Tiger and Bunny is an Anime for Old Men that Kids Should Definitely Watch

[Commie] Tiger & Bunny - 01 [39E1E59A].mkv_snapshot_01.05_[2011.04.09_10.40.14]

It’s novel for anime, a spin on the Captain Amazing character from the Mystery Men (1999) film. I don’t love that film, though I found it novel and funny in places. So, there’s no nostalgia for me here. That said, I can only hope that this show will have lines like:

I need a compass to show me which way the wind shines.

–Mr. Furious (a super hero whose “power” is to get very, very angry)

If I’m writing about how this show is for old men, what do I mean? I mean that the ironies and satire the show brings into play benefit most from a more experienced perspective on life. Something beyond a university education, perhaps beyond working for a living, and right there with raising children. More on this later.

[Commie] Tiger & Bunny - 01 [39E1E59A].mkv_snapshot_01.13_[2011.04.09_10.40.28]

One thing I noticed is that the first episode is rather devoid of popular contemporary come-ons from anime. This show doesn’t meta the otaku database (wow, what a sentence). In this sense it’s actually more accessible, imagine that!

The CMs invoked are easy to understand, as even Sesame Street acknowledges that CMs are ideal formats for communicating ideas to children. But going back to the otaku database, there is a great dearth of female characters. Just two girls among the ‘heroes,’ though they skew quite young, only one can be considered having the predominantly loli appeal that works for many otaku. And they are rather minor characters in the episode.

Kotetsu T. Kaburagi (Tiger) and Barnaby Brooks Jr. (Bunny) are both adults (and look like adults – though Barnaby could be a teenager¹), the former already being a father of a school age daughter. Kotetsu is a super hero past his prime, perhaps in his 30s (positively geriatric in anime age value systems). His concerns involve livelihood, career, and fatherhood. These are decidedly mundane compared to your average teenage protagonist’s. From other Sunrise shows, a sample of such concerns would include:

While it is obvious that shows featuring younger characters will have them come of age, but often they become the kind of adults that are downright saintly, nay, Jesus-like at age 15? 17? 19? Far wiser than anyone else in their respective shows. It is far less of a fantasy to imagine some mid-20s dude to figure out what he really wants to do with his life, as well as a 30something discover that he doesn’t know shit about the world despite his certainty.

After all, if this is indeed anime then Kotetsu must’ve turned into Jesus at age 19 or something and kept saving the world since. But the great thing about adult characters in narratives is that they’re old enough to have regrets, to care about mistakes of their youth. The thing about teenage heroes is that being underage, they’re ‘heroic’ because they take on responsibility that’s not theirs to begin with. They pilot the Gundams in the battles to come because they piloted the Gundams in a few small skirmishes. It’s their responsibility now.

They’re kind of like victims, so their responsibility taking becomes heroic. But they can’t be blamed if they really fold. We’re supposed to feel sympathetic when older (LOL 20something) characters mutter surprisedly under their breath “he’s just a kid.” It’s a cheap way to generate powerful feelings, but for experienced viewers who don’t particularly care for the conventions of the genres (unlike myself who gets why Gundam shows will have kiddy male protagonists), it gets old pretty quick.

So Kotetsu is old, he’s probably carrying a few regrets, a few unresolved things in his past. When his face is upset, there’s a weight behind it. There are things at stake that I want to find out about, that are deep-seated and personal as opposed to world-shifting and universal.

[Commie] Tiger & Bunny - 01 [39E1E59A].mkv_snapshot_17.35_[2011.04.09_10.10.04][Commie] Tiger & Bunny - 01 [39E1E59A].mkv_snapshot_17.36_[2011.04.09_10.10.16]

Right now, that regret is having become a hero that needs rescuing, ten years into his career.

But I’ve made this show seem so serious, wherein its seriousness is only worth noting because of how silly it is. I loved the cocktail party wherein the heroes are in their cocktail attire: wearing their costumes under their tuxedos. Kotetsu’s firm gets bought out, and he’s part of a new company who has (implausibly) come up with a revolutionary new idea: a superhero team. Tiger and Bunny would be that team, and this show can play out as a buddy show all about being a hero.

[Commie] Tiger & Bunny - 01 [39E1E59A].mkv_snapshot_15.40_[2011.04.09_10.02.30]

I think this is a great idea. I’m definitely not too old for hero shows like this.

Some of these ideas are called-out when fans like myself make a wish list for the robot anime of the future.
Some are just plain sick of teenage characters.
A more straightforward review of the episode.
¹Kind of like shonen manga/anime like Slam Dunk wherein high schoolers look like adult physical specimens LOL

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
This entry was posted in first impressions, Tiger and Bunny and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to Tiger and Bunny is an Anime for Old Men that Kids Should Definitely Watch

  1. Turambar says:

    For all the rather heavy feel this show gives off, that final scene in episode 2 with Barnaby staring at a message on a laptop, narrowing his eyes and whispering “Ouroboros” made me lose it at how ridiculously hilarious and out of place that moment was.

    • Yeah lol, I’ve somewhat come to get used to how some shows can try to do everything — namely be lighthearted for the most part and yet pile on the drama/seriousness when they do. I see this quality a lot in Asian cinema. It’s challenged me to rethink away from terms like “comic relief” because I can’t really shoehorn a concept such as “dramatic relief” or “suspense combo breaker.”

  2. Hogart says:

    Interesting, I had a similar thought. Tiger and Bunny certainly feels to me like the kind of show that a fan of more mature entertainment can use for a nostalgia trip (I’m certainly enjoying it that way).

    But it also feels like like kind of a “gateway anime” that can ween people off of cheesy and childish shows like Angel Beats and Index, and get them to appreciate stuff that has more mature themes.

    • The thing is, Tiger & Bunny is very childish in the sense that it does try to tell you what’s important (family, responsibility, listening to what others have to offer, teamwork, etc etc). It does function well as a children’s show!

  3. steelbound says:

    I was reminded of Gurren Lagann’s underlying old man point-of-view when watching Tiger and Bunny. I really love this setup and see great things for Tiger and Bunny. Kotetsu is such an interesting character right out of the box and I want to see what happens to him. I hope we see his daughter decide that Wild Tiger is the coolest hero.

    • Yes, this is what the set-up is. Barnaby will continue to annoy Kotetsu further and yet represent what he needs to learn most: to go beyond his idealism and work with others.

  4. vendredi says:

    This is sounding a lot better than I was initially giving it credit for.

    On the whole “otaku database” issue, I think this is certainly part of what old grognards claim as a symptom of the “decline of anime”. Romanticism aside, I can’t quite help but feel that the criticism is sort of warranted; it certainly feels like many shows have a compulsion to display a inner knowledge of the workings of the fandom and I’ve generally found that a show is successful in spite of, rather than because of, those parody elements (unless parodying otaku culture is the point of the exercise, as with Genshiken).

    • Well, you’re talking about otaku self-reference shows right?

      I’d think those are rather niche than mainstream. It’s just notable because the English-speaking anime blog community tends to watch many of those. Otherwise, it’s hard to find mainstream shows that indulge itself in such self-referencing. Maybe… Macross Frontier?

  5. Jack says:

    It’s certainly nice to watch a show where the main cast are slightly older than the usual bunch of whippersnappers.

    It’s also weird to have two super-hero in one season, both of which are enjoyable. Although Tiger&Bunny does borrow heavily from the ‘Incredibles’ movie, the story of ageing heroes having to face such as family, responsibility, growing older and so forth.

    • I wish I made the connection to The Incredibles myself. I probably missed it because the family in T & B is non-conventional. It’s still unclear as to what became of Kotetsu’s wife/Kaede’s mom though.

      What I’m finding interesting is how this ‘freshness’ lets the show get away with being outright preachy — a concern I imagine mature viewers like the commenters here would not take to very well.

    • Weise says:

      But you can very much say that Incredibles clearly borrowed very heavily from Watchmen. That being said everything really isn’t original. Never the less I really do like this series so far and I’m not even a fan of this type of anime, ie: mecha, superheros but it works surprisingly well together and has a nice story outside of the fighting.

  6. Stormshrug says:

    Yeah, I was pleased to see an older character helming Tiger and Bunny. As rare as it is to see shows with main protagonists over 20, especially in certain genres (*coughFantasycough*), it’s almost always a nice change of pace. I think the work where this sticks out most for me is Tales of Vesperia, which is like the only RPG that I’ve played where your main character starts out as an established but fairly cynical badass, and it puts a distinctly different spin on the typical Hero’s Journey that dominates RPGs (and, fantasy stories in general, to a lesser degree). It’s nice to see it in Broken Blade, also.

    • JoeQ says:

      You should definetily give Moribito and GitS: Stand Alone Complex a chance. Both are thoroughly excellent shows prominently featuring older (I would say middleaged, but then some of you geezers would throw a hissyfit :wink:), professional characters who earned their badass status with experience and hard work.

    • I can’t say much about the fantasy subgenre, but I could validate this re the robot subgenre. Broken Blade is a lot safer than this however, as it’s primarily a show of Barnaby-aged (as I imagine) characters.

  7. Kaioshin Sama says:

    If nothing else (there is actually much else and this is just a figure of speech) this show is a huge breath of fresh air from conventional modern anime since as you said it takes very little from the otaku database and is instead built to have a broader appeal.

    It’s probably a good thing for Sunrise that they are making money off of the advertising deal because I can easily see this bombing in it’s native Japan as a result of that lack of mining the otaku database before becoming a potential hit in the North American market.

    • I don’t want to overstate this breath of fresh air stuff because it only seems so because Tiger & Bunny isn’t some late-night otaku show — the lot of which isn’t as representative of Japanese cartoons as whiners make it to be.

  8. Matt Wells says:

    The concept for this show sounded intriguing, it has the creative staff of The Big O involved, and it now comes with your reccomendation, Ghostlightning.

    I REALLY need to watch this series…

    • I do recommend it, as it is quite interesting both on a content and production level. Other pundits say they find the writing to be hackneyed and cliche… but to me this is just all in keeping with the kids’ show format — which means that there will be VERY OBVIOUS MORALS apparently espoused. The gold for mature readers here will involve parts nostalgia, and part easter egg hunting for all sorts of goodies (in my case, rather delicious mature concerns and takes on Hollywood narratives and tropes).

  9. Pingback: Tiger and Bunny – first impression « Abandoned Factory Anime Review

  10. kluxorious says:

    I was afraid that this show is going to be shitty during the first half of the first episode but once they showed the human side of the character (especially that of Tiger) I quickly warmed up to it.

    • I share similar concerns, and am relieved that it turned out more interesting. The soapy human stuff is actually gold if viewed from the perspective of a far-less jaded child.

  11. Skribulous says:

    Yeah, I liked it back when it was called Black Heaven.

    That said, the world needs more shows like Tiger and Bunny, for variety’s sake if nothing else.

    • Someday I’ll finish watching that show.

    • JoeQ says:

      “Middle-aged Oji Tanaka has a wife, a child and a mundane job as a salary man in Tokyo’s modern society. But his life wasn’t always so dull; 15 years ago he was known as “Gabriel”, lead guitar of a short-lived heavy metal band called “Black Heaven”. Oji’s life takes a sudden turn when he is invited by an enigmatic woman to pick up his Gibson Flying V and once again display his “legendary” guitar skills. Little does he know the effects this will have on on his family, on the other remaining members of Black Heaven, on an alien interstellar war with a mysterious “ultimate” weapon (ala Macross), or on the fate of the planet Earth.”

      Damn, this definetily sounds like something I need to check out, but is it actually any good?

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  14. eli says:

    Tiger & Bunny is definitely a breath of fresh air from many average to mediocre anime that I’ve watch in the last year. It’s funny and original with excellent character design and development. I’ll definitely recommend it to anyone

  15. Nenene says:

    Tiger & Bunny is a great show.

    Just finished episode #22. Goddamn amazing.

  16. Agi says:

    The newest episodes are amazing, I can’t wait for the next one. This ending is really getting climatic. I was so sad, the show really knows how to make you keep on you toes while you wait for it to update. This has to be oneof the best new animes I’ve seen. The characters in the show have such good everything… And ugh.

  17. Team Kaburagi says:

    Episode 24. That’s all I can say. And there’d better be a Season 2!

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  19. Anthony says:

    The show is good but it’s definitely NOT for kids. Between the extreme violence and cursing, I wouldn’t want my children to watch it.

    • Matt Wells says:

      Violence and cussing? Nothing there beyond PG-13 content, in my opinion. To each their own of course, but it’s not really the sort of show anyone younger than a teenager would have any interest in.

  20. Kas says:

    Don’t worry guys Tiger and Bunny the Rising is going to take place after the end of episode 25…..It will come out on February 8, 2014 and Barnaby will have a new partner Golden Smith Which makes you wonder how big the role will be for Kotetsu(Tiger)..
    And so the waiting begins
    For some of the trailers:
    English!?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dj8pF7JR7rc
    Subbed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAWCc7t_LqU

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