And I do think that outside of the budget issue, other things seem to be more of personal preferences (or personal annoyances, as the case may be). Take the weird, jerky camera shots, for example. I don't believe there is anything wrong with them, and in fact didn't notice them at all until pointed out. (And I don't think this should be compared, production-wise, to Toei's full year stuff (or even with other full-length Ultra series) all that much, since the budgets are clearly world apart.) Or the way they mix music, or the way they edit video footage, etc. etc.
Which is why I am not hoping for live actor cameos. The budget clearly does not support having them. (Voice cameos are more of a possibility, I think.)
Speaking of actors, the acting in this series seems to be J-drama quality more than the usual Ultra series quality (a la Mebius. Oh yes, Mebius will be my answer to everything a typical Ultra series should be). It all goes back to the budget problem again. But I really can't fault the cast. They are clearly inexperienced, but they seem to make earnest efforts to portray their characters, so I already like them just for trying. At least I am convinced that their characters are friends (and like each other). (And that is more than I could say for some other cast from some other toku franchise.)
Imo, the important thing (i.e. the reason the show uses the toy angle and does not even try to hide it) is for the children and adults in the audience to buy the toys, so there will hopefully be money* for the new traditional full year series down the road (in three years for the 50th anniversary of Ultraman? I can hope).
(*I suppose Tsuburaya used up most of the money earlier this year on Neo Ultra Q (which I still haven't seen, but apparently it got a pretty good reception, certainly more than Ginga seems to be getting), but don't quote me on it.)
And I am grateful that there are subs available. At least now I won't be misunderstanding stuff (as far as language goes, not the stuff that has to be inferred).
Speaking of which, having watched it subbed, I'll put my thoughts on episode 3 here instead of making another entry (since I already have one for this episode). Spoilers ahead.
Apparently, Yuka's motivation is never outright stated, but I want to believe that she has more to her than being crazy. Perhaps she used to be similar to Kenta, having a dream to make it as a pro, but the cruel harsh world might have forced her to give that up. So now that she sees him all fired up, she is reminded of her bitter past and wants to teach him a lesson. Or something.
That said, it seems to me like she just lashed on to that idea since Hikaru made it all about Kenta (since I believe she is probably also responsible for burning down other places -- which might be how Valkie found her to begin with). The real reason might have to do with her not wanting to be alone and lonely. People being successful would be more likely to move forward with their lives, so if she burns everything down, no one can leave her behind. (Well, I believe having their dreams destroyed is one thing that might keep people from moving forward. ([The basic premise of Kamen Rider Wizard]Unless you are a Gate in Kamen Rider Wizard, then having your dream destroyed will destroy you, literally.))
The following bits are another way of (very) loosely expressing (most of) the paragraph above. I kinda wanted to inflict them elsewhere, but ended up not doing that and can't bring myself to throw them away. So it got blockquoted like it's super important...
No, I actually think her motivation to burn down the school has almost nothing to do with Kenta (despite what Hikaru says, but then he's all, 'Kenta Kenta Kenta :('. Almost makes me wonder if he isn't in love with Kenta more than he sort of maybe with Misuzu -- which if true would give us a love triangle: H -> K -> M -> H). This one seems self-absorbed. She is probably lonely, and if she keeps burning down places, perhaps people wouldn't be leaving her behind. (Whoa, pop-psychology much. I am not secretly (nor non-secretly) a psychologist and don't play one on TV either.)
To be honest, I think Yuka tries to get close to Kenta at all because Valkie told/ordered her to. He seems to be Valkie's real target, after all. But why, then? I can only surmise that it might have something to do with Hikaru, but then why not just target Hikaru directly? Does Valkie operate as one of those classy villains -- who believe making the hero's friends suffer are infinitely better than torturing the hero himself? Nah, I'm sure I give Valkie too much credit. I don't remember him being this smart the first two times I saw him (in the final episode of Ultraman Taro and episode 16 of Mebius). (And that's why he is an Ultraman Leo reject, but no one hears that from me.)
Or, more likely, Hikaru is more difficult to corrupt. After all, he is apparently so pure and good that he can use the Ginga Spark. (And this is Ultra series, where unquestionable good guys is the norm for main characters.)
(And I haven't yet watched episode 4. With my luck, the series will totally contradiction me.)
Okay, the adults have all but disappear now (other than poor, incompetent Kakki-san). Perhaps the good ones have to be removed since Hikaru shows his distaste for adults in this episode? Seriously though, I kind of miss the school principal and Hikaru's grandfather. (Especially the grandpa. Why is he not around? I thought the shrine was at the school? Is it because of a different writer? I take it Keiichi Hasegawa didn't write this episode?) In any case, 'adults suck, teenagers/kids awesome' seems to be popular in the toku I watch this week. (Okay, maybe I'm grasping a bit, but this level of similarity already unnerves me.)
Given that the episode doesn't, imo, portray Yuka as a one-dimensional cardboard cut villain (a la her predecessors), it would be nice if the episode gave a little more background on her. Doesn't have to be much -- just her likes and/or dislikes or something along those lines. So that I can form a better idea of who she is and why she might do something. As it is, my fantasy conclusion about her motivation might not be what the writer intended for me to draw at all.
All this wondering about Yuka's (nonsensical?) motivation, and no one even thought to ask: would she be thrown in jail? Arson is a crime, after all. (Guess not. I think Hikaru stops Misuzu from telling Kenta (and everyone else there) that Yuka is an arsonist.)
Anyway, this is one of those Ultra episodes that make the audience decide for themselves what to think** (which is kind of the moral of this episode, actually), and I prefer not to think all that much when I watch something for fun, so take my interpretation with a grain of salt.
(**Or perhaps the writer of this episode missed the memo that he was supposed to give easily understood motivations to his MotW. ^^;)