Region: 2 - UK
Volume: 2 of 4
Length: 175 minutes
Japanese 2.0 Stereo
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.
Despite knowing about this series since it's streaming debut back on Anime on Demand, I hadn't sat down and watched my copy of the first volume of T&B until the review copy for volume 2 arrived in the door. I am sad to say that I should have watched it sooner as this is one of my favourite series in recent years and it's not hard to see why. Fighting crime in a future time, the second of Kazé UK's releases has our heroes having jumped from the frying pan of masked badguy Lunatic and into the fire of genuine psycho Jake Martinez. The change in tone marks a gear up from the frolics of the previous episodes to a really tension filled group of stories as the trap laid by Martinez and his cohorts unfolds and how our heroes deal with it.
In previous stories, the lines between the heroes (Sky High, Blue Rose, Fire Emblem, Origami Cyclone, Dragon Kid, Wild Tiger, Barnaby Brooks Jr, Rock Bison) was very clear, with each hero fighting for points and attention from the fans. But here, they are faced with a crazy gang who couldn't care less about people's lives and will stop at nothing to get what they want. So the heroes start looking more like the Avengers in how they deal with stuff. Not that I'm complaining because T&G is what Sunrise imagines American superhero cartoons to be like: heroes who spout inspirational lines, villains are pure evil and the public loves a happy ending. While not strictly sticking to this formula all the time, the show has fun with it's conventions and tropes and still has time to be very Japanese in its outlook. As the tension of the city being held to ransom builds, you hope for a proper superhero fight to happen to settle the crisis and you do get just that. That said, I couldn't help but see similarities between this and a typical fight between Moleman and the Fantastic Four in the wrap up as well.
Kotetsu (AKA Wild Tiger) is still trying to get Barnaby to trust him after a bad start. Tiger tends to rush in and not think things through while Barnaby is more analytical. This puts them at odds work wise and they tend to save the day through accident than purpose. In this volume, however they make their way to an understanding and this allows Barnaby to focus on the night his parents were killed and who was responsible and also Kotetsu is able to help Blue Rose and Dragon Kid find a positive part of their characters they didn't know they had. Also, we see the heroes lives behind the mask and Kotetsu for all his brashness, is a loving father who is caught in the trap of wanting to be there for his daughter and being on call as a hero. This is stuff I've read before in American comics from DC Comics and Marvel in particular. There's nothing new or inventive in this but I welcome having the dichotomy of having to be two people at once. We do see glimpses of this in Blue Rose's home life but Kotetsu is the one to root for on this.
To be perfectly honest, I didn't listen to the dub of this show except for review purposes. It's...serviceable and that's fine, but it's not the highlight track. The Japanese language track is very good and I love the two leads especially. Barnaby is played with reserve and charm by Masakazu Morita who comes to the role aloof but brings the character slowly down to Earth. However, my award for best in cast goes to Hiroaki Hirata playing Kotetsu. I kept thinking to myself as he whined and complained about stuff that I've heard this guy before and sure enough, he's playing my favourite trainee astronaut, Mutta Nanba, at the moment. He really is a laid back, welcoming presence in the cast and he is perfect with Barnaby as his foil. The bad guys like Lunatic and Jake Martinez range from understated to out and out screeching and crazy. There were times when I felt like punching them, they were that evil. Though, we are kind of told who Lunatic is after his appearance and he actually watches from the sidelines as Jake and his gang hold the city to ransom. Interestingly, they don't have him gloat about it all rather that he wishes the heroes would deal with Jake and co. properly.
Moving forward, we have the fight with Lunatic to wrap up,after which who knows? The show itself is open ended so they could coast the rest of the way or build up a new villain or challenge. Either way, I would be good with that. Could someone might licence the T&G movies as well after that, because I don't want this series to end as I'm having way too much fun here. Check out and let us know what you think.