Ultraman Tiga is a tokusatsu series, part of the Ultra Series franchise, that aired from 1996 to 1997, making it the first official entry of the franchise's Heisei era following a fifteen year hiatus after Ultraman 80.
30 million years ago, beings of light came to Earth during mankind's infancy. Seeing the potential for humanity to become superior beings amongst the galaxy, the beings of light set up a colony to help and guide humanity. The beings of light also neutralize and control a horde of giant monsters who once roamed the Earth with their destructive ways. Using their powers, the beings of light either destroyed the monsters or tamed them, allowing humans to live with no fear of predators.
Malevolent factions within the colony began to oppose their own kind, stressing that they should remain the superior race and to subjugate humanity lest they rise and overtake them. A civil war erupts, destroying the colony and the beings of light, and regresses humanity to the point that it will take millennia for humans to achieve powers beyond their scope.
Three of these beings, which the pre-historic humans with their telepathic powers dubbed "Ultras" survived the war and imbued humanity with their DNA powers of light, hoping to one day jumpstart the humans back to greatness. The last of the great advanced humans, a woman named Yuzare, is chosen to be the keeper of the light, and leaves behind clues throughout time that one day, the monsters will rise again, and beings of light will be needed to combat them yet once more.
With various monsters rising from the Earth in modern times, the United Nations forms the T.P.C. — the Terrestrial Peace Consortium, a think tank looking for ways to neutralize the monsters. T.P.C. itself forms G.U.T.S. — Global Unlimited Task Squad, a strike team made up of combat specialists to counter the monsters if no other option but force is warranted.
On an archeological dig, T.P.C. discovers a pyramid-like device left by Yuzare foretelling the arrival of the monsters, and that only the beings of light can beat them. The G.U.T.S. team heads out to a location given to them by Yuzare's message and discover a previously-invisible pyramid housing statues of the 3 Ultras that survived the war. Two monsters arrive and destroy two of the three statues, but a beam of light contacts G.U.T.S. Officer Daigo Madoka moments before his demise, informing him that he is a true blood descendant with the DNA of the Ultras and awakens a power within him to save the entire world, saving his life in the process.
Using his inner heroism, his passion for justice, and his commitment for defending the innocent, Daigo accepts his heritage as the inheritor of the greatest power of them all — hope, as this era's Ultraman Tiga!
In 2002, Ultraman Tiga was dubbed in English by 4Kids in an attempt to revive Ultraman amongst U.S. audiences (and possibly as a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for Power Rangers— 4Kids had taken over programming of Fox's Saturday morning block at the time, as Fox Kids' and its' assets had been sold to Disney). Rather than a direct translation of the source material, this dub was an Affectionate Parody, paying homage to Peter Fernandez's 1966 Ultraman dub. However, this time around, the dub takes it to another level, as it's filled with a plethora of lampshading humor. Audiences weren't amused, however, and the show was abandoned about halfway through.
Ultraman Tiga provides examples of the following tropes:
- Adult Fear: Giranbo disguises itself as a kindly old woman before giving out drugged candy on Halloween and kidnapping children.
- Advanced Ancient Humans: Yuzare's civilization, which was wiped out by Gatanazoa and its servants: Gijera and the Zoigers millions of years ago. Captain Iruma is a descendant of them.
- Big Bad: Gatanozoa in the series.
- In The Final Odyssey, it's Camearra, Tiga's former lover and the self-proclaimed Queen of Darkness. Who fuses with Gatanozoa to become Demonzoa at the climax of the film.
- Book-Ends: The series begins with the statue of Tiga being discovered and brought to life through a merger with Daigo and ends with Tiga being turned into a statue again by Gatanothor during the final battle, only to be brought to life again thanks to the light of the children cheering on for Tiga.
- Bowdlerize: 4Kids Entertainment's infamous Gag Dub of it. Fortunately, an uncut, subbed DVD set was released, sadly out of print.
- Call-Back: Episode 1 is titled "The One Who Inherits the Light". The name of the episode where Evil Tiga appears? "The One Who Inherits the Shadows".
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: How Tiga is revived at the end of the series, complete with the power of children being responsible.
- Combining Mecha: The GUTS Wing EX-J (Extra Jet) is essentially an inversion of the typical setup - rather than a group of machines that combine into one, it's a single large jet that can divide into two smaller ones.
- The Comically Serious: The Gag Dub makes Munakata this for comedic effect. The deep, brooding voice in contrast to the tone of everything else doesn't help.
- Continuity Reboot: Of sorts, it kickstarts a new continuity, but the other series are still canon, just in a different Universe.
- Conveniently Empty Building: In episode 3, the G.U.T.S. crew remarks that it's a good thing the building that got smashed earlier was under construction because it Could Have Been Messy otherwise. No, that was not a dub addition.
- Cool Starship: Artdessei, the centerpiece of the opening sequence, which comes complete with a Wave-Motion Gun.
- Darker and Edgier: Compared to Ultraman 80, at least.
- Drill Tank: The Peepar, one of the many vehicles in GUTS' arsenal.
- Eldritch Abomination: Gatanazoa, the Ruler of Darkness. He's actually heavily based off Ghatanothoa, an elder evil from the Cthulhu Mythos.
- Zoiger's name is derived from Lloigor, a race from the Cthulhu mythos.
- Evil Counterpart: Kyrieloid, the giant guardian of fire demons race Kirie — much like Tiga being the guardian of humans. From their point of view, Kyrieloid is the rightful protector of Earth since Kirie have been inhabiting the Earth for much longer. Its successor, Kyrieloid II even has ability to switch forms like Tiga. And then we have the Dark Ultramen from The Final Odyssey movie.
- Evil Twin: Evil Tiga.
- Golden Super Mode: Glitter Tiga, a form that Tiga obtains when every child on earth empowers him with their light. He gains it again in "The Final Odyssey" when the destroyed Giants Of Light send Tiga their power.
- Gilligan Cut
- The Gag Dub has this.Horii: I'm just glad the other monster didn't show up today.
(cut to a monster rising from the ground)
- It happens in the original in the second episode. The G.U.T.S. team dispatches a monster without an Ultra in sight, leading to Tempting Fate at its best: "Well, that was a breeze. I'm almost looking forward to the next time we meet a monster..." (ground shakes, the second monster comes out of the ground).
- The Gag Dub has this.
- Gory Discretion Shot: In the movie, when during Daigo's vision as Tiga Dark, he almost went out of control and squashed an innocent girl with his fist, as the only focuses on his bust, followed by his hand punching the ground and the little girl's balloon flying up. Subverted that the death is actually a vision.
- Gratuitous English: The Europop theme song. "Wanna take you, baby, take me higher!" and "Gonna TIGA, take me，take me higher".
- Groin Attack: Tiga dispatched more than one monster with these.
- Hong Kong Dub: Much like the original 1966 English Dub, Tiga's Gag Dub naturally falls into this.
- Hour of Power: As ever. However, this one is not from some nebula and being weakened by Earth's conditions, so you'd expect that he wouldn't suffer from the three-minute time limit. Worse, he has a tendency to fly off way into the sky/distance instead of just out of sight after a battle. If he ran out of juice in midair... However, the danger of timing out is reduced in this series; only under special circumstances can an M78 Ultra survive this ("...If it should stop, Ultraman will never rise again!") but Tiga will only demorph. Though that's a bad thing if there's a Kaiju trying to kill you, or again, if you're in midair or some other human-unfriendly environment.
- Although in this series the sensor is just a measure of the Ultra exhausting his energy in general as he fights, and doesn't signal him getting close to a time limit that translates into an oddly round measurement of Earth time.
- Ice-Cream Koan: Played with in the Gag Dub. The dialogue purposely renders the scene just as useless as the sayings used in it. For laughs, of course."I have an old saying. One weird sight cannot be right. But make it three...it has to be. What's yours?"
"A ship in time saves nine."
"Ugh. That's wrong. It's a STITCH in time. And it doesn't even apply...you're COMPLETELY OFF!"
- It's a Small World After All: Lampshaded in the Gag Dub.Daigo: All that changed one night with the arrival of a meteor that seemed to steer its own descent to Earth. It aroused even more suspicion because of how close it landed to TPC headquarters.
- Just Testing You: In the Gag Dub, Daigo insists that the team must find Tiga to prepare for Melba and Golza's imminent attack. Megumi is convinced that the land of Tiga doesn't exist. Lo and behold, Yazumi is able to pinpoint the exact location of Tiga... to which Megumi plays this trope straight.
- Kabuki Theatre: The episode "Flower" revolves around a pair of Kabuki-themed alien invaders who invades a TPC picnic, intending to make planet Earth their personal kabuki stage. Their outfits resembles kimonos worn by Kabuki stagehands, with their faces being modelled directly after Kabuki masks, and the final battle even takes place on a Kabuki-like soundstage!
- Lucky Translation: As noted in Meaningful Name below, Tiga means Three in Malay/Indonesian. And Tiga has three forms. It is extremely unlikely that Tsuburaya knew the meaning of the Malay/Indonesian word when they chose the name- given the title of the upcoming reboot, it is possible that they were aiming for Ultraman Trigger, made a typo, figured that no one would care, and ran with it.
- Meaningful Name: Tiga means "Three" in Malay/Indonesian. As noted below, Tiga has three forms.
- Multiform Balance
- Mythology Gag:
- Named by the Adaptation: The 4Kids dub named Ultraman Tiga's attacks "Luminizers" and TPC Headquarters the "Citagon". Both were unnamed in the original, and the "Citagon" retains its name in the Dark Horse comics, though "Luminizers" doesn't.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Episode 13 shows that Tiga can transform to a human-sized version of himself. Technically, every Ultra can do this; they turn spandexy and then turn giant, so there's no reason one can't fight human-sized-threats without growing. However, this power is only seen in this series and on extremely rare occasions. Of course, in the Ultra Series, non-giant threats are themselves quite rare.
- Previously, Leo did this in a few battles, and later Ultraseven X would have lots of battles in human scale.
- Older Than They Look: The Gag Dub lampshades this with Yuzare's appearance after the team views the holographic message.Doctor: I know that it may seem as if this time capsule is real but... she looks too good to be 30 million years old.
- Recursive Canon: Not only does Tsubaraya Production exist in Tiga's world, the original Ultraman series exists as well.
- Say My Name: "DAIGOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
- A distress signal in Gag Dub does this."Do not adjust your TV set. There is nothing wrong. The recording is designed to appear wavy."
- The basic plot of episode 22, involving our heroes trying to avoid a monster-infested fog, owes a certain amount to the Stephen King novella The Mist, with one character outright comparing their situation to a story she once read about a bunch of people trapped in a supermarket.
- The full version of the title theme, "Take Me Higher", is bookended by samples from David Bowie's 1995 album 1. Outside: the start of the song samples "Wishful Beginnings", and the end of the song samples "Hallo Spaceboy".
- A distress signal in Gag Dub does this.
- Take That!: The English version has this in its theme music lyrics: "When Super's just not enough..." This phrase was also used as the show's unofficial tagline in the promos.
- Taken for Granite
- The Gakumas in episode 2 also did this, but they were easily taken out.
- Tiga is transformed back into a statue after he was defeated by Gatanozoa in episode 51.
- Time Travel: Goldras
- Wave-Motion Tuning Fork: The G.U.T.S. Wing 2 aircraft has one.