Well, it’s been a while since we’ve done one of these, but since I don’t have any of my own video content this week and I don’t want another Saturday going by without a posting we get Saturday Night Showcase. So, we’ve been reviewing the comics and we looked at the intros recently, which only leaves the TV show itself–Ultraman Tiga! I found the 4Kids dub but as a surprise I also stumbled on a subtitled version of the first episode. Therefore, we shall watch both and compare the two versions, starting with the Japanese version and then the English version. Or you could ignore one for your preference but that would miss the point of the article, wouldn’t it?
The Japanese episode is a bit longer thanks to the English advertisers demanding more time (not realizing that if they take up too much show time there won’t be enough show and no reason for us to watch–especially since of these kids can’t sit through on 30 second ad on the internet without throwing a fit lately). Let’s see how the first episode of Ultraman Tiga actually looked.
Tsuburaya has really improved their costume designs over the years. While Golza looks like his head is too big for his neck (that must have been like wearing a mascot head for the suit actor) it and Melba still look good and you can’t see the seam on Tiga as well as his forefathers. I also find it interesting that for once an Ultraman was revived by a human, rather than the other way around as it usually happens. In the Chinese comic Dark Horse dubbed the capsule didn’t start broadcasting the message until Diago walked in, which one of the other agents even takes note of and making for good foreshadowing, and Yasure explained to Diago alone that he was a direct decedent of the ancient race, which we also got to see prior to the three Ultras arrival to rescue it from the monsters and the sacrifice two of them made to give Tiga the power to handle it. I wish those scenes had been in the show.
The acting was good by pilot standards (since everyone from the writers to the actors are trying to get a handle on the character) but everything I said about the intro still stands with an extra complaint. One thing that bugs me about Japanese intros are the songs. When translated you come to find out the song really has nothing to do with the show. It’s as generic a love song as possible in most cases and tells you nothing about what you’re going to see. Add that to visuals that are just the ships and occasionally the pilots or Tiga’s head and it’s not what you’d call a good promo for the program you’re about to see. That always disappoints me and yet I keep wanting to see a translation of the theme, hoping someone will write a theme song about the characters and/or the situation they’re in. That’s why I like the US version better. So how does the actual dub compare to the original?
This is the only dubbed episode I can find without an exhaustive search, and I don’t know how I’d do beyond that. So if this gets taken down I may not be able to replace it. [UPDATE: 2/28/2020: It did go down and I had to replace it with an “HD reconstruction”, whatever that entails. And then had to find a new version on 1/21/2021!At least you can still compare the dub and original, but I don’t know what changes there might have been with the actual 4Kids airing.] The obvious change is Diago and Rena’s fight with Golza is removed. The added jokes I didn’t mind, except for two. The “mother-in-law” joke (which would go over kids’ head I would think) went a bit long the first time. Did they need to keep talking about her? It ruins the joke not only there but later when it’s referenced again, which would have been funnier had the gag not already have been beaten to death. The other is “I was just testing you”. Way to make the female commander look slightly incompetent, dub writer.
On the other hand, I like some of the added jokes and the explanations. While the Japanese version tells us about Daigo turning into light and joining with Tiga (which we just saw and don’t really need an explanation for), the US version explains what they were doing with the translator, what the torch is (although it means Daigo isn’t told Tiga’s name), and Daigo explaining that he finally ejected at the last minute (which isn’t that far off).
As to which one is better? I’m kind of neutral on that. I don’t think either one is superior in the end, it’s just a matter of personal preference, which for me was the English dub. That said, it was nice to see the original version to see what I missed. I hope either version someday gets a legal DVD release because I would love to see the entire series. You can find subtitles of the Tiga movies but that’s about it right now. It’s a good show and comic and I recommend both if you can find them. The comic reviews still have a few weeks left to go.