Tiger & Bunny is a show I heard a lot about back in the day. It seemed to get big for a while before vanishing but with a recent season 2, the franchise is still around. I like the concept of the show and you really can’t go wrong with superheroes. I think this really could have become a big franchise in its own right but unfortunately the show just felt really low budget most of the time. Nothing’s all that streamlined and I would also say the cast is on the weaker side. The premise itself is doing a lot of the heavy lifting here. The show will have moments that are really solid but it’s not often enough to really keep this one at the top.
The show starts by introducing us to Tiger. The guy is a hero veteran at this point but the fact of the matter is that he’s growing old. People don’t find him cool anymore and that’s a big deal in this world. See, heroes have basically become professional advertisers. You earn points by saving people and looking cool while doing it. Tiger believes that heroes should do the right thing because that’s what being a hero is all about but such values have vanished over time. Now the agency is pairing him up with Bunny, the coolest young hero around. The two don’t get along at all but will they be able to put this aside to save the day?
So lets talk about some of the things the show did well first. I think it immediately does a lot of good world building in very direct ways with the hero agencies but also in subtle ways as you see nonstop product placement everywhere. Being a hero has really become just like being a movie star and naturally some resent this while others fully embrace it. Part of why Lunatic’s plotline is so good is because it’s based on this but more on that later. The world feels big even if it could have used more heroes at the main spot. You at least get the idea that there are more heroes like this around the world.
The power ceiling is also fairly low as even the strongest heroes aren’t very powerful so it’s a good way to explain how civilians aren’t always getting into trouble and all. The few that do get really powerful tend to become villains anyway so it’s really good that not everybody is super strong. In general the plots are solid too. The villains have interesting motives and there’s a mystery throughout the series that will keep you alert as well. I would have liked a little more commentary on how heroes are for show now and maybe a deeper arc on that but they could definitely tackle this in a future story.
One of the shakier parts of the series is the animation though. I dare say it comes close to just being flat out bad most of the time. The absolute best moments in the show can look decent but this is very much a low budget show. I would say some Dragon Ball Heroes episodes have about as much fluid movement which isn’t a great look since that’s a low budget online series. The CGI is really rough and even the hand drawn parts aren’t all that great. I’m hoping the budget is a lot higher for the sequel.
The music also isn’t particularly memorable. The intro is very weak and I can’t really remember any of the battle tunes so that’s not a good thing either. In the end the series was really caught lacking on all of the technical elements. A good story still helps it stay above water but it’s a much tougher fight than it otherwise should have been. You’d think that a story about superheroes would always look and sound amazing!
Now lets get into the show. The first few episodes are the pre arc so they help to get the personalities developed for Tiger, Bunny, and some of the other heroes like Blue Rose. So the fights are more on the basic side against minions who don’t really stand a chance but it’s always good to have the interactions here. Tiger & Bunny always have some good banter with each other which is important because a good portion of the show revolves around that. If their dynamic was no good then the show would have absolutely been doomed.
By this point I was already a big fan of Bunny and he would end up being the best hero in the show. He has a fairly serious plot as he has to avenge his parents’ death. This ends up being a big plot for the entire show and beyond so don’t expect the answers to come too quickly. Either way this was always the most engaging plot in the show though. Each clue would lead into another one and it also explains why Bunny is always so serious. He’s trying to be a great hero because it will open more doors and increase his influence so he can find the villains.
He can also back up his tough talk like when he saves Tiger several times. The guy has a cool air about him even if his rage can sometimes cause him to be a little too emotional. I’m usually on his side when he disagrees with Tiger though. There’s one key scene near the end of the show where Tiger doesn’t trust Bunny to make the right call and it’s clear that Bunny took that personally. Because the whole series Tiger was talking about trust and Bunny started to buy into it so that was a shame. It can be hard for the characters to be on the same page.
As for Tiger, part of why he wasn’t higher for me is because it feels like he never lives up to his tough talk. There are a lot of circumstances in the show that help make sure he is never on top but no matter how tough Tiger talks, it always feels like he is one step behind. He had to get saved in the very first episode after all and something similar happens at the end. I know that he’s getting old and it happens to everyone but he’s not quite tough enough to consider himself as a bigshot. It’s great that he has ideals and confidence but he needs to train a whole lot more.
Tiger’s a good guy but that doesn’t automatically make him a great hero. That said, most of the heroes here aren’t very good at all so that’s not a good bar. One of the only other heroes with a big character arc and all is Blue Rose. She is a hero but really wants to be a singer and is considering leaving the business. It’s tough though as her parents don’t fully support the career and are always worried about her. She’s also just not sure if she can pull it off which is another thing to consider. She has ice powers which are handy but they are not very powerful.
Again, part of the way the universe is built up is that everyone is fairly weak so it’s not like it’s just her but half the time she has to run off when the villains show up. It’s part of her hero image but it doesn’t really help her case. She still has more to do than Dragon Kid though. Dragon Kid’s main character dilemma here is that everyone treats her like a kid. Well…she kind of is a kid. Her parents are actually rather supportive but she finds this embarrassing and Tiger helps her to realize that this is actually a good thing and they’re looking out for her. It’s a nice enough plotline.
Sky High is the number 1 hero but it’s easy to forget that because he never looks all that impressive. He can fly and can create an energy blast of sorts but I wouldn’t say that it’s super impressive. In fact, the only time he uses it, it doesn’t work. I like that he always tries to look on the bright side and he’s a nice guy but he’s just not given enough to do. I think that you could really do some interesting things with his character. At best you have something that could almost be considered a romance plot while he’s dog walking but even then I would say it’s a bit of a stretch to say that. It’s not really big enough to call a full plot like that.
Then we have Fire Emblem, the worst hero out of the bunch and it’s unfortunate since he’s the fire themed hero. Usually those are my favorite but his character is basically the same as Puri Puri Prisoner. He’s not as extreme to the point of being an actual villain like that guy but he gets rather close with how he’s always harassing Rock Bison. Fire Emblem has no understanding of personal space and can’t stay serious long enough to ever contribute. His whole gimmick is that he uses fire but Lunatic is stronger in that element and then later on some random machines can use better fire.
Fire Emblem is never given any respect as the series goes on and he’s basically a wasted character. He’s not as bad as characters like Master Roshi or Mineta but man does he make it closer than it should be. Any scene with him is usually supremely annoying. On the other hand, I’m also not a fan of Rock Bison. Make no mistake, Fire Emblem is alone at the bottom but Rock needs to stand up for himself more. Don’t just let Fire Emblem get away with messing with him the whole time.
Rock Bison also gets no definitive moments even though he is supposed to be the power hitter here. At least in the manga he is given a key scene where he really gets to show his stuff but that doesn’t happen in the anime. Then you have Origami Cyclone and I would say that his character arc is actually fairly good. He is one of those heroes who is always in the background and isn’t too strong. Over the years he has really let that get to him so he has virtually no confidence anymore. He has resigned himself to the fate of just being a hero who is used for advertisement rather than saving the day and making a name for himself. Definitely not the kind of track record you want to have for yourself.
So in his mini arc he gets to learn about really being a hero and I thought that was solid. He also had a good backstory involving his friend Edward. I actually thought the whole thing was extremely harsh for that kid. He was trying to use his powers to stop an armed robbery and came close. Unfortunately things didn’t go very well and so he was locked up. But why locked up for so long? It just felt like a harsh punishment considering the circumstances so things better be even harder on the villains. It’s easy to see why Edward got jaded after that although I would say it was still a fairly weak motivation for turning completely evil though. Being a little upset? Sure that’s reasonable, but turning evil? I’m not so sure about that. I liked him in the flashback too.
Now the story starts to resume for real with Bunny finding a lead on the people who murdered his parents. The killer may have been from the terrorist group known as Oruboros and now criminals are being burned alive by someone with blue flames. This seems to tie into Bunny’s memories so this case is extra personal to him. Tiger has to try and stop Bunny from going too far but when they are face to face with Lunatic, that’ll be difficult. Lunatic believes that the current heroes are a joke and not decisive enough with the villains. He believes that true justice is to put these criminals away for good. Not in a jail, but 6 feet under and it’s difficult to stop him since his flames are so powerful.
We then get to what I’d consider to be the big arc of the series. A metahuman named Jake has basically captured the entire island in the name of Oruboros thanks to robots and bombs everywhere. The heroes are basically hopeless since they couldn’t beat the robots normally anyway. It’s all up to Tiger & Bunny as always but the difficult part is that they have been getting absolutely dominated whenever they try to fight Jake. They will have to find a way around that quick or it’s all over.
This arc had a lot of danger to it and was definitely a blast so I was on board the whole time. Jake was shown to be an incredibly powerful villain and he lived up to the hype. The guy was basically able to take all of the heroes on at the same time. Between his natural barrier type abilities which he could use for strength and his reaction times plus his true ability, the guy was virtually invincible to the point where it’s hard to see how you could beat him. Yet I would say that the show did a good job of making it believable. I was able to buy into the teamwork and coordination that the team used against Jake.
As a villain Jake’s not super interesting and his goals are weak at best but I did like his powers which helped the character as a whole go up. He’s really one of those completely chaotic villains who just likes to see the world burn. His right hand woman Kriem was very loyal. She was always by his side and her ability to manipulate the dolls using hair was really good. It was a versatile ability with a whole lot of uses so it’s hard to go up against that one. Even at the very end of her journey she was still doing her best to mess with the heroes and support Jake so I had to give her props there.
After that we start a plot that lasts until the end of the series which is that Tiger’s powers are starting to go away for some reason. Apparently this can just happen when you grow older and once it starts there is no way to stop it. The good part is that temporarily you may even get a quick power boost but the length of time you can use the power begins to shrink and shrink. Tiger’s powers are already on a time basis so losing any time is really bad for him. Now this makes him start to think about retirement but he decides to keep this a secret.
His family has long wanted him to be at home more so it’s a plus on that as well. The problem is that Bunny is also thinking about retirement. He feels no closer to solving his parents’ murder at this point and he can’t even trust his memories as the face of the killer keeps on changing. He just can’t trust himself at this point so he needs some down time. Bringing this all to a head is the fact that people around the city have suddenly forgotten about Tiger and think he’s a villain now. Can Tiger clear his name or is it game over for his days as a hero?
It was nice to see the family get more of a role I suppose. Tiger’s daughter Kaede was always hoping to spend time with him but the life of a hero is tough so most times it just wouldn’t work out. Now that she started developing powers of her own, that just made it even more important to have Tiger there at the ready. As a character Kaede is okay but there is just a limit on how good she can be while still just being a kid. You can’t expect any big fight scenes out of her or anything like that but she finds a way to help out in the climax a bit.
As for the world against Tiger plot, it basically boils down to one character having an advanced hypnosis ability. It’s a pretty interesting plot and I liked it but I also had to suspend some disbelief here. The guy isn’t altering reality or anything so all physical evidence of Tiger is still around. It felt a bit iffy that nobody would have noticed the contradictions in time. While it’s true that Tiger kept his secret identity from most of the cast, they should still be able to piece things together like when Tiger used his superpowers. It doesn’t make any of the heroes look great when they still refuse to help him out or at least listen to reason. They just jump into combat so quickly that it can be a bit discouraging if you were hoping that they would be able to do something here.
As for the lead villain himself, well I appreciated how the villain executed his plan. I may not be a big fan of the guy but the plot does revolve around some twists and he did have to put in a lot of work to get this plan all figured out. So he deserves some credit here and it also made some other scenes fun in hindsight. Lets just say when Jake took a bunch of people hostage a while back, the lineup was a little more stacked than he ever could have imagined. While Jake could probably beat all of the other villains in a fight since his powers are so good, it would have been interesting to see them mix it up.
It’s probably about time that we talk about Lunatic a bit now. So he has a sob story of course which is what set him down the dangerous path of evil. His father was abusive and kept on getting worse until Lunatic was able to awaken his flame abilities to stop the guy. From there on he realizes that heroes can’t be trusted (His father was a hero) and sometimes just locking up a prisoner isn’t enough. You have to destroy them all and that’s exactly what he did. You can’t accuse Lunatic of doing things halfway and a character deciding to be the judge, jury, and executioner is always a fun plot.
As a villain it is already a fairly strong motivation and it also means he has an honor code. That’s big in a villain because it already starts you off on the right foot with me. Lunatic is a villain through and through but he’s one who believes in his ideals and doesn’t run away from them when the going gets tough. That is important because as a villain you have to be consistent. His costume was also pretty interesting and it was just great whenever he would appear. The guy would function as a wild card when other villains took the stage and he would also get the focus sometimes. He is definitely a villain who should continue to the next season.
Okay it’s time to go into quick spoiler territory so skip these next two paragraphs if you haven’t watched the show yet. Tiger & Bunny has quite a few twist after all and it’s better that you don’t know them before watching. Especially because this is a very original twist that I did not expect was going to happen at all. All right so hope you’ve skipped by now because here we go. So throughout the series we have Tiger hyping up Mr. Legend because that guy used to be the best hero ever. He’s dead now but he was a symbol of hope.
Mr. Legend didn’t have super fancy powers or anything and yet he was able to defeat every enemy he came across and did it with a smile. He’s basically the Superman/All Might of this series, a living legend. Well, it turns out that he was Lunatic’s father. Yes, Mr. Legend may have started out heroic but then he started losing his powers which made him bitter and he turned to alcohol. Along the way he became a full villain but the public never knew this as he stuck to terrorizing his family.
This twist really just came out of nowhere because you just don’t suspect a thing until it happens. It really helps to give Lunatic a lot of ammo on why he turned against heroes. Even more than the fact that a lot of heroes are just in it for the publicity, now you had a hero who was actually crazy and nobody ever came to his aid. A hero can’t be everywhere but this was enough to help Lunatic mold his philosophy. It’s also a twist I can’t really recall happening before to the biggest hero so that was effective. Of course it did mean that Mr. Legend dropped significantly as he became one of my least favorite characters in the series but the show didn’t pull any punches here.
Overall, the story had a lot of interesting parts to it. There are some elements that the show probably should have gone into a bit deeper but the ending of the show leaves a ton of room for extra stories and sequels. Evidently the writers agreed with me since this does continue so there is still a lot that you can do with this title. I do hope that the animation and soundtrack improve though. The writing/plot shouldn’t have to try and carry the entire show this hard without any backup. I also think it would be easier to try and get this more mainstream if it stood out more. Season 2’s goals should be to try and get some more likable characters in here as well. Right now Tiger & Bunny are the only two really solid heroes here. Sky High, Blue Rose, and Dragon Kid are okay but they aren’t strong enough to really be big assets here. We need another heavy hitter so I’m hoping we can get that.