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May 6, 2013

Bento Bako Weekly: Tiger & Bunny volume 1

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Written by: Kristin
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tigerbunny1Title: Tiger & Bunny
Author: Mizuki Sakakibara, Sunrise, Masafumi Nishida (original script)
Publisher: Viz Media
Volume: Volume 1 (ongoing), $9.99
Vintage: 2012 by Kadokawa Shoten, April 2013 by Viz Media
Genre: Superhero, science fiction, action

Tiger & Bunny. Viz Media’s newest marketable franchise. A hit in Japan, and a hit in America. Viz simulcast the series on their website and through Hulu. Then they quickly pulled a dub team together and launched the series on the Neon Alley anime streaming service. Now you can buy both the first volume of the anime and the first volume of the manga, also from Viz Media. You can also find countless Tiger & Bunny cosplayers at conventions (lots of Blue Roses), and tons of merchandise. Really, it’s everywhere, and is starting to saturate everything like Black Butler or Hetalia. So what exactly is Tiger & Bunny? A new twist on the superhero genre, where corporations sponsor heroes, and the act of apprehending criminals is the newest reality TV craze.

Enter our heroes: the old school, old fashioned Wild Tiger, our main character, who values the actual act of being a hero above points and ratings; Fire Emblem, wielder of, well, fire; Rock Bison, a heavily armored hero with super strength; Dragon Kid, a lightning wielder and kung fu master; Origami Cyclone, who apparently does no actual fighting and only makes an appearance in the background to support his sponsor; Sky High, master of wind, and one of the most successful heroes in town; and Blue Rose, ice wielder, eye candy, super star idol, and everyone’s favorite hero. Each of these heroes is a “NEXT,” a person imbued with strange powers like super strength and elemental control. NEXT started appearing forty-five years ago, and now they fight crime in the city of Stern Bild while their exploits are aired on Hero TV. Each superhero is sponsored by a corporation and participates in Hero TV’s ratings. At the end of each season, points are tallied (doled out for things like being the first on the scene, or arresting the criminals) and awards are given. Wild Tiger has been slipping in the ratings, but they are all showed up by a young new hero on the scene: Barnaby Brooks Jr. Barnaby appears during a high octane criminal chase in a fancy tech suit and saves the day. Unlike the other heroes, he doesn’t keep his identity a secret, and has no secret code name. And in order to make his company look good, he calculates all of his movements precisely for the best air time and presentation. In order to make the company stand out even more, Apollon Media has decided to team Barnaby up with another hero: Kotetsu T. Kaburagi, aka Wild Tiger. The two clash immediately on their first mission to stop a massive steel hammer statue from destroying the city. Kotetsu is more concerned with saving the day, protecting innocents, and getting down to business. Barnaby is concerned with doing that, too, but in the best possible way for TV, which means taking time to set things up for the cameras. Time means patience, and Kotetsu has very little of that. Especially when a little boy gets involved. A little boy who happens to hate NEXT and superheroes. The volume wraps up with the hint of a deeper, underlying plot yet to come.

While it doesn’t interest me personally, there isn’t anything particularly wrong with it, and it’s certainly unique in its story and presentation of the superhero genre. It’s also very well drawn. But that’s about it, so far at least. Nothing really jumps out or pulls you in (or pulls me in, at least). It’s moderately amusing, but it is exciting, if superhero battles are your thing, and it’s fast paced. There’s minimal drag, and lots of action. The art is clean and well detailed, and the character designs are solid. I really can’t find anything wrong with it, or point out why it doesn’t click with me; it just doesn’t. But that doesn’t mean it won’t click for you. Especially if you’re a superhero fan. This could easily become a cross over title for fans of American comics. Viz is also doing well with the presentation, as at least this volume comes with some color pages at the front. If you’re interested in the animated version, our kids’ comics columnist Drew reviewed the first DVD collection.


Review copy provided by Viz Media.



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