Tiger & Bunny Review

This is review number one hundred and sixteen. I’ll be reviewing an anime from the Spring 2011 lineup. It is Tiger and Bunny. This is an awesome show but man, it took me five days to watch it. My mind just never enjoyed re-watching an anime. I need to fix that. Anyways, this anime is twenty five episodes long about superheroes saving the day while being sponsored by major companies to become reality TV stars. That sounds nice. Let’s read on.

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Story

This anime is about the city of Sternbild and its superheroes. They compete in a reality TV show where they rack up points by saving people and stopping bad guys. The one who gets the highest points by the end of the season gets bragging rights and the title “King of Heroes”. A veteran hero called Wild Tiger is among the bottom of the rankings. He has expressed his ideals of only saving people but he seems to mess it up at times. His heart is in the right place but heroes are needed to save people and act cool for the camera. He is not respected by the people, his daughter hates him and the company sponsoring him suddenly goes bankrupt. It was bought out by a new company and they now own Wild Tiger. The company decided to have Wild Tiger pair up with a new superhero, Barnaby. They would be the very first hero team on TV. Wild Tiger isn’t happy about it. Barnaby isn’t happy either for being paired up with a washed up superhero like Wild Tiger. The company insists and now Wild Tiger and Barnaby Brooks fights crime in a tandem. Can these two heroes work together to fight crime and become the king of heroes?

Taking the Pants Off

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Tiger and Bunny is a rare kind of anime. It’s one of those anime that is so original and so exciting. Just a glimpse of it and you can tell that you’ll have an amazing anime experience when you watch it. This anime has interesting characters, a complex plot, flashy visuals, action packed and it’s definitely very fun to watch. It’s safe to say not all anime you can see in your lifetime can possess all those traits. It’s that reason why Tiger and Bunny is a definite rarity. I’m not going to lie, when I saw the title for the first time, I kind of cringed a bit. I wasn’t sure what the anime was about. The title definitely didn’t help. I’ve seen too many dude romance to convince me an anime with the title “Tiger and Bunny” would be nothing but heavy dude loving. I didn’t expect it to be an anime about superheroes. I like that in anime. It seemingly deceives you so it can deliver a strong punch when you decide to watch it. I’m glad I watched this anime because like I said before, anime like this rarely comes out.

The premise of the anime is something I really considered original. First of all, this anime is very western. It’s an anime (made in Japan) but it’s very heavily influenced by American pop culture. The notion of superheroes in flashy outfits fighting bad guys is something you’ll see on Cartoon Network or something but Sunrise took the concept and made an anime out of it. This anime is heavily western. No sights of riceballs, the currency looks like dollars, the language is English on newspapers and in TV, and the art style is very “comic book”. Comic Book heroes are defined by their muscles. They are muscular and they fight in colorful outfits. Anime heroes are defined by how young they look. (I’m obviously ignoring DBZ when I say this.) They are often young, as plain looking as possible, and they often wear normal clothes like their school uniforms or something. This anime is swimming on western influences that it just breaks common anime ideals and tries to be unique. It is. The city of Sternbild even has a black mayor for crying out loud.

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The idea of superheroes being in a reality TV show is also something very original. The notion of heroes fighting bad guys as the whole world watches and try to rack up points is something so well done. I’m surprised it’s only being done now. The idea of heroes having brand logos in their outfits and trying to look good for the ratings is the idea that really makes the anime very unique. I love the fact that a woman from a production room is telling the heroes when to act to ensure good ratings. The anime hits you hard with all of these original ideas that you are easily drawn in; you want to watch more of this anime simply because of the original premise.

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The story is a bit hard to describe since it’s so layered. There are two main plot points though that was dominantly focused in the anime. The first one is the relationship between Tiger and Barnaby. They were forced to team up and they just butt heads when they go out and fight. Tiger is the old school kind of hero. He believes that heroes should prioritize saving people and they shouldn’t be concerned about their public image. He acts before he thinks and he often makes situations worse by helping. This easily gets on the nerve of Barnaby. He is the hero who doesn’t believe in wearing a mask. He maintains a public image and he wants to get some points when he fights. He is the analytical type and he mostly keeps to himself unless being interviewed on TV. They don’t like each other but their genuine passion to become heroes is the one thing they have in common. As the anime progresses, they slowly try to trust each other. You wait for the day they call each other “partner” and rely on each other. It’s easier said than done though.

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The second plot point was Barnaby trying to uncover his parent’s killer. Ah, the classic superhero cliché of a boy witnessing his parent’s death. This consumes Barnaby and he goes to extra means to avenge his parents. He always has little lead to follow but he doesn’t realize that his parent’s death is connected to some pretty mean villains. Barnaby would do anything he can to discover the man that shot his parents but this often cloud his judgment. His obsession to get the truth adds tension to his relationship with Wild Tiger. As the anime progresses, Barnaby inches his way to discovering who killed his parents. The mystery is very interesting and while the anime often downplays this plot point, it always keeps coming back to add depth to the story. The slow revelation of his parent’s death is very exciting to see unfold as well.

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The anime has those two plot points in the center of the anime but there are other plot points in the anime too. Some of them are a bit scattered and they are only used to make the climax of an anime more exciting. There is a plot point about the humans with superpowers called NEXT. The heroes are NEXT as well. These NEXT are often being ridiculed or abused by society for being different. Think of mutants from the X-men. There are episodes focusing on the pain NEXT experiences and other episodes feature other NEXT as the villains. The anime uses this plot point smartly and only uses it when it’s appropriate.

Another plot point is Wild Tiger’s family dynamic. He is the type who dedicates his entirety to his superhero work and this causes a strain on his relationship with his daughter. There are a lot of episodes where his daughter would just yell at him for calling off an appointment or breaking a promise so he can save some people in trouble. This plot point was explored a lot more on the second half of the anime but like the NEXT issues, the anime uses this plot point smartly and it enhances the story very heavily.

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Then there are some episodes dedicated to the other superheroes as well. I like these episodes because we get to see the other characters. I like Tiger and Bunny but the other superheroes stand out as well. It was smart to dedicate some episode to them. These episodes are just typical episodes concerning a character’s personal problem. They’re typical problems like being depressed for having weak powers, losing their motivation to become heroes and other stuff.

The characters in the anime are easily one of its strong points. Both the minor and the main characters are pretty interesting. The main character is certainly interesting. Their individual personality is a definite standout with Wild Tiger’s passion for saving people and Barnaby’s obsession to find his parent’s killer. They play off each other pretty nicely and their relationship is something the anime heavily focuses on. There is some impressive character development as you progress in the anime and I love how they slowly become a team. The rest of the superheroes are interesting as well. There is the Boy Scout kind of superhero named Sky High (reminds me of Captain America) who fly and has the power to control the wind. There is the flamboyant gay black superhero named Fire Emblem who controls fire. The sexy type of superhero is Blue Rose who controls ice. The muscle head type of superhero is Rock Bison who is built like a wall. There is a tomboy kind of superhero and there is even a ninja superhero. These characters are the main selling point of the anime. You will definitely like at least one of them. The story was able to utilize them pretty smartly especially during the boss fights.

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The villains in the anime are pretty unique as well. I personally like them because the villains were pretty bad ass and the can steal the spotlight away from the heroes sometimes. There are three kind of main villains in the anime that the story often builds up on. The first one is this vigilante type of NEXT who disposes of criminals by burning them to death. The other one is the villain who believes that NEXT are the superior beings and that humans are below them (Magneto much?). The last one appeared in the second half of the anime and the story was able to build him up into a pretty awesome villain. The kind you want the heroes to beat up with their fists. The villains are also the typical kind of baddies superheroes faces. I like the variety in all of them. The best part is that they are clearly inspired by DC and Marvel villains so that adds some novelty to them. I’m no DC/Marvel fan though. I’m strictly anime but even I notice some similarities.

There is one downside in the anime. Its attempt to be so westernized often comes off as a bit negative. These elements, while very westernized, is also very clichéd. Not anime clichéd but superhero kind of clichéd. You often see a big revelation coming even when it’s miles away. Some conflicts, you can easily tell its outcome because of the way the direction of the story is going. This is a very little downside though because the anime was able to fix this westernized cliché by making sure the journey from point A to point B is pretty damn exciting. Even if you know how a conflict will end, you often get excited watching the characters do it. I think it is part of the anime’s novelty though.

Sight and Sound

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The visuals of the anime are a definite stand out. The best part about it is the combination of the CG elements with the normal animation. Sunrise really mastered this type of animation with all of those mecha anime. Just look at Fire Emblem. He is completely CG and he often mingles with Blue Rose who doesn’t have any CG on her. It’s really awesome. The costumes are very nicely detailed. There is a huge range when it comes to the costume. There is the typical spandex costume with the brief on the outside and complete with a cape. There is the full body armor kind of costume that is mostly CG. There are a lot of details in the CG outfits and I love how they complement a character’s personality. There is also the sexy type of costume with a few fan service on the side. The thing that makes the costumes very unique is the addition of brand logos. They are actual companies and I just love how there is a big “BANDAI” name on Barnaby’s outfit. It’s the main piece that really attracts your eye.

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The character design is very western. There is no moe in this anime and the characters have very distinct features to them. I personally love the range when it comes to races. There is all type of races presented in the anime. There is also varying age in this anime as oppose to the ideal type of having all cast be high school students. The character design is very precise is there is some very nice detail that makes each character unique, even the minor ones. It must’ve taken a lot of time to create these characters because from their hair to their body type to their facial features, no one looks alike.

The fight scenes in the anime are often too short because it’s more focused on the story. There is enough fight scenes for the characters to strut their stuff and the villains to create so havoc but there isn’t a lot of storytelling behind them. The only time a fight scene was ever heavily focused was on the second half where Tiger and Bunny was in a boss battle. Most fight scenes are dialogue heavy because they serve to enhance the story. It’s still very satisfying though so don’t worry about that.

The animation isn’t as great though. I wasn’t expecting KyoAni level kind of animation where every action is detailed to a tee but I did notice that most characters don’t blink. Most times, only the mouth moves which is a bit annoying because the CG is spot on. It’s sad that the simple animation wasn’t given that much attention. Sometimes facial features would be altered when in a distance. These are all minor complaints and personal pet peeves but you would expect Sunrise to rise to the occasion, right? The animation was very flashy though and it certainly maintains its gimmicky spirit. There are enough good parts of the animation to drown out the negatives parts so it’s all good.

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I also love this personal commercial of Blue Rose and Pepsi Next. It was a different addition to the anime and it adds to the uniqueness. I kind of hoped the other characters to do commercials too where they’re strutting their stuff too.

The anime has two OP and ED. The first OP is “Orion wo nazoru” by UNISON SQUARE GARDEN. It’s a very appropriate song for the anime because it has a theme of heroism in it. The singer’s voice is also very nice to listen to especially when the lyrics go from low to high. It hits hard with its chorus. I love the part where the song would drop its beat then finishes strong. The OP sequence is pretty bad ass. It featured all the heroes and they were all flashy. The visuals and the awesome animation was also nicely featured in the OP. The anime’s first ED is “Missing Link” by NOVELS. This is a very nice song because of it’s nice pace. The singer’s voice is also pretty impressive especially on the chorus. The ED sequence features the two main characters and their relationship. It’s nice.

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The second OP is “Hoshi no Sumika” by Aobozu. This had a steady beat and not as energetic as the first OP. Aobozu’s voice was pretty impressive though but it felt a bit flat to me. The OP sequence featured all the characters just like the first one. There was no major difference except for some of the important plot points of the second half mixed in. The second ED is “Mind Game” by Tamaki. The only song sang by a woman. This had a fast beat like all the other songs but it had a bit of a melancholic feel to it. I love the ED sequence where the characters all pose in their normal outfits. It also featured all the characters in simple poses.

Overall Score

9/10 “Great characters, visuals and story. It’s original and unique. It’s a definite must watch.”

I highly recommend this anime. All of its elements really helped improve the anime and you can barely notice any negative aspects to it. It’s damn near perfect and I personally would give this anime a 10/10.

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