I mean, let’s be honest here, they make pretty good Ultraman-related social content for an English-speaking nostalgia fan audience in Southeast Asia, don’t they? However, there’s just one problem.
The page is unauthorised, thus unofficial. No matter what they want you to believe.
And why is this so? First, let’s take a look at the ‘About’ section of the page:
‘Brought to you by Taigaco, TIGA & UM Corporation’. Raise any eyebrows? It should.
UM Corporation (UMC) is the company that famously ‘inherited’ the fraudulent rights to Ultraman from one Sompote Saengduenchai, the founder of Chaiyo Productions whom I need not elaborate on. On April 18, 2018, they lost a U.S. District Court judgement that ruled their claims invalid and all rights of the character in favour of Tsuburaya Productions. UMC continues its illegitimate Ultraman business with its affiliates TIGA Entertainment, a Hong Kong-based company which claims to be the global agent of the brand and TaigacoSdn Bhd, a Malaysian company that believes it has been granted the rights to Ultraman in Malaysia, Singapore (ugh, get out!) and many other Southeast Asian countries. That should give you a hint about the authenticity of the Ultraman Original page, which I believe is run by Taigaco.
Next, have a look at the Ultraman Original website. More importantly, the section on Characters. Take a moment to scroll through the page and look at the studio shots of the Ultramen. While most of them might be able to fool the casual viewer, don’t you think they just look, odd? Look at the couple of examples below:
Zoffy, historically, has had the most inconsistencies in his costume due to being a cameo-level character that has never had his own series. He has a different costume in nearly all his appearances but just look at each and every one of them. None of them have had GOLD Star Marks. Zoffy’s Star Marks have always been silver.
Also, this is my favourite part. Check out the dude the white arrow is pointed towards. That’s Prof. Otani from Ultraman Tarou, whom Zoffy masqueraded as for a couple of episodes. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this clip below:
(Bonus tip: Go check out that BBQ scene earlier in the episode for some early 70’s goofiness)
Everyone who knows Zoffy knows that Zoffy never had an officially recognised human identity (yup, not even Sakomizu). If Otani qualifies enough to be immortalised on a supposedly official site, surely ZAT’s Aragaki should be recognised as Ultraman and maybe those random schoolboys from the next episode as the Ultra Brothers.
Ultra Seven’s should be a lot more obvious. Red ‘tribe’ Ultramen do not have orange eyes! This applies to Tarou as well, which you can see on the same page. The colour in the dents on his head as well as his chest protector is wrong as well. It should be a pale yellow.
They claim to be the ‘Rights Holder’, yet these are simple things that any legitimate licensee would be obliged to get correct, by contract and in the interest of branding. I mean, have you seen a McDonald’s franchise ever screw up Ronald McDonald’s eyebrows? I mean, he is a character trademark.
And on the topic of branding, check out the ‘ULTRAMAN’ text logo that they use.
On the left is the logo that UMC uses in all their collateral, which you’ve probably seen a lot more. They have been very aggressive in promoting it as the ‘one true logo’. There’s literally an entire shop at In’s Point in Hong Kong filled with UMC Ultraman merchandise. You can’t miss it because it’s right at the end of an escalator, but please don’t buy anything there, okay? (This is why)
The one on the right, that contains no Japanese characters, is the one that has been in use as a global brand logo by Tsuburaya Productions since Ultraman Orb.
If this is still not enough to convince you of the fraud, take a look at the website’s History section, which depicts a ‘legal’ timeline of events that seems to point to a resounding victory for UMC and its affiliates. However, they conveniently left out the results from April 2018. Which brings me to my next point.
This has been hot news all around the fandom in the past week. Blue Arc Entertainment, the same Chinese company that illegally used Ultraman in two of their Dragon Force movies, announced a third one this time featuring the character even more prominently than before, prompting Tsuburaya Productions to issue a press release condemning the unauthorised use of Ultraman.
Simply put, regardless of the authenticity of the usage claims as purported by UMC, Tsuburaya Productions is recognised worldwide as the copyright owner of the Ultraman property and characters, and the permission to produce any adaptations or derivative work has never been granted to Chaiyo, UMC or any of their affiliates. What this means is, none of these companies have the right to create their own Ultraman characters or adapt Ultraman characters for use in new productions. No legitimate ‘Rights Holder’ would so brazenly violate contractual agreements the way they have.
For these reasons, it’s really, really important that Ultraman fans be more discerning when it comes to Ultraman products. Stop validating any of UMC’s efforts to deceive Ultraman fans. Don’t give them the numbers and positive attention that they can use as an advantage in growing their illegitimate business and making money from it. Don’t give them a chance just because they’ve made cool Ultraman T-shirts and stuff that you can buy. Any endorsement of their efforts is a knife in the back of Tsuburaya Productions, the true and legitimate owner of Ultraman.
Tsuburaya has been nothing but committed to Ultraman fans. They have shown interest in bringing Ultraman to fans outside Japan for a very long time, and within eight months of winning the U.S. District Court case, announced a Netflix Original and signed a deal with an American company to grow the brand internationally.
Take a stand as a fan of Tsuburaya’s Ultraman and say no to Chaiyo, UMC, TIGA Entertainment, Taigaco, Blue Arc, Chaiyo (again for posterity) or any other companies that have not been officially recognised by Tsuburaya. At this point, I’m not even sure if Taigaco is aware that it has been bamboozled into investing money into an erroneous venture, or if they’re actually in on the whole con in the first place.
If you’re still not convinced, that’s fine. You’re free to make your own decisions. But for those who feel that this article has given you a new perspective into the whole Ultraman situation, good.
Now go spread the awareness.
Also, if you missed it earlier, check out our handy guide to differentiating Tsuburaya and UMC Ultraman products.
P.S. That #NeverForgetYourChildhoodHeroes hashtag is irritating/infuriating, isn’t it? How about we start using #NeverForgetWhoOwnsUltraman instead?