Say That Again, Ultraman!

Ultra Galaxy 1

I’m not sure what I think of this.

Tsuburaya Productions’ latest offering in the ultra-long-running Ultraman TV franchise — Urutora Gyarakushii Daikaiju Batoru [lit. Ultra Galaxy: Giant Monster Battle; aka Ultra Galaxy: Mega Monster Battle] (2007; TV series; dir. Yuuichi Kikuchi; main writer and series organiser: Kenichi Araki) — will be made available to non-Japanese countries under a new customisation arrangement that Tsuburaya have dubbed the “Visual Translation System”. In essence, this system will allow other countries to insert their own actors into the scenes more easily — so the monsters and SFX stuff, and even the standard backgrounds, stay the same, and only the actors change. The live-action is apparently filmed largely against a blue-screen and is kept separate for ease of “visual translation”.

Tsuburaya Productions has been disappointed with the lack of interest in recent Ultra shows displayed by representatives from foreign countries and hope that this new system will increase the incentive to purchase. As reported by SciFi Japan, the company explained their intentions like this:

“Our shows attract fans from all over the world, but we feel we can do more. For many of the superhero programs dubbed in a foreign language and exported abroad, the impact of the original piece is diminished. This is often due to the main character being a foreigner. We realize that audiences overseas may not be familiar with the Japanese actors and actresses in our shows. We want our audience to have a stronger connection with the actors. In order to solve this issue, we’ve created the Visual Translation System.

“With VT, it is now possible to repackage the latest of the popular Ultraman series as a high quality country-specific production. We take the same base script of the program produced in Japan, and using the same set and backdrop, we refilm the scenes employing actors native to the country in which the program will be shown. Using this new system, overseas customers can modify our shows to be localized using actors from their own countries. Our internationally known characters like Ultraman and his monstrous enemies can now be viewed all over the world along with locally known celebrities.”

Personally I like the shows, at least in part, because of their difference from our own more familiar TV series. I want the Japanese faces. I want the original tone. But I can certainly understand why networks struggling to attract viewers more attuned to the familiar might prefer this new approach.

Ultra Galaxy monsters
Some of the Monsters of Ultra Galaxy

As a compromise between the bad dubbing of the 1970s and the complete mangling of the popular Power Rangers series (where script, plot and actors have been “re-imagined”), it certainly gains kudos points for adaptation.

This entry was posted in Daikaiju, Film, Giant Monsters, News, TV, Ultraman. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Say That Again, Ultraman!

  1. Mysterious Pants says:

    I read about this over at the SciFi Japan site. How’s that old saying go? When you try to please everybody, you end up pleasing no one.

  2. Backbrain says:

    Yeah, but I think they really want to generate some good ol’ US income from their franchises and at the moment they’re having trouble finding anyone in the US who wants to take the shows on. Damned if I know why…. I’d buy whatever they brought out (with subtitles).

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