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I'll admit it - there is a lot of cheese at work here. Tiger and Bunny simultaneously plays with the idea of superheros and plan ol' commercialism while also lovingly embracing the genre.
The main strength of the show comes from its characters a bunch of quirky crime fighters who each have unique personalities and stories. As the story goes on, the real focus becomes Kotetsu dealing with growing old and obsolete, and Barnaby unraveling the mysteries of his past.
There are some dropped threads here and there but overall, the story holds together and there's some genuine drama at work with the silliness. I haven't seen any series quite like it, at the very least.
I went into this anime on the suggestion of a friend, and as I got into it I found myself really interested in the setting. Sternbuild seemed like a cool setting, I really liked the designs of the characters, and the idea of a reality show about superheroes was a very awesome idea...it's just a shame it really doesn't do much with that idea. Never really gets into the ethical or moral problems of turning heroism into a business. Kotetsu seems mildly irritated by it, but that's about it. (I'm not expecting you to recreate Watchmen, but come on.)
I liked the characters for the most part. Kotetsu is the nice guy you want to see succeed, but life very rarely gives him a break (Although sometimes you'd want him to just fess up and tell the others what's on his mind.) And the background heroes like Sky High are pretty cool, and most of them get an episode dedicated to them (Except Rock Bison. Poor, poor Rock Bison.)
Barnaby is insufferable for the first series, and then tolerable for the second. Which is a problem since most of the plot and drama revolves around his background. The show also introduces a group pf B-list heroes, who could have some interesting little plots...and then they get ignored entirely.
Then there's the matter of Lunatic, the anti-hero. He gets a lot of build up, a decently sympathetic backstory...and he never gets put to any use. Nobody ever deals with him, and the issue of his methods vs the methods of the other heroes is never brought up again outside of one episode. Another waste. I have an unresearched notion that the series was intended to be much longer, but about halfway into developing the second series they were told they weren't going to get a third, so they just had to tie everything up as best they could in the final half of the series. Which leaves a lot of stuff up in the air.
That all said, it's a fairly entertaining show that has some good characters, good dilemmas, and some very good twists to the plot that gripped me and had me invested. I really wish they had done more with their more interesting ideas. But hell, I can't be mad at a show for not being what I want it to be.
And hell, I liked it more than most anime's I've seen this year. (SAO, Guilty Crown I'm looking in your direction.)
This is the tale of two expies, one constantly down-on-his-luck doing what he can whilst gaining no respect, and one pretty-boy billionario harboring a TRAJIC PAST involving dead parents. The show calls them Kotetsu T. Kaburagi and Barnaby Brooks Jr. Together they dress up in Conspicuous CGI action-figure costumes and save the populace on live TV, competing against fellow Heroes for the highest viewership rating as TIGER AND BUNNY.
Doesn't that last part totally sound like your typical Hollywood "reality" show pitch? Cause thats really how it comes across in-universe. Heroes are but a commodity, gaining respect not as people risking their lives to save the city, but as the flavor of the week dedicated to pushing product.
"That was whole point, to take an alternate look on the business of super-hero dom" you might be saying. To which I'd reply "it doesn't seem to be looking very hard". By that I mean this aspect is presented as being A-OK by all of the heroes. Nobody seems to question the notion of trivilizing such important work; its as much a game to them as it is to the Hero TV producers. The show instead jumps back n forth between the buddy cop story and the hero story.
But while neither of these are particularly strong (the buddy cop angle is the standard "instinct vs. the rules", the superhero aspect is akin to Power Rangers) Their lightheartedness is what makes them fun to watch, with Kotetsu stealing the spotlight the majority of the time.
Until the series goes "TDKR" all over the place.
The 2nd half plays up the drama for all its worth, pandering to the fangirls/boys than for any real attempt at actual storytelling. FOR EXAMPLE SPOILERS we're given the name of the org. that assassinated Bunny's parents early on, he's given plenty of moments to angst about it but nothing progresses until the last 2 eps. Tiger deals with the growing distance between him and his daughter, who doesn't know he's a hero, but ONLY because she's the only family member he DOESN'T tell. On the plus side, we do get a better look at our resident anti-hero Lunatic.
It goes without saying Tiger & Bunny doesn't quite reach the levels westerners have expected of the superhero genre, but for a series that was expected to fail, it's still an interesting take, and one thats a fun -yet forgettable- time waster.
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