T&B is basically a buddy cop show with superpowers, where even superheroes need multi-national corporations as sponsors (PEPSI and BANDAI are IN-YOUR-FACE product placements), their own manager, and even need to maintain a cool image because they get their own tv channel. The introduction to the setting was close to amazing as it has never been done before in anime. But if I stretch it, I must say it reminds me of the Minutemen (the first generation of crime fighters in Watchmen) brought to the 21st century.
It is a highly influenced by western superhero stories anime and thus it probably suits better the fans of DC or Marvel, rather than the Super Sentai fans. It is the fad of the season I guess as many anime these days beg for America to give them pointers at flavouring their tired formulas. Man, how times change; I used to laugh at western cartoons and now they become the inspiration for modern anime??? I guess the Japanese industry made a full circle and now returned back to the 60’s when Osamu Tezuka was getting inspired by Walt Disney or something.
Anyways, the anime is basically a superhero show like the Justice League, with the difference it is making a parody out of them. In this setting, each one is basically working for a brand and becomes their mascot in a way, helping in sales and getting paid for his/her services. As always, his/her real identity must remain a secret and thus each one of them is living a double life in the usual way we see in such stories. Their company presidents and other heroes know the truth and even help to organize each others’ normal lives. As a premise, I find that extremely interesting as it opens various doors to themes such as the exploitation of marketing, commercialism, and the façade of an imaginary personality. And indeed, the show focuses on the lives of its cast and it’s not a braindead storyless action flick. Each character starts as a stereotype, an eccentrically dressed superman who stops crime and saves lives but still needs to pose handsomely at the cameras or his/her bad image will be a bigger problem than being trashed by bad guys.
At the same time, this is not a show that takes itself seriously and it’s too light for its own good. The premise of the show is not really developed in any way past its initial impression. The whole merchandising of superheroes is underplayed as nothing more than an excuse to give money to the heroes instead of resulting to “magic” money, and filming everything so the public will always see the villain gloating while revealing his masterplan. Although half the duration is about getting to know the person behind the mask, the other half is nothing but poorly orchestrated action scenes, full of cool but eventually superficial battles that make the whole premise to look way too silly to really care about. The CGI is rather crude for its age, and the battles are random poses, lacking choreography and proper scene duration to be exciting. I almost see them as dead time. The storyboard is also completely chaotic, poorly written subplots, improper pacing, abrupt scene change, and so on. Simply said, you don’t get to feel the passion of the plot because it has a completely erratic pace that makes it amateurish.
Also, although the heroes are given immersion, it is not enough to escape their stereotype. It’s more like we get a few glimpses of their family life before some random villain appears and they have to go save the day with their character development meaning nothing afterwards. We see how each one of them is mostly pretending to be brave or fearless, yet underneath he or she are a lot frailer (which is good). This is mostly used as flavour as whatever we learn about them has no effect on the story, especially when the focus changes randomly and episodically from one hero to another, without any relation with the rest.
Speaking of the major ones, the show is mostly about Tiger, the old fashioned hero disliked by his daughter, and Barnaby, the guy looking for his parents’ killer. Both cases seemed interesting at first, as they gave them enough drama to keep watching but eventually the resolution to both of them was actually too easy and even forced through superpowers, rather character development, strategy, or personal charisma in public relations. Basically it was all random nonsense done on the run, and they feel very distasteful if they are poking you for 20 episodes before ending so superficially. It is even more distasteful to see all the rest of the heroes besides these two being there just for flavour, with their own stories not binding with the core scenario, or even with one another.
Even without all that, the final arc ends up being about brainwashing, which practically negated all character development and comrade bonding brought up to that point. It was all like “So what if we went through a lot together; the scriptwriter says they should all be rendered irrelevant and now we are enemies because of brainwashing”. Oh how nice, I guess all their interaction for all those episodes means nothing after all. But it’s ok since there is a huge plot armour to fix everything as forced as it began. As it usually happens in superhero stories, there are super duper comebacks in the most improbable ways, the villains are idiots who play games with the heroes instead of killing them, they reveal their plans on television so everybody can facepalm with their fail, and for no logical reason a super beam can destroy a super android but not a human being standing right next to it. No matter how much dramatic or mysterious they try to make the situation, it is resolved with piss poor easiness, so there is never actual tension or lasting drama.
It is not much of a rewarding treatment, as it is mostly fooling around with puns and silly action sequences mixed in a completely erratic sequence of fleshing out scenes and random criminal chasing, before everything comes down to some evil masterminds that are defeated easily through Deus Ex Machina. It can still work as superficial entertainment but the viewer is torn between seeing this as funny or retarded and thus the enjoyment factor becomes like a stock market graph. There is no actual suspense or sympathy for the cast since they are just colourful caricatures, and the stories are stupid villains appearing and being defeated fast and easy, while resolutions to all the problems are done through unworldly powers instead of wits, charisma, or intellect in general. Not bad but definitely not great either.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 8/10
General Artwork 2/2 (looks nice)
Character Figures 2/2 (eccentric)
Backgrounds 2/2 (fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (lots of fancy lights but rather crude CGI)
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 4/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 0/2 (loose)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 5/10
Presence 2/2 (cool/sexy)
Personality 2/2 (cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 0/2 (practically zero)
Catharsis 0/2 (practically none)
VALUE SECTION: 3/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too little plot)
Memorability 2/4 (has some fancy visuals and good ideas but it is otherwise not doing much with what it has)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 4/10
Art 1/1 (looks nice)
Sound 0/2 (sounds meh)
Story 1/3 (good ideas but loose presentation)
Characters 2/4 (they are nice caricatures but nothing more)