Tiger & Bunny Volume 3

Episodes 14-19

“You made two mistakes unfortunately. First: I’m not a Hero. Second: this is my idea of justice.” Lunatic

After the tense and spectacular showdown between the Heroes and Jake Martinez, Sky High, the (other) blonde, blue-eyed Hero gets an episode (almost) all to himself. Depressed because he’s lost his Number One status to Barnaby, he is pleasantly distracted when he meets a mysterious girl in a nearby park. Could it be true love? Of course, there’s more to this monosyllabic young woman than meets the eye… but there’s also an unexpected connection that links her to Barnaby’s past. These episodes reveal more about the lives of the main protagonists, showing just how difficult it’s been for them to learn to live with their extraordinary Next powers. None of them has been left unscarred by their early experiences – and, in the case of Lunatic, the Next who has decided to deliver his own brutal form of justice, we get to glimpse the traumatic past events have pushed him over the edge.

So what happens to a Hero when his/her Next powers begin to decline? Wild Tiger Kotetsu finds himself in this dilemma when his Hundred Power runs out too soon – and just as he’s trying to apprehend a criminal. Worried about his future, afraid to reveal what’s happening to him even to his partner Barnaby – or anyone else in Stern Bild – he decided to go home to visit his mother and temperamental ten-year-old daughter, Kaede. And it turns out that Kaede may have inherited more from her doting (but absent) father than his brown eyes and hair…

Jake Martinez’s partner/girlfriend Kriem awakens from her coma – and reveals a startling piece of information about the murder of Barnaby’s parents. All Barnaby’s certainties are crushed. Now the revelations begin to come thick and fast as the surprising truth behind Hero TV and its role in Stern Bild City comes to light. But Barnaby, feeling betrayed by Tiger (who is still concealing the truth about his fading powers, not to mention being guilt-tripped big-time by his mother and daughter ‘Kaede needs you!’) angrily dismisses his conflicted partner.

A new Opening “Missing Link” by NOVELS and a new Ending “Mind Game” by Tamaki are so-so (although the Chorus to the Opening is much stronger than the rest of the song) and Karaoke versions form part of the extras which are available on DVD only. The other extra is a continuation of UStream Mini Corner; the Japanese featurette about the making of Tiger & Bunny with more interviews with the Japanese seiyuu.

It’s in Episodes 16-17 that the creative team’s desire to appeal to an ‘older’ (thirty +) male audience becomes significantly more apparent. Tiger’s realisation that he may not be able to continue to be a Hero – even though he’s sacrificed so much in his life to be one – makes for a neat parallel with the feelings that most of us experience as we get older. This is not to say, however, that Tiger & Bunny will only appeal to the creative team’s target audience; far from it; fan girls with a predilection for slash can also enjoy fantasising about various pairings (and, indeed, already have done so, with many doujinshi as evidence.)

As the series builds toward its climax, Tiger & Bunny reveals just how classy a piece of script-writing it is, as each little clue planted in earlier episodes delivers a sequence of satisfying revelations. Sometimes, though, I can sense the script writers manipulating the plot lines just a little too obviously to gain the maximum emotional effect, as when Tiger, having promised his motherless daughter to leave the big city and return home to spend time with her, sees Barnaby actually turn to him for help for the first time. “I thought you were my partner,” Barnaby cries accusingly.

If you’ve been enjoying this classy anime homage to US hero comics of the 70s, cleverly re-imagined for a twenty-first century audience, you’ll want to see it through to the revelations in this and the upcoming final set.

8 / 10


Sarah's been writing about her love of manga and anime since Whenever - and first started watching via Le Club Dorothée in France...

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