Ultraman producers zero in on Malaysia for global expansion plans

The expansion plans include localised content for Malaysian fans. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
The expansion plans include localised content for Malaysian fans. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

PETALING JAYA, Aug 8 — The makers of iconic Japanese superhero Ultraman are embarking on an ambitious global expansion plan with a focus on Southeast Asia territories including Malaysia.

The announcement was made today by Tsuburaya Productions president Masayuki Nagatake at One World Hotel here.

During the press conference, the Japanese global entertainment company revealed its upcoming plans such as the launch of new Ultraman series on various media platforms as well as merchandise partnerships.

“The Asian market is very important to us, it’s not just the Western market we are trying to penetrate.

“Of course, Western markets are very big and lots of people will love that, but the Asian market is also very important and we need to nurture that,” Tsuburaya Productions international business department executive manager Kei Minamitani told Malay Mail.

Tsuburaya Productions president Masayuki Nagatake speaks during an Ultraman press conference in Petaling Jaya August 8, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Tsuburaya Productions president Masayuki Nagatake speaks during an Ultraman press conference in Petaling Jaya August 8, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

China is currently the production company’s biggest market outside of Japan but Tsuburaya Productions representatives are eyeing Southeast Asia to become its biggest market.

Malaysian fans of the Japanese superhero will be delighted to know the latest Ultraman R/B television series will air on Astro Ceria beginning August 30 and the studio’s brand-new series Ultraman Taiga will begin broadcasting here next year.

Ultra Galaxy Fight which centres on New Generation Heroes facing off against the League of Darkness will be available on YouTube from September 29 onwards while its Netflix anime series Ultraman has just been renewed for a second season.

In line with the company’s vision of producing content for fans from every generation, Kaiju Step was created for preschoolers and features Ultraman Kaiju characters in their formative years learning about new things.

From the small screens to the silver screen, a film adaptation of the original Ultraman created in 1966 Shin Ultraman has been set for a 2021 release, touted to be the most expensive Ultraman universe movie ever made.

Superhero aficionados will be quick to compare Ultraman’s universe expansion to that of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) but Nagatake said Tsuburaya Productions doesn’t compare themselves to anyone.

“Marvel is great but we don’t copy we are unique so that is very important that we keep our own way and expand in what we believe,” Nagatake said.

Minamitami added their approach is to expand the Ultraman intellectual property to fans.

“What is important is our brand promise. The message US studios convey is slightly different to what we do in Japan and the Asian market so we want to keep that virtue in the storytelling.

“And if that becomes a franchise very similar to what Marvel are doing is probably a coincidence,” Minamitami said.

The studio also has plans to localise its content for Malaysian audiences following the success of Ultraman Ribut, a collaboration with the creators of Upin and Ipin.

Ultraman makers also expressed concern over copyright infringement of its characters through counterfeit merchandise and unauthorised mascots.

They said infringement issues have to be addressed and rectified for profits to flow back to the rightful makers which will allow producers to invest in respective local markets.

Tsuburaya Productions’ expansion plans come after the studio won a US lawsuit as the sole intellectual property owner of Ultraman including all its heroes, monsters and characters related to the Ultraman Universe.

Created in 1966 by special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya, Ultraman has evolved over the years with three generations of heroes, generating countless TV series, comics, movies and video games.

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