Tiger & Bunny [Review]

Pepsi NEX is the proud sponsor of hero Blue Rose.

This series has probably already won some kind of award for “Best Anime Series of 2011″. There are others this year that deserve the award more than Tiger & Bunny, but after winning fans over in just a few months after the series began this Spring and inspiring a few unofficial tie-in events, it just could. Oh, and the subliminal messages that only fujoshi can understand.

Warning:

This post contains spoilers and may be censored for your safety. Read at your own risk!
To view the spoiler text, highlight the censored area.

In my initial impressions, there was a lot more to be explained, of course. Barnaby, also known as Bunny by Kotetsu T. Kaburagi–or Wild Tiger, including himself, has a bit of a past. It also seemed that their irritable rivalry would eventually turn into a strong relationship. The other heroes in the “hero circuit” also make their presence known to viewers, and the worse people that give Stern Bild a bad name are bought into the spotlight.

Barnaby is the child of deceased scientists who took part in the creation of the Heroes, and eventually Hero TV, with family friend, Mr. Maverick. His parents were murdered 20 years ago by an unknown, who was later to be revealed as Jake Martinez, a member of the Ouroboros Syndicate. Learning of the killer’s true identity, Barnaby keeps his intentions to himself until Kotetsu confronts him.

Barnaby Brooks Jr. basks in the glow of being Stern Bild's greatest hero...

...But when it's lights out, Barnaby is determined to find the person responsible for murdering his parents.

The Ouroboros is discovered after a failed assassination attempt on the heroes by a member of the group foiled by Wild Tiger, who gets briefly reprimanded for his actions due to his carelessness by blinded–thanks to Bunny’s shining positive influence that makes Kotetsu a loser anyway. Barnaby approaches the suspect, only for him to be murdered by a new “hero”, Lunatic. Lunatic’s purpose is to execute–as in kill–those who punish the good in the name of justice: the opposite of simply nabbing the crooks, unharmed, for points. It seems Lunatic has some sort of a past, as well.

Barnaby's parents were murdered when he was a little boy. Any clue he finds is put to use to find the murderer.

The alleged killer of Barnaby's parents, Jake Martinez, takes on all comers.

Jake Martinez is located in a mental facility, where he is immediately released. After a makeover, Jake sets out and causes trouble in Stern Bild. The fun eventually turns into a hostage situation after attacking the bridge; Jake’s girlfriend, Kriem, is the announcer of “Ouroboros TV”, taking over Hero TV’s broadcast. The situation results in Barnaby revealing his troubled past to the other heroes.

The Heroes are called upon by Jake’s lottery system: spinning a wheel determines his next victim. One by one, the heroes failed to put a mark on Jake, until Bunny shows ups only to be critically injured. The last person to save the moment is a previously injured Tiger.

After all is done, the heroes celebrate the end of the terrorist situation with a Hero TV special–until the next chapter of the story that sets the field of the series. The final chapter of the series cannot be spoiled and is up to the viewer decide if it’s a great series (which it is, despite the fandom) from the soap opera to be witnessed. But I can say this: there might be a few unanswered questions that leads to a not-official-but-might-as-well-be-anyway-announced sequel to Tiger & Bunny in the future, even if it’s not needed. *cough*

With my experience of getting hooked on a series after just one episode, Tiger & Bunny was approached differently; after finding interesting (and beautifully accurately) fanart of the series, I gave it a try. After the initial review, I put the series on hold as I seem to do with a a few decent, then-currently airing series as of late. Nearing the end of the 25 episode run (at first I thought was 26 episodes–a Sunrise tradition), it was a good time to marathon it from 11 to 24.

The heroes of Stern Bild when not in their suits. From left to right: Karina (Blue Rose), Ivan (Origami Cyclone), Nathan (Fire Emblem), Pao-Lin (Dragon Kid), Antonio (Rock Bison), and Keith (Sky High).

Besides Kotetsu and Barnaby, we can’t forget the supporting cast: Blue Rose (Karina Lyle), Sky High (Keith Goodman), Origami Cyclone (Ivan Karelin), Dragon Kid (Pao-Lin Huang), Rock Bison (Antonio Lopez), Fire Emblem (Nathan Seymour) are introduced throughout the series. They all get their own episodes telling us more about them–a favorite part of any series to be interested in. However, I think that Fire Emblem and Rock Bison didn’t get enough justice other than Rock’s contemplation of pushing the button Battle Royale-style neck brace towards the series ender, and Fire’s mothering skills and being framed as a criminal.

Pepsi NEX is the proud sponsor of hero Blue Rose.

The other thing about this series, which raises eyebrows, is the real-world sponsors graced in every scene the heroes appear in. For example: Blue Rose’s sponsor is Pepsi NEX, Sky High’s is USTREAM, and Tiger’s SoftBank and Bunny’s Bandai, with a rare Amazon.co.jp appearance on the arm of his [suit]. For some, it’s an annoyance to see ads everywhere they go, but there is a reason why this is so: if [Tiger & Bunny] didn’t have the support it has, it would just be another (and possibly lame) anime series and not one of huge proportions such as, let’s say, Durarara!!!. But considering the plot of the show, it works out well. Plus, T&B is a Sunrise anime, after all…

...A cleverly placed 'What-If' scene for fanfiction writers?

With all the hype, It’s impossible to ignore the obvious relationship between Barnaby and Kotetsu. I’m pretty sure that Episode 19 was dedicated to the two, though it is the important part of the series as Barnaby comes to realize that his past is not entirely behind him. In today’s anime fandom, it’s a fujoshi’s dream to make this series enjoyable; when you have a series with attractive male characters–I’m just going to say Fullmetal Alchemist–or Death Note–and leave it at that… this is what you get.

Putting the characters themselves aside, the character designs is as what you’d expect from a Sunrise series. In case anyone is wondering if this show has anything to do with The Big O, the character designer, Keiichi Satou, was indeed involved with the show for the most part, including a few others. Another reason why I love this series, which would explain the heavy Western influence ala The Big O, including a very diverse character lineup; and there’s the nostalgia factor, and my re-ignition for the love of super-humans in Sentai suits, or normal humans piloting mobile suits in a big city. :lol:

Speaking of designs, I also said that the art could use a little work, as it appeared to be “bleed” at some parts in the first few episodes. Revisiting the first episode, I can tell the difference between the later episodes; I reassured myself that this is normal for watching a new series for the first time, especially with different designers taking part in every other episode.

With Fullmetal Alchemist gone, I think Tiger & Bunny is here to stay… for now, until another series of either of their caliber comes along. Tiger & Bunny is THAT popular, and in a short amount of time since April, there are fan events popping up in Japan, including the introduction of an online dedication to the series using Fried Rice.

Rating:

★★★★★

Where to Watch Tiger & Bunny:

- Viz Anime
- Hulu or Anime News Network (via Hulu)

Note: The listed sites may only be limited to the North America. Check your local content publisher for alternatives. Please support the series!

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