Tuesday, March 5, 2013

DaWaRou Posts: Tiger&Bunny

I really need to get on the ball with these posts. I started this on Sunday and it's taken me this long to get it done. Procrastination...you are a vile temptress indeed. But, that's the thing about mistakes, right? You make them so you can learn from them, so here's hoping I learn from this one. That's not to say that it wasn't an enjoyable and...slightly productive mistake but...let's just get started. I'm John Cortez and this is my fifteenth post for...The Broken Infinite.

So...in something of a call back to my thirteenth post on Demashita! PowerPuff Girls Z, let's talk about superheroes today. Superheroes date back to at least 1917, with Superman being one of the very first standing for truth, justice and the American way and all that other shit you know and love. They risk their lives to stop crime and punish those that, in reality, they've got no real business punishing in the first place but we'll let that slide for today. Now, while Superheroes are fairly popular in America, in Japan...not so much? I mean sure you've got Magical Girls and Super Sentai who are Superheroes in their own way but they don't really capture the ideal that we expect of them, at least I don't think so. And so, in 2011, Japan made, among other things, the wildly popular Superhero anime known as Tiger&Bunny!!!
Okay, since I'm having trouble describing the plot of the series, I'm gonna copy and paste from Wikipedia.

"The series takes place in "NC 1978" in a fictional, re-imagined version of New York City called Sternbild City, where 45 years before, superpowered individuals known as "NEXT" started appearing and some of them became superheroes. Each of the city's most famous superheroes work for a sponsor company and their uniforms also contain advertising for real-life companies. Their heroic activity is broadcast on the popular television show "Hero TV", where they accumulate points for each heroic feat accomplished (arresting criminals or saving civilians, for example) and the best ranked hero of the season is crowned "King of Heroes".

The story mainly focuses on veteran hero Kotetsu T. Kaburagi aka Wild Tiger who is assigned a new partner, a young man named Barnaby Brooks Jr. However, Barnaby and Kotetsu usually have trouble working together as they have conflicting opinions on how a superhero should act while at the same time trying to crack the mystery of the murder of Barnaby's parents. In addition, the appearance of a homicidal vigilante NEXT named "Lunatic" stirs up the public and makes them question the meaning of heroes."

There we go! Thanks Wikipeida! So...where do I start off? Probably the art and music. Right well, Tiger&Bunny is a very nice looking series...though it's use of CG turns me both on and off at the same time. To me, it seems kind of clumsy at the start but I suppose gets better as the series goes along. The music...not bad but to me kind of forgettable, with the exception of this one theme that reminds me of The Incredibles. The voice acting though, in both languages is great. The English isn't as good as the Japanese but it still sounds really good.

Now, personally when it comes to Superhero media...I'm not the best person to be giving opinions. I'm something of a selfish and cynical person and even though there are heroes that I love like Batman...I often find myself hating the morality of costumed crime fighters. It's all this self sacrifice with no reward besides...the pride of a job well done and the knowledge that you've won the day and protected the people who'll now come to rely on you for every little thing that goes wrong in their lives at best or at worst will ostracize and hate you for being different and I frankly don't like that. But despite all that, I still managed to find myself siding more with Kotetsu in the first 13 episodes than Barnaby. You know those characters like Seto Kaiba who are only interested in promoting themselves and serving their own ends? Well that's Barnaby for the first half of this series, and I LOATHED HIM! I found Barnaby to be one of the most hateful anime characters since...since...since SOSUKE FUCKING AIZEN! But, he did mange to eventually earn my respect. And while it does serve to make Barnaby a more interesting and fleshed out character once his past is gradually revealed, it might be a turn off for some people so I count it as a flaw. Another flaw, is the HORRIBLE way the other heroes are underutilized with Rock Bison being the most notable of useless characters in this series. Take him out of the series and I don't see it being any different at all. What's another flaw? Well as I said earlier, I find the blending of the CG to be...not quite good. I mean, obviously it's hard to perfectly blend CG into...whatever animation style this series uses but while it does get better, at the start of the series, it just POPS out at you. And finally I think the biggest thing about the series that'll bug people is the whole commercialized hero thing. Yesterday while on Twitter, one of my followers tweeted that everyone in the main cast is an asshole and I largely assume that this is because they care about their heroic ranking. It's very easy how one can come to this conclusion but it's a little short sighted and all together wrong. It's never outright stated that the heroes in Tiger&Bunny are self serving asshats and while Barnaby is the only one who's truly like that it fades by the second half of the sereis. The series never goes into detail on why any but Kotetsu and Barnaby decided to become heroes which does make the others look like sallow, underdeveloped money grubbers but when push comes to shove they truly care about doing the right thing and saving lives and fighting crime, not for the ranking but because it's the right thing to do. I'm sure getting paid for their services is part of their incentive to be heroes but I highly doubt that they decided to become heroes simply because the pay was good.

And now for the pros of this series! First of all, it's extremely rare to see an older protagonist in anime, at least it's rare for me. So often are the protagonists young children or young adults that it's actually pretty refreshing to see Kotetsu as our main character and not only is he in his mid 30's but he's also a father and unlike Goku who neglects his children for death and martial arts, Kotetsu does sincerely want to be there for his daughter Kaede. I also found his relationship with Barnaby to be very well done and well written throughout the entire series as they're perfect contrasts with each other. Another thing that I personally like about Kotetsu and Barnaby's powers is that they're not Flying Bricks and their powers are on a five minute timelimit. The other heroes that round out the cast, with the exception of Rock Bison, are also extremely engaging and likable on some level. I like how the heroes are paid for their services since it makes being a superhero more of a job than the subject of escapist fiction. I like the father/daughter relationship between Kotetsu and Kaede and I find to not only be well done but fairly realistic as well. The main antagonists were all amazing! The ones from the first 13 episodes, Jake and Kriem, I found to be enjoyable to watch and...is it just me or do they have kind of a Joker/Harley Quinn vibe going on? Finally the last arc of the series gives us a truly hateful villain and hey, every superhero series needs one. The visuals are pretty good, though my favorite thing to look at would be Fire Emblem's cape, I want that cape! Also, the series is way to good for it to have ended the way it did! It needs a second season!

So, all in all Tiger&Bunny is a really good anime series and I definitely recommend it to anyone who's got the time to watch it. It's probably the best superhero series ever to come out of Japan and I really wouldn't mind a second season of it. See you next week and sorry for getting this up so late! DaWaRou~!

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