I was fortunate enough to be able to see Tiger and Bunny: The Rising on the big screen during its limited U.S. engagement. If you are a fan of the series, then you will love it. It is funny at times, and heart wrenching at times, but it will give you everything you want and expect from this great series. If you are not familiar with the series, you need to watch it first before you see the movie.
This movie and the series are great for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the animation is amazing. I love the look of this series. It also has great characterization. All the characters are well thought out and are 3-D characters. Also, the main character is a 35-year old single dad and not a 16-18 year old high school student, which makes this anime more relatable to adults. This anime also deals with some real world issues that we can all relate to like being different, and feeling like a failure in life. It is my favorite anime among the anime I have seen.
Background: The Tiger and Bunny series takes place in a mythical town called Stern Bild, which is modeled off of New York City. In this alternative world, there are people called Nexts who have inherited certain powers (think X-men). They can have powers like throwing flame or lightening or powering up they physical abilities by 100X. In Stern Bild, the Nexts can work as Heroes. Heroes take on the cases that the police can’t handle like bank robberies, crimes involving Nexts-all the complicated crimes. The interesting thing is that this is all done on TV like a reality show. The heroes get points for capturing bad guys, and for rescuing people. The hero with the most points at the end of the season is crowned king of heroes. The heroes even have sponsors and put their sponsor’s names on their suits. Apollon Media is the sponsor of our two main characters Wild Tiger (Kotetsu) and Barnaby Brooks Jr. (aka Bunny). If you haven’t seen the series, stop reading now. Ahead are many spoilers for the series.
Plot: Mark Schneider who buys failing businesses, and turns them around by making drastic cuts has purchased Apollon Media. The cuts that he makes to Apollon Media is to discontinue the Second League of Heroes and move Barnaby up to the First League of Heroes without Kotetsu. Now Kotetsu and Bunny have been through a lot together, and they have been partners since they were thrown together in the first episode of the series. They are finally working well together, and actually listening to each other. Bunny doesn’t like the fact that they have been separated from Kotetsu, and that he has been given a new partner, Golden Ryan. Kotetsu thinks it might be better for he and Bunny to go their separate ways since he feels like he is holding Bunny back. He feels like an inadequate hero ever since he started losing his powers. He used to be able to use his 100x physical power for five minutes and now he is down to 1 minute. Kotetsu still wants to be a hero but now he has no choice. He has been essentially fired. And Bunny is not too keen on his new partner, Golden Ryan. Ryan reminds me a little of Bunny (without the depth) when he was first partnered with Kotetsu. He is full of himself and worried more about money and points then actually saving people. What will happen to our heroes? What will Kotetsu do now that he is out of a job? Will he go home to his family, or stay in Stern Bild? How will Bunny cope without Kotetsu? And what happens when a group of Nexts starts simulating the local myth of the goddess of Justice? The goddess of Justice saw that people were unjust, and started killing them with light beams; she also put a lot them to sleep; and eventually opened up a hole in the ground that swallowed up the city. You will have to watch to the movie to find out.
There is not as much character development in the movie as we see in the series because of the time limit. There is also a lot of action, which also limits the time we can have for character development. We see a little change in Origami Cyclone who wants to be an “attack from the front hero” and we get a little more backstory on Fire Emblem and what it must have been like to grow up as him. Fire Emblem is the only character to be identified as gay on the series and the movie comments a little on the struggle of the gay community. I really like that the series and the movies comment on real life issues like that. They other characters are still there and still good when just don’t hear as much from them. We also hear a little from Rock Bison (Antonio Lopez) a hero who is Kotetsu’s best friend (although now Bunny might be Kotetsu’s best friend) but Antonio is certainly his oldest friend. Antonio is having troubles because he is the hero in last place in the hero rankings. He is afraid of losing his sponsorship, and therefore his job. Throughout the movie tries stealing the other heroes’ phrases, and moves which is quite funny. I also liked how they displayed the change in Bunny by comparing him to Ryan. Bunny is sounding an awful lot like his old partner, Kotetsu, when he speaks to Ryan during their partnership. It was nice to see that Kotetsu was finally getting through to him.
I also want to mention that the animation is really nice in this movie as well. Most of the characters got a wardrobe upgrade for the movie. Some I like better, and some I like the original version better. I really just like the red leather jacket on Bunny better than the new white one. They all look good. It is mostly a matter of taste whether you like the new version or the old version. Masakazu Katsura designed the original look of the characters and spent a long time doing it. I don’t know if he was involved with the upgraded look, but the characters are still drawn very well.
I really enjoyed Tiger and Bunny: The Rising. I wish it were longer because I will always want more Tiger and Bunny (this by the way would have been a great story arc for several episodes of a season 2 of the series where we could have had more character development to go with the action). Other than more character development, I have no complaints. I will buy Tiger and Bunny: The Rising as soon as it is available in the US, and add it to my anime collection. If you are a fan of the series then you will love it. It has everything that we are used to seeing in the world of Tiger and Bunny including action, good animation, great characters and a good story. It will not disappoint. And if you are not already a fan of Tiger and Bunny, what are you waiting for? Get out there and watch the series today.