"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."
When I was a kid, I used to raid through my older brother's collection of Spider-man, X-Men and Avengers comics. I loved the brightly coloured, costume wearing icons who selflessly pursued justice. I was sold, and hooked on the cliché of the super hero.
So skipping forward a few years..
Tiger & Bunny is an action-comedy parody of the traditional superhero universe. Heroes exist, and not just in the shadows! They have managers, live TV coverage and even corporate sponsorship. It's the superhuman registration act gone mad. In actual fact, it's a fairly honest look at how such a phenomenon would probably be handled in a modern western society.
As a long time member of the hero community, Wild Tiger is set in his ways. He is brash and stubborn, but his actions are always well intentioned and it's obvious from the beginning that he values all human life indiscriminately. Very much the traditional defender of justice. For all his faults - and very limited wardrobe selection, he's an idealist and a super nice guy. As a veteran of the hero circuit, many of the younger heroes don't share his ideals, choosing instead to compete with one another for screen time and using their powers for brand promotion.
The first episode jumps straight in on the action, introducing the cast of costumed crusaders as they tackle a live televised high speed pursuit. I felt this was a great way to quickly establish not only the the city and the main cast, but how the heroes are perceived, and to an extent, used by the media. A mysterious new hero, sporting pink high-tech armour swoops in to save the day and steal the spotlight. He unmasks confidently, introducing himself as Barnaby Brooks Jr - an instant sensation with Hero TV's audience. Despite his charisma and popularity, Barnaby's personality is the polar opposite of Tiger's, and his icy nature is later revealed to be a result of a tragic back-story. Hero TV boldly decides to team up Wild Tiger and Barnaby in an attempt to boost their ratings even higher.
From this point the show develops their relationship, which is fairly unstable to begin with. It creates an interesting dynamic however and their good cop/bad cop personalities make situations all the more entertaining. It isn't entirely unlike an anime, sci-fi treatment of Starsky and Hutch in that regard.
Tiger & Bunny gets darker towards the end of the second disk, introducing a group referred to as Ouroboros, and the powerful and merciless, Lunatic.
I have a few questions about various aspects of the plot which I hope the next collection of episodes will provide some answers to.
The voice acting, for the most part was thoroughly enjoyable. The characters seem to be very well cast and I couldn't fault the direction at all. Some of the dialogue is a little cheesy, but given the nature of the show I would be more surprised to not hear such catchphrases as:
"My ice may be a little cold, but your crime has been completely put on hold!" - Blue Rose.
You're going to have to take my word on this, once you've heard it in context - it kind of sticks in your head.
I certainly don't think anything is lost by watching the subbed version, as it too enjoys a great cast of voice actors - a lot of it probably comes down to personal preference.
The animation is of a high standard, delivering a hybrid of CGI and 2D artwork with very low contrast. The character design in particular is really well done, with most of the armour wearing characters being created in 3D.
It's probably worth mentioning that this series was also one of the first to be simulcast on Kaze's Anime On Demand service, when it first aired back in April 2011 - almost two years ago! It's great to see it finally available to buy in the UK. I know that it was one of the more successful series from AoD, and hope that despite the wait will still prove to be popular.
The first seven episodes were definitely enough to get me hooked. The animation is absolutely gorgeous and the design work and level of detail that has gone into this series is clearly visible. It's been a while since a series has been able to engage my attention for any length of time, but there was very little I disliked about Tiger & Bunny and look forward to the next release.