Kazé UK / Manga Entertainment
30 Jan 2013
Welcome to the city of Sternbild. A city so rich, hyper-capitalist, over-populated and futuristic that it stands on stilts, literally elevating its standing in the world above all others. A city where architectural imaginations go wild and the only place that a new breed of justice, hero justice, is broadcast to the masses through the mass media outlet that is Hero TV. Yes, Hero TV, the only programme on air that broadcasts the raw and unedited (advertisement breaks excepted) footage of real-life peril that stalks the helpless citizens on Sternbild’s streets.
Tiger and Bunny is the latest series to have a physical release following a successful run on streaming website Anime on Demand in late 2011 and 2012. Following the positive press, the series is now being released in the UK in both Blu-Ray and DVD format as a series of six to seven episode four-part box sets by Kazé and Manga Entertainment, with the rest of the series to follow in the coming months.
Tiger and Bunny is set in a futuristic world not too dissimilar to the technology level of our own. There is poverty, crime, greed, corruption and there is also love, compassion and justice. The human race has begun to diverge, with select individuals being endowed with abilities which allow them, for better or for worse, to surpass their peers. These individuals are called NEXT, and they are the evolutionary future for humankind. Unfortunately, nature does not favour good over evil, and this brave new world finds itself blessed with both those who want to take advantage of the weak, and those who feel the urge to help defend them. Bring on the Heroes and, more importantly, bring on the Villains!
The series focuses on the trials and tribulations of Kotetsu (aka “Wild Tiger”), an experienced if ageing father of one and his reluctant yet beautiful partner in justice, and Barnaby Brooks Jr, affectionately called “Bunny” by Kotetsu. Their partnership, unique in the current cast of Hero TV, is held together by the mutual respect they have for each other, their deep-reaching friendship and their ability to work together, even under the harshest of circumstances. Okay, that last sentence may have been a lie. Like most comedy partnerships, both Tiger and Bunny dislike each other and are forced to work together by their sponsor, the media conglomerate and owner of Hero TV, Apollon Media. Their mutual dislike aside, they seem able to resolve their differences and get the job done when they need to - they are after all, professional heroes who both have the ability to muster the (temporary) strength of one hundred men!
Hero TV doesn’t just focus on the bumbling antics of this pairing, and there is a wider cast of competing heroes in Sternbild all of whom are longing to be crowned the King of Heroes - a title given to those who are judged to be the best in their performance over any given season of Hero TV. To give you a taste of the other Heroes involved, they include;
- Blue Rose. A talented and beautiful musician turned ice queen who happens to have perhaps the most irritating and oft-repeated catchphrase in the series. Her skimpy costume has perhaps the most peculiar arrangement of tentacles seen outside of a Spiderman comic...
- Origami Cyclone. An oddly named gentleman whose ability to shapeshift into the forms of others seems mostly to be used for advertising purposes and photo bombing tourists so far.
- Sky High. Ah yes, the current King of Heroes, who flies in the sky on a cushion of air and has the ability to manipulate the wind and the air, as well as being an over-enthusiastic optimist.
- Dragon Kid is currently one of my favourite characters. Being both a martial arts master and having the ability to control electrical discharges, she is a formidable opponent, though her costume is rather garish and could do with some improvement in my opinion. I firmly believe that she is related to one of the mystics in Big Trouble in Little China.
- Fire Emblem is the boss. A flamboyant playboy millionaire, who sponsors himself, drives a big car, can project and control fire, all while groping Kotetsu’s arse.
- Finally... we have Rock Bison. A man whose costume can only be described as a “Tribute to Gurren Lagann” and is essentially the equivalent to X-Men’s Juggernaut character. He is immovable, invulnerable, and unfortunately a bit intellectually challenged.
With this superhuman “team” on your side fighting crime, locking away criminals, troublesome NEXTs doing bad deeds, and protecting everyone from natural disasters, wouldn’t you sleep well at night?
Yeah, thought so.
As a little side note, I think it’s prudent to mention Kaede, Kotetsu’s daughter from his deceased wife. With Kotetsu and most of the rest of the cast of Hero TV (with some exceptions) having secret identities, even Kaede does not know what her father does for a living. Due to his commitments as a hero, Kotetsu regularly lets Kaede down it seems, and their relationship becomes unfortunately strained cause of this. My advice would be to take early note of Kaede, and remember her for future episodes of this series.
Tiger and Bunny is a very quick series to pick up and this first box set featuring its first seven episodes leads up to the first "proper" story arc in episode seven. These early episodes serve as an introduction to the heroes of Sternbild, Hero TV, the villains and the Tiger and Bunny universe and as we will soon find out, all is not well.
The series was reviewed here primarily with the English dub in place which, in my opinion, was very well produced, one of my personal highlights being the rather camp and cheesy commentator for Hero TV who does a very good job of emulating the commentary found in 1950s news reels. It’s all quite silly. The Japanese dub is similarly well produced with the voice of Kotetsu being provided by Hiroaki Hirata, whom I generally known as Namba Mutta from the on-going streaming series Space Brothers. His voice adds a lot of character to Tiger which very much suits the role, and his acting stands out as being the most memorable from the Japanese dub.
The series itself is quite gorgeous, especially in High Definition with the transfer to Blu-Ray proving seamless, at least with my equipment. The series is very well animated with a lot of attention being given to the backgrounds and the characters themselves as well as fluid animation, especially in the numerous action scenes.
The authoring of the Blu-Ray does has some issues however, with the current Kazé menu system not allowing for specific episodes to be played one after another without the "play all" function being active. Similarly, I found that I had issues selecting language without using the disc’s menu while playing back this disc via the PlayStation 3. These issues were not encountered on the PC however due to my unique software setup. Additionally, the disc cover advertises bonus features on the Blu-Ray disc and I can report that the bonuses are not included on that disc, but rather on the second DVD disc only. While we are in a pedantic error-spotting mood, it might be worth saying (as people will point it out otherwise) that due to the French production of these discs some of that French may have leaked onto the disc labels themselves. I can tell you that this is purely cosmetic and is quite inoffensive to be honest.
Minor issues aside, Tiger and Bunny is another quality High Definition release and is well written, presented and a pleasure to watch, proving that not all superheroes need to be dark and husky-voiced. I look forward to watching these vibrant characters develop over the next batch of episodes and await the thump on my doormat with baited breath.