Tiger & Bunny Part 2 (Episodes 8-13) (Cert 12)
3 Discs DVD/Bluray Combo (Distributor: Manga Entertainment/Kaze UK) Running time: 145 minutes approx.
At the end of the previous volume we were introduced to a NEXT who was not on the same side as our super-powered Heroes, instead he is intent on executing his own idea of justice on the world. The aptly named Lunatic is less concerned with TV ratings, sponsorship deals and the other trappings of fame afforded to the Heroes, focusing his attention on making those who have sinned pay for their crimes. Whilst essentially a maverick crime fighter in his own right, Lunatic’s methods are more destructive and his judgement less discriminate than the Heroes. This wins him over with the public who start to question whether Heroes are needed at all.
Despite placing himself in the position of chief antagonist almost immediately, Lunatic only features in two of the six episodes in this second volume of Tiger & Bunny, playing second fiddle to more standalone shots aimed at introducing the heroes to the audience. First up is the reticent Ivan “Origami Cyclone” Karelin, a young man with little self worth and confidence in being a Hero. He is the one who sneaks into shot just to get his sponsor’s names on TV. Whilst on a PR gig with Kotetsu “Wild Tiger” Kaburagi and Barnaby “Bunny” Brooks Jr, a face from Ivan’s past reveals the reason behind his insecurities. Huang Pao-Lin aka “Dragon Kid” gets to play mother when the Heroes are tasked with babysitting the mayor’s baby son, who just happens to have strong telekinesis powers. Unfortunately a group of crooks kidnap the baby and hold it to ransom, damaging the Heroes’ reputation further.
The fall out of this largely comedic affair is that Barnaby has a flashback to when his parents are killed, a small incidental mnemonic providing a key clue to the killer’s identity. This begins a mini arc to keep us busy for the remainder of this set, as Barnaby discovers the man he is after, Jake Martinez, is a member of the mysterious group Ouroboros, who are terrorising the city with remote controlled teddy bears (no really) containing explosives in order to force Jake’s release. The Ouroboros have their wish granted but for the Heroes, Jake’s powers and unbridled anger make him a formidable opponent while for the TV audience, it’s all great viewing.
While a show as hugely entertaining and fun as Tiger & Bunny is crying out for an overarching storyline for our Heroes to get stuck into, one has to take into consideration that this is the maiden voyage for the extensive cast, thus introductions and backgrounds are still necessary. To the writers’ credit, the seeds have been sown with Barnaby’s search for his parents’ killers and the suggested connection with Ouroboros, ready to break out into full bloom once the expository episodes are done with. Therefore storyline advancement for one half of our titular duo is exponential for the time being but thankfully not forgotten.
Elsewhere to balance out the action and public side of being a Hero, we are reminded at great length that Heroes are still ordinary people with ordinary problems that ice blasts or flame throwing cannot solve. Kotetsu is stuck in the position of never wining any “Dad of the Year” awards for constantly letting his daughter Kaede down due to his duty as Hero throwing up unexpected distractions. It is a well observed and well played struggle for Kotetsu that engenders both sympathy and frustration from the viewer on his behalf. Barnaby continues to be consumed with finding his parents’ killer but is slowly making progress on the trust front with his partner, mostly through Tiger making personal and selfless sacrifices for Bunny. The rest of the group continue to act in supporting roles but we at least have abetter understanding of their personalities and motives for being Heroes.
If there is one noticeable cavil it is how the females are presented in this show. Perhaps not archetypal fan service fodder, there is a distinct feeling that they are tarred with the “emotional weaker sex” brush despite being ass kicking machines in their own right, especially Dragon Kid, while Hero TV producer Agnes Joubert is the resident glamour puss who barks orders then gets upset when her favourite skirt gets dirty! The episode with the baby for example, sees the tiny chap being the proverbial hot potato passed from one Hero to another in order to stop him crying, with the consensus being that girls should have more luck due to their apparent maternal instincts. As it happens Dragon Kid does become the baby’s favourite which plays into the storyline of the episode, but do we detect a slight touch of sexism here?
With the focus now seemingly aimed towards addressing the main story arc of the Ouroboros Syndicate and Barnaby’s personal mission from hereon in, the storytelling should be a lot tighter going forward and the action will have more meaning to it. The mini-arc with Jake Martinez was a good start showing how the Heroes can work together as a team with the camaraderie and chemistry between them showing signs of positive growth. This bodes well for the conclusion of this series along with the various personal issues that threaten to undermine the progress and success of this mission. It’s also interesting to see where Lunatic fits into the proceedings as his role surely has to be a pivotal one based on the revelation of his true identity in episode eight.
By now the main story should be in full swing, but Tiger & Bunny has either blessed or cursed itself with an extensive cast of lead players that require deeper investigation into the backgrounds and personalities. Thus this second volume is a little lighter on story progression as one may hope, but nonetheless remains a well constructed and ever dull series, that has found the perfect balance between drama, action and humour played out via a cast that is both easily identifiable and interesting. Roll on volume three!
Japanese Language with English Subtitles
DVD Disc 2 only:
UStream Mini Corner Volume 1
Ratings – ****
Man In Black