Episode Reviews

Ultraman Tiga: Episode 1 – Gonna TIGA, Take Me, Take Me Higher!

[光を継ぐもの] Hikari o Tsugu Mono

Inheritance of Light

To complete the hat trick of shows I’ll be reviewing, I wanted to choose a show that was completely subbed and something on the list of shows I’ve been meaning to watch for a long time. Since I’m still new to Ultraman and have only watched Ultraman Nexus to completion, I figured I’d start there. I have the DVDs of the original Ultraman series as well as the subs of Ultraman Tiga that were released by Midnight Crew Subs. Since I’m already reviewing two older shows, I figured I’d aim a bit newer in feel and start with the revival of the franchise, Ultraman Tiga.

In a world that has seen a return to a peaceful existence, completely with a return to its natural state before us humans got all pollution-y and whatnot, the universe finds a way to totally screw up that mojo. An small asteroid lands on Earth and GUTS, a special division of the Terrestrial Peaceable Consortium (or TPC) that investigates paranormal activity, sets out to recover the rock. They run into a giant monster in Mongolia and distract it long enough for it to deviate from its path towards a small village.

Back at the TPC headquarters, they manage to open the asteroid, which contains a small device that projects a small hologram of an alien woman. Stating that her name is Yuzare, she informs the crew that she is a part of the Earth Defense Force and the fact that they are listening to her message means that the Earth is in grave danger. A series of catastrophic events will fall upon the planet, signified by the appearance of two creatures, Golza and Melba. The only thing that can stop these monsters is the titan Tiga, who’s body lay dormant in a pyramid on Earth after it served as its guardian many years ago. But before Yuzare could tell them how to revive the titan, the message cut out.

The GUTS team, consisting of Chief Munakata, Rena, Horii, Shinjoh and Daigo set out to find this hidden pyramid, which they deduce is somewhere in Japan. While searching, Daigo hears a voice call to him and this leads him to a glowing pyramid in the distance. Inside, there are three giant statues of what look to be giant heroes. Before they could do anything, HQ informs them that the two creatures are converging on their location. Golza destroys the pyramid and the two rip apart two of the three giant statues. Daigo rushes to his aircraft and tries to take on the monsters himself but is shot down immediately. Right before his plane is destroyed, Daigo’s body is turned into light and transferred in to the remaining titan, who revives as Ultraman Tiga. Tiga takes on the two monsters, changing forms to accommodate the battle at hand. He defeats Melba while I believe Golza escapes and flies off into the sky. The rest of the team find Daigo on the ground and return back to base. Daigo finds a transformation device in his jacket and realizes that he is now the great titan, Tiga.

I know that lots of shows try to capture an audience by starting out with a bang of an episode, and I think Tiga does that. We get monster rampages and fire fights right out the gate. Enough information is given to set up the mystery of the show, but it never feels like its being to expository. We get about one scene of explanation right before they head off on a lead. Keeps the flow of the episode continuous and your attention is right there. It would be nice if this kind of pace becomes an ongoing thing, but chances are things will slow down from time to time.

Outside of Daigo, not much else is known about the rest of the cast outside of their role. They are a team that investigates paranormal activity in their region of Earth. Other than that, the rest of the characters seems like the standard fair. Daigo has a little bit more to him, but not too much. He seems like the type of person who takes things at face value. When Yuzare tells the crew about the titans, he immediately believes her and wants to search for the pyramid. The rest of the crew act like this is something impossible, despite the fact that their job is to investigate impossible scenarios like this. So, Daigo not only has an open mind, he’s the only person in the division that understands his job. Weird how that works. That’s pretty much all we know about him so far.

Another reason I was interested in this show is because of the main actor, Hiroshi Nagano who is a member of the J-POP group that sang the opening theme song, V6. I’ve only seen a couple of movies he’s been in, but I’m a big fan of the group so knowing that one of them was an Ultraman character was reason enough to check it out. So far, he’s done a decent job in the first episode, but honestly, he isn’t given much to do outside of do a lot of searching.

Now, let’s talk about the monsters and the set designs for a minute here. As far as the monsters go, um, they kind of look like monsters to me. I’m sorry, but I’m still getting used to the whole “the monsters are iconic characters” thing that’s prevalent in the Ultraman franchise. I’ve seen a lot of cool monster designs in other shows, and the two in this episode looked pretty good as well. But, it’s gonna take me a while to get passed the mind set I’ve developed from watching Sentai and Kamen Rider where the monsters are just monsters-of-the-week and nothing more.

As far as the sets go, I’m becoming more and more intrigued by the miniatures used in shows like Ultraman and how badly they can be used in other shows like Super Sentai. There was only one scene shot within a populated city, which had Golza wrecking shop on some buildings. In Sentai, a lot of the buildings that are used for the suit actors to tear usually consist of a thin sheet of cardboard or chipboard which makes it easier to destroy but looks flimsy as hell. The few buildings I saw get torn up looked like they were layered on the inside in a convincing enough way to make it look like an actual building. That attention to detail, along with low shots with lots of street detail, make these shots look a lot more authentic. Sadly, this was the only case in this episode, seeing as the rest took place in open areas with lots of piles of dirt. But, this gives me hope for more cool miniature sets in the future. Tsuburaya seems to be good at that.

Which brings us to Ultraman Tiga himself. From what I can gather, he’s the first Ultraman to have multiple forms. He has his standard form, a red form which for now, I’m not quite sure what it does, and a blue form which he used to jump into the air and kick Melba. I guess they grant him different powers, but since it was his first time fighting as Tiga, I guess not much of it was shown. But, I like the idea of having different forms for Ultraman. Seeing as I’ve only seen Nexus, it gives off a similar feel and thus will make it a tad easier to watch the fights.

I say that only because up until recently, most of the clips I’ve seen of “older” Ultraman shows displayed a lot of slow moving action, with lots of karate chops and throws. It’s a common complaint among Toku fans that the action in Ultraman is usually a lot slower paced than in other shows. I’ll admit that I still tend to agree on some cases, more so a few years ago. Not only has the action improved in the recent UltraGalaxy/Ultraman Zero movies, but I’ve come to appreciate the action in older shows due to my viewing of Iron King and watching bits of the original Ultraman. The action in Tiga is pretty entertaining, so I’m going to keep an open mind and take it for what it is. But, I’ll say that it looks promising so far.

So, final verdict of the first episode? I likes it a lot! It had enough action and mystery to keep me intrigued. The characters may still be pretty weak due to not much dialogue between, but it is the first episode so I don’t expect too much. But, I’m interested and cannot wait to continue reviewing the show.

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2 thoughts on “Ultraman Tiga: Episode 1 – Gonna TIGA, Take Me, Take Me Higher!

  1. Last time I tried to watch this after seeing him in Ultra Galaxy movie [With blond hair] a sub group only had episode 1 I believe subbed & someone fan-translated episode 2. Daigo comes off as a jock to me as he loves pulling his co-workers legs. [He pretends he’s dead] Though this is one of the Ultraman series that’s suppose to have comedy in it.

  2. I think you’re talking about Ultraman Dyna, which aired the year after this show. Shin Asuka/Dyna made an appearance in that Ultra Galaxy movie and honestly, I wish someone would sub Dyna cuz the actor that plays him, Takeshi Tsuruno, is pretty damn awesome. But, Daigo/Tiga did star in the movie Super 8 Ultra Brothers movie along with Dyna and Gaia.

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