This review of Tiger & Bunny was originally written on October 28th, 2011. There was originally two posts, one with my initial impressions, and a final review after the series finale. However, both posts have been edited in an effort to prevent too many spoilers, as I felt my previous style did that apply that. Apologies!
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Director: Keiichi Satou
Episodes: 25, 1 movie
Studio – Notable Works:
- Mobile Suit Gundam (franchise)
- Cowboy Bebop
- Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
- The Vision of Escaflowne
- Love Live! School Idol Project
Tiger & Bunny – Summary
Tiger & Bunny is a new anime series from Sunrise that I nearly missed from the Spring schedule. With a title like this, I thought it was going to be a moe-esque series (before looking at the art style). Nope: it’s something totally the opposite–and awesome! With the plotline that shadows my previous experience and new found interest with shows about superheroes (Sentai), I’ve decided to give this show a watch.
This is not a cutesy anime series with the show’s name, but a Shounen series about superheroes in the future–powered by corporate entities and a heavily sponsored TV show, HERO TV. The heroes are treated like rock stars (think of the Starcraft e-Sports league, but with the X-Men). The hero with the highest score wins all the love… a lot like the real sports world, sans the superheroes, of course.
The lead character Kotetsu Kaburagi, known to many as “Wild Tiger”, is faced with an uncertain future. Originally one of the best heroes of Stern Bild, he’s pushed aside for the better heroes in the business. Of course, he lives a double life, juggling time between his occupation and taking care of his daughter, Kaede; he can’t let her know that he’s Wild Tiger.
Kotetsu thinks of ways to revive his popularity after the debut of Barnaby Brooks Jr. With regards of X-Men or elements of other comic book/manga/tokusatsu stories, Kotetsu was born with superpowers, also known as a “NEXT,” in which many of the city’s heroes are born with the mutation. As a child, he was shunned for being the oddball due to his mutation. During a bank robbery, with the arrival of a superhero, who inspired him to become one himself, Kotetsu lost control of his powers, saving everyone in the bank. A little pep talk from the hero made him who he is today… a struggling superhero that relies on sponsors to pay the bills.
The most recent hero to gain massive popularity, Barnaby Brooks Jr.–the only hero without a gimmicky name–is sweeping the hero fandom, with his charismatic appeal, and for just having a better suit than all of the heroes (sponsored by Bandai), especially Wild Tiger. After exchanging talks, the men think less of each other: Barnaby finds Kotetsu reckless, while Kotetsu finds Barnaby too… flashy for his own good–or not reckless enough.
Barnaby Brooks Jr. makes his major debut in the hero circuit. Kotetsu and Barnaby eventually team up to save the city from danger. Kotetsu refuses, but he has no choice: his original manager can no longer maintain sponsors, so he is sent to work with Barnaby at a different company. An unlikely duo; Kotetsu dislikes Barnaby so much that he calls him “Bunny” due to the antennas on his suit looking like a pair of Bunny Ears–and possibly an alternative name to insult Barnaby’s name. Despite their differences, they manage to stop and save a boy (and unknown to her and Barnaby, Kotetsu’s daughter, Kaede) who is destroying Stern Bild from being overwhelmed with the pressure of being a NEXT.
Barnaby is the child of deceased scientists who took part in the creation of the Heroes, and eventually Hero TV, with family friend, Mr. Maverick. His parents were murdered 20 years ago by an unknown, who was later to be revealed as Jake Martinez, a member of the Ouroboros Syndicate. Learning of the killer’s true identity, Barnaby keeps his intentions to himself until Kotetsu confronts him.
The Ouroboros is discovered after a failed assassination attempt on the heroes by a member of the group foiled by Wild Tiger, who gets briefly reprimanded for his actions due to his carelessness by blinded–thanks to Bunny’s shining positive influence that makes Kotetsu a loser anyway. Barnaby approaches the suspect, only for him to be murdered by a new “hero”, Lunatic. Lunatic’s purpose is to execute–as in kill–those who punish the good in the name of justice: the opposite of simply nabbing the crooks, unharmed, for points. It seems Lunatic has some sort of a past, as well.
Jake Martinez is located in a mental facility, where he is immediately released. After a makeover, Jake sets out and causes trouble in Stern Bild. The fun eventually turns into a hostage situation after attacking the bridge; Jake’s girlfriend, Kriem, is the announcer of “Ouroboros TV”, taking over Hero TV’s broadcast. The situation results in Barnaby revealing his troubled past to the other heroes.
I had no idea that this show would be good after the first episode, and it gets better in the next episodes. To be honest, I found out about this show after seeing the influence it had with a certain group of people: fangirls…? The majority of the characters are male… well drawn males that screams “fanfic,” or appearances of questionable fanart. For a superhero story, the target audience could be males, but it looks like it’s the kind of anime that attracts a lot of female fans as well, ala Fullmetal Alchemist.
After the initial review, I put the series on hold as I seem to do with a a few decent, then-currently airing series as of late. Nearing the end of the 25 episode run (at first I thought was 26 episodes–a Sunrise tradition), it was a good time to marathon it from 11 to 24.
Besides Kotetsu and Barnaby, we can’t forget the supporting cast: Blue Rose (Karina Lyle), Sky High (Keith Goodman), Origami Cyclone (Ivan Karelin), Dragon Kid (Pao-Lin Huang), Rock Bison (Antonio Lopez), Fire Emblem (Nathan Seymour) are introduced throughout the series. They all get their own episodes telling us more about them–a favorite part of any series to be interested in. However, I think that Fire Emblem and Rock Bison didn’t get enough justice other than Rock’s contemplation [spoiler]of pushing the button Battle Royale-style neck brace[/spoiler] towards the series ender, and Fire’s mothering skills and being framed as a criminal.
The other thing about this series, which raises eyebrows, is the real-world sponsors graced in every scene the heroes appear in. For example: Blue Rose’s sponsor is Pepsi NEX, Sky High’s is USTREAM, and Tiger’s SoftBank and Bunny’s Bandai, with a rare Amazon.co.jp appearance on the arm of his [suit]. For some, it’s an annoyance to see ads everywhere they go, but there is a reason why this is so: if [Tiger & Bunny] didn’t have the support it has, it would just be another (and possibly lame) anime series and not one of huge proportions such as, let’s say, Durarara!!!. But considering the plot of the show, it works out well. Plus, T&B is a Sunrise anime, after all…
With all the hype, It’s impossible to ignore the obvious relationship between Barnaby and Kotetsu. I’m pretty sure that Episode 19 was dedicated to the two, though it is the important part of the series as Barnaby comes to realize that his past is not entirely behind him. In today’s anime fandom, it’s a fujoshi’s dream to make this series enjoyable; when you have a series with attractive male characters–I’m just going to say Fullmetal Alchemist–or Death Note–and leave it at that… this is what you get.
Putting the characters themselves aside, the character designs is as what you’d expect from a Sunrise series. In case anyone is wondering if this show has anything to do with The Big O, the character designer, Keiichi Satou, was indeed involved with the show for the most part, including a few others. Another reason why I love this series, which would explain the heavy Western influence ala The Big O, including a very diverse character lineup; and there’s the nostalgia factor, and my re-ignition for the love of super-humans in Sentai suits, or normal humans piloting mobile suits in a big city. 😆
Speaking of designs, I also said that the art could use a little work, as it appeared to be “bleed” at some parts in the first few episodes. Revisiting the first episode, I can tell the difference between the later episodes; I reassured myself that this is normal for watching a new series for the first time, especially with different designers taking part in every other episode.
Once again, a reason for me to return to my Sentai roots after giving up hope on the movement years ago, and what a way to be reintroduced to it! While I don’t have any problems with it personally, and the idea of it is hilarious, the general major complaints about this series are the advertisements, where the appearance of them does raise eyebrows,
and leave you wondering on how Viz is going to edit it when it’s released on DVD.
With Fullmetal Alchemist gone, I think Tiger & Bunny is here to stay… for now, until another series of either of their caliber comes along (Author’s note in the future: My Hero Academia). Tiger & Bunny is THAT popular, and in a short amount of time since April, there are fan events popping up in Japan, including the introduction of an online dedication to the series using Fried Rice.
(If you end up enjoying or are already a fan of Tiger & Bunny, check out our review of My Hero Academia!)