Anime Synopsis: Tiger & Bunny

Tuesday, 17 May 2011, 8:00 | Author : Ludovico
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Criminals beware!  In the futuristic Sternbild City, several superheroes keep the peace, while competing for fame and glory on a popular reality show!  All of the heroes’ actions are filmed and scored by Hero TV to determine the greatest hero of the season.  With lucrative corporate endorsements and huge viewership, superheroes are big business in Sternbild.  Unfortunately for the aging superhero, Wild Tiger, he’s just not profitable anymore.  There’s a new exciting hero in town that shares his same power (limited-duration super strength), and that means he’s on the outs.  That is, until Apollon Media offers him a new job on the first superhero duo team – alongside his younger counterpart.

The superhero phenomenon has truly crossed over to Japan.  Following a series of Marvel themed shows that have aired in the last year, Tiger & Bunny mixes the superhero genre with the reality television genre, creating a bizarre but logical hybrid.  Not only that, but they’ve also somehow managed to create the most adult series of the season.  Kotetsu (Wild Tiger’s secret identity) is a man outclassed by his peers, dealing with the reality that he’s past his prime, struggling to stay employed despite his obvious talents, and beholden to the powerful interests that cover the damage costs he causes in the line of justice.  It’s a compelling concept that puts a more realistic spin on the superhero genre, akin to the modern Iron Man movies.  As long as they can keep the focus on the real-world implications of the heavily-commercialized superhero life, it promises to stay interesting throughout.

Before we finish here, let’s get a little meta for a moment.  Tiger & Bunny isn’t just a superhero show – it’s a show about a superhero show.  We watch their antics as the viewers of Sternbild do, and as a result we’re subject to the same corporate-media saturation that makes Hero TV profitable.  When superheroine Blue Rose flaunts her Pepsi logos for the camera, we’re actually the targets.  Then to make it even more blatant, they run an actual Pepsi ad starring Blue Rose during the (real) show’s commercial break.  It’s a strange move, and it’s difficult to say whether there’s astute commentary there, or just crafty marketing.  We obviously know that all television is made for advertisement and profit, but there’s a strange sense here that they blurred the line a little too much.  Don’t let it drive you off from the show, but you should be aware of it going in.

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