You know, I should really be more wary of how much a theatrical experience can add to a movie, especially in regards to products that get by on their intensity. Because when a big-ass screen with big-ass speakers pleasing your ears with big-ass surround sound is replaced by your outdated Cathode Ray Tube, chances are the intensity will be gone and you’ll no longer have anything to distract you from the fact that Peter Jackson might have used a wee bit too much obvious CGI in the final climax. That was definitely the case with the second Tiger and Bunny film, a movie I pegged as one of the best of 2014 when I initially saw it in theaters because I loved watching Sky High get his ass kicked whilst Dragon Kid tries hard to get us to take her seriously against a gimmicky villain who couldn’t have been more hax without being given black hole powers. Unfortunately, my rewatch in 2015 not only lowered my opinion drastically to the point it was off my top ten, I think I might prefer Big Hero 6 over it – although I refuse to rewatch that film to find out.
Sorry to spoil my opinion of the anime before I even get to describing it, but it’s not like it really matters. It’s more a fanservice epilogue rather than a true sequel that adds much of anything, although thankfully it’s more in vein of the fourth Rambo film rather than the Steins;Gate one. In fact, that’s probably why I’m so harsh on the thing: because it could have been Rambo and ended up taking the safe route whenever the opportunity presented itself. Obviously, I’m not expecting any of the heroes to turn their enemies into fountains of blood, but the very least you could have done was make the action less shonen-esque, let alone create some actually interesting villains – something Tiger and Bunny has always struggled to do.
The plot of the anime centers on Kotetsu and Barnaby having to deal with the consequences of choosing the second-tier hero status life they did in the conclusion of the series, and how much harder it is compared to living the life of Sky High, if you know what I mean. However, a change in management allows Barnaby to re-enter the first-tier league on the condition that he partners up with an arrogant yet surprisingly rational jerk named Golden Ryan whilst Kotetsu and the other second-tiers have to leave the hero business in order to drive cabs or something. Whilst the two deal with this new change in their lives, a new superpower threat emerges, targeting the superhero business due to reasons that are incredibly cliche to the point that I’d feel no shame in spoiling it, but I won’t out of blogger courtesy. Long story short, you can see every single plot point coming and the movie doesn’t really explore them in a way that’s that refreshing.
I suppose Tiger and Bunny: The Rising is worth watching if you want to see more of the characters and how they’re doing after all that Ouroboros business and junk, but there are several plot points that I felt really could have been done better in order to make the movie more than just simple fun. For example, about halfway through the movie’s run time, Fire Emblem is cursed with a power that forces him to relive the prejudice he suffered for being a flamboyant homosexual growing up. This had potential to be a lesser version of Wandering Son’s story, but Tiger and Bunny devotes too little time to it to really develop it beyond “well he was discriminated against and he has to accept that being a minority is just who he is in order to free himself”. Another example of an underdeveloped plot point is Golden Ryan. Whilst the expected route regarding his character would have been more predictably annoying, I’m not really sure why he’s even in the anime other than to give something for fangirls to drool over consider how little he contributes to much of anything. I suppose you could say he’s a critique against that sort of expected route, but it still comes off as kinda weak to me.
But of course, the biggest disappointment is Tiger’s story. It’s not bad, but it’s very predictable on its own and explores the consequences of his actions about as well as a Gamer Gater explores the possibilities of being a human being. And when you compare it to his arc in the series, it’s even worse off. Not to mention, considering how he should have retired before this movie even started, it’s even more disappointing to see his daughter actively encourage him to live the hero life. But not as disappointing as the fact that that’s pretty much the only reason she’s in the movie in the first place.
And then we get to the fight scenes, which come off as way way WAY too shonen for my taste. I mean the fight where Golden Ryan and Barnaby fight a lady who can clone herself is tolerable because it’s more a strategic battle than a straight-up kung-fu match, and the final one is enjoyably cheesy, if a little too busy. Unfortunately, the only thing good about the other fight scenes is that there’s no talking getting in the way of the action and that it has decent choreography. But Mr. Flawfinder, what else do you need for an action scene to be exciting? Um, a little back-and-forth maybe? Explain to me how it makes any goddamn sense that two heroes cannot lay a single scratch on one villain until a third hero arrives with a very simplistic plan that immediately causes said heroes to massacre their opponent. More importantly, explain to me how that’s exciting to watch in any way. Wong-Fei-Hung’s fight scenes in the Once Upon a Time In China series had more tension.
I think you notice by now that I’m kind of struggling to say anything really meaningful about this film. Well you’re right, because really, what else is there to say? It’s more Tiger and Bunny except with a blander script, more wasted potential, and action that looks impressive technically but it’s executed terribly. I’ll admit that the movie is fun to watch if you just want to turn your brain off and see these fun characters doing their thing, but that’s all it is at the end of the day. It’s not even “fun” on the same level as the Trigun movie. And that’s disappointing considering how much I like the series.