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Tiger & Bunny Vol. 1 by Mizuki Sakakibara (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

April 8, 2013 by  



You don’t get to read manga from Japan about superhero teams but in this case, “Tiger & Bunny” differs from the American superhero teams for the fact that these superheroes are sponsored, flawed and each are competing with each other on live television for points by catching criminals.  A fun, exciting manga series and I can’t wait for volume 2.  “Tiger & Bunny” vol. 1 is recommended!

© Mizuki Sakakibara 2012. All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: Tiger & Bunny Vol. 1

STORY AND ART BY: Mizuki Sakakibara

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Kadokawa Shoten

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC

RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: April 9, 2013

 

Superpowered humans known as NEXT appeared in the world 45 years ago. Some of them fight crime in the city of Stern Bild while promoting their corporate sponsors on the hit show HERO TV. The people love their superheroes, even if they don’t completely understand them, and not all of the NEXT use their powers for good.

Veteran hero Wild Tiger has years of experience fighting crime, but his ratings have been slipping. Under orders from his new employer, Wild Tiger finds himself forced to team up with Barnaby Brooks Jr., a rookie with an attitude. Overcoming their differences will be at least as difficult for this mismatched duo as taking down superpowered bad guys!

In 2011, the anime studio Sunrise, best known for its anime series for “Mobile Suit Gundam”, “Cowboy Bebop”, “Dirty Pair”, “City Hunter” to name a few, went on to work on anime series that would captivate older viewers but also something unique and different for anime fans.  And the 25- episode TV series “Tiger & Bunny” was created.

In Japan, a one-shot manga by Masakazu Katsura (“Video Girl Ai”, “DNA2″, “Zetman”) was published in “Weekly Shonen Jump”.  Featuring the original planning and story by Sunrise, original script by Masfumi Nishida and original character design and hero design by Masakazu Katsura, the first volume of the “Tiger & Bunny” manga was released in April 2013 courtesy of Viz Media.

“Tiger & Bunny” takes place in NC1978 in the city of Sternbild City.  45 years prior, humans with supernatural abilities known as “NEXT” began appearing in the planet.  And now, these people with special abilities and are superheroes sponsored by major corporations such as Pepsi, Softbank, Calbee, etc. and are featured on the popular reality TV show titled “Hero TV”.

Each season, these heroes try to achieve points by capturing/defeating criminals and the best ranked superhero will be crowned as “King of Heroes”.  While each are competing with each other, often they work as a superhero team.

In volume 1, veteran hero Wild tiger has been slipping the ratings and causing unbelievable damage.  Upset by his performance, Wild Tiger is forced to team up with the young Barnaby Brooks Jr., a rookie with an attitude but gets the job done.

But because these two are opposites, can they be partners?

The primary characters are of “Tiger & Bunny” are:

  • Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/Wild Tiger – One of the main protagonist, he is one of the oldest superheros and unlike others, tends not to listen to orders as he is the “Crusher of Justice” and could care less about the ratings.  Because he causes too much damage and likes to do things alone, he was forced to take on a new partner, Barnaby Brooks Jr.  Kotetsu is also a single father who never gets to see his daughter because of his superhero obligations, so she lives with his mother.  His daughter is unaware that he is a superhero.  Tiger’s power is the ability to increase his physical abilities for five minutes using his “Hundred Power”.    His sponsors are Bandai and Softbank.
  • Barnaby Brooks Jr./Bunny – A rookie that is called “Bunny” by Kotetsu.  He is more about strategy and is not as rash as Kotetsu.  He has a reason why he became a superhero and that is to find the one who killed his parents.  His sponsors are Amazon Japan and Bandai.  He also has similar powers to Kotetsu and becoming “King of Heroes” is important to him.
  • Karina Lyle/Blue Rose – A popular girl in high school who wants to be a singer.  She has freezing power abilities and is sponsored by Pepsi Nex and Suntory.  She represents Titan Industry.
  • Keith Goodman/Sky High – A popular hero and is the current “King of Heroes”.  He is upbeat and has the power to control air current.  He is sponsored by Tamashii Nations and Ustream and represents Poseidon Line.
  • Nathan Seymour/Fire Emblem – An effeminate hero with flame abilities, Nathan wants to be part of the girls.  He is sponsored by FMV and Animate and represents Helios Energy.
  • Huang Pao-Lin/Dragon Kid – A tomboy Chinese girl who has the power to generate electrical discharge.  She lived in China with her parents but they wanted her to go to Sternbild City to become a hero.  She is sonosred by Calbee and DMM.com and is represented by Odysseys Communication.
  • Antonio Lopez/Rock Bison  – Kotetsu’s best friend since high school, his power is invulnerability.  He is in last place of the Hero’s standings and is sponsored by Gyu-Kaku and represents Kronos Foods.
  • Ivan Karelin/Origami Cyclone – A young hero who is typically seen standing behind-the-scenes and not fighting, Ivan has the power to shapeshift and copy  the appearance and voice of another.  His sponsors are .ANIME and he represents Helperidese Finance.

As a person who enjoys anime, we have seen the team dynamic in many forms.

From the sentai teams of yesteryear, may it be “Gatchaman”, “Voltron” to super teams such as the Z-Warriors of “Dragon Ball Z”, the ninjas of “Naruto” or the high school friends as seen on “Bleach” and “Yu Yu Hakusho”.

But one thing that we often see in America through comic books, animated series and live action films are the superhero teams. May it be Marvel’s X-Men, The Avengers or Fantastic Four or DC’s Justice League of America, The Teen Titans or Legion of Super-Heroes and it has always been in the back of my mind, what if there was a caped superhero for an anime series?

We have seen a singular costumed heroes from anime series such as “Moldiver” and shows like the Kamen Rider or even Ranger series but what Sunrise was able to create with “Tiger & Bunny” is exciting, unique and different from anything ever featured in Japan.

Humans with special abilities known as NEXT who take on the bad guys, but in a twist, are featured on television and challenge other heroes of who can catch the most criminals and get the most points to increase their ranking, as each compete for the title “King of Heroes”.

The characters are nothing like American superheroes in the fact that these are individuals that are normal human beings with flaws.

But this first volume is establishing the characters but most importantly the show they compete in and the pairing of Wild Tiger and Barnaby.

The illustrations by Mizuki Sakakibara are good and the artwork manages to capture the action quite nicely.

Overall, you don’t get to read manga from Japan about superhero teams but in this case, “Tiger & Bunny” differs from the American superhero teams for the fact that these superheroes are sponsored, flawed and each are competing with each other on live television for points by catching criminals.  A fun, exciting manga series and I can’t wait for volume 2.

“Tiger & Bunny” vol. 1 is recommended!

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