In Stern Bild City, those with special abilities are called "NEXT," and can use their powers for good or bad. A unique organized group of NEXT appear regularly on Hero TV, where they chase down evildoers to bring limelight to their sponsors and earn Hero Points in the hopes of becoming the next "King of Heroes."
Kotetsu T. Kaburagi, known as "Wild Tiger," is a veteran hero whose performance has been dwindling as of late, partially due to his inability to cooperate with other heroes. After a disappointing season in which most of the other heroes far outperformed Tiger, he is paired up with a brand new hero who identifies himself by his real name—Barnaby Brooks Jr.
Barnaby, nicknamed "Bunny" by his frivolous new partner, quickly makes it clear that the two could not be more different. Though they mix as well as oil and water, Tiger and Bunny must learn to work together, both for the sake of their careers and to face the looming threats within Stern Bild.
At first glance at the title, the first impression was that the show "Tiger & Bunny" will be a cutesy show with talking tigers and bunnies. It is not.
This may be a disappointment for some.
And looking at the promotional art, people assume "Oh it's some mecha anime. Since I don't like mecha, I won't watch it." I assure you, this show is not about mechas at all. Those "mechas" are in actuality the main characters of the show in their power suits. Calling them "mechas" is akin to calling Tony Stark (of Iron Man fame) a mecha pilot.
Now, you must be wondering what this show actually IS. To be blunt, it's a hyperactive fluffy kid's show, much like the 7:00 Saturday morning cartoons many people used to watch way back when. The plot is extremely simple, and fast moving. It's basically a show about good old fashioned superheroes (attempting to) kick some bad guy butt.
If you're here to know more details, it's better to just look at the description and watch the show. It's extremely simplistic.
However, that isn't to say that there isn't anything for the older viewer. Besides some of the nostalgia rush that I get from watching this show, I see some intriguing plot factors pop up that separate this from any other anime or superhero show (Western or otherwise).
1.) This show is STUFFED TO THE GILLS in product placement. This is not a bad thing. To the contrary, it adds to the appeal to the show. Rather than tasteless placement, it adds to the setting. These superheroes are commodities. Capitalism has taken advantage of the charismatic heroes, and they are used to advertise products. It's not much different from now, with people slapping celebrity names onto products in order to sell.
2.) This show is light. While modern day superhero stories tend to go for "darker and edgier" plots (Watchmen, Batman, etc.), this show remains untouched by such baggage and instead opts for optimism and feel good messages. "Believe in yourself. Be proud of who you are." You'll be rooting for the heroes the whole time.
3.) The main character is an older man with a daughter. Let me tell you: this is mind blowing. Instead of using a child/teenage character as the protagonist, they use an aging papa bear character. The protagonist is someone the audience has someone to sympathize with, and many anime go the lazy route and use a child/teenager as the protagonist for us to sympathize with due to age similarity to the target audience. But Kotetsu is genuinely likable despite his older age setting.
^TL;DR: The story is great and unique, and is quite different from modern day anime offerings and superhero shows. It uses it's premise and setting to its advantage.
The characterization is great. Kotetsu is an idealist, though not frustratingly so. He's basically balancing his own individuality against the expectations of his employers, and his ability to compromise prevents long drawn out misunderstandings. The other heroes seem to have their own agenda, especially Kotetsu's unwilling partner, Barnaby. Characterization through action, not description, is the series' strong point. These aren't just archetypes with faces.
Many complaints with the show deal with the CGI. Honestly, it's not to much of a problem. With some of the Karas staff on board, the CGI is integrated well, with no glaring problems. It beats some of the cheap 2D "QUALITY" animation that we are subject to every anime season.
All in all, this show is wonderful. It makes me feel excited to see what's in store next, though I realize this may not be everyone's cup of tea: the whole "Western" feel of the show can throw people off. But it is this exact "Western" feel that made Cowboy Bebop and Trigun so successful, and I hope that this show continues to appeal to various demographics.
I say give this show a shot for the first episode, and see if you feel like a kid waiting for next week's 7:00 Saturday morning cartoons.read more
Superheroes have long been a staple of popular culture, especially in the West, and over the years characters like Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and even The Hulk have become household names. With their popularity at an all-time high thanks to video game tie-ins and movie adaptations, it's only natural that pretenders to the thrones that Marvel and DC sit upon should crawl out of the woodwork.
The most obvious attempts to capitalise on the success of these comic-book creations have come from television and cinema, but while shows like "Heroes", "Chronicle" and "Misfits" have found a degree of success, the majority of attempts to reinvent, reboot or revamp the superhero genre have ended in ignominy.
Which is where Tiger & Bunny swagger onto the stage.
Set in Sternbild City (a fictional version of New York), the story begins 45 years after super-powered humans known as NEXT first began to appear. In the decades that followed, individuals with superhuman abilities took on the roles of heroes and villains, and over time the constant to and fro between both sides became a form of entertainment. Fast forward to NC 1978, where the forces for good have their own specialised broadcast - "Hero TV", corporate sponsorships, and a chance to accrue points in order to win the coveted title of "King of Heroes".
Every day brings new challenges for these intrepid do-gooders, but Sternbild City has been built upon many secrets, and when Barnaby Brooks Jr. takes his place amongst those who stand for truth and justice, the shadows of the past begin to move once more.
At first glance Tiger & Bunny may seem like nothing more than a super-powered "buddy" show, and to a certain degree that's a fair assessment. The plot is relatively straightforward (but also rather predictable), and although there are several elements that add a veneer of complexity, none of these affect the pacing or progression of the storyline - mainly because it has been split into two major chapters. This has the effect of setting a "deadline" for the conclusion of certain arcs, which in turn adds a brevity to the narrative that prevents the atmosphere becoming stale.
Unfortunately some viewers may find themselves annoyed by the fact that certain episodes appear to deviate from the main plot by focusing on one or more of the supporting characters. Now while this usually a valid complaint, these "fillers" often serve as a platform to introduce themes, characters or events that may have a lasting effect on the story proper. In addition to this, the episodes in question have very little impact on the flow of the narrative, and in a very real sense this show is a good example of how "fillers" can add to the whole story.
When it comes to the visuals, Tiger & Bunny certainly looks the part, but it's not without its flaws. The artwork is of a good standard, with a nice variety of character designs, settings, and outlandish costumes that uphold the reputation of superheroes everywhere. The series is well animated for the most part, and while there are the usual (and very minor), anime-related problems when it comes to wardrobes, one particular issue continues to crop up throughout the show.
Technology has progressed to the point where computer generated imagery can often be blended with more traditional animation to good effect, but for some reason Sunrise has decided to be a little more ostentatious in its approach - which has led to a few complications. The main problem lies in the movement of the heroes after they don their costumes, and in several action sequences the studio's attempts to exaggerate the actions of the characters can make the entire scene look more than a little ... odd.
That said, many viewers may forgive the slightly weird feeling they get from the CG, but only because the overall look is decidedly refreshing and the show makes very good use of some rather nice visual effects.
Tiger & Bunny features two opening sequences, both of which introduce the main heroes (with particular attention paid to their sponsors), alongside a few short scenes that display their powers. The only real difference between the two OP's are the songs attached to them - "Orion o Nazoru" by Unison Square Garden (a rather upbeat rock song), and "Missing Link" by Novels (a surprisingly bittersweet rock ballad). The series also features two closing sequence, the first of which is a fairly simple affair that focuses on the characters of Kaburagi Koutetsu and Barnaby Brooks Jr. while "Hoshi no Sumika" by Aobozu plays out. The second ED is much more in keeping with the great traditions of the anime industry as it uses still images of the characters alongside some fairly basic visual effects - all to the J-Pop stylings of Tamaki's "Mind Game"
When it comes to background music it seems like Tiger & Bunny is on firmer ground, and much of the soundtrack is littered with anthems that echo of heroism, action, and good old comic-book cheese. In addition to this there are a wide range of well defined audio effects, and overall the series is remarkably balanced in terms of its choreography.
As one might expect from a superhero tale, the dialogue is awash wish one-liners, catchphrases and other sentences that tend come out of the mouths of costumed vigilantes. That said, the script is surprising in both its intelligence and humour, and although there's the ever-present shadow of cheese, it's not enough to deter the voice actors from delivering some fine performances. Hirata Hiraoki and Morita Masakazu are in good form as the laconic veteran Kaburagi Koutetsu (a.k.a. Wild Tiger), and the fiery young Barnaby Brooks Jr., but while the two have a good on-screen rapport, the cornerstone of the dialogue is the camaraderie between the heroes as a group.
One of the nice things about Tiger & Bunny is that the characters represent a wide range of ages and backgrounds, and although the majority of them are adults, the show also tries to offer some insight into the personalities of the more prominent teenaged heroes. Koutetsu is a particularly interesting individual - a widowed father who rarely sees his ten-year old daughter (who lives with her grandmother), because of his "work", and this lays a very strong and unusual (for anime that is), foundation for development. A big plus is that rather than travel down the Ikari Gendou route towards a "bad end", the writers have decided to adopt an approach that's more akin to "Lethal Weapon", with Koutetsu in the role of the aging veteran.
On the other hand, Barnaby Brooks Jr. is Batman.
The problem is that where Barnaby is concerned, nobody has tried to think outside of the box (as they do with Koutetsu), and it's for this reason that his background is one of the biggest stereotypes in the world of superheroes. Because of his origins, many of the changes in his personality over the course of the series can feel derived, and this is especially true where his relationship with Koutetsu is concerned. Thankfully the show has a pretty good set of supporting characters, and unlike many other anime, the series uses the relationships between the majority of the characters rather well.
If one compares Tiger & Bunny to its Western counterparts then it manages to hold its own, but only just as the weight of the superhero genre in America and Europe is enough to crush almost any challenger. That said, the series is a refreshing change from the shounen fare that's being served these days, and one of the most laudable aspects is that Sunrise haven't been afraid to take inspiration from Western media.
Which brings up one small but important point.
The majority of popular heroes were created decades ago, and since then there have been many attempts to update them so that they always appear to be in keeping with modern trends and tastes. Unfortunately these changes are only skin-deep, and aside from recent titles like "Heroes", "Misfits", "Kick Ass", "Chronicle" and "Super", the majority of Western tales don't really serve as a good reflection of modern times, even if their core message remains valid. It's in this particular area where Tiger & Bunny stands above many other stories, mainly because of its focus on "reality TV", celebrity culture and corporate sponsorship. In a very real sense the anime highlights a direction that has been blatantly ignored, and while the whole concept may seem alien to diehard fans of Western comic-books, the simple fact is that modern superhero stories tend to follow the same formula that has been the mainstay of the industry for decades.
Overall, Tiger & Bunny is an enjoyable take on the genre that blends several old ideas and puts them in a setting that, while futuristic, is more a reflection of modern society than many people might initially believe. The mixture of super-powered shenanigans, comedy and drama is very much in keeping with the best traditions of action movies everywhere, and in all honesty that's probably the best way to approach the series.
But that doesn't automatically make it no-brain entertainment.read more
Before it came out, I saw the title and a poster art, and I figured it would be Playboy-esque. Or about Mafia. Then on a fansub site, I saw it tagged as a shounen mecha with action and comedy. Now I was confused. But whichever it was (about Mafia or mecha) it wasn't gonna be good.
Then I saw that episode 1 was on Hulu. HULU? Was this legitimacy? OK, so I watched it. It was not what I was expecting. It's not about Mafia or mecha. It's about SUPERHEROES! Why couldn't somebody just come out and say so? But mind you, this isn't like the other Japanese superhero animes that are re-makes revolving around American-made characters. This ain't Wolverine or Iron Man, folks. No, this is good stuff. GOOOOOOD. Just count how many times I use "awesome" and "cool" in this review.
Here we have bright and saturated visuals, comedy, some pretty sweet action sequences, loveable characters, and enough drama and melodrama to keep a sieve full. And an interesting twist on athlete sponsorship.
This is Stern Bild, the bright city of the (American) future, where citizens are kept safe by the troop of the city's resident heroes. But these heroes aren't freelancers or government employees. No, they're privately sponsored. After all, it takes big bucks to get those suits done at the dry cleaners. But that sponsorship doesn't just mean they get corporate logos slapped all over them like a biker or racecar. No, they have to let camera crews follow them around, to broadcast their feats in reality-TV style.
Our main character is one of these heroes, Kotetsu, whose hero name is Wild Tiger. Back in the day, he was cool. But now he's older, and has lost his shine. And his tween daughter thinks he's an absolute dweeb.
When his current hero company goes under, he gets transferred to another, where they aren't too thrilled about having an old has-been hero. So they make the unusual decision to partner him up with another hero, and sell them to audiences as a team. They pick one that has the exact same superpower as Wild Tiger. And it happens that this guy's everything that Kotetsu is not: fresh, new, young, arrogant, no sense of humor, dutiful to the sponsors, and he uses his real name for his hero work. Everyone knows that heroes are supposed to have a secret identity! Young upstart.
So Kotetsu's partnership with Barnaby Brooks Jr. gets off to a rough beginning. And it stays that way for a loooooong time, while Kotetsu keeps trying to loosen "Bunny-chan" up. (Yes, Barnaby is the 'Bunny' in Tiger & Bunny.) But Bunny isn't a hero just to do good. He has a specific goal in mind, and he won't let Kotetsu's goofiness distract him.
It turns out they will both need to learn a lot about each other to get this partnership to work.
MOST EVERYTHING ELSE:
I tried a few minutes of some of the animes based on Marvel characters. I didn't like them. And judging by their low MAL ratings, most other people don't either. But this is an original story. Fresher, brighter, and with no comic book (or manga) to compare it to. But you can still see classic superhero roots, in the villains particularly. They're generally very flashy, unlike real criminals. And hey, we even get a mad scientist.
Even though Tiger and Bunny are our main characters, there is a whole cast of heroes that they work alongside: ice-caster Blue Rose (who has a crush on Tiger), the fire-shooting Fire Emblem, wind-warping Sky-High, hunky Rock Bison, tomboyish Dragon Kid, and Japanophile Origami.
And there's non-hero characters. Kotetsu's daughter Kaede, his mom, his former boss Ben. His suit-maker, Saito, with the quiet voice (he gets his own subtitles, since apparently Tiger is the only one who can hear him). Agnes, the producer of HERO-TV, the reality show that follows the heroes around. Legend, the hero that saved Kotetsu as a kid, and encouraged him to become a hero himself. The rogue Lunatic, dispenser of vigilante justice, who I think most people wanted to get more screentime. (I wanted to see more of him too; after all, he's the only guy whose suit had bell-bottoms. BELL-BOTTOMS.)
It has a couple of story arcs. Some are as short as one episode, and give us a close-up look at the life of one of the heroes in the story. Other arcs span several episodes, as our heroes battle the villain of the moment. But there are clues scattered throughout the series that are used later.
The action scenes are generally pretty cool. There isn't one every episode, but when they come, they are, like, AWESOME!!!!
There's comedy aplenty, of the light kind.
But what's at the core of the show is DRAMA. Lots of it. If the scene involving the little boy and the trading cards doesn't impact you some way, then you should just stop watching, because that's the melodramatic slant in this show. There's the drama of a dad trying to get his kid to say he's cool. Promising to meet with her, but then having to break his promise because he has been called to an assignment. There's the drama of a man whose goal is to take revenge for his parents who were murdered. You almost wonder if Barnaby suffers from depression, since he keeps getting bogged down in melodramatic angst, and takes it out on anybody who tries to get close to him. And the one who tries to do that is our very own Kotetsu. Barnaby is in serious need of some professional counseling.
Incidentally, there is a bit racial variety. Which is unusual for anime, but was probably obligatory since the story is set, after all, in a place much like the United States. We have a couple of black characters: The mayor of Stern Bild (à la Obama, I'm sure); Ben, who is Kotetsu's former boss and current mentor; and Fire Emblem (a lot of viewers chew out his character because he is the cliché gay character you see a lot in anime; oh well, the makers are still Japanese after all). And Kotetsu and his family, and Saito are Asian...or more specifically, Japanese. No other kinds of Asians around apparently. And all the other characters are probably white.
The animation is very awesome. The setting is often the sparky-lit city at night. Outlining is done in brown instead of the usual black, so the everything looks "warm" and alive. Action scenes are done well. And there's lots of CGI. Which makes some purists mad. The suits are where you see it most. Some people squawk at this, which isn't fair, because it's usually done pretty well, especially for the chunky suits that Tiger and Barnaby wear. The only place where it doesn't work very well is Fire Emblem's skin-tight suit. Though his cape with the creeping-flames pattern is cool. I'd want one of those myself.
Style. There's lots of style. There's something about this that almost says "superheroes are a fashion statement." Well, that and the fact that Tiger and Bunny almost ALWAYS wear the same clothes. It's just begging for people to cosplay them. And the music seems to fit in with the style. The music is cool. Awesomely awesome. It varies from jazz to opera and places in-between. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Pixar movie "The Incredibles." Something about that retro-esque heroes-in-real-life feels very similar to this.
MAKE SURE to watch after the ED in each episode. Often, there's a little bit of extra story at the end before the previews roll. And by then you might as well watch the previews too, since they're usually narrated by either Tiger or Barnany, and begin with him saying "Hi, I'm Tiger, the member of Tiger and Bunny who wears a beard!" or something else idiotic. Also, the episode titles are all in English, and based off some proverb. Tiger doesn't even try to say the next episode title, but Barnaby does, and sound pretty horrible. Some people said it was worth it to watch each episode just to hear Barnaby's Engrish at the end.
Some viewers felt that the final arc in the series was a bit lame. I wouldn't say it was terrible, but it definitely did go for the cliche situations of "superhero meets the big boss" and more. Not necessarily bad, but it raised the bar pretty high for itself by then. But fans are waiting to see if there will be a second season….
WHAT IT'S NOT:
It's not primarily action. We don't get a full-blown action sequence every episode.
It's not primarily comedy, unless you want to laugh at Barnaby's childish attitude, or Kotetsu's blunders. Which ARE funny.
There's very little ecchi. Unless you count Blue Rose's costume.
There's little romance. Blue Rose obviously has a thing for Kotetsu, even though he's a generation older than herself. (It's OK Blue Rose, I sorta do too.) Yaoi fans may be disappointed that nothing goes on between our two main characters. (Though that hasn't prevented scores of Yaoi doujinshi from being made.)
It's also not hugely….intelligent. I have to say this for people who are expecting an amazingly intricate and solid plot. While the story overall is good and throws a few cureveballs, there are some mental goofs. But that is all forgiven because the drama is SOOOO feel-good, and the characters are so loveable.
I can say I'm very happy to see this show as popular as it is. I wrote a review after seeing episode 4, when the show's MAL rating was below 7. Now it's above 8. I'm happy it's getting love.
Unlike most shounen series which are primarily about an action or suspense-driven story, Tiger and Bunny's partnership, or attempt at a partnership, is the main draw. You care about them, and the other characters. You REALLY CARE. You might even say this is meddling in seinen territory. Which is probably why this attracts viewers from all sorts of demographics. If you like drama, and a little action, comedy, nice music and animation, and an interesting setting, please, please give this a try. But beware. You might just get hooked. read more
Up in the sky, look! It’s a bird! It’s a plane!
No, it’s... Billboard Man! Fighting crime, defending the innocent, an whoring himself out like it’s his first night in Hollywood!
It’s the distant future for us, and a bizarre mutation has started to occur among our population. Human beings with superhuman powers are popping up everywhere, and we’ve taken to calling them Nexts... Presumably because ‘mutants’ was taken. We initially rejected these outcasts, until they decided to don costumes and assume the role of superheroes, defending the very people who judged them on live, national TV!
Unfortunately for the widowered single father Kotetsu Kaburagi, the human genome isn’t the only thing that’s been evolving. In the decades since Hero TV was established, he finds that he’s become irrelevant, with younger and more capable fighters joining to overshadow him. His rank is low amongst his co-workers, nobody ever buys his merchandise, and to make matters worse, a new superhero named Barnaby Brooks has thrown his hat into the ring, sporting the exact same power that Kotetsu has... And to keep himself from getting fired, he has to take up a new mantle as this rookie’s partner!
At first glance, Tiger and Bunny seems to have one of the most tired premises in recent anime history... That is to say, a large cast of both heroes and villains who’ve mysteriously developed their own unique powers. Just off the top of my head, I can name several titles with that exact same premise... Darker than Black, the Index Franchise, Canaan, S-CRY-ED, Speed Grapher, and Getbackers, to name a few. And that view point isn’t completely unfair, since the array of powers it features is probably the least imaginative in the bunch.
But where Tiger and Bunny differs from these other shows is in it’s core concept, which is essentially an amusing combination of X-Men and Nascar. The heroes are sponsored and basically controlled by wealthy real-life corporations, who tell them how to act and dress while decorating their costume with different logos. They advertise these logos by competing on Hero TV, earning points based on just how successful their defense of the city was that season. I can honestly say I’ve never seen an idea even close to that one in my entire life.
The animation was produced by a company named Sunrise, a prolific animation studio with a lot of very impressive previous work under their belt. They’re known by fans as Sunrise Smooth, a reference to the fluidity of most of their efforts. Unfortunately, the same can’t really be said for Tiger and Bunny. It uses both 3D and 2D style animation, but it doesn’t blend them... The 3D is used in action scenes, or just whenever the heroes are in costume, and the 2D is used practically everywhere else.
The 3D animation is actually very impressive, and yes, very smooth. It turns just about every action scene into a pulse pounding, exciting thrill ride that it should be. Unfortunately, the 3D is still in effect when our heroes are wearing their costumes outside of action, as well... Whether they’re giving an interview, lounging around the company gym, or just interacting with one another, and at times, this can sometimes look really... Really... Awkward. It’s mostly due to the fact that with so much money going into the 3D animation, the regular animation obviously took a huge budget cut. With this side of the coin, we get some of the cheapest looking animation I’ve ever encountered, from hideous walk cycles to the heavy abuse of key frames. Seeing that in the background, the three dimensional characters look out of place to an almost creepy degree.
The artwork, however, almost completely makes up for it. This show is set in a fictional American city, and as such, the art and character designs have a very surprising western aesthetic to them. Aside from a few wide-eyed children, the characters almost always look more like American comic book characters than anime characters. I’m serious, too... Virtually every single frame of this show looks like it could have been taken directly from a Marvel or DC comic book, which is a touch that makes the sometimes stiff animation a lot more palatable. The backgrounds, too, are highly detailed, and the bustling metropolis known as Stern Bild looks like a dead ringer for a futuristic New York City. The architecture of this setting is beautiful and imaginative, even if some of the structures look entirely implausible in design.
The characters inhabiting this city, much like they would be in real life, are racially diverse, forming a shockingly progressive melting pot with nary a stereotype in sight. Normally, if I were watching an anime that featured White, Black, Hispanic, Russian, Japanese and especially Chinese characters, I would be on the edge of my seat waiting for something offensive to happen. But aside from a few exaggerated physical traits... Nope! Every character’s given a proportionate amount of respect, with their ethnic backgrounds never even slightly becoming an issue in the story.
Well, that is, except for the gay character. Granted, he’s cool and likeable, and I appreciate that they made him the only hero rich enough to own his own sponsor company, but the homophobia in his design is still pretty blatant. He talks in a throaty, effeminate falsetto and flirts with pretty much every other male character in the show... Especially Kotetsu, who already has the barely clad Blue Rose inexplicably pining for him. If you were to create a sliding scale that ranked all of the LGBT characters in anime history in terms of how offensive they were, he’d be somewhere close to the crossdresser from the Battle Royal manga. It’s a disappointing step backward for a series that’s otherwise been able to take two giant steps forward against the abundant racial homogeny of the anime medium.
Ironically, though, if this show were ever adapted into live action, there’s no doubt in my mind that every single character would be Japanese.
As for the other characters? Well, the main focus of the series is on the ups and downs of Kotetsu and Barnaby’s partnership, so several of the main characters got the short end of the screen time stick. Characters like Dragon Kid and Origami Cyclone are barely featured outside of having an episode each to themselves, and Rock Bison doesn’t even really get that much. Fire Emblem, Blue Rose and Sky High get a bit more than that, but they all still play supporting roles to our two mains and their families.
Thankfully, it wasn’t for nothing... The titular characters are fleshed out, interesting, and very well developed. Kotetsu, or Wild Tiger as he’s publicly known, is very thoroughly portrayed as the aging veteran trying his damnedest to keep up with new ideas and techniques while still holding on to his more traditional values by the skin of his teeth. As altruistic as he may be, he’s a very flawed character, who refuses to let anybody ever worry about him... This stubborn attitude causes strain in both his professional and personal life, as he has a lot of trouble connecting not only with his partner but also with his ten year old daughter. Despite his insistence that saving people is more important than earning points or selling merchandise, he still clearly cares about his placement in the rankings. This could make a lot of leading men unlikeable, but in Tiger’s case, it just serves to make him more sympathetic.
His partner, Barnaby Brooks Junior... Or Bunny, as Kotetsu irritatingly came up with... Is in many ways the exact opposite. He’s the newest super hero on the circuit, and he rejects a lot of the older notions to the point that he doesn’t even bother keeping his identity a secret. He fights with his head rather than his heart, preferring logical strategy to Kotetsu’s bold, gallant approach. He’s very direct with people, to the point where he jumps to conclusions at all the worst times. His tragic past is your typical ‘Batman’s parents’ story, but the way it’s portrayed... And the way it shaped his views on justice... is so genuine that you can’t help rooting for him.
They clash a lot in the beginning, working together solely out of the interest of their employment, but as time goes on they do become closer, and they stop having to pretend to be friends. This development is shown very naturally throughout the series, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s portrayed through the outstanding, flawless performances of Wally Wingert and Yuri Lowenthal. The entire dub is very well cast, with nearly all of the actors melting seamlessly and in some cases unrecognizably into their roles, but it’s the main duo by far that takes the cake.
Unfortunately, this is the part where I have to talk about the writing, and it’s not a part that I’m really looking forward to. The story in Tiger and Bunny is fast paced, well executed, and hits all the right notes, with exciting CG battles, edge-of-your-seat suspense, and just enough down time to let us form attachments to almost all of the main characters... Even the ones that don’t get a lot of screen time. However, that story wouldn’t have progressed at all without the help of inexplicably childish behavior, constant coincidences that directly challenge the suspension of disbelief, and foreshadowing so clumsily handled that a lot of the more serious plot twists can be seen coming from a mile away.
There are dozens of conflicts and mysteries that could easily be solved in ways that the viewer will often wind up SHOUTING at the screen, and it almost feels insulting when the answers you come up with are put into play at the last moment for dramatic effect. Yes, timing is important in a story, but even Dora the Explorer doesn’t make the audience shout out obvious answers as often as Tiger and Bunny does. Hell, some of the villains are so obviously villains that they might as well have had the last name Palpatine. Early in the first few episodes, an astute viewer may start wondering things about the nature of Hero TV, ultimately coming to a conclusion that just has to be, and of course winds up being, one of the biggest reveals of the series.
And that’s to say nothing about the lack of originality at play. While the two titular characters and the final villain have some interesting and unique abilities, there doesn’t seem to be an original idea in the bunch. Most of the heroic supporting characters have commonplace powers that manipulate ice, fire, lightning, and wind. There are also powers based on Colossus, Morph, and a lighter version of Rogue from the Xmen. As far as the villains go, you’ll find characters who’re based on Emma Frost(Or more likely the diamond woman from Speed Grapher), Sandman, The Hood, and others. Even when you put Kotetsu and Barnaby’s powers aside, the Iron Man suits they wear are just that... Iron Man suits.
While the vigilante Lunatic may have a somewhat original power, think about this; He’s a judge who experienced emotional trauma as a kid, and grew up believing all evil doers must be killed... And he uses his powers to do just that, murdering the wicked while criticizing those who let them live. He’s basically Teru Mikami, except that he has the long white hair and shady face that have become trademarks of any obvious villain. And by comparison, he’s actually one of the better villains in the series... He’s nowhere near as obvious as the main villain, whose convoluted master plan and backstory turn the entire final story arc into a rat-king sized clusterfuck of plotholes that had me more confused than excited. It’s actually kind of amazing.
Tiger and Bunny was dubbed and released stateside by Viz Media, and is reasonably priced both online and on common store shelves. Two films have also been released in the following years, but in typical anime fashion, they’re just slightly altered retellings of the series. In other words, they’re full fledged cash grabs. I haven’t seen them myself, but apparently the first one is available stateside, undubbed, and also fairly cheap.
For the most part, I really enjoyed it. I connected instantly with Wild Tiger, as his story was undoubtedly and very effectively the heart and soul of the series. It’s a really fun story, with an intriguing idea, great comedy, and it has a highly diverse cast of likeable characters. It’s not very original, but it’s sincere, and it’s clear that some very real heart went into it’s creation. It looks beautiful when it tries, but it doesn’t try often enough. It’s also heavily flawed below the surface, and there’s a lot of points where you have to turn off your brain to fully enjoy it... I don’t like doing that, so there were a lot of times where I just felt alienated from the fun that I should have been having. But to it’s credit, the story is so engrossing that those problems didn’t really bother me as much until my second viewing, and even then, there’s still a lot to love about it. It’s an enthusiastic love letter to American comic book lore, and it damn well feels like it. I give Tiger and Bunny a 7/10.read more