Episodes: 25 (English dubbed version)
Tiger & Bunny Online: IMDB
Genre: Science Fiction, Superhero, Mystery, Conspiracy, Action, Comedy, Drama
In a world where powered heroes known as “NEXT” are sponsored by corporations as part of a crime-fighting and disaster aversion reality television show, aging hero Kotetsu “Wild Tiger” Kubaragi, is partnered with a mysterious young man named Barnaby Brooks Jr., that shares his own power. With new equipment to boot, Wild Tiger must navigate having a partner for the first time in his career, as well as a greater mystery relating to the murder of Barnaby’s parents and the impact that it has on the show.
I first became familiar with Tiger & Bunny back when there was only an English sub available. I found those first few episodes enjoyable, but I was waiting for an English dub version so that I could watch it with my husband. As expected, we both really enjoyed the series. Though it begins with shorter arcs wherein the sponsored NEXT deal with criminals and calamity, we know right from the beginning that Barnaby’s own situation will likely relate to a longer story arc and we see these breadcrumbs leading up to the second half of the series. The show is well-paced throughout.
The characters and world-building put a nice twist to the usual superhero setting. Kotetsu has to manage a relationship with his teenage daughter Kaede, that doesn’t know the real reason why he misses many of the big moments of her life leading into adulthood. He and Barnaby’s baility was somewhat unique as well, a power that enhances their physical attributes for five minutes. This creates its own tension, as the pair need to make creative use of their abilities within the time limit. This is made even more difficult by Kotetsu’s over-zealousness and habitual independence.
We also get a look into the lives of the rest of the sponsored NEXT. Each NEXT has their own important role to play in the longer story arc, but some need a bit more encouragement than others, such as young contracted photobomber Ivan “Origami Cyclone” Kavelin. The young man’s arc goes into some detail about NEXT academy. All of the team are really likable, even the demanding Dragon Kid and broody Blue Rose. It is apparent that the team actually see a need for their powers that go beyond the financial incentives as well, making them genuine heroes. The points system used by the show becomes more of a way to rate and test their own skills than simply about glory or money. Their powers and personalities are distinct as well, such as flirtatious drag queen Fire Emblem. Fire Emblem is probably my favourite character actually. He is smart and confident around others, a strong and loyal, if eccentric, hero. His also tends to have better luck with his powers.
Whilst the end of the series didn’t end in the secret organization being dispatched in full, it did give us enough breadcrumbs to suggest that those associated with the murder of Barny’s parents were dealt with and that the organization will likely be in disarray for some time. This gave a high level of gratification, but it also gives us an indication that the heroes have a genuine threat to deal with.
In conclusion, if you like superhero stories with a conspiracy then you will probably like Tiger & Bunny. The greater story arc also offers a genuine feeling of the scope of the conspiracy that Bunny and the others are dealing with. I would love to see future installments, though I am curious as to how the writers will move the story forward given the events of the previous series. Anyway, go find a copy and watch the crap out of Tiger & Bunny because this show is well worth the time!