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TIGER & BUNNY, A Japanese Cartoon That Shows Just How Fun Superheroes Can Be

Don't be fooled by the silly title, this anime is one of the best superhero cartoons on either side of the Pacific.

Tiger and Bunny have expressed their preference in toy companies.

A lot of times, writing and reviewing for Anime Vice has felt like an undercover recon mission. Having spent in both camps, I get a good laugh whenever comics and manga/anime fans cross their arms in a huff like they’re re-enacting GREEN EGGS & HAM and say they’ll never, ever touch any material from the other half. Go to a comics convention and an anime convention - - it doesn't even have to be one after the other - - and you’ll realize that both fanbases have far more in common than they’re willing to admit.

Honestly, the only thing separating Superman from DBZ's Goku and Batman from DEATH NOTE's master detective L is the choice of threads. The color-coordinated Soul Reapers of BLEACH remind me a whole lot of the Green Lantern Corps, and if Naruto's larger-than-life costume, powers and weaknesses don't qualify as him a superhero, I don't know what does. Change the relevant nouns in all these stories and the verbs are generally identical.

Of course, as somebody weened on American comics, looking at most material through the lens of that particular niche is simply unavoidable. Thus, it’s been fascinating to find out that the pan-Pacific, cross-cultural exchange actually runs on a two-way street. For as many American artists have emulated anime rendering styles, taken lessons from “decompressed” manga storytelling and drawn inspiration from Japanese genres like mecha, I’ve been running into a respectable number of shows lately that are clearly inspired by material on this side of the fence. Watching these shows for AV has been the characteristic “outside looking in” experience.

== TEASER ==
Stan Lee created this and exercised a superhuman amount of restraint for not calling it "StAnime."

Odds are, you’ve heard of Madhouse Studios’ Marvel Anime starring the likes of Iron Man, Blade and the X-Men, or Stan Lee’s manga and anime projects like HEROMAN and ULTIMO. While there’s certainly plenty to discuss there, I think I save it for later in favor of the superhero projects that originated in Japan. Watching them is like hearing rock ‘n roll coming back through the filtered amps of a J-Rock band. The beat’s familiar, but there are key differences in the tuning.

The most accessible and most recent show is TIGER & BUNNY. Its 25 and final episode (for now) literally just aired in Japan a few weeks back and a dubbed edition's yet to be properly distributed in America. Despite the impediment of a silly and terribly misleading title, I’m convinced this will be a crossover hit when it finally hits stateside (so go on and check out the free sub-titled episodes on Hulu if you want to be cool and ahead of the curve.)

Wild Tiger, Rock Bison, Blue Rose... and you?

On first glance, I figured TIGER & BUNNY was inspired by superhero movies instead of the comics but, after watching it, I'm convinced it was made by folks with a deep fondness and familiarity with American funny books. It’s a buddy comedy-adventure about two superheroes, Wild Tiger and Barnaby Brooks, who're forced to be partners because their corporate sponsors think that pairing an over-the-hill veteran and an overachieving rookie will make for good television.

They two are part of a loose team of capes starring on the HERO TV reality show and, like the X-Statix, their adventures are just as much about accruing celebrity points as saving lives. Every hero is actually a mutant-like “NEXT” who's empowered because he or she was born around the time a strange meteor crashed near their city (as was the case for the "Big Bang" in Milestone’s Dakotaverse) and every hero trains in an Xavier's-like academy before going pro. Their foes include a snake-themed, fanatical terrorist organization, Ouroboros, that’s a bit like HYDRA, and a couple of colorful, loud-fashioned psychopaths, Jake Martinez and Kriem, who make me think of the Joker and Harley Quinn.

She even calls him "Mr. Jake."

Don't misunderstand my reason for rattling off those "shot calls." I'm not trying to say that the show's unoriginal, just offering some points of identification for the uninitiated to latch on to - - I want you maniacs to watch this show. Even if there are familiar concepts in TIGER & BUNNY, their handling's significantly different. For instance, while one of the heroes is an orphan whose tragic origin and mission to avenge his parents recalls Batman's, he actually isn't a brooding avenger.

Indeed, I’d say a key difference to the show is that none of these heroes have the extreme personalities that so typify American capes. They don’t exhibit much aggression, either, and musclebound physiques are eschewed in favor of more normal and slender figures. Most of the fights with supervillains start with the heroes trying to calmly arrest super-villains instead of flinging punches first and asking questions later. Even Lunatic, the lone vigilante whose lethal force is deemed excessive by the HERO TV cast, isn’t nearly as trigger happy as likes of the Punisher, Azrael or the Scourge of the Underworld.

Lunatic may or may not kill the guilty.

I can’t say why this the case - - perhaps such "calm" is actually more in line with Silver Age heroics or even something like THE INCREDIBLES - - but it still stands in unmistakable contrast next to something like CIVIL WAR. Still, even though fans with agro sensibilities may be a little frustrated, I’d encourage them to look past it, as this was one of most thoroughly-entertaining superhero toons I've ever come across. It might not have any concepts that'll surprise long-time comics fans, but it's very much an argument for the value of execution often has over innovation, because, believe it or not, this show's actually built on very compelling character drama.

Give TIGER & BUNNY's trailer a look below, then go on and check out the series on Hulu. It's tough to argue with the price of free and, if you're as serious a super-hero fan as you claim to be, it should be real tough to pass up the chance to see your favorite genre interpreted through another country's sensibilites.

33 Comments
Edited by Arevish

First! (useless comment)

Well ehrm, i can't actually see the video :/

Posted by Grimoire

Hmmm... I might check this out.

Posted by NightFang

Lol, I can't wait for the English dub.

Posted by Lurkero

You forgot to mention that only the first 13 episodes are good.

I enjoyed this series during the first arc, but the second arc turned me off quickly. I will check out the second season to see what happens, but I'm only giving a couple more episodes before I stop watching completely.

Tiger & Bunny was good while it lasted those 13 episodes so I will still recommend checking it out, but I wouldn't tell anyone to stick with it all the way through it.

Posted by jogoboom

Such a great show! I was mildly amused by the title but was treated to one of the best stories I've watched unfold in a long time. The humor coupled with surprising twists and turns kept me itching for the NEXT episode. Wild Tiger is definitely the every-man's hero. Great stuff.

Posted by CaptainGenisVell

Already watched the series and loved it.

Posted by bunkerbuster05

I don't watch much anime, but I have heard about this show, and how good it is. This endorsement might be the thing to get me into it.

Posted by Lifestrike

Great show. Really carries the superhero spirit, in some cases better than it's North American peers.

I certainly endorse this recommendation. Just beware of some anime conventions before you go in!

First: What i'd like to term as "cool down" episodes. These happen right after (and I mean right after) a very serious and dramatic story arc. Typically, they have very little relevance on anything... They just exist to provide some humor (or in some cases, fanservice) to lighten things up. Can be fairly awkward watching a show jump wildly in between tones.

Second: Fanservice. That is, butt and boob shots. They happen. Not nearly as much as some of Tiger and Bunny's contemporaries, but it's still worth noting. This shouldn't be anything new for people who read comic books.

Posted by Adnan

I read the odd manga here and there but I don't seem to watch much anime these days. This sounds really fun though, I might give it a go.

Posted by CodeSaint

As an anime fan I am,I've already heard of it.I just didn't watched it yet because of the silly name.I will watch it imediatelly after I finish more of the animes on my list.

The manga Zetman will also be adapted to a anime,comics,manga and anime fans give it a try.

Posted by The Impersonator

It's like Kamen Rider. HENSHIN!

Edited by blueninjapanther

Watched all episodes of this series. It was really good hope they make more because this series is awesome. You can watch the japanese with english subtitles on hulu. That's where I watch it.

Posted by -Vigil-

@NightFang said:

Lol, I can't wait for the English dub.

Eeeew, why?

Anyway, as a lover of both anime and superhero comics, I will definitely give this (the subbed version) a try.

Posted by Bio Guyver

I need to watch this.

Posted by Blizaga101

Ive been watching this and its a worth while anime to watch

Posted by sora_thekey

This is actually a really good show.

Posted by Marshal Victory
@Lurkero said:

You forgot to mention that only the first 13 episodes are good.

I enjoyed this series during the first arc, but the second arc turned me off quickly. I will check out the second season to see what happens, but I'm only giving a couple more episodes before I stop watching completely.

Tiger & Bunny was good while it lasted those 13 episodes so I will still recommend checking it out, but I wouldn't tell anyone to stick with it all the way through it.

As said on anime vice.. your opinion .Theirs more than 13 good episodes if you watch it as it is.Not what you want it to be.
 
I highly recommend  giving this show a chance. Its one i will own on dvd or blueray .Good cross over article Tom!Many a good anime title that is worth comic fans look .Its not a either or one can enjoy both.
Posted by Golden Cod

Ooooooh heroes that get sponsors like Nascar racers? This sounds interesting!

@Lifestrike said:

First: What i'd like to term as "cool down" episodes. These happen right after (and I mean right after) a very serious and dramatic story arc. Typically, they have very little relevance on anything... They just exist to provide some humor (or in some cases, fanservice) to lighten things up. Can be fairly awkward watching a show jump wildly in between tones.

Second: Fanservice. That is, butt and boob shots. They happen. Not nearly as much as some of Tiger and Bunny's contemporaries, but it's still worth noting. This shouldn't be anything new for people who read comic books.

Well at least these are cool-down episodes and not an entire series <cough>gundamzz<cough>

Posted by -Vigil-

@Lifestrike said:

Second: Fanservice. That is, butt and boob shots. They happen. Not nearly as much as some of Tiger and Bunny's contemporaries, but it's still worth noting. This shouldn't be anything new for people who read comic books.

Yeah, I hate fanservice in both anime and comics, but what doesn't have it, really? *sigh*

Edited by BlackArmor

I don't know about anime but Stan Lee needs to stay away from manga. I've read both Heroman and Ultimo and they were both god awful on paper. Maybe they both look great on the silver screen, i don't know i haven't seen anime translations,but Stan Lee brings out the worst in manga and  manga brings out the worst in Stan Lee 
anyway i'll check this out when i finish the X-men anime

Posted by Mr. Dead Pool

Hmm. I think I may check this out.

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Sounds like they took a cue from Booster Gold. And doing their exploits on TV? Didn't something like that essentially lead to the outbreak of the Superhuman Civil War? lol

Posted by nakobass

I guess I was the only one turned off by the Literally Flaming Black Homosexual. I'm sorry for sounding homophobic, but there is a level I can accept, and that guy went way over it.

Posted by Primmaster64

cool

Posted by NightFang

@-Vigil- said:

@NightFang said:

Lol, I can't wait for the English dub.

Eeeew, why?

Because i'm lazy and I don't want the subtitles getting in way and besides not all dubs are bad (Big-O, Cowboy Bebop, Fullmetal Alchemist:Brotherhood and Hellsing OVA/Ultimate).

Posted by Eyz

This sounds like fun! I wish superheroes movies could have fun with themselves like this instead of being uber serious/girtty and taking themselves way too seriously all the time.

(only one like that that comes to mind is Iron Man)

Posted by ReVamp

I tried to get into it... but... Didn't work. I might try again someday.

Posted by fodigg

Looks good.

Posted by Dedpool

Saw it at ComicCon and was intrigued. I may give it a shot!

Edited by -Vigil-

@NightFang said:

@-Vigil- said:

@NightFang said:

Lol, I can't wait for the English dub.

Eeeew, why?

Because i'm lazy and I don't want the subtitles getting in way and besides not all dubs are bad (Big-O, Cowboy Bebop, Fullmetal Alchemist:Brotherhood and Hellsing OVA/Ultimate).

Hmmm. You have a point about FMA: Brotherhood. I haven't heard the dubs of the others.

Anyway, I started watching Tiger & Bunny yesterday, and it's great so far! Thanks for the recommendation, Tom!

Posted by obscurefan

This actually is an insanely good series. Even if you don't like anime but you like super heroes then this is a perfect show for you.

Posted by NightFang

@-Vigil- said:

@NightFang said:

@-Vigil- said:

@NightFang said:

Lol, I can't wait for the English dub.

Eeeew, why?

Because i'm lazy and I don't want the subtitles getting in way and besides not all dubs are bad (Big-O, Cowboy Bebop, Fullmetal Alchemist:Brotherhood and Hellsing OVA/Ultimate).

Hmmm. You have a point about FMA: Brotherhood. I haven't heard the dubs of the others.

Anyway, I started watching Tiger & Bunny yesterday, and it's great so far! Thanks for the recommendation, Tom!

Well FMA: Brotherhood and Hellsing Ultimate are very dark and bloody series's were you're favorite character(s) can and will die at any moment.

Big-O, Cowboy Bebop are what got me into anime, well them and Dragon Ball (Z), Voltron, the Gundam series's, Inuyasha and Trigun.

Posted by bingbangboom

I have never been big in manga/anime since teenager days but I have an idea to do a Manga Version of DC Superheros, dunno why because I am more into Marvel. Basically Superman would be more like Ultraman, Clark Kent would be a teenager finding out he is from another planet and his parents show him his space ship/robot. He isn't actually Superman but the robot is that he can get into and control. Figured just making toys and selling them would be a given! PROFIT!