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Tiger and Bunny (2011) [ Part 1]

Tiger and Bunny is a 2011 anime series set in the fictional Sternbild City. In the world of the series people known as NEXTs who possess superpowers have begun to appear. A select few of these individuals have chosen to suit up and become superheroes, to defend the innocent and fight crime. However, unlike in other superhero stories, these heroes are emblazoned with sponsorship logos and their antics are broadcast on a reality show called Hero TV. The series follows a veteran hero named Wild Tiger who is reluctantly teamed up with a younger hero named Barnaby- also known as Bunny.

Tiger and Bunny is one of those anime that only comes along once in a blue moon. Thanks to its subject-matter and a distinctly westernised influence, it is a show that has the potential to break out of the usual confines of anime fandom. It has a huge crossover appeal and would have been at home on Adult Swim or even SyFy -back when they used to show anime (or actual sci-fi). The creators were clearly influenced by western superhero comics and movies, and the setting is also distinctly western. Outside of the central character Kotetsu- Wild Tiger's alter-ego- the characters don't appear to be Japanese either. Like Cowboy Bebop before it, this is one of those rare anime that can appeal even to people who generally don't like anime.

Visually, this is a fantastic looking show. The character designs are all distinctive and attractive, and the animation is as slick as you'd expect from such a recent production. If you have the choice then be sure to go with the Blu-ray- this is a real treat for the old peepers and it looks simply gorgeous in HD. On the downside the use of cell-shaded CGI for the hero suits is something we could have done without. While it's not horribly jarring, or badly executed, it would have been more consistent if they had used traditional animation instead. That said, the suits themselves really look the part, and could have stepped out of a Marvel movie. Tokusatsu fans will also notice the show owes a debt to Japanese heroes like Ultraman- particularly in the time-limit on Wild Tiger's powers.

The Reality TV angle gives the series a sharp satirical edge. The decision to team Tiger and Barnaby together is motivated by ratings, and some heroes are motivated as much by a hunger for fame and riches than by a desire to help the vulnerable. It's a neat contrast to the typical noble heroic figures we are usually presented with, both in Japan and the West.

Outside of the reality television angle, there are other elements of satire: Barnaby constantly pokes fun at Kotetsu for being old. He's actually a thirty-something- only “old” by the standards of a youth-obsessed culture- not to mention your average anime. Strip away the satire however and you've still got a tremendously entertaining action series- exciting, funny and effortlessly cool. 

The biggest gripe we have is with the release itself. Kazé UK's release (reviewed here) only consists of a measly seven episodes- what is this, 2006? You're probably best off going with Viz's US release (episodes 1-13) if you have the option, or waiting for a box set. Other than that, Tiger and Bunny is unreservedly recommended.

Tiger And Bunny: Part 1 [DVD + Blu-ray] is available from KAZE UK. Tiger and Bunny Set 1 :[Episodes 1-13] is available in the US from VIZ MEDIA