Tiger & Bunny Episodes 8 – 13
‘Do we really need heroes???’ (Newsfeed Stern Bild City)
As the sinister and grotesque Lunatic continues to pose a real threat to the Heroes, we are left in very little doubt as to his true identity – although what drives him to conduct his own violent campaign of rough justice against the criminals in Stern Bild City remains obscure…for the time being. In the meantime, the fickle citizens applaud the new defender of their city and the Heroes are obliged to try to raise their profiles in order to regain the people’s confidence (and up their ratings.)
Each of the Heroes gets their own episode, and, as we’ve already come to know more about Blue Rose, now it’s the turn of the self-effacing Origami Cyclone, real name Ivan (Nobuhiko Okamoto/Michael Sinterniklaas) who has a massive inferiority complex about his Next ability. Young Ivan is a shape shifter but possesses no attack powers and feels useless in the combat situations that the Heroes face in their daily work. He also has guilt issues relating back to his closest friend at the Hero Academy, so a trip back to the alma mater to inspire the next generation of would-be heroes reawakens some uncomfortable memories. After this we get to learn more about tomboy Dragon Kid (Mariya Ise /Laura Bailey) when the Heroes find themselves babysitting the Mayor’s infant son.
But Barnaby’s burning desire to unravel his dark past (echoes of Batman here) drives the action. Certain that a convicted criminal, Jake Martinez, is the murderer of his parents, he is both frustrated and horrified when a bizarre terrorist attack by Ouroboros turns out to be a ruse to free Jake from prison. As part of the terrorists’ terms, the Heroes must battle the wisecracking Jake on primetime TV – and as he inflicts debilitating injuries on each opponent, it looks as if the Heroes have finally met their match. When even Wild Tiger is beaten to within an inch of his life, Bunny’s chances to avenge his parents – and his partner – seem pretty slim. With the fate of the city resting on the outcome of his duels, Bunny begins to realise just how high the stakes have been raised – and that his Next powers may not be enough to help him achieve his revenge.
Apart from the occasional clichéd plot twist, Tiger & Bunny manages to create genuine sympathy for its main pair: the older Kotetsu who, in spite of his tendency to leave a trail of destruction in his wake, has a good heart and acts selflessly when danger threatens and younger Barnaby who has begun to reveal the insecurities and pain that lie beneath his ‘golden boy’ exterior. Watching them progress from the initial hostilities and personality clashes to forging a genuine partnership is one of the pleasures of this show.
There’s a little more skimping on the budget than in the earlier episodes, inevitably, but the animation still looks great when it needs to, especially in the confrontations between our heroes and the villains who cross their paths.
Standout performance in these episodes in the US voice cast is that of Steven Blum as the crazed Next-powered criminal Jake Martinez – not that Keiji Fujiwara isn’t good too, but Blum hits just the right note between batshit lunacy and chilling menace. The extra is the hour-long Tiger & Bunny Ustream in which the team who made the anime (including the main Japanese voice cast) give a series of brief interviews to Usa and Tora, two (not so very cute) soft toy versions of… a bunny and a tiger. Again the emphasis is on the fact that the show is a cartoon series aimed at adults.
The show really begins to get into its stride on this disc – and it’s good to be able to sit back and just enjoy Tiger & Bunny for what it is: a good old-fashioned superhero series, laced with humour, yet lightly seasoned with a very modern twist of irony. More soon, please – six episodes per release is not enough!