Wow, I love the way this episode is told.
It doesn't start, as one might expect, as a continuation of the previous episode, but at the aftermath, which is not surprising at all. We know Ultramen aren't going to win, yet. But it's still kind of heartbreaking to see the hopelessness of most of the people huddling in a ruined hideout, especially a little girl asking for Ultraman Ginga to save them. And every Ultraman host might have done the same, but Hikaru's determination to fight to the last, with fire and destruction burning at his back, still gets to me.
And we catch up with Hikaru's teammates. Arisa hurts her arm, and Mana (the android girl) takes Arisa to her teammates. (It is shown later that Mana hits something away to save Arisa's life.) Go doesn't look too good either. The captain doesn't seem to suffer a physical injury, but I think he's pained just the same with the state of his subordinates. Tomoya...ah...I don't know what's up with him. In a way, I think he resembles a robot, so I enjoy (in an ironic sense) the scene of him trying to teach Mana something about human (at least, I assume that's what he's doing).
During the first half of the episode, the doomed Ultra battle unfolds, in fragmented, non-continuous way. We already know the outcome, but I'm still invested in that fight. In fact, the flashback probably makes me pay more attention than if the story is told in a linear fashion. And I'm glad I pay attention. The way Hikaru and Sho alternate to fight the monster is rather refreshing. And I even like that Sho didn't seem taken with the idea at first. (Trust Hikaru to come up with something non-conventional.) I presume they take turn fighting to save their strengths. Too bad they still lose.
So the (rice)field out of nowhere from the previous episode is probably near enough for the UPG captain to fish the UPG commander out and take him to the battle site. After he's tired of babysitting the commander (and he should be -- this commander will probably try the patience of a saint), the captain excuses himself to return to his beloved subordinates.
Queen Kisara invites Hikaru to come see her, and since his teammates and Mana are with him, they are invited to come along as well. I did wonder a little why the Victorian queen didn't send someone more...well...soldier-like as her messengers, but sending those two girls (Sakuya and Hiyori -- who was an outcast until the end of episode 6) might be her attempt to put the above-ground people at ease (and/or as a way to ensure that Hikaru wouldn't dare refuse her summon ^^;;).
Mana is sent down to, I think, the center of the earth, where there is magma and fire everywhere. She seems to absorb some energy and then returns to the underground world. I'm not sure what the queen wants by sending Mana there, exactly. (But I did laugh when Go volunteered and the queen said, not unkindly, that he would be of no use. ^^;;) This is sure to be cleared up when I eventually can watch the episode with English subs.
So then the above-ground visitors are returned to the surface. Where Mana shows her true color by attacking them all. Poor Hikaru looks hurt at her betrayal. I smile at that. Mana's intention is not even subtle.
Somewhere in there, the secret comes out (probably from the captain, but I forgive him, since this is not the time to be holding on to secrets). I like this reveal. Arisa seems to accept it. Go, predictably, is hurt that Hikaru didn't trust him.
After blames are casted and discarded, they all make pact to do something about the desolate situation. Hikaru and Sho break into the occupied UPG base. The rest of them go to rescue the hopeless people at the shelter.
Non-surprisingly, Hikaru and Sho find themselves confronted with Mana and the purple octopus. And this is where I shake my head. Hikaru could have tried to play Mana's game a little, but no, he has to be refreshingly honest and basically says that she doesn't feel like an enemy. Octopus is far from stupid, so Mana has no choice but to reveal (probably earlier than she planned to) that she's there just to eliminate him. That doesn't sit well with Octopus*, so he turns some sort of laser on them. Mana uses her body to shield Hikaru and Sho, but the force is so strong, they all get thrown out the glass windows anyway.
(*I don't understand why, though. It didn't look like he was fooled about Mana returning to him (I think he called her 'useless scrap metal' or something along that line when he first saw her this time), so why acted like she hurted his feeling or something? Or perhaps he was just saving face?)
Not wishing their bodies to hit the grounds with such force, the two Ultraman hosts transform. And everyone cheers. The little girl at the beginning of the episode is happy that Ultramen are here at last. The end forms a complete circle with the beginning, with the hopelessness turning into hope. Now I understand why the story is told this way.
This is just an all around great episode. I am really excited for the next (and final) installment. Not that I've ever been unexcited, but Ginga S just keeps getting better and better.