Oh, it’s so great to see you guys again…
TIGER & BUNNY has handled the start-and-stop of a serial rather well. The show did end with a plot thread or two left dangling: but it still tied up its major arcs so that you, the viewer, were left in that sweet spot of wanting more without feeling gipped. Maybe that sounds like faint praise, but it really isn’t - - not when you recall how many other shows fumble on minding these P’s and Q’s. Honestly, since THE RISING’s release is so soon after muddled series continuations like EVA 3.0 and MADOKA MAGICA: REBELLION, it comes out looking far better for pulling off the basic s.
More importantly, the characters in this series are just plain fun to be around. Barnaby and Kotetsu in their titular tag team. The colorful sextet making up the rest of the HERO TV. Even the wannabes in the superhero B-league. Watching these big personalities bump heads is always delightful.
Picking up some time after the end of the show, THE RISING sees the eternally put-upon ‘old timer’ Wild Tiger falling out of public favor, yet again. He gets demoted, while pretty boy Barnaby Brooks Jr’s contract is bought up by a showy tycoon who wants to partner him with the flashy flavor of the week, Golden Ryan. This brusque reassignment coincides with the emergence of a new team of super-villains who all hold a mysterious vendetta against Barnaby’s new boss. And, of course, Stern Build’s most ruthless vigilante, Lunatic, looms in the shadows as the futuristic city nears what could either be a celebration of its founding… or the arrival its prophesized Apocalypse!
This tangle of A-plots and B-plots is woven together briskly - - only threatening to overstuff at a couple points - - and work pretty much exactly like a short arc in the show. Sure, THE RISING is another anime feature that’s more ‘bonus’ than ‘standalone,’ but that shouldn’t be a problem for anybody. The show’s always been uncommonly accessible, with a parade of homages to American superheroes offering plenty of familiarities for even the greenest novice to grab on to.
The weakest link in this chain is the golden one, though. Much like Mari in the EVA rebuilds, Ryan unavoidably seems like an afterthought; shoehorned into an already-crowded cast with the unsubtle agenda of selling more figurines. The friction between him and Barnaby isn’t played up enough, his power’s a little confusing (even when it helps save the day), and he never seems like more of a credible threat to the titular bromance than, say, an uneven promotion might’ve been.
Then again, all the heroes have run around with Bandai, Pepsi and Amazon ads on their super-suits since frame one. If Golden Ryan was wedged into this just to push merch, it’s not like the series hasn’t always had a self-aware and facetious attitude about product placement, in all its forms.
With an overall message of team building - - where concise character arcs see Origami Cyclone learning better sneak attacks and Fire Emblem coming to accept himself in a psychic prison - - this all plays like a classic adventure the Avengers, X-Men or Teen Titans might’ve gone on. TIGER & BUNNY has never been about reinventing the wheel so much as just oiling its spokes and giving it a new spin.
And again, after watching so much anime fall short in flailing grabs for questions too big for their britches, it’s a relief to see a show competently resolve the conflicts it sets up and evolve its characters (however incrementally). Indeed, THE RISING offers a vision, not only of what I wish more anime were like, but of what I wish more US superhero cartoons could be.
A shame about the title, though. There’s always been tremendous potential for TIGER & BUNNY to reach the Comic Con crowd in addition to the Anime Expo crowd… were it not for the goofy logo. For a series that’s always been about brand savy, you’d think they’d find a title that didn’t scare ‘outside audiences away with the threat of a funny animal toon
But please bring me more. A second season. Another movie. After being reacquainted, I desperately want to hang out with these characters again.
About the Author
|Tom Pinchuk’s a writer and personality with a large number of comics, videos and features like this to his credit. Visit his website - - tompinchuk.com - - and follow his Twitter: @tompinchuk|