The truth of the past is slowly revealed, but not before Kotetsu is put through the wringer.
What They Say:
Hailed as the heroes who saved Stern Bild, Kotetsu and Barnaby face a volley of media attention that includes their learning how to dance! Then, Kotetsu deals with his conflicted feelings about continuing as Wild Tiger and visits his hometown to spend time with his family. He tries to discuss his feelings with Barnaby, but when a possible new lead comes up, Kotetsu gives his full attention to helping Barnaby find the murderer of his parents.
The audio presentation for this series is quite good as we get the original Japanese language in stereo and the new English dub in the same format using the DTS-HD MA codec. The show has a very good mix of action and dialogue, along with some good bits to the music mix as well, and the presentation as a whole is very solid and engaging. With the variation we get with some of the masks and how that’s portrayed and the general way it goes big with so many other ways that dialogue is expressed, it’s a very engaging mix throughout. The action goes big and that plays across the forward soundstage really well as there’s some strong impact and a sense of placement and depth that makes it scale well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2011, the twelve episodes of this TV collection are presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The show is spread across two discs with seven on the first and five on the second, which also has the extras. The animation production here is definitely one of the better ones with the sheer amount of vibrancy to it. The colors are really strong and the flow of animation is smooth and problem free throughout. The blending of the CG animation and the rest of it is definitely well done here and the show as a whole has one of the best looks of the last few years for me when it comes to that. The transfer brings out the detail well, the vibrancy of the colors and the solid color fields throughout. There’s a lot to like with this transfer and it has a very good bitrate to it that keeps it strong.
The packaging for this release is one of the weaker aspects of the whole product and part of that just comes from the way it’s coming across as a lighter work overall. The front cover has a purple background to it with some darker stars across it and that ties in well enough to the color of the case itself. The character artwork is tied between the two sides of the main characters as we get Kotetsu and Barnaby in both their everyday look and their costumed side and that brings in plenty of color to it, though there’s something about it that just doesn’t feel right with it. The back cover goes for lots of vibrant colors that’s pretty much straddling gaudy depending on how you look at it. It’s eye-catching but with the white text with thick black borders around it that describes the features and technical specs, it doesn’t make for an easy read. The premise is different as that’s white text on a black square so that’s easier to work with. The tech specs, runtime and regions are spread out across the cover rather than centralized and that doesn’t help much either. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu presentation for this release is really quite good with what it does even if it is essentially just a static screen piece. The background gives us a darkened portion of the city itself with the building taking up some good real estate along the right. It’s there that we get a few active screens promoting clips from the series and the logo itself which brings in a good deal of vibrancy and color. The left side uses different characters for each of the volumes as we get some really nicely detailed and vibrant pieces, all of which is wrapped up with some good instrumental music that sets the tone well. The navigation strip is along the lower right and it’s simple but effective and it doubles well as the pop-up menu during regular playback.
The extras for this release are pretty decent and are kept to the second disc. The first thing we get is a Masazaku Katsura illutration gallery which is short but fantastic as we get to see some of the principal characters here with some striking looking designs. The second thing we get is a thirteen minute interview from New York Comic Con that brings together the producer and designer to talk about the show and what they were looking for going into it. It’s interesting right out of the gate where it’s said that adults don’t watch anime anymore and they wanted to make something broad for an all audiences and kind of western feeling. There’s a lot of really good things here about how they designed the characters, the sensibilities behind them and more as Katsura goes on about his decision, especially since he was less focused on the show itself and working for the figure/cosplay side. We also get a section of step-through production art, the original Japanese trailers and the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When Tiger & Bunny was simulcast, it was one of the real highlights of the year for me because of what it really did. Emphasized in the extras here, the combination of anime and Western style superheroes and an attempt to appeal to an older audience hit all the right buttons for me. As much as anime is a big part of my life, my formative years were all about the American comic books and superheroes and that’s definitely something that sticks with you. Though things are massaged in the anime realm here in many ways, it does play out a lot more like an American comic book than anything else and those cliches are fun to watch in this form while being done so stylized.
The first half of the series spent its time working through the usual kinds of storylines as we get to know the setting, the characters and how it all connects. There was a lot of good stuff there with how Stern Bild operates, the whole use of Hero TV and what that brings to both the heroes and the city itself, and seeing how everyone on the hero side worked together. I particularly got into the way we got some smaller stories but also just the fact that the two main characters, Kotetsu and Barnarby, are out of their school years. Kotetsu by quite a few years since he has a near teenage daughter out in the country. But I also really liked the way we saw the rest of the cast being of similar age ranges and even having the younger woman, the only real high school girl here with Blue Rose, finding herself becoming attracted to Kotetsu for so many reasons.
And, of course, we had the primary story of Barnaby seeking out Jake, the man behind killing his parents, which is what brought him to becoming a hero and being put into a partnership with Kotetsu. As much fun as it all was, there has to be a twist and the discovery early on here that Jake was not the one behind the murders is something that starts triggering all sorts of memories withing Barnaby. He’s been so singly focused for so long that the small respite he got was welcome, since it did give us a couple of episodes of just plain fun and simplicity to events for a bit, even if it does bring a few portents into it as well. But that revelation about Jake, from a somewhat unreliable source in some ways, practically resets him into the hunt once more. But it’s a hunt through his memories because he’s discovering that there’s less and less he can trust about himself.
This all goes down to some of the core aspects of the series as Barnaby discovers more, but the show also takes some roundabout approaches as well that are more engaging that one would guess. One of the things that dominates for a few episodes in the first half involves the way that Kotetsu is spending time with Kaede at his parents and he’s doing his best to get on her good side, which is difficult because of the secrets he’s had to keep from her in classic superhero secret identity fashion. But he’s intent on quitting the business and becoming respectable so he can live with her again, but there’s all sorts of barriers to that which get thrown up along the way. Kaede doesn’t make it easy either, but we also see that she’s struggling with things as her NEXT powers are starting to come out (in true classic mutant form) and she’s a bit unusual with what she brings to the table.
What really worked for me with this set though is that the last five episodes are all essentially focused on one big trick, one with a few plot holes you can drive a truck through in some ways, that involves turning all of the heroes against Kotetsu. Mental powers are always a little dicey to work with, but some of this really does go back to the way that Kotetsu had kept the truth about who he was to himself and the kinds of problems that can lead to. It’s heavily focused on the action and it puts Kotetsu in the center of things for a lot of it, to the point of keeping Barnaby out of it for awhile. The action is great and it goes big in a similar way to the first half, but it stakes out its own ground as well. It goes big and provides for some changes to happen, but it also draws some stories to a close while also ensuring plenty of room for more. More that’s still desperately needed.
I had really enjoyed Tiger & Bunny when I first saw it, but I did have some hesitations as to how it might hold up in marathon form. Getting to see it on the big screen here though, in full high definition and with lossless audio, it shifts the show up to the next level and that helps drive the whole thing home in an even bigger way. The series is all about the characters and they’re put through a few good wringers here, some welcome humor and a whole lot of great action. Tiger & Bunny is something of a rare series for what it does and the approach it uses while draping plenty of anime aspects as well. It’s a strong, polished and engaging series that is worth the investment, one made all the more so by a high definition presentation. This is definitely one of the top series of 2011 for me and a welcome addition to my collection.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Illustration Gallery, Interview, Production Art, Original trailers, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: May 14th, 2013
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.