Japanese animated tv series (2011). Sunrise. Directed by Keiichi Sato. Written by Masafumi Nishida. Voice cast includes Nobuhiko Fukuda, Hiroaki Hirata, Yuko Kaida and Masakazu Morita. 25 24-minute episodes. Colour.
Over the past 45 years, due to an unspecified mutation (see Mutants), people with Superpowers have begun to appear, called Noted Entities with eXtraordinary Talents (NEXT). Some NEXT have become corporate sponsored Superheroes, with real-world brand logos adorning their outfits and their adventures broadcast on the reality channel Hero TV (see also Media Landscape) as they compete for points earned by capturing Villains.
Our main protagonist is Kotetsu T Kaburagi (Hirata) aka White Tiger, who has the power of 100 men – but only for five minutes at a time. A single parent who does not see his daughter as often as he wants and who begrudges his veteran status (even his trading card says he is past his prime), Tiger finds himself paired with Barnaby Brooks Jr (Morita), who has the same powers but is younger and more charismatic. Whilst Tiger is social, idealistic and impetuous, Barnaby is sober, solitary and more focused. They initially rub each other up the wrong way – not helped by Tiger calling Barnaby "Bunny" – and there is much bickering.
We meet several other superheroes: despite the commercial pressures, they are honest and committed. We also see a lot of Hero TV's dynamic main producer, Agnes Joubert (Kaida), and the company's owner, Albert Maverick (Fukuda), who raised Bunny when he was orphaned, having been his parents' employer.
The main story arc concerns Bunny's search for his parents' murderer. Ouroboros, an organization asserting the superiority of NEXT over the rest of humanity, seems to be responsible: in fact, Bunny's parents were killed by Maverick after they discovered his evil plans for their Robotics research. However, there is an Ouroboros connection: the early days of Hero TV were unprofitable, so Maverick teamed up with them to ensure his superheroes had more interesting villains to fight. Maverick can perform Memory Edits, at one point erasing the knowledge that Kotetsu is Tiger from his colleagues' memory. This is overcome and Maverick cornered: to prevent Ouroboros' secrets being revealed, he erases his own mind. A second story arc, concerning Lunatic, a vigilante who murders supervillains, was still unresolved at the season's close.
The show is an entertaining buddy-comedy adventure; the Humour is funny, characterization is reasonable, the story enjoyable and the action exciting. The Satire of the western superhero genre is affectionate, though more serious points are made regarding corporate influence in cities reliant on one industry (see Politics; Economics). There were two films: the first, Gekijō-ban Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning (2012; vt Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning) expands the first two episodes and adds a new story from the duo's early days; the second, Gekijō-ban Tiger & Bunny: The Rising (2014; vt Tiger & Bunny The Movie: The Rising), is all original material. Neither film moves the plot forward: that will presumably be done by the belated second season, planned for 2022. A live action film has also been announced. [SP]