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Tiger & Bunny

May 3, 2014
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Kotetsu (Tiger) and Barnaby (Bunny).

This is an anime series put out in Japan by Sunrise Studio. I’ll state up front that while I don’t have any problem with animation it’s also not something that is in my regular viewing cycle. This was another series introduced to me by my nephew Zack who also turned me onto Freakylinks awhile back. So, based upon the quality of his previous recommendation I gave this series a go.

Tiger and Bunny is set in a more or less contemporary world where super heroes exist. The supers in this world are different in a couple of ways. First, they are corporate sponsored. Like Captain Amazing in the movie Mystery Men they sport real corporate logos on their costumes which I thought was pretty awesome. The other big difference is that the characters are televised on a reality show where they compete for points with the winner getting the title of Hero of the City at the end of the season. One thing that took me some time to get used to here was the live video formatting of the animated medium for these reality tv scenes. It was pretty disorienting at first but in a good way and I quickly became accustomed to it.

The Show focuses on the two title characters. Tiger (Kotetsu Kaburagi) is an older hero who is scraping by in the competition. This is because he doesn’t take it seriously as it is secondary to his goal of being a real super hero. When he is released by his sponsor he is picked up by another and paired with Barnaby Brooks who he nicknames Bunny. Barnaby’s origin is very much in the mold of Bruce Wayne’s in that he witnesses his folks killed by an assassin at an early age. The new sponsor wants Tiger to act as a mentor for the young and inexperienced Barnaby. In practice he mostly ends up being a throttle to the impetuous new hero.

The series is impressive because, like Watchmen or The Dark Knight Returns, it takes the super hero genre in a new and interesting direction and really focuses on the personalities and motivations of the heroes. This is a much more mature super hero story in that there is a great deal of the story that focuses on the characters. There is actually a later episode where we don’t see any super hero activity at all. The series consists of 25 half hour episodes and, while Wikipedia claims it’s one season, it is logically broken into two parts. The first thirteen episodes make one story line with Bunny at the center. The second half of the series starts six months after the conclusion of the events in the first thirteen episodes and centers on Tiger. This is another thing I really love about the series. The story line involving Tiger covers something I can honestly say I haven’t seen discussed before in any super hero literature I have read. I’m not going to go into detail as I don’t want to spoil the idea for potential viewers but it was pretty great in that it really forced Tiger to undergo a good deal of self examination.

I will conclude by saying that the series is a milestone in super hero literature and should be checked out by fans of the two previously mentioned comics. The world is very well constructed with an incredibly rich background. The series was good enough for me that I’m sure I’ll be picking it up on DVD as I will definitely want to revisit it in the future.

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