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Ultraman Tiga Volume 4:
Inheritance of Darkness
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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: Monster gallery (with video), GUTS Top Secret Logs, coming attractions
Subtitles: English
Closed Captions: None
Region: 1
Format: NTSC
Chapters: 4 per episode
Packaging: Two discs in a keepcase
MSRP: $29.95
UPC #: 704400068249
Catalog #: FN-06824
Status: Available.  It also fits nicely in the Ultraman Tiga Special Collector’s Edition Starter Box.


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The Film: The Earth continues to be plagued by monster attacks and alien invasions.  When GUTS (the Global Unlimited Task Squad) is outgunned, and giant monsters threaten to wreak havoc, Officer Daigo calls upon the power of Ultraman Tiga to defend the planet!  This final volume contains episodes 40 - 52 of Ultraman Tiga, on two discs:

Disc 1:

Ep. 40 - “Dream”:  Meek architect and opera fan Ikuta suffers from depression after his girlfriend leaves him for another man.  He begins having dreams of a bizarre monster.  Cosmic rays cause the monster to appear for real, and GUTS flies into action.  However, the dream monster is impervious to attack.  Daigo will have to find a way for he and Tiga to enter the dream world to engage the beast.  This is another pretentious avant-garde episode, like #37 (“Flower,” on
Volume 3).

Ep. 41 - “A Friend from Space”:  Just as two deep-space explorers return to Earth, their ship is attacked!  Since the astronauts are old school friends of Shinjoh’s, he takes a personal interest in this mission.  The aliens, the Irudo, land their mothership and broadcast a message inviting Earthlings to join with them.  The trick is, any humans accepting this offer are transformed into Irudo.  The Irudo are a collective who share a single huge brain. 
Resistance is futile!

Ep. 42 - “The City Where the Little Girl Disappeared”:  Using his video game prowess, Yazumi wins a pass to visit “Town,” a huge game-development center.  He’ll need his skills to save himself and Rena for real when Town’s central computer goes on a rampage!  Can Ultraman beat an opponent that can analyze his battle tactics?  Will Yazumi’s luck with girls ever change?

Ep. 43 - “The Land Shark”:  GUTS tracks a subterranean shark-like monster as it moves towards Kumamoto, an area known for its ancient ruins and uncharted underground tunnels.  Things get more complicated for Daigo when he is contacted by a man who seems to know his secret!  When the monster, Geo Zark, threatens an amusement park, Daigo must transform into Ultraman Tiga to protect the children.  After the battle, the man who has been taunting Daigo appears in person, and steals the Spark Lens!  What does he want with the Tiga transformation item?  Stay tuned!

Ep. 44 - “Inheritance of Darkness”:  The man who stole the Spark Lens is Masaaki Keigo, a mad scientist whose DNA happens to be very similar to Daigo’s.  As CEO of an aeronautics research firm, he constructed the Geo Zark and used it to locate another Titan statue!  He also built his corporate headquarters over the Titan’s cavern.  With the last piece of the puzzle in place, the Spark Lens, Masaaki realizes his mad dream to become a Titan himself, the devastating Evil Tiga!  It’s Ultraman vs. Ultraman in one of the best episodes of the series!  This episode also seems to imply that Captain Iruma suspects Daigo’s secret.

Ep. 45 - “Life Forever”:  While investigating a UFO landing, GUTS discovers a new kind of flower with intoxicating pollen.  As the flowers, called Gijera, spread across the Earth, more and more people fall under their spell.  Everyone except Daigo seems to prefer Gijera-induced euphoria to harsh reality!  The occupants of the UFO warn that the appearance of Gijera is a prelude to the destruction of human civilization, as it was for Yuzare’s people millions of years ago.  The ancient Titans never directly interfered in human events; will Tiga do so now?

Ep. 46 - “Let’s Go to Kamakura!”:  An alcoholic photographer repeatedly spots a monster, but is never quite able to snap a picture.  GUTS investigates and finds nothing, earning scorn for the witness and his young son.  Of course, there
is a monster, one with the ability to appear and disappear at will.  Why is the horn of a nearby train such a potent lure for the beast?  The monster in this good, lighthearted episode is like a colorful update of Namegon from the original Ultra Q.

Disc 2:

Ep. 47 - “Goodbye to Darkness”:  An escaped lab animal is on the rampage!  It’s Metamonga, a monkey infected with the Evolu cells from episode 11 (“Requiem to Darkness,” on
Volume 1).  Meanwhile, Horii is having romantic problems:  His girlfriend is frustrated with his long and irregular work hours.  Things get more complicated when he ends up trapped in the research center where both his girlfriend and old college flame both work!  The monkey’s intellect has been boosted by Evolu along with its size (it often warns humans away in an ominous voice), and it consumes energy until it’s a walking bomb.

Ep. 48 - “Fugitive from the Moon”:  TPC’s moon base is destroyed by its own Captain Hayate.  One of the officers, Kishinaga, escapes to TPC Headquarters on Earth.  GUTS Captain Iruma can’t believe that the highly skilled and dedicated Hayate, her friend and mentor from the academy, would do such a thing.  It turns out alien infiltrators, in best
Body Snatchers fashion, have been cocooning people and replacing them with duplicates.  Can anyone be trusted?

Ep. 49 - “The Ultra Star”:  The last episode before the series’ final story arc is a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Ultra franchise.  When the
Chaplin-esque alien Charija inquires about buying monsters, he is referred to Tsuburaya Productions!  He travels back to 1965, with Daigo in pursuit, and arrives at the studio during the production of Ultra Q.  He overhears Eiji Tsuburaya telling a writer how he once witnessed a benevolent alien (the original Ultraman) imprison a monster under a lake.  Charija unleashes the monster, the legendarily violent Yanakagi (who bears more than a passing resemblance to Ultraman’s Bemler.)  When the battle turns against Tiga, Tsuburaya-san summons his old friend Ultraman!

Ep. 50 - “Take Me Higher!”:  After Daigo begins having ominous dreams of destruction, an ancient city is discovered under the sea off of New Zealand.  Upon viewing the
Giger-esque architecture, Iruma remarks ominously, “That isn’t of human construction.”  The flying monster Zoyger emerges and attacks Australia.  As GUTS tries to stop the extremely fast and agile creature, Rena becomes more and more reckless.  After Tiga destroys the monster, a romantic moment between Daigo and Rena is interrupted:  A swarm of Zoyger is headed for Japan!  Zoyger is a tough monster.  After Rena shoots off one of its wings, it rips the other one off itself while facing down Tiga!  (This bit of monster machismo would be repeated in the 2004 “Thaikaiju” film Garuda.)  Rena finally confronts Daigo about his secret in this episode.

Ep. 51 - “Master of Darkness”:  As swarms of Zoyger devastate the globe, a creeping darkness invades TPC Headquarters.  The ancient ruins rise to the surface, and Gatanozoa, the living embodiment of darkness, is revealed!  Can Ultraman Tiga, a being of light, stand against a
Lovecraftian creature that exudes darkness?  It doesn’t appear so, as Tiga is turned back into a stone statue and sunk to the bottom of the sea....

Ep. 52 - “To the Shining Ones”:  Humanity faces its darkest hour, literally and figuratively.  An unlikely coalition (including Captain Hayate, Masaaki “Evil Tiga” Keigo, and the psychic guy from episode 39) comes together to try to revive Ultraman.  Even if Tiga rises again, he’ll need more power than ever before to vanquish the darkness of Gatanozoa, and restore light to the world.

Ultraman Tiga was the first full Ultra series produced in Japan after a fifteen-year hiatus.  Its tremendous success revived the franchise and led to a steady stream of new Ultras, from Gaia and Cosmos to Nexus and Max.  Even though Tiga is unconnected to any previous Ultra series, it has a lot of references and tributes to the past.  (Fans who’ve enjoyed this series on DVD should pick up the original Ultraman, and vice versa.)

One of the great things about the show is that while the episodes are self-contained and follow the formula of climaxing with a monster battle, there are also recurring plot points and secondary characters that resonate through the entire series.  The way the modern crises parallel the destruction of an ancient human civilization is also very well done.  Even though Yuzare’s people were technologically advanced, and ancient Titans existed on Earth at the time, they were all wiped out.  Has humankind learned enough to pull through this time?  The creators of
Ultraman Tiga have painted a rich and detailed canvas, with great action, great monsters, and well-developed characters.  This series is highly recommended for all tokusatsu fans.  Grade:  A

Ultraman Tiga is presented in its original fullscreen format.  The picture is mostly sharp and clear.  Like the earlier volumes, there is some grain, but it’s not really a problem.  Color reproduction is excellent, which serves the show well.  All of the bright rays and explosions look great.  Overall quality is equivalent to the earlier volumes.  Grade:  B+

The show is presented in the original Japanese 2.0 stereo.  There is no English dubbing.  Audio quality is consistent with the previous volumes.  Everything sounds very good.  The dialogue, music, and sound effects come through loud and clear.  Grade:  A

Extras / Menus:
There are two extras this time around:  The Monsters Gallery, and GUTS Top Secret Logs.  The Monsters Gallery features still images and text information on 7 of the series’ monsters.  Only one of them, Evil Tiga, has a descriptive video.  The page for Menjura (from episode 48) mistakenly shows a picture of the monster that menaced little Deban back in episode 21.  GUTS Top Secret Logs are the narrated logs of several members of GUTS.  The team members whose logs are included are Munakata, Rena, Shinjoh, and Yazumi.  They play back-to-back for 5 minutes.  They are narrated in English, making this one of the few places on any of the four Tiga DVDs that you can hear the characters’ English-dubbed voices.  Too bad Iruma isn’t included.  Hers would probably be pretty funny, since the dub always had her taking credit for other peoples’ ideas and skirting the blame for anything that went wrong.

Coming Attractions are also accessible from the main menu.  Running back-to-back for 5 minutes are promos for:  4Kids / FUNimation DVD singles (individual episodes of shows on mini-DVDs),
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:  The Ultimate Ninja, Sonic X: The Chaos Factor, Yu-Gi-Oh!:  The Complete First Season Box Set; Cabbage Patch KidsThe Screen Test, The Clubhouse, and The New Kid; Kirby:  Right Back At Ya! Volume 3, and saga sets of the original Dragonball.

There are also promos for
Yu-Gi-Oh!:  The Shadow Games and The Insector Combo (uncut), Shaman King Uncut Collector’s Editions, and the Fox Box Saturday morning line-up (since renamed 4Kids TV), that play automatically when the discs first start up.  Fortunately, the promos can be skipped through.  The extras are identical on both discs.  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.

Unfortunately, no insert is included this time around.  The two previous volumes’ inserts included both plot synopses and some interesting background information.  The inclusion of 4 chapter stops per episode is 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 as extensive as on previous volumes, are welcome additions (especially for younger viewers). 
Grade:  B-

Final Analysis:
This great series reaches its satisfying conclusion on the fourth in a series of (mostly) well-produced DVDs.  There are a few nagging problems this time around.  Not only is there no insert, but also the back of the box incorrectly lists the episodes on disc 2.  (The episode list from disc 2 of Volume 3 is mistakenly reprinted here instead.)  These oversights make the product seem cheap and rushed, even though it’s taken a year for the complete series to be issued.  Still, the quality of the discs themselves has remained consistently good.  Ultraman Tiga is only the second tokusatsu TV series to be released in its entirety on region 1 DVD, and that’s something to be thankful for.  Hopefully, the sequel series Ultraman Dyna will follow suit.  Final Grade:  A-
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