Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tiger and Bunny Episodes 1-4 Impression

This duo is dynamic and puts a whole new spin on super heroes

Clocking in with over 20 episodes to date Tiger and Bunny on offers plenty of action and humor at a price that can’t be beat (free online folks, let’s do this thing). It’s an action hero anime with a game show/contest twist which reminds very much of Ratman with its sponsored heroes yet bridges a gap between traditional anime heroes and American comic book super heroes. Let’s take a look at the first four episodes which would be the average number on the first DVD of a new series and see just how this series sets up and why action, shonen anime fans as well as comic book fans should take a look.

Story – Crime is a show, or rather the popular show Hero TV follows a group of sponsored super heroes as they fight crime, accumulate points and build their brands while doing what’s good for the city. Each hero is unique in powers and appearance from Rock Bison’s strength, Fire Emblem’s flash, Dragon Kid’s youth, Origami Cyclone’s getting into picture (?), Sky High’s all around heroism, Blue Rose’s sexy frost to Wild Tiger’s time-limited powers and old-school sense of justice. The heroes gain points for capturing criminals, stopping crimes, saving civilians and avoiding too much collateral damage. The criminals they fight, encounters they have are real. New to the fray, entering in dramatic fashion to save Wild Tiger, Kotetsu, is Barnaby Brooks Jr. A new hero for a new age; one who shows his face and reveals his identity and will forever change the hero landscape as he’s soon teamed up with Kotetsu in the first hero duo. Kotetsu’s days of being Wild Tiger are over and now he must adjust to being part of a duo while trying to maintain his sense of right and wrong. For Kotetsu it’s not all about right and wrong, it’s about saving lives as he was once taught long ago.

These heroes each possess special, internal powers besides those provided by their sponsors (in the form of suits, etc). They are NEXT, a name given to humans showing unique and sometimes scary powers for which they are sometimes treated like outcasts. As Kotetsu joins Barnaby viewers are shown the power of NEXT in a flashback to Kotetsu’s own childhood and the present with another child. These two concepts are very American, mutants (NEXT) and super heroes, but Tiger and Bunny pulls them together quite well. While the first few episodes set the stage for the world, introduce all the main players it’s episode 3 starts to show the depth of these supposed perfect heroes revealing a bit more about Barnaby while episode 4 begins the delving into the other hero process starting with Blue Rose. So the stage is set, changes introduced, main characters laid out and sub-characters begin to get introduced. Not bad for four episodes and the main ‘bad buy’ if these is one, is yet to be introduced … or has he?

Animation and Art Style – The city is detailed and as much a character as any of the heroes which is excellent since the situations the heroes finds themselves in always impact the settings. A very detailed city that seems more like a giant hero sandbox. The sponsored hero outfits are a cross between NASCAR and European Football. They match each hero yet seeing a corporate logo splashed across them is quite unique. The use of softer colors, browns, in line coloring offers a distinct look that makes Tiger and Bunny look unique and polished, a look that pops off the screen in HD (hook up PC to HD, you’ll see). Each character design is also unique with powers matching the look. Sky High for instance really reminds of the Rocketeer. The suits worn by Barnaby and Kotetsu are very cool and match their names. The design detail in faces is also outstanding from Kotetsu’s angry and frustrated looks to the big, pouty lips seen on some, not all, but some of the ladies. Even the Dennis Rodman wanna-be Fire Emblem is unique and colorful. The series looks work well and the action is right up there with heroes doing their thing and the pace mixing well between action and story development.

Voice work and Music – Opening tune is catchy and not overly aggressive, just a chilling upbeat tune that suits Tiger. The in action music fits the mood but does not stand out. Voice actors, in Japanese, deliver their lines with great emotion and sound fresh and highlight the audio components of Tiger and Bunny.

Miscellaneous – Mentioned before, the use of more American style heroes with sponsor’s works well as does the use of NEXT, mutants for us Westerners. They seem strong and somewhat perfect but these heroes have flaws and conflicts of their own. Seeing these emotions play out while maintains their hero status and sponsorships are quite fun and unique.

Overall Tiger and Bunny, the first four episodes at least, offer much promise. Its great action mixed into a unique premise where heroes are sponsored, crime is a sport and those with unique abilities are seen as outcast. Throw in good voice work and excellent animation and this is an anime that hero fans of all types can dig into. Who’s your favorite hero? Which trading card would you buy?

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