I watched the first episode or so of the Tiger & Bunny anime when it seemed like Tiger & Bunny fever was gripping the nation (or at least the percentage of the nation that I follow on twitter). I thought the premise of the series was clever and it was well-executed, but while I found the show entertaining I didn’t follow up and watch the series. I was curious to see if I would enjoy the manga as well.
Tiger & Bunny has an interesting take on modern-day superheroes. Superheroes of various kinds do good – but only for the sake of ratings on a reality tv show. The superheroes all have corporate sponsorships, focus-group tested costumes, and scripted catchphrases. The lone superhero with some integrity is the hopelessly old-fashioned Wild Tiger, whose power is to increase his physical abilities 100x for only five minutes. The manga opens with an action sequence intercut with reality tv production, as the producer of the show offers commentary and scoring on the real-life mayhem. The heroes all jockey for screen time, but Tiger’s attempt to help ends in humiliation as he falls out of the sky only to be saved by the pedigreed rookie Barnaby Jones Jr. Jones’ armored suit gives him the appearance of bunny ears and he is not happy that his first job onscreen is “rescuing an old man.”
Barnaby is ordered to team up with Tiger, and a super-powered Odd Couple is created. Tiger is full of idealistic advice and war stories, and Barnaby is focused on screen time. There’s a supporting cast of heroes which features gay stereotype Fire Emblem, silent and sturdy Rock Bison, tiny kung-fu girl Dragon Kid, the disgustingly heroic Sky High, and the icy Blue Rose. The look and feel of the manga mirrors the visual style of the anime, as the mangaka was also one of the animators of the tv show. Overall, I found this manga entertaining, both due to the bickering nature of the developing relationship between Tiger and Bunny, and the conflict between the commercial nature of the super hero world and Tiger’s unshakeable code of ethics. I can certainly see why the anime was so popular, and it is nice that the manga gives fans the option of experiencing the story in a different way.