My first impressions of Tiger & Bunny were skeptical at best; a show about mascot superheroes plastered with corporate logos brings to mind some dubious product placement anime. Or even worse, the cutesy title could've foreshadowed some hybrid ecchi fest involving bestiality. Luckily, T&B isn't as shallow as it might suggest; instead, it's an unabashed parody that celebrates its superhero roots as well as deconstructs them.
In the corporatized world of Sternbild City, commercialism is king; heroes not only fight crime, but they also play up for TV ratings, their CEO's expectations, and "profit-points". With the companies calling the shots, these superheroes seem more like walking ads for Pepsi, Amazon, and Bandai rather than selfless Samaritans. Only 30-some-year-old Kotetsu Kaburagi, aka "Wild Tiger", remains the old-school hero who puts peace above profits. As a man "past his prime" (and with a daughter back home), Kotetsu must adapt to the changing times where heroism has become a commodity; all the while, a younger, savvier crime fighter named Barnaby steals the limelight.
Despite the cynical twist in its premise, T&B is an action-comedy first and foremost; the show playfully pokes fun at itself at every turn. The first arc of T&B is your typical buddy-cop show starring the eponymous duo, Kotetsu ("Tiger") and Barnaby ("Bunny"). As expected, the old lion veteran get paired up with the naïve, reckless rookie. There's a clash between ideologies, the odd couple fights, and hilarity ensues. The situational comedic timing in T&B is brilliant, and several scenes made me genuinely "lol". Comic book fans may savor the subtle nods to X-Men, Batman, the Joker and Harley Quinn. Due to its tongue-in-cheek attitude, the anime's first half feels more like a spoof of Marvel comic duos rather than a serious critique on heroism.
Although T&B executes its comedic bits fantastically, the same isn't always true for its drama. The show gradually evolves from the buddy cop antics of the first arc into more serious plot developments and characterization. Barnaby's tragic past involving his dead parents, already an unoriginal angle, comes off angsty and cliché. Kotetsu's conflicts are rarer and more compelling; not only does he face competition from a younger breed of heroes, but he also struggles to be a decent (albeit absent) father. The tension between the two partners in crime becomes a litmus test of trust while a darker, sinister plot brews just beneath the surface.
All too often, the show lapses into contrived situations in order to get viewers emotionally invested. Barnaby just happens to fly in at the right moment to save his falling partner; a miraculous typhoon creates the perfect rescue mission and the duo (surprise!) share the exact same powers. The show is full of convenient coincidences that just deflate the drama and dispel any sort of tension. As such, even though T&B has some genuinely funny and exciting moments, it also has some eye-rolling ones.
Despite the sloppy (and at times illogical) writing, I nevertheless found the show wholly entertaining. Sunrise succeeds in executing the anime well enough to keep it fun, despite its narrative laziness. In the end, I didn't cringe from the cheesiness so much as I enjoyed the show as earnest entertainment. Due to the excellent direction and pacing, T&B manages to juggle action, drama and comedy with great ease.
Sunrise's superheroes look like they were cut straight out of a Western comic book – and that's a good thing. Character designs are refreshingly crisp and colorful; each one is distinctive and bursting with personality. There's also a nice contrast between the heroes' flashy, sponsor-splashed costumes and their unassuming day clothes.
The actual animation is somewhat of a mixed bag; occasionally, the quality drops due to some sloppily drawn stills. I'm not a fan of the CGI transformation sequences, and the clunky costumed fights don't exactly thrill. T&B is packed with these action scenes, but where it lacks in style it redeems itself in fluidity; motions and movements are quite natural throughout.
T&B's soundtrack is smartly placed; slice-of-life portions are accompanied by rustic, bluesy guitars while drama scenes are suitably orchestral. During crime busting sequences, there's a jazzy, heart-pumping theme reminiscent of James Bond or The Incredibles. Newsflash jingles act as constant reminders that we're literally watching a show within a show, and Hero TV buzzes like a proper media microcosm. Although not download-worthy, T&B's score always answers its call of duty.
Shounen fans may recognize Barnaby's seiyuu (Masakazu Morita) as Bleach's Ichigo and Kotetsu's (Hiroaki Hirata) as Sanji from One Piece. In T&B, these two perform flawlessly, playing off each other with hilarious repartee. Even tense, dramatic scenes are well-acted and naturally convincing. Rounded out with a solid cast ensemble, voice acting in this series is stellar.
As expected, Tiger & Bunny's main duo drive the machinery of the plot. The dynamic between the heroes creates the perfect double act; Kotetsu endears himself as the dorky "funny man", whereas Barnaby is the naturally stoic "straight man". Their banter translates into comedic gold, but the show elegantly breaks down this stereotype as the two grow to trust one another. Kotetsu, in particular, is an extremely likable character; he's a washed-up ojisan whom everyone mocks, but his confidence and selflessness make him genuinely sympathetic and easy to root for.
The colorful side cast of superheroes adds an extra layer of perspective; minor characters are given spotlight episodes revealing the person behind the persona. How he/she became a hero and what motivates him/her are explored, forming a group of charismatic, lovable personalities. From the oblivious "King of Heroes", Sky High, to the "Dragon Kid" Pao-lin, T&B sports a lively, affectionate cast of characters. My only gripe is that Rock Bison and Fire Emblem didn't get enough attention while the Blue Rose episodes were by far the weakest; the skimpily clad superheroine seems more like fanservice fodder rather than a fleshed out character.
Alas, T&B's villains are mere caricatures in comparison to their heroic counterparts. The plot begins with a rogue-of-the-week format that fails to develop the bad guys beyond your average thug. The morally warped Lunatic is a disappointing vigilante whose twisted sense of justice feels like a cheap imitation of Light Yagami. Although Jake Martinez is a crafty opponent, his character is stereotypically evil and frankly unmemorable. Not until the final act of the series does a worthy villain emerge.
Tiger & Bunny offers a brilliant twist on the classic superhero genre while remaining faithful to the charm of its conventions. Still, T&B doesn't quite escape the pitfalls of predictability or the bland, uninspiring villains throughout the show. Although it's by no means perfect, T&B is consistently engaging with bucket-loads of energy, a refreshing premise, and genuinely likable characters. In essence, Tiger & Bunny simply feels like good ol' fashioned, "back to basics" entertainment at its prime.
T&B is basically a buddy cop show with superpowers, coupled with a theme of multi-national corporations working as their sponsors. They pay for the expenses of a hero’s costly equipment, and glamorous lifestyle. In return, they advertise their products and increase the sales. That means you get lots of product placement like PEPSI and BANDAI, which unlike Pizza Hut in Code Geass, is excused in-series.
The introduction to the setting was close to amazing as each hero needs a manager for his public relations, as well as to maintain popularity by being cool in the eyes of the audience. Heroism is more about entertainment than protecting the world from villains, and I was really interested to see where they would go with such a premise. It could be about the exploitation of marketing, the vanity of commercialism, or the façade of a secret identity. Sadly none of that happened.
The show belongs in the same vein as One Punch Man and My Hero Academia, that is, making a comical version of western superhero stories, with a few hints of getting serious and dramatic that are quickly rendered meaningless. As soon as they set the stage for an aging hero who lost his glamour and wants to do a comeback, everything turns to a semi-episodic comedy, filled with breezy missions and not much exploration concerning the premise of superheroes being the same thing as superstars.
It’s not like there is no redeeming value, since the show spends a lot of time in showing us the lives of its characters instead of being a braindead storyless action flick. Each one of them has a life outside of being a stereotype that needs to look cool in front of cameras. Everybody gets a decent amount of fleshing out. Too bad it’s not used in an overarching plot, or doesn’t play any part in their superhero missions.
And boy, are the superhero parts bad. They are just poorly orchestrated action scenes with bad CGI, no sense of choreography, and easily defeat-able villains. They are more silly than exciting and they end up damaging the show by making everything feel stupid. If the show is supposed to present more down to earth superheroes, it is all ruined with villains who toy with the heroes instead of killing them, and improbable comebacks that have no consistency in power scaling. An energy beam that can blow up a powerful robot in one scene, doesn’t do shit when it hits a hero in another.
Also, the superpowers are abused way more than they should. Even if you like the characters, when you have powers like mind control and amnesia, their personalities mean nothing. They are puppets that behave in any way the plot wants them to behave. The final conflict was cheap since it was basically a villain mind controlling the heroes to fight each other, and the resolution was lazy since all it took was using a superpower than negates other superpowers. There was no strategy or diplomacy, and on top of that it was forced.
I liked the premise, but the presentation was random nonsense. There is no tension or drama, and it’s not rewarding when resolutions are all about deus ex machinas instead of wits and personal choices.
Superheroes in general has got the impressive resume nowadays, starting from animated and live-action shows and comics like Superman, Batman, Justice League, Wonder Woman, The Flash and now today, they are part of the every medium, such as movies where many of the all-time highest grossing movies happen to involve superheroes including this one (well, two) movie(s) in 2012 that happened to earn $1 billion worldwide and it really has an appeal out in the western world so how will anime be able to do that subject well? Well, let’s just see right here right now.
Sternbild City is home to people called "Next," who use their special abilities to protect the people as superheroes. These heroes solve cases and save lives so they can wear sponsor logos or acquire "hero points." Their activities are documented on the popular program "Hero TV," which picks the "King of Heroes" in a yearly ranking. The veteran hero Wild Tiger has always preferred to work alone, but now he's been assigned the rookie Barnaby Brooks Jr., who has a different perspective on being a superhero.
The thing with Tiger and Bunny is that it has the elements of a buddy cop show but takes out the cop element and put in superheroes with the added-in element of reality TV, which I was okay with (considering my disdain for reality TV) and it was an execution in that it succeeded for me. I dug the premise of reality TV superheroes although I get some problems including why there is product placements posted on their costume but that’s for them to get some publicity and of course to make some money, as some aspect turned more into business than just doing it because it’s the right thing to do.
For characters, Kotetsu T. Kaburagi aka Wild Tiger is the old-school veteran superhero, who of course is eventually way past his prime and is losing popularity to the other growing heroes and I definitely saw Tiger as that guy who knows his stuff about being a superhero and can be noble about it but unfortunately, Tiger has this problem of trying to be a father but fails to do it whenever it involves his daughter Kaede and him failing to do with fatherly duty. Barnaby Brooks aka Bunny is the new shot rookie partner for Tiger and basically, he’s Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne combined but Bunny can be a bit arrogant and a bit of a diva to the point where I don’t give a fuck about him but thankfully, he was as unbearable as that TV producer Agnes, who was a major bitch especially when it involves the heroes saving people’s lives and use their advantage for ratings and I wish I can talk about the other heroes but they weren’t covered with much character development such as Blue Rose, Sky High, Dragon Kid, Fire Emblem, Rock Bison & Origami Cyclone. I would have loved to watch more of their stories and they do get an episode centered on each of them but only one episode but I hope that someday someone in Sunrise thought about expanding more of those characters.
And speaking of Sunrise, they were the ones who were in charge of the animation and it is very impressive in my eyes. The CG didn’t feel too clunky at a few times but it can stand out on some times. Character designs are good as well and the art style has the futuristic but modern feel to it. The opening and ending songs were really a delight to listen to and it definitely fits the tone of the series. I can’t say which one I liked more but that means that I couldn’t find a thing wrong with that factor.
For the dub by Viz Media & Studiopolis, which aired on Neon Alley, Wally Wingert as the voice of Tiger felt a little too young for somebody that was a veteran but it didn’t exactly bother me as his performance was decent and Yuri Lowenthal as Barnaby Brooks did have the sound of a young guy fitted into the right area though. Other performances including from Patrick Seitz, Laura Bailey, Kari Wahlgren, Stephanie Sheh & Steven Blum as one of the major villains in the show were spot-on and impressive as well.
FINAL VERDICT: For what is it, I can easily say that this show is worth checking out and may be even worth buying in stores. I think this could be one of those anime that can attract a lot of the western audience and can have a good time watching it. I solely recommend this series to anyone, especially people who are getting into anime.
This anime was great even in the english dub which fitted the characters perfectly. Throughout the entire story i loved every second of watching it, I cant wait for the next movie to come out so i can watch that as it will be just good. I would recomend this to anyone who loves superpowered animes with a really nice story that brings a few tears in your eye with wild tigers backstory.
The greatest Heroes from all around the world are assembled at the metropolitan city ofStern Bildto compete in the greatest reality show about superheroes in the planet, Hero TV!! These mighty Heroes, who are also in the group of extraordinary humans with special powers known as NEXT, will test their physical, mental and their ultimate super power to fight off criminals and protecting Stern Bild from vicious crime and evil and compete for reputation points and popularity to become Most Valuable Hero of Hero TV, thus making their name marked in the history books. LET THE BATTLE BEGINS!!
Well, sounds quite intriguing, isn’t it!?
If you’re still hiding in the cave or something, that is actually the main premise for this unique and ASTRONOMICALLY POPULAR anime that is taking the world by storm! From the studio which does the infamous Gundam franchise, I present to you one of the revolutionary animes of 2011. (Other than Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, of course.) Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you, a popular anime with the weirdest title name I ever seen in an anime, TIGER AND BUNNY!
Tiger and Bunny is, in my opinion, a bold move by Sunrise to fuse American superhero cartoons with Japanese cultures like Tokusatsu (mostly Kamen Rider) to interpret this anime into one hell of an experience to view the Heroes’ life to protect Stern Bild from villain syndicates and massive crimes and at the same time, focusing on how humans with supernatural powers adapt to being a normal citizen in a real life situation, which makes this kind of anime feels like a mix of tokusatsu, action anime and real life all into one neat package. In my mind, I just felt like I’m watching good old Batman or Superman cartoons from the 90’s which has interesting characterization and some significance in the story. Heck, even I felt that I was watching a Kamen Rider anime that makes more sense! (THIS ANIME IS 1000 TIMES BETTER THAN THAT AWFUL SD KAMEN RIDER ANIME WHICH I WILL NEVER EVER GOING TO WATCH EVEN FOR 1 SECOND… I’M SERIOUS HERE…) that is one of the many WOW factors that makes Tiger and Bunny stand out from most of the animes from 2011. This is also THE CORE REASON that Tiger and Bunny becomes a hot cake sensation in the anime world! I mean, rights now, many daring cosplayers suit up as their favorite Heroes like a swarm of Heroes emerging out of nowhere! (Especially Wild Tiger and Barnaby. They’re everywhere. In anime expos, in public photo shoots, it’s THAT popular! I even had me with a cosplayer dressed up as Barnaby as profile pictures on my Twitter and Facebook accounts! That photo is the best thing I ever had in my entire life! BUUUUUNNNYYYY!!) Making it one step further, they even have their own action figures, towel, plushies, even model kits too! Heck, even real-life companies sponsored their Hero suits as their product placement on their suits!! (Never ever seen in an anime before! PERIOD!) THAT’S RIGHT, THEY’RE EVERYWHERE!! That is how Tiger and Bunny become UNEXPECTEDLY POPULAR, it all thanks to the strategic minds of the Sunrise anime staffs, implementing the popular American superhero genre into this one amazing anime! Kudos for Sunrise for strategically impressed the hearts and minds of all otakus into this one huge phenomenon that is Tiger and Bunny!
This series mainly focused on the main character, Kotetsu T.Kaburagi, who endures a ‘wild’ journey (No pun intended.) as the most justified Hero of all, Wild Tiger, in facing the real life of protecting civilians of Stern Bild while do some funny antics to brighten up his character. And then we have Barnaby Brooks Jr., a rookie Hero that took Stern Bild and Hero TV by storm with his savvy handsomeness and his amazing fighting skills in fighting criminals. Together, Tiger and Bunny (Barnaby) worked together as an amazing crime fighting duo to protect Stern Bild citizens and at the same time, becoming the town’s favorite MVP Hero in Hero TV.The director of this anime, Keiichi Satou, has planned the setup of the story really well with how he managed the back story of the entire character roster. For instance, I love how he fleshed out Kotetsu’s character by explaining about his philosophy of fighting as a Hero not to gain respect and popularity of citizens all because of looks and physique, but to save lives of the citizens of Stern Bild and protecting the city from evil like the Ouroboros (the main villain group of the show) in the name of true patriotism. Not to mention, his backstory with Kaede (his daughter) being involved really marks some thinking to the viewers well. Speaking of Ouroboros, I absolutely love how the director manages Barnaby’s dark past well. Furthermore, love how the rest of the NEXT Heroes fleshed out their back story well. Love Karina Lyle’s (Blue Rose) interaction with Kotetsu, especially when Karina confessed her intimacy towards Kotetsu a lot. Could we probably see KarinaXKotetsu blossoming to love in future movie and potential Season 2? I’m sure cannot wait for this. Also, love the other Heroes’ back story like how Ivan Karelin (Origami Cyclone) being the Master of Appearance in Hero TV, Pao Lin Huang (Dragon Kid) and her cuteness and not to forget the EVER HOT AND SPICY Nathan Seymour (Fire Emblem)! Yeah... However, I do find some questions still left in the dark and should be reconsidered for the second season. All in all, I thought that the script writers have done some decent job with the balance of focus of all of the NEXT Heroes, even though I do find the ending of the anime quite a bit rushed.
Masakazu Katsura is a true genius when it comes to how the color palette works in the anime. The most noticeable one is how he designed the Hero suits, especially Tiger and Barnaby. Both Tiger and Bunny has that Kamen Rider-esque feel in their armor suits with CGI effects adding some magic to their fighting actions which some critics might feel doubtful with how Sunrise handles the CGI effects but in my opinion, Katsura and his Sunrise crew have done it pretty well. Plus, when Tiger and Bunny activates their Hundred Power, that’s when the magic of CGI really shines with their armors light up SO EPICLY! (SO SHINY!!) Not only that, other NEXT Heroes also have their uniqueness and awesome X-Factor to their suits like the Idol Heroine of Stern Bild, Blue Rose with her icy sexy idol diva heroine suit that will make everyone’s hearts shivering cold like ice! (NO BAD PUNS INTENDED...) Furthermore, Sky High might not have the epic Unicorn Gundam light shine, but his armor suit looks pretty patriotic and reflects the awesomeness that is SKY HIGH!! Origami Cyclone looks like a pretty epic Japanese ninja hiding in the shadows which I also love! Other Heroes also have pretty decent design of their suits so I have to give props to Sunrise for this achievement. Even the ‘OH-SO-PEAUGH’ Fire Emblem has some flare to his (her?) Hero suit. LOVE IT! As for the background, it feels like I’m in a futuristic New York City, with some Asian spice to the scene! It feels like I’m in a world crossing between Tokusatsu and American superhero comics, which blends really well! The animation quality is what to be expect for today’s anime standard but the CGI effects is executed pretty well although sometimes, the CGI effects can deter a bit on how the normal 2D animation looks.
The music during the fights really amped up the experience that you are watching a superhero movie, only that it’s anime. The composer has arranged the sounds with balance from fighting and action packed music to more subtle and calm mood, all packaged into one nice soundtrack collection. From the more convenient music during the Heroes’ everyday life situation to some suspenseful and dramatic soundtrack when the Heroes are fighting the villains and the Heroes facing tough situation, the music stamps the mark for Tiger and Bunny as an American superhero-esque anime with nice blend of music. The first opening by Unison Square Garden is full of excitement with the great drum beats and the pace of the song that anticipated the viewers even more as if this song is PERFECT for superhero animes. The second one by NOVELS though was quite generic and nothing spectacular there. Also, I like the first ending by AOBOZU than the other one from TAMAKI for the same reason as the opening, though Missing Link by TAMAKI is quite a weird song, if I may comment. Overall, good combination of songs to make the vibe of Tiger and Bunny as an American superhero anime more visible.
The Tiger & Bunny philosophy when it comes to character is delve into the daily lives of the Heroes who protect Stern Bild from evil and at the same, become popular idols in Hero TV. And I should say the director did manage to interpret the entire Heroes’ characters pretty decently. Tiger and Bunny’s character chemistry shines quite well when they are the dynamic duo. Sure Tiger and Bunny always in the crossroads at first but once they knew their own selves; they actually make a really great characterization when they fight crime or when they socialize to each other outside of Hero work. And then, there’s Blue Rose (Karina Lyle), the Hero Idol, who always freeze crime and she’s one HOT HEROINE!! However, at the same time, Blue Rose’s secret love affection with Tiger quite mesmerized me but I wish that we can see more of Karina X Kotetsu chemistry because who loves Karina and Kotetsu team up as lovers? I AM. Keith Goodman (A.K.A Sky High) is a good man (NO BAD PUNS INTENDED...) who with his handsome looks and his flair with his fighting style makes him the TRUE MVP HERO of Stern Bild, no doubt about it. Dragon Kid (Pao Lin Huang) is one true kung-fu master with the pulsating lightning techniques but also one HELL OF A CUTE Hero as well. Fire Emblem (Nathan Lyle), well, he’s quite a scary looking tranny to start with but hey, at least he’s one entertaining and funny Hero with his own flare he had shown with the Heroes. Origami Cyclone (Ivan Karelin), always hiding in the shadows behind the Heroes on camera. (HE’S A CAMEO MASTER, OF COURSE... SNEAKY.) And Rock Bison (Antonio Lopez), Kotetsu’s friend and one strong Hero, being like a desperado of some sort. I mean, these main 7 Heroes have their unique character traits and each of them has shown their personalities well blended. Even the villains and side characters have their own story to tell with how they expressed in this anime like the Kotetsu family being one of the main character spots for Kotetsu. Even the mysterious vigilante known as Lunatic (Yuri Petrov) has his own tragic memories that shapes up his character pretty decently into who he is in the anime.
In retrospective, Tiger & Bunny has delivered really excitement action; intriguing suspense, interesting characters and decent music that shapes up into a Japanese take on the American superhero genre that have been adoring anime fans for the past few years. I think that Tiger &Bunny is quite unique and abnormal from most of the animes nowadays, full of Ecchi and fanservice. (YEAH...) And I think this anime definitely adores a lot of anime otakus worldwide as proven by the popularity alone. However, I felt that there are some mysteries and plot holes that should had been resolved, like the Ouroboros and the history of Stern Bild in detail. Sure, we have to wait for the 2<sup>nd</sup> Tiger & Bunny movie in 2013 if there’s any chance of resolution but I think the Tiger & Bunny anime workers there at Sunrise quite delivered a pretty good anime. Overall, if you wanting to escape from the boredom of the same fanservice time to time again, then Tiger & Bunny should break the barrier and delivers something different but really full of excitement for every Anime fans to enjoy.