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BLOG Tiger & Bunny: The NEXT Big Thing?

SFX Blogger Troo Topham isn’t quite as impressed by a new anime that seems to be getting big-time praise from some quarters

If you keep your nose to the anime grindstone you might already have heard of Tiger & Bunny , possibly even seen the first few episodes. A little further removed and you’ve potentially heard very good things about it, at the very least. Step out of the anime circle altogether, though, and this new series is a complete unknown with a silly name not unlike a hundred other shows. Even the logo is uninspiring. So why should you pay attention?

Well, truth be told, I’m not sure you should. In spite of receiving top-marks reviews from places like Anime News Network , and in spite of its highly appealing visual design, I’ve yet to see anything really new about Tiger & Bunny .

Here’s the shtick: Kaburagi Kotetsu is a corporate-sponsored superhero in an unspecified future, known as Wild Tiger. He participates in a Reality TV show named Hero TV , on which superheroes are rated according to various statistics – how quickly they respond to an incident, how many civilians they rescue, how many criminals they arrest and so on. The only reason Tiger isn’t at the bottom of the chart is that there’s actually a superhero worse than him – Origami Cyclone – who likes to turn up and show off his sponsor’s names but not actually participate. Superheroes come about through a mutation around 45 years previously, and the mutated people are known as “NEXT”. He’s a NEXT, you’re a NEXT, they are NEXT.

Kotetsu’s relatively old by superhero standards. He has a young daughter, Kaede, who lives with Kotetsu’s mother after the death of his wife. He believes in doing the right thing, but has driven his previous company to bankruptcy by constantly doing more damage in his “heroism” than they can afford to cover. All in all he’s your pretty standard Anime Loser – so hopeless that in spite of being in the superhero business for ten years he still neglects to take into account how long his own power can be active for.

Enter superhero newcomer Barnaby Brooks Jr. (Barnaby, Bunny, geddit?). Barnaby’s super-power is identical in every way to Tiger’s, but he does not believe in hiding his identity behind a mask. He’s young, brash, and camera-courtingly pretty. Can you guess what happens next? Yes, Kotetsu is hired by a new company and partnered up with Bunny: the chalk and cheese Buddy partnership is formed.

The extended cast is a ragtag bunch of anime stereotypes, too: the kung-fu Chinese girl; the “hilariously” gay American; the self-absorbed but cowardly pretty girl; the Hero TV producer who cares more about ratings than the people she endangers every day; the innocent daughter Kaede who just wants daddy to turn up to her recital. I could go on, but you get the gist of it.

There are flashes of artistic brilliance: the city in which Tiger & Bunny is set is beautifully rendered; CGI is used to gorgeous effect on such minor things as one superhero’s cloak or another’s visor. These are quickly counteracted by terrible moments such as a monorail train which lazily doesn’t straighten out once it’s gone around a bend, or the typical “unmoving people in a crowd” syndrome.

Ultimately while we’re only a handful of episodes in, I feel safe in saying that this isn’t going to be on my must-stick-with list. I’m sure it’ll slowly reveal over the course of its first season the “tragic” tale behind the loss of Kotetsu’s wife, but I already don’t care.

Nah. Nothing to see here. Move along.