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Tiger & Bunny Vol. 2 by Mizuki Sakakibara (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

July 27, 2013 by  



tigerbunny-v2

“Tiger & Bunny” is a story about corporate-sponsored superheroes battling for points on reality TV.  A fascinating concept with cool characters but also showing us a side of superheroes who are not perfect, who have to make difficult personal choices that conflict with their superhero lifestyle.  A fun, exciting and action-packed manga series and I can’t wait for volume 3. “Tiger & Bunny” vol. 2 is recommended!

© Mizuki Sakakibara 2012. All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: Tiger & Bunny Vol. 2

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: July 19, 2013

 

Kotetsu and Barnaby are the first NEXT superhero duo, but they’ve got a few differences to overcome if they’re going to learn to work together. A reality TV show intruding into their daily lives doesn’t help, but a bomb threat just might get them to cooperate. Then a misguided surprise party leads to a NEXT-involved diamond heist!

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, we were introduced to 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 with Barnaby being a young man who is more reserved and serious, the question was if he would get along with the veteran Wild Tiger/Kotetsu T. Kaburagi.

Barnaby has shown dislike to his partner calling him “Bunny” and the fact that Wild Tiger tends to make brash moves without thinking. While Wild Tiger relies on his instincts.

But we learned how Kotetsu (Wild Tiger) is a veteran who knows that the younger Barnaby is what people are interested in watching.  Even his daughter (who doesn’t know he is Wild Tiger), is a huge fan of Barnaby.  Meanwhile, Barnaby is bothered by his memories of his past and still wanting to find clues for whoever killed his parents.

But for now, the studios want Wild Tiger and Barnaby to be partners, despite both men not wanting to work with each other, the must do a lot of promotional activities, whether or not they want to work together.

How long can this working relationship last?

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 with “Tiger & Bunny”, instead of superheroes being chummy chummy, for the time being, the hero partners which consist of Wild Tiger and Barnaby are complete opposites and both do not enjoy working with each other.  But because ratings are up, they are literally stuck together and must try to work as partners.

With volume 2 of “Tiger & Bunny”, the manga series by Mizuki Sakakibara primarily focuses on Kotetsu and Barnaby.  We learn how their working relationship as partners is quite tense and how each can’t stand their way of taking on criminals.  Meanwhile, we learn how in their personal lives, it has been a tough road for both men.

For Kotetsu, being a single father but having his mother raising his daughter, who thinks her father cares about work more than her is tough on him.  Kotetsu feels the obligation to use his powers to protect humanity, but to protect his daughter, he doesn’t want her knowing he is Wild Tiger.

Meanwhile, Barnbaby is haunted by the murder of his parents.  He has memories of when he discovered his parents murder but trying to visualize the image of who he saw murdering them.

But for now, both men are tied up with business matters of doing promotional work for their partnership but also building ratings around Barnaby’s extreme popularity.

But we also learn that not all is great for the other heroes.  Blue Rose is a teenager who dreams of becoming a singer, but wonders why be a hero when her dreams lies elsewhere.

And that’s what makes “Tiger & Bunny” different from other series.  In someways, it does remind me of the earlier Marvel superhero comics such as “X-Men” or even the “Fantastic Four”, heroes trying to adjust to their super powers but also deal with their personal issues.  But unlike other superhero comics or animated series, “Tiger & Bunny” revolves around heroes that are corporate sponsored and each battling for points by being featured on a reality TV show.

While the second volume continues to focus more on Kotetsu and Barnaby than the other characters so far, the primary focus is on this working relationship that both men have to make the public believe that they are cool, when in reality, the two are not cool with each other.

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 3.

“Tiger & Bunny” vol. 2 is recommended!

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