In Sternbuild City, corporate logos not only cover billboards, but also the costumes of the super-powered heroes that act as its protectors. Veteran and newcomer warriors of justice alike compete in a reality TV show that offers points for apprehending criminals while giving champions' sponsors a chance to promote their brand. When the low-ranking Wild Tiger loses his backing after a string of outrageous, botched rescues, he finds himself paired with an up-and-coming spotlight-seeker called Barnaby. But with their wildly different personalities, will the pair be able to save their beloved Sternbuild City and win the game show, or will their constant tension be the undoing of the world's first hero team?
StoryMy 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.AnimationSunrise'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.SoundT&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.CharactersAs 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.OverallTiger & 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.
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