Tiger & Bunny Review - A Solid Superhero Show


  • Episodes : 25
  • Genre : Superpower, Mystery, Action, Comedy
  • Airing Date : Apr 2011 – Sep 2011
  • Producers : Sunrise, Bandai Visual

Tiger & Bunny Preview/Plot (No Spoilers)

In Sternbild City, people with superpowers are called NEXT ("Noted Entities with eXtraordinary Talents). A few of them work as superheroes sponsored by corporations. Whenever these heroes go out to save the day, their feats are broadcast on the high-rated Hero TV, where they're granted "hero points" according to the difficulty of their task, the number of people saved, etc. Whoever garners the highest number of points wins the annual "King of Heroes" award.

Enter Kotetsu T. Kaburagi a.k.a. "Wild Tiger," a veteran NEXT with the ability to increase his abilities a hundredfold for five minutes. Because of his old-fashioned views on heroism ("A real hero never leaves a life behind!"), he's not very popular with Sternbild's citizens. It doesn't help that he's an "old man" who's often responsible for mass property damage.

As if things weren't bad enough, his sponsor Top MaG gets bought out by Apollon Media. Apollon Media then pairs him up with Barnaby Brooks Jr., a young man with the same superpower as his, and who's everything he's not: popular, arrogant, cynical, unfriendly and pragmatic ("A real hero never leaves a point behind").

Understandably, Kotetsu and Barnaby dislike each other from the get-go. But with their sponsors breathing down their necks, and the public clamoring for a good hero show, will they be able to set aside their differences, and work together as a team? Or will their conflicting personalities be too much for either of them to handle?

Who Does Tiger & Bunny Cater To?

Most anime fans will find something to like in this series. If you want superheroes kicking butt and saving the world, you'll see that here. If you want an action series with some mystery thrown in, you'll see that here too. And if you're looking for a good story about the ordinary lives of extraordinary people, this is definitely a show to watch.

What's Appealing About This Piece of Work

The animation looks great, for the most part. Sometimes, the CGI looks weird, but otherwise Tiger & Bunny is exactly what you'd expect a superhero show to look like. The colors, art style and (mostly) episodic format are reminiscent of those Sunday morning shows we used to look forward to every weekend.

Also, the character designs by Masakazu Katsura are awesome. No two characters look exactly alike, and some of them are even based on real-life people. (Have fun spotting Macaulay Culkin, Robert Downey Jr., Steven Spielberg and Forest Whitaker!) Also, most of the male and female characters look gorgeous, so regardless of your sexual preference, you're bound to crush on at least one of them.

As for the soundtrack, it's more of a your-mileage-may-vary thing. For me, the BGM is just right for a superhero show, though it's not something I'd download for my music player. On the flip side, the opening and ending themes are pretty catchy, especially the ones from the second half of the series.

It's great how the show plays on the typical superhero story. What if superheroes are more corporate PR tools than champions of justice? Kotetsu, in particular, tries to balance being a good employee (because that's how his sponsors see him) and being a good hero (because that's how he sees himself). He doesn't manage the balance as well as Barnaby and the others do, but that's one of the things that make him so interesting to watch.

Barnaby is interesting too, though some viewers might find him hard to like. He gets bogged down by his terrible past at first, but he gets better as the series goes along. Lucky for him, Kotetsu is there to help him through — especially in the series' two major story arcs.

The rest of the cast aren't lightweights, either. Almost all the NEXT have a "day in the limelight" episode, so you're able to connect with them better. Even the non-NEXT characters — like Hero TV producer Agnes Joubert, taciturn engineer Saito, and Kotetsu's friend Ben Jackson — get their moments too.

Tiger & Bunny Trailer

Tiger & Bunny Main Characters List

Kotetsu T. Kaburagi

Voice Actor :Hiroaki Hirata

Kotetsu is a thirtysomething NEXT who can increase his abilities a hundredfold for five minutes. Nicknamed "Crusher of Justice," he has a knack for causing mass property damage in the name of heroism. Nonetheless, he genuinely cares about helping people, and is actually a competent fighter even when de-powered.

Like all fathers, he wants nothing more than to be cool in the eyes of his 10-year-old daughter Kaede. Unfortunately for him, she thinks he's a loser because he always breaks his promises to her, and because she doesn't know about his superhero identity. According to Kotetsu's older brother Muramasa, he has a tendency to hide things from people, which bites him in the butt later on. Apart from that, he's a nice and adorable guy.

Barnaby Brooks Jr.

Voice Actor :Masakazu Morita

At the start of the series, Barnaby is a young, talented superhero who — with his good looks and charming personality — quickly endears himself to the public. In private, however, he's a withdrawn, cynical person who has trouble connecting with others. He doesn't like how Kotetsu tries to get him to open up at first, but as the series goes on, he eventually realizes that he doesn't have to carry his burdens alone. He does genuinely care about a few people, like his former nanny Aunt Samantha.

Like Kotetsu, he can increase his abilities a hundredfold for five minutes. His speech is very polite, which emphasizes his aloof personality. His calm and composed demeanor complements Kotetsu's fiery and reckless one. When reminded of his past trauma, however, he loses his composure completely, and Kotetsu has to calm him down during those times.

To his annoyance, Kotetsu calls him "bunny," because his superhero suit has extensions that look like rabbit ears. In return, Barnaby calls Kotetsu "old man."


Contains Spoilers

Tiger & Bunny Review

Initially, I was skeptical about this one. Why call a superhero show "Tiger & Bunny"? But after giving it a chance, I enjoyed it so much, I watched it twice!

I liked the idea of superheroes getting paid to be superheroes (instead of doing it on the side), since it raises some pretty interesting questions. For example, where do Kotetsu and Co. draw the line between being a hero and being a corporate employee? What do Sternbild's citizens really think of these "paid heroes"? What do the heroes themselves think?

To an extent, these questions were answered in-series. We see that Kotetsu always insists on his own brand of justice. At the same time, he doesn't really want to leave his job — parts of which go against the things he stands for. It's a dilemma most of us can identify with: Trying to pursue a career we love, while making sacrifices along the way.

Unfortunately for Kotetsu, career issues aren't the only thing on his plate. He also struggles to maintain a good relationship with his daughter Kaede — the only connection he has to his dead wife, Tomoe. Their initial interactions are heartbreaking to watch, because you know Kotetsu's doing his best as a father, but you can also see where Kaede's coming from.

In spite of these, Kotetsu manages to be a great guy. As Barnaby observed in Episode 14, he's the kind of person who puts others before himself. That's why we like him so much — even if most of Sternbild doesn't.

Barnaby, on the other hand, is the type who needs to grow on you first before you like him. When he's introduced to us, he comes across as a smug know-it-all who cares about fame more than anything else. And when we finally find out about his past, we see him break down every time he's reminded about his parents' murder. I guess that makes him "weak" in the eyes of some viewers, but considering how he endured everything alone for over twenty years, it's understandable why he is the way he is.

So when he starts to open up to Kotetsu, you can't help but smile. The series is mostly about their relationship, really. (Hey, it's called "Tiger & Bunny," after all.) But I'll talk about that in more detail later. Right now, we're going to segue a bit, and give way to the other aspects of the series that deserve attention — like the characters other than Kotetsu and Barnaby.

Apart from Rock Bison (who gets stuck as "Kotetsu's best friend," poor guy), everyone gets their character developed further, thanks to the mini-episodes dedicated to them. For example, in Episode 8, we discover what Origami Cyclone's power is, why he stays in the background, and what finally motivates him to become a more active superhero.

Of course, a discussion of Tiger & Bunny's characters won't be complete without mentioning Lunatic. Unlike the other heroes, he's willing to use more extreme means (read: murder) to punish evildoers. But he's not tolerant of injustices either, as shown when he helped Kotetsu out of a pickle despite the latter being accused of murder — the crime which Lunatic hates the most. He's an intriguing character, and it's a pity he doesn't get more screen time.

To be honest, Tiger & Bunny's story arcs won't look original to avid watchers of Western superhero shows. Anti-hero goes on a "rampage of revenge" against the people who killed his parents? Check. Half-insane criminal takes an entire city hostage? Check. Another half-insane criminal kidnaps the heroes' friends and loved ones, and tries to force them into a no-win situation? Check and check. Still, the arcs are written in a way that you'll think: "Okay, I know the good guys are going to win in the end, but how?"

Lack of originality aside, Tiger & Bunny has solid writing overall. Plot holes are kept to a minimum, and the pacing is neither too fast nor too slow. Yes, the dialogue is cheesy at times, and some plot twists may feel a little contrived (like Kaede running into Maverick). But then, this is a feel-good show about heroes who stick to their lofty ideals no matter what. Cheesiness is to be expected.

1. The NEXT

From the beginning, we're shown how diverse the NEXT are. Some (like Kotetsu) have a sincere desire to save the world, while others (like Barnaby) have a sincere desire to rack up points. Some (like the kid who can move statues) fear their powers, while others (like Jake Martinez) embrace it to a frightening degree. A few can't really be superheroes at all, like the kid pictured above.

2. Hero TV

Thanks to Hero TV, Kotetsu and Co. are able to get good publicity, and ramp up sales for their corporate sponsors. In return, Hero TV — under the management of the lovely yet redoubtable Agnes Joubert — gets high ratings at any cost. (Well, almost any cost. Agnes still decided to pull one over Maverick in the end.)

3. Kotetsu and Barnaby's Relationship

As I mentioned earlier, this series is basically about these two. Whether their relationship is a "bromance" or a "romance," you can't deny one thing: It's beautiful to watch on screen. Barnaby learns to deal with his past thanks to Kotetsu, and Kotetsu finds new meaning in his life thanks to Barnaby. After everything both of them went through — as individuals and as a team — you just want them to be happy together at the end.


A Couple More Things

In case you missed it, All Nippon Entertainment Works (ANEW) recently announced that they'll be adapting Tiger & Bunny into a live-action movie. So far, we don't know who's going to play who, but seeing how "Western" this anime is, they shouldn't have too much trouble finding actors who fit the roles!

Also, if you can't get enough of Kotetsu and Barnaby, you can watch the movies "Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning" and "Tiger & Bunny: The Rising." The former retells the first two episodes and adds a new villain into the mix, while the latter takes place after the end of the original series.

Overall, Tiger & Bunny is a great series. Its story is a little too reminiscent of other superhero stories at times, but the fully-fleshed out characters and the execution more than make up for whatever flaws this show has. I give it a Rating of: 9/10

Issa M.

Writer

Author: Issa M.

Issa is a pen-wielding mercenary by day, and an anime fangirl by night. She might seem anti-social at first, but she's actually quite friendly once you get to know her. Also, she's learned to like Google+ after getting locked out of her own Twitter account for some mysterious reason, so say hello to her there!

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