Tiger and Bunny Eps 1-13
In Sternbild City, people with extraordinary powers are referred to as NEXT and a select group of these people are protectors of the people keeping criminals in check. Heroes, however, are not made of money and so they have corporate sponsors and compete on a reality TV show for points and the prestigious MVP award given out at the end of every season.
In the latest season, a veteran hero named Wild Tiger has lost his sponsorship and is left with a choice. He can either walk away entirely or he can team up with a brand new hero named Barnaby who shares his exact same power and none of his same ideals. As the two pair up as the very first super hero team, the two must learn how to coexist and work together for the good of the city.
Good and the Bad
I initially went into this series pretty certain that I was going to hate it. The concept sounded silly and I really didn’t see how anyone was going to manage to pull it off and make it live up to this ‘best of the season’ wrap that it was getting early on. Well, I’m here to just put it to rest now: this isn’t the best of the season but it’s a damn good impression of one.
Imagine that all of your favorite super heroes have been turned into Japanese counter parts and you have a good example of this series. This is a series that deals deeply with super hero tropes and the obvious plot holes that they leave behind and does it well. The series opens with an introduction of all the heroes interrupting a crime already in progress. One by one, the heroes make their entrances in appropriately flashy ways. The crime also goes appropriately over the top with one criminal stealing three vehicles of increasing magnitude (all the way up to an airship!) and even features a near death or two as characters are shot at and dropped from very large heights. What we realize about this right away however is that these heroes aren’t just rushing out to save the day, they’re all competing for points on the city’s reality TV show which features their exploits live to a cheering audience.
However all of these heroes also have real lives that they must handle as well. Some are students trying to get through their studies and make it to their real goals while also being a hero while others are all about saving the day and having to hide it from their families. I loved watching these characters lives come into sharper focus as their hardships came to light one by one.
The real story here is all about Kotetsu/Wild Tiger and his new partner Barnaby Brooks Jr. As the veteran hero, Wild Tiger is past his prime and now without a sponsor. With his contract picked up by another company, he must either partner with a newer, younger version of himself (who shares his exact same power) or retire and walk away entirely. This leaves the two very opposite personalities trying to figure out how to trust each other and work together.
What has always kept the series such a work however is that it never takes itself too seriously. The stories that it tells are dark and sinister (Barnaby fills the Batman role by having parents who were tragically murdered in front of him) but the light hearted banter between the heroes and over the top personalities keep Tiger and Bunny grounded along the way.
I’ve been particularly impressed by the music throughout this series as while the animation rarely goes particularly dark, the music isn’t afraid to deliver on the sullen such as when Barnaby is alone going over the records of his parents death. In other moments however it’s lighthearted and captures the hardships that these heroes face in their real lives.
Another strong series that caught me completely unaware, I’m unsure about where the series is going to go for the rest of the season. I like this feeling and am giving this one a pass with flying colors. From action to comedy, the buddy cop interaction between Barnaby and Kotetsu makes this series a strong winner of the spring season. Looking forward to seeing more!