman Connection to find out, readers.