DVD/Blu-Ray Review: TIGER & BUNNY (Ep 1-7) Will Be Up Right After The Break!
Last month, Manga UK and Kaze UK released the first part of the anime series Tiger & Bunny in the UK. This is a slick-looking series which combines heroic bravery with corporate needs, the population's apparent need for reality television, and a healthy sauce of media satire.
So is the end result bad, watchable or good? Weee-eeell ... the series is pretty good, actually. And hopefully getting even stronger as the story will find its feet in the future. In any case, this release sure does justice to the first seven episodes.
But that's the short of it: I will elaborate. Read on!
In the future city of Stern Bild, superheroes help the police with keeping the peace. But these are not disorganized loner vigilantes, these heroes are corporate-sponsored and on the payroll of Stern Bild's most successful reality television show: HERO TV! Heroic acts performed in front of the camera grant the heroes rating points and their sponsors some valuable airtime.
Wild Tiger is an older hero, a brute force and too straightforward to play the media game. His new sponsor is only interested in him as part of a team-up with Barnaby Brooks Jr., a new young hero who is a rising star. Unfortunately, Tiger only wants to save people, preferably by himself, while Barnaby wants glory, ratings and points. The two clash from day one, and Barnaby's nickname Bunny (invented by Tiger) doesn't help.
But suddenly terrorist attacks hit Stern Bild, and an unbeatable supervillain called Lunatic appears. What is his goal? What is his connection to Bunny?
And can Tiger and Bunny get their act together in time to save the city?
The Series (So Far):
Within anime there can be found many different styles. You could range these from simplistic to detailed, from abstract to realistic, and from hand-drawn to totally CGI. Put these three dimensions in a cube and Tiger & Bunny would be far into the corner labeled "detailed," "realistic," "CGI." It's not quite as far in that corner as the recent Appleseed films, but it comes close.
Thankfully, this style is a good match with the supercharged multicolor premise of Tiger & Bunny. The series' look can be summed up as: Robocop and The Fifth Element meet up with The Avengers, and then they go watch Speed Racer together. The world shown is beautifully detailed and cleverly designed. Studio Sunrise must be complimented on the huge amount of effort they put in creating the visuals for this series. Slick surfaces reflect and refract, where applicable, as the artwork is enhanced with copious amounts of CGI-trickery. The first time you see the multi-tiered city of Stern Bild rotate, in perfect visual perspective, it is a damn cool sight indeed! It all looks glorious, fresh and quite original.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the story and characters, which frankly are a bit mundane. People who have read superhero comics (part of the key target audience, I would suspect) will find nothing particularly new or noteworthy here. It's not exactly bad, but most of the characters are too one-dimensional (and/or stoopid) to really make an impact.
The media satire loses a lot of steam as well after the first few episodes, as it just keeps falling back to its "heroes with advertising" gag.
Then again, those first episodes primarily deal with introducing this future world and its heroes, and only once that is out of the way does the story seem to start. This set doesn't yet see the conclusion of that first big arc, so I'm hoping this aspect picks up in the next set, and the series will throw something at the viewers that is actually worthy of all these stupendously detailed designs.
In the meantime, I will be following Tiger & Bunny whether the story gets better or not. Call me a magpie, but I like shiny things. And this one is polished till it gleams...
As a long-time reader of superhero comics, I truly dug the setting and premise of Tiger & Bunny. The visual execution of its world is slick with CGI and stellar in design (love the adverts), but so far the character's stories aren't all that special yet. Here's hoping this gets better in future episodes? Because at this point I certainly want to see more.
On To The Discs:
This review is for the Manga UK / Kaze UK release. To sum it up in an almost-word: WHOA! This is one awesome release, especially if you look at its price. You may grumble a bit maybe at only getting seven episodes, but this release sparkles and shines just as much as the glittery neon world the series takes place in.
This package is a combo of two DVDs and one Blu-ray. It will not come as a surprise that the Blu-ray is the obvious choice here: the CGI-enhanced artwork results in a razor-sharp image that really benefits from being shown in HD. Video and audio shine, both in English and Japanese, and the English subtitles are very good..
The extras on the discs are only found on the DVDs, and consist of just the clean opening and closing credits, and a "Making Of." This 20-minute documentary is actually a preview with half of the first episode attached, a taster from early 2011. It's generally fluff, but there are some interesting bits in it, and it's always cool to see the original Japanese voice actors.
While the on-disc extras may be a bit meager, the off-disc extras are not: a set of the collectible hero-cards you see all children in the series play with, and three booklets. These booklets are very cool, written in the style of a glossy celeb magazine as if the heroes are actual celebs, and they contain a wealth of background information and designs. I love these, and can only hope that Kaze UK will include these with the next three box sets of Tiger & Bunny as well!
The packaging itself is rather nice too, as the disc-holder is covered in neat artwork. It would be over-the-top if the series itself didn't have media madness as a theme. As it is, for Tiger & Bunny it fits marvelously.
All in all, this is a glossy package for a glossy sci-fi series, and this release is very much recommended!