Sunday, March 11, 2012

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Ultraman Tiga (1996)

After a 15 year hiatus, Japan's most famous superhero, Ultraman, returned to the air in his native country in 1996 in Ultraman Tiga. The biggest question was whether or not Ultraman was still a popular beloved figure. Apparently, the answer was yes, but not in the US.

6 years later, 4Kids Entertainment obtained the rights to bring Ultraman Tiga to the US for Fox's Saturday morning lineup. However, translating the series from Japanese to English wasn't as easy, and Fox gave up on the show after about half the season had gone. CoreyXSasuke uploaded the English language open:

An earlier incarnation of Ultraman had aired on TNT here in the US around the same time, but hasn't been heard from since, either. In both cases, the show was poorly promoted, and in TNT's case, they never even bothered, airing the show on weekends without any advertising. They were, at the time, throwing stuff on the air around 6-7 am (ET) to see what would work. Today, TNT would rather shove reruns of Law & Order down everyone's throats at all hours every day if they could get away with it.

Where 4Kids failed was in lack of proper promotion as well. They expected older fans would remember Ultraman, but too much time had passed since the last time an original series of Ultraman adventures had made it to US screens. Also, because of the 6 year time lag, there had to have been some tape trading done online among fans worldwide by then, so that anyone that wanted to see the show had the original Japanese version and could do their own translations.

Around the time thatTiga had premiered in Japan, the Ultraman franchise had made a valiant attempt at reaching American audiences through comic books, but that didn't work out too well, either.

Rating: C.

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