Tiger & Bunny
The ninth and final volume of Tiger & Bunny closes a chapter on the adventures of the titular heroes and their compatriots in Stern Bild City. It leaves many questions unanswered, and indeed, asks a few new ones. Presumably, these new mysteries will be tackled in the two movies that have been announced since the TV series ended its run.
The three episodes of volume nine are devoted to the showdown with Maverick, the sinister president of Hero TV whom we learned in the previous volume had been responsible for killing Barnaby’s parents. Of course, Maverick isn’t a fighter, so he sends a powerful robot called the H-01 in his place to battle the heroes.
The robot, was built using technology pioneered by Barnaby’s parents, is intended to replace all the heroes and is related to the one Sky High had a brief romance with in episode 15, which was a nice callback. It’s far more powerful than the fleshy heroes, begging the question of whether everyone would actually be better off having them take over. The fact that they’re controlled by an evil madman complicates things, obviously, but that has to be balanced with the fact that some people with NEXT powers (like Maverick himself) use them for evil. A powerful robot can be programed to do good, and can be relied upon to never waiver.
While Tiger and Bunny fight the robot, the other heroes are subjected to game theory-based torture by the robot’s designer, Rotwang (I imagine numerous STD-related jokes can be made about his name), in which they are given the option of saving themselves at the expense of the others, which is made more complicated by the knowledge that in saving themselves, they could then help Tiger and Bunny save the city.
There aren’t any revelations this time around, unless you count the revelation that things are far more mysterious than they seemed before. Barnaby now knows the ‘who’ of his parent’s murder, but not the why. Ouroboros is just as elusive as ever, in fact an epilogue shown after the last episode’s credits kind of blows apart everything we thought we knew about them.
One thing I have to complement the series on is not copping out with Kotetsu’s loss of powers. It would have been easy to slap a deus ex machina on at the end to say, ‘he’s fine now, all his powers are back and better than ever,’ but they didn’t. Instead, we get a rather maudlin ending, with the mixed emotions of someone fighting on even after its too late.
Tiger & Bunny is a very ‘western’ styled show, having far more in common with the average American superhero comic than with other anime. The effect is strange; it’s inherently unlike most other anime titles, and yet feels so familiar, bordering on the cliche (if you discount the propensity for robotic costumes, which is a very Japanese-thing). But it all comes together very well, with characters you care about and a plot line that keeps you guessing.
This Blu Ray was imported from Japan, and includes English subtitles and menues. The screencaps are from the streaming version, and do not represent the video quality of the BD, which is beautiful.