Tiger & Bunny respectively
Think you know superheroes? Think again as Sunrise (creators of the mech sensation Gundam) tackle the next step of superheroes; commercialization, exploitation and profiteering.
Many comic books of late have explored this cynical stream, but no film or series is yet to tackle it, and given it is Japan it’s an interesting take to say the least.
Sternbild city is a metropolis where the Next live. Like the mutants in X-Men these people are born with these super human abilities, but unlike X-Men they are adored to the point that they all star in a reality TV program called Hero TV where they vie for points (who is the most heroic?) do not work together and strive to be the “King of the heroes” at the end of each season. It is an understatement in fact as channels are dedicated to these heroes’ as they stop all sorts of crime from petty thieves to giant monsters. Their super powers are treated as trivial as each has a different and ‘better’ one ranked by the program and sponsored by better companies according to rank – the protagonist Wild Tiger has just lost his low-level sponsor and is threatened with cancellation from the program. He meets with a new agent who updates his look and partners him with another new hero; Barnaby. They contend with each other and it is an uphill battle but eventually they look past their indifferences and begin to thwart the real threat.
Kicking it probably wont work...
Tiger & Bunny (referring to Wild Tiger and Barnaby) is a strange series that takes a few episodes to really get into. The characters are initially quite off-putting and uninteresting but when the real story takes off they become the most integral parts of the series. The first few episodes suffer from some pretty basic plot, but patience is key with Tiger & Bunny; stick with it and you will be rewarded with an excellent story and a great satire of super heroes.
Of course location is also important, and a majority of the satire comes from a Japanese take on American superheroes. It may seem silly and maybe even offensive for fans of the genre, but this is a mask for the excellent drama and dark themes lying within. Behind the ego and superfluous catch phrases are a scar and a great story.
Clichés turn into something much more appreciative, and ultimately each character and their interactions are such strong elements that even the satirical nature of the show is lost in excellent character development. This stems from the overarching plot which turns from crumby superhero reality fare to dark and disturbing plot twists that actually make sense.
Siren Visual has made Tiger & Bunny a flagship product of sorts. Released in two parts, the first box-set is beautifully housed in a slipcase. The cardboard box reveals gorgeous character art and both discs. Next to them are 4 mini-magazines of the fake publication ‘Monthly Hero’ as well as four Hero cards. A fantastic collector’s item. The part 2 box set contains the last four cards and magazines (each focus on a different character).
Another of the Next's
More than just its flashy appearance, Tiger & Bunny is an over-stated gem; get past the flashy costumes, staged action and scenery chewing catch phrases for a deeply involving story and superb character development.
Kwenton Bellette - follow Kwenton on Twitter here: @Kwenton
Tiger & Bunny Part 01 is out now on DVD and Blu-ray from Siren Visual with part 02 to be released shortly.
Kwenton Bellette is extremely passionate about Asian film and the resurgence of new waves taking place in Korea, Japan and China in the last 10 years. He joined the global site Twitchfilm in 2009, is the artistic director of the Fantastic Asia Film Festival is Melbourne and currently studies a film masters degree at Melbourne University. He is very excited to raise further awareness of the what he thinks is the most exciting film industry in the world.