We haven’t had an anime review in some time here at Yatta! so to start them off again, here is Jamie!
Tiger & Bunny is the latest anime offering by the behemoth studio Sunrise. Chances are if you’ve heard of “Anime”, you’ve watched a Sunrise show, as they’ve pretty much made most of the major works in the last 30 years. Mobile Suit Gundam, Escaflowne, Witch Hunter Robin, Mai-Hime, Code Geass, Outlaw Star, InuYasha, Planetes, and of course the mega-hit Cowboy Bebop are all proudly bearing the Sunrise logo. So of course, when they come out with something new, it’s always worth keeping an eye on it. Obviously not every single one of their shows become an instant classic, but thankfully for all of it’s viewers, Tiger & Bunny will definitely be joining the esteemed list.
The show is set in an alternate reality of Superheros and Supervillains. But it isn’t your normal type of Hero-themed media that you’d find in the worlds of Marvel or DC. This world is fuelled entirely by advertising. Each Hero (named “NEXT’s” in the show) is adorned with various logos, and all participate in adverts and infomercials in order to gain their companies money. In many ways, it’s a realistic portrayal on what would happen if super powers did exist in the real world – it would get monopolised. It makes for a really interesting moral undertone, as some characters are doing deeds for the people, whereas others are doing it for their companies. You end up getting people who care more about advertising revenue saving people while the people who actually care fail to. It does raise a good question of whether intention actually matters if the end goal is the same.
But all that plays underneath the strong character-driven story. The two titular characters, Barnaby “Bunny” Brooks and Kotetsu “Wild Tiger” Kutsaragi, are two NEXT’s with the same power. Because of this, they’re paired together to make the first crime-fighting duo in the networks history. Though as per-usual in any series where two people are paired together, their personalities conflict. Kotetsu is a very moral figure, who is doing his job in order to help people, even abandoning his daughter in order to do. Barnaby is quite the opposite, being raised by the head honcho of one of the big companies means he’s more into making sure people know his name and his sponsors. It doesn’t help that Kotetsu is an older, more experienced, but ultimately worse hero than Barnaby, which leads to some pretty awesome scenes. But what’s even more awesome is how their friendship develops. It’s a slow build, and goes against the usual trend of “They hate each other but then one thing changed that”. They genuinely don’t like each other, and they slowly grow to like each other. By the end, they’re best friends, and respect each other both as heroes and people.
They’re not the only NEXT’s wielding swords of Justice (Now sponsored by Yatta!), as there are a whole cast of heroes for them to battle with. Each of these characters are creative in both their powers and their personalities, from Blue Rose, an ice-wielding vixen who wanted to be a pop star but was pressured into being a hero, to Origami Cyclone, a hero who’s power is so useless in combat he just tries to get himself on screen for advertising revenue. Pretty much all the characters get their own episodes devoted to them, showing how they get through their various problems and self-esteem issues, and showing you the “normal” side to all these fantastic and imaginative heroes we’ve been shown.
Aside from the NEXT’s, we’ve got plenty of interesting side characters. From the director at the TV station who’s focusing on getting the highest ratings, to Kotetsu’s mother and daughter who are constantly asking him to come home. Each of them have their own drives and motives, which all get their turn in the limelight, but without spoiling the overall story. In fact, I daresay that’s the best thing about Tiger & Bunny’s writing – Each character and sub-story get their own episode, but it never detracts from the over-arching plot.
The over-arching plot itself is also a fairly convoluted one, but still straight forward enough to keep you getting confused. The initial episodes deal with Kotetsu and Barnaby getting used to being in a team together, but then we move onto various Super Villains and hidden pasts being brought up. But it all moves seamlessly from one to the other – it’s hard to define any particular “arcs” in the show as they all relate to each other and feel part of one big story. But because it’s sort of broken up into smaller arcs, it never feels like it’s drowning you in the plot. And it makes it even more awesome when there are callbacks to earlier in the show, of which there are quite a few.
Animation-wise, we’re talking some pretty heavy duty stuff here. It’s obvious that Sunrise had a massive budget, and they’ve spent every cent of it. The show looks amazing, and the animation is very swish and smooth. Which is great, because there are a tonne of big-scale action scenes. There are no cop-outs here due to budgetary issues like you see in a lot of other anime, this show goes all out when it needs to, and holds back when it’s appropriate. If saying that mean’s I’m also saying that Tiger & Bunny has the best action pacing out of any anime ever made, then so be it. Watch the show, I doubt you’ll disagree.
Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about sound. Tiger and Bunny has a purely excellent sound design. While the opening and ending themes might not sound hugely heroic (Though they’re still very good), the in-show music does wonders to invoke feelings of heroism and bravery. Likewise, the voice acting is absolutely superb, with the characters really feeling alive. Now I know you can say that about any anime – The voices always sound right if it’s what you’ve been hearing them speak with the entire time, but here it really does deserve special mention. They all sound their correct ages, they all sound like they come from their characters upbringings, everything about the voice acting is pitch-perfect.
I have to say Tiger&Bunny is looking like a mighty fine contender for anime of the year. No, more than that, I’d say it’s one of the best anime of the last 10 years. I think we’ve got a game changer here. An original concept, with fantastic production, and an intriguing, engrossing but most of all entertaining plot. It’s one of the few shows I dare call “Perfect”. In 20 years, when your kids come up to you with their newest DVD Boxset of “Orange Ninja-chan Has Bad Feelings About This Vol. 2”, tell them back in your day there was real anime.
Tell them to go and watch Tiger & Bunny.
For more from Jamie check out his blog here!
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