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Ultraman Tiga Volume 1:
Prophecy of Evil
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Box Front
Japanese Title: Urutoraman Teiga (“Ultraman Tiga”)
Original Release Year: 1996
Running Time: 13 episodes, approximately 24 minutes each

DVD Released By: 4Kids Home Video / FUNimation Productions
Video: Fullscreen
Audio: Japanese 2.0
Extras: Profiles of Ultraman Tiga’s different modes (with videos), GUTS team member profiles, monster gallery (with videos), printed episode synopses, coming attractions
Subtitles: English
Closed Captions: None
Region: 1
Format: NTSC
Chapters: 6 per episode
Packaging: Two discs in a keepcase
MSRP: $29.95
UPC #: 704400068027
Catalog #: FN-06802
Status: Available (individually, or with the Ultraman Tiga Special Collector’s Edition Starter Box)


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Reviewed by:
Zillamon51
The Film: In the not-too-distant future, peace and tranquility finally reign on planet Earth.  TPC, the Terrestrial Peacekeeping Commission, is the organization responsible for global security.  The Global Unlimited Task Squad, or GUTS, is the division of TPC that investigates unusual phenomena.  The leader of the GUTS team is the stern and capable Captain Iruma (the first female commander of an Ultra-team).  Her second officer and field commander is Munakata, a no-nonsense military man.  Yazumi is the computer expert, and Horii is the “gadget guy” and frequent comic relief.  The well-rounded weapons tech, Shinjoh, is courageous and upstanding.  The team’s two main pilots (who develop a romantic relationship later in the series) are Rena and Daigo.  Daigo is also the human alter ego of Ultraman Tiga.  Tiga is an ancient being of light that can increase his size to daikaiju proportions, and use his martial arts skills and flashy beam weapons to fight off hostile monsters.

GUTS suddenly has its hands full when the Earth is plagued by a wave of monster attacks and alien invasions.  When GUTS is outgunned and giant monsters threaten to wreak havoc, Daigo calls upon the power of Ultraman Tiga to defend the planet!  Episodes 1 - 13 of
Ultraman Tiga are included in this 2-disc set:

Disc 1:

Ep. 1 - “Inheritance of Light”:  GUTS analyzes a meteorite that falls to Earth.  Inside it, they find a space capsule that projects a holographic image.  The hologram is Yuzare, a wise old woman whose people lived on the Earth many millions of years ago.  She warns GUTS that catastrophes will soon befall the Earth, beginning with the resurrection of two ancient monsters, Golza and Melba.  The only way to defend against these creatures is to awaken an ancient Titan.  In a remote corner of Japan, in a land once called “Tiga,” GUTS finds a pyramid of light.  Golza and Melba also converge on Tiga.  When Daigo tries to prevent the monsters from destroying the pyramid and the huge statues inside, he is transformed into light and merges with one of the stone Titans.  Ultraman Tiga is reborn!

Ep. 2 - “The Legend of the Stone”:  Miners are being terrorized by a subterranean monster that turns its victims to stone.  GUTS destroys the burrowing, horned creature, called Gakuma.  However, another one (its mate?) emerges and is challenged by Ultraman.  The GUTS team officially names Ultraman Tiga in this episode.

Ep. 3 - “Prophecy of Evil”:  The Kilaliens, an ancient race from deep within the Earth, give humanity an ultimatum:  Surrender or be destroyed!  The Kilalien presence on Earth predates even Ultraman’s.  They consider themselves the destined rulers of the planet.  Concerned with the recent reappearance of Ultraman, the Kilaliens send a powerful warrior to challenge him.  This is a great episode.  Iruma gets out of TPC headquarters (where she usually stays) to track down the human agent of the Kilaliens.  The Kilaliens are set up as a recurring nemesis for Ultraman.

Ep. 4 - “Sayonara, Planet Earth”:  A biomechanical monster falls from the sky and begins attacking power plants.  The monster, Ligatron, was created when an alien force took over a research vessel studying the planet Jupiter.  This large and powerful monster seems to have Ultraman Tiga outmatched!  Can GUTS communicate with the spirits of the absorbed Jupiter astronauts to defeat the creature from within?

Ep. 5 - “The Day of the Monster”:  The stinking carcass of a monster washes ashore, and GUTS is assigned cleanup duty.  When their attempt to airlift the rotten mass fails, the monster comes to life!  This zombie-like creature is able to absorb everything that GUTS and Ultraman can throw at it.  With its clouded eyes and convincing layer of sickly slime, Sealizar is one of the most disgusting of all kaiju.

Ep. 6 - “Second Contact”:  Scientists investigating a mysterious cloud disappear.  GUTS investigates, and finds that the cloud is home to an airborne creature.  It then descends to Earth to feed on humans!  Horii successfully communicates with the monster.  It even reveals its own name, Gazoto.  However, Gazoto’s definition of “friend” is quite different from most!  This is a solid episode.  The monster Gazoto has a chilling, child-like cry mixed into its roar.

Ep. 7 - “The Man Who Fell into the World”:  An out-of-control alien spaceship is on a collision course with Space Station Delta!  The commander of Delta (very reluctantly) destroys the ship.  He is recalled to Earth, but is shot down en route by a surviving alien.  Rena (the commander’s estranged daughter) also defies orders by heading out on a solo rescue mission.  The feuding family will have to work together to escape from the alien.  This episode’s effects are noticeably weak, with a lot of obvious CGI.

Disc 2:

Ep. 8 - “Halloween Night”:  An inter-dimensional being, disguised as a witch, abducts children on Halloween night.  It plans to feed on their dreams!  The GUTS team goes incognito (i.e., in costume) to monitor the night’s trick-or-treat activities for foul play.

Ep. 9 - “The Little Girl and the Monster”:  A mysterious capsule is recovered from the bottom of the sea.  Rena and Daigo are sent to investigate.  A young woman appears on the scene, plays a tune on a small flute she wears around her neck, and collapses.  Back at TPC headquarters, she manages to open the capsule.  It’s a beacon for a heavily armored space monster that descends to Earth!  Is this the vanguard of an alien invasion, or does this creature have another purpose?  This episode introduces Shinjoh’s sister Mayumi, who works as a nurse at TPC HQ.

Ep. 10 - “The Abandoned Amusement Park”:  The tentacled monster Gagi lies dormant underground near an amusement park.  It awakens, and begins cocooning children for food!  GUTS can’t get inside the park, because the creature has surrounded it with a force field.  It’s up to Shinjoh (spending his day off at the park with his sister) to teach a young boy to face his fears while GUTS tries to figure out how to break the barrier.

Ep. 11 - “Requiem to Darkness”:  GUTS detects the presence of a monster near a resort, but their sensors lose track of it.  Horii is dispatched to the scene to try to tag the monster with a tracking device.  While there, he runs into two college friends.  One is an ambitious researcher; the other is a woman they were both romantically interested in.  When the monster reappears, Horii tags it.  After it vanishes again, he tracks it to…his old friend?

Ep. 12 - “SOS from the Bottom of the Sea”:  Undersea nuclear testing has created a mutant fish monster, Leilons.  It destroys an oil rig, and then heads for the Marine Science Laboratory, where Rena has befriended the dolphins.  Far from being a
Godzilla-like nuclear allegory, this episode is played for laughs.  The rotund Leilons acts like a comical buffoon.  The highlight of this episode is Rena in a swimsuit!

Ep. 13 - “The Human Collection”:  Crow-like aliens are shrinking and abducting people, including Shinjoh’s young cousin!  They plan on using the human race for slave labor.  This episode is notable for the fact that Ultraman remains human-sized for much of the battle.

Ultraman Tiga is considered the first of the Heisei Ultraman series (it was followed by Dyna, Gaia, and Cosmos).  It’s also the 30th anniversary series of the franchise.  It’s a well-produced, good-looking show with good special effects.  The GUTS team members are a likeable group of characters.  They are well developed, with good camaraderie.  Ultraman Tiga is a strong, valiant, and honorable warrior.  He is the first Ultraman to have different combat modes.  His default mode is Omni Mode.  In this form, he sports his usual red and blue color scheme, and has well-balanced fighting powers.  He can also adapt to different situations by switching to Power Mode (with greater strength and a red color scheme) or Speed Mode (with increased speed and a blue color scheme).  This adds variety and strategy to the battles.

Overall,
Ultraman Tiga is a great show.  It’s the first Ultraman series released in the U.S. in many years, but hopefully it won’t be the last.  Tiga is highly recommended for kaiju and tokusatsu fans.  Grade:  A

Video: Ultraman Tiga is presented in its original fullscreen format.  The picture is mostly sharp and clear, though there is some grain present.  The grain is surprisingly heavy in a few scenes, mostly composite FX shots.  Color reproduction is excellent, which serves the show well.  All of the bright rays and explosions look great.  Grade:  B

Audio: The only audio option is the original Japanese 2.0.  The horrendous English dub is nowhere to be found on these DVDs.  While the dubbing for Image’s Ultraman Tiga & Dyna and Ultraman Gaia DVDs is flat and awkward, the Tiga TV dub was bad in a different way.  It was intentionally campy, with corny dialogue.  It was littered with juvenile “biological” humor, such as fart jokes and references to pimple-popping.  Thankfully, all of that has been discarded in favor of presenting the show uncut, in Japanese, with the original opening and ending theme songs.  (BTW, the actor who plays Daigo is the lead singer of V6, the popular J-pop group who performs the opening song.  Unfortunately, none of the songs are subtitled.)  Anyways, the audio on these discs sounds very good.  The dialogue, music, and sound effects come through loud and clear.  Grade:  A

Extras / Menus: The extras are divided up into three categories:  Ultraman Tiga, GUTS team, and Monsters Gallery.  The Ultraman Tiga section features descriptions of Tiga’s three configurations (Omni Mode, Speed Mode, and Power Mode).  There is one page of text describing each mode.  Each of these pages also offers a 1-minute video of that particular mode.  These videos originally aired with the show on Fox Box.  The show’s U.S. opening sequence, with the English theme song, is also available in this section.

The GUTS Team section has profiles of the seven members of the team.  Each is a single page of text, highlighting that character’s job specialty and personality traits.  The Monsters Gallery features still images of 10 of the series’ monsters.  Three of the monsters, Gazoto, Golza, and Kilalien, have descriptive 1-minute videos selectable from their respective screens.  Like the Ultraman Mode clips, these videos originally aired on Fox Box.  As such, they refer to the monsters by their English names, which are sometimes slightly different than the names used in the subtitles.  (Interestingly, the Kilalien clip shows the evil warrior growing wings and taking flight, which doesn’t happen until episode 25.)

Coming Attractions are also accessible from the main menu.  Running back-to-back for 6 minutes are promos for: 
Ultimate Muscle Volume 1, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Yu-Gi-Oh!, the Fox Box TV lineup (Sonic X, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Funky Cops, The Cramp Twins, and Kirby:  Right Back At Ya!), Tenchi Muyo! GXP, Kiddy Grade, and the Z-Store online anime shop.

There are also promos for
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Yu-Gi-Oh!:  The Complete First Season Box Set, and Shaman King that play automatically when the discs first start up.  Fortunately, they can be skipped through.  The Ultraman-related extras are identical on both discs; some of the TV / video promos vary by episode / volume from disc to disc.  All of the menus are still images with different music themes from the Fox Box version of Ultraman Tiga in the background.  Since the dub isn’t included, this is a great way to make use of the catchy U.S. music.

The DVD insert also has plot synopses of all 13 episodes.  The inclusion of 6 chapter stops per episode is most appreciated.  (Some TV collections simply make each episode a single chapter.)  All of the promo clips don’t really add any value to the set.  The Ultraman-related extras, while not extensive, are very welcome additions (especially for younger viewers). 
Grade:  B

Final Analysis: Ultraman Tiga is a fun and colorful show that looks and sounds great on these DVDs.  It’s commendable that 4Kids and FUNimation have dropped the misguided U.S. dub and configured their DVD releases for serious fans and collectors.  With a generous number of uncut episodes on each disc, in the original Japanese language with optional English subtitles, and some diverting extras, this set is highly recommended.  The best way tokusatsu fans can show DVD companies that we appreciate this kind of release, and want more in the future, is to BUY THESE DISCSFinal Grade:  A
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