Where are my Rock Bison and Fire Emblem episodes?
What They Say:
Sternbild City is home to people called Next, who use their special abilities to protect the people as superheroes. These heroes solve cases and save lives so they can wear sponsor logos or acquire hero points. Their activities are documented on the popular program Hero TV, which picks the King of Heroes in a yearly ranking. The veteran hero Wild Tiger has always preferred to work alone, but now he’s been assigned the rookie Barnaby Brooks Jr., who has a different perspective on being a superhero.
The audio and visual quality of the DVD release is pretty standard with no visible issues or errors throughout the series. The audio is well balanced and comes across clearly with no distortion or muffling, whilst the visuals play smoothly. Subtitles are easy to read and don’t have any noticeable errors, typos or other visual problems.
As expected, the menu remains very much similar to the previous volumes, with the Hero TV styled overlay with options for play all, individual episodes and audio select. In this volume there’s bonus features available on both discs; another Ustream Mini Corner volume on the first and Karaoke versions of the new opening and ending on the second. The looping clip is as before, featuring miscellaneous clips from the volume’s episodes, this time set to the new opening theme (Missing Link by NOVELS). As with the previous volumes, everything is responsive and works as intended, the menu is easy to navigate and it’s easy to see what is currently highlighted, so no complaints to mention in regards to the menu.
The first bonus is the second volume of the Ustream Mini Corner feature, which follows a very similar structure and the same puppet characters as the featurette on the last box set. The content this time around features the voice actors for Origami Cyclone, Sky High and Fire Emblem talking about their respective characters, how they decided to portray their characters through voice and what they think of their personalities and ideals. It’s interesting to see how much input the voice actors have over the final portrayal of their characters, especially when each character comes across as being individual and unique in their own way. Without such levels of freedom it’s unlikely that some of the characters would come across as memorable as they do, so it’s a notable advantage to making the characters likeable. Also included is some discussion about each of the team’s members favourite types of noodles which is rather off-topic, but I suppose it adds a little extra to encouraging that these voice actors are indeed real, normal human beings.
The second half of the feature includes a discussion with the character designer for the show and his ideas. Especially interesting is his reasons for creating the iconic look of Bunny and Tiger and his love of Lunatic as a character. He states at one point that Lunatic’s character design was finished far before the titular protagonists just because he found Lunatic to be a far more interesting and intriguing character. He also obtains a SH Figuarts action figure of Tiger during the clip and comments on how he’s happy that his design for the character can easily translate into figurine form without losing any of its aesthetics. Another benefit is that the Ustream feature is a lot shorter this time around, clocking in at around half the length of the first one and with less attempted puppet humour from the ‘hosts’. This is beneficial and allows for less reason to get distracted or bored during the feature and allows for more focus on what the participants of the show’s creation have to say about their work, which is really what the majority of the audience is likely looking for.
The second bonus feature is Karaoke versions of the new opening and ending, complete with subtitles and the video footage without any obstructions from sponsors or staff roll. Pretty much basic fare for any DVD release these days, but at least it allows you to see the artwork and choreography for the title sequences properly.
As the first half of the series concluded by wrapping up an arc and solving a significant portion of the unanswered questions, it was interesting to see how they were going to progress beyond that. Starting out with a short time skip of a few months, the first scenes confirm the events prior and generally stating that things are continuing as normal in the city of Sternbild. The first episode continues to follow the romantic interest between Blue Rose and Tiger, with her coming to grips with the realisation that she may actually be falling for him. This is shortly interrupted however by the arrival of a thief who’s been stealing items from backstage rooms at events, making the mistake to have a run in with the heroes. Despite being a NEXT, he’s caught as expected, although Tiger’s power has a crazy increase and allows him to operate at a much higher level than normal, causing confusion for him and the other heroes. This plot point follows on into the next episode, in which his Hundred Power seems to be running out earlier than usual, albeit without the increased power as he previously experienced. Alongside this is a Sky High-specific plot involving a girl he’s fallen in love with, as well as another side plot involving a scientist who followed up on Barnaby’s parents’ research to create a perfect android, who is now malfunctioning and destroying anything relating to heroes.
There are some pretty cool fight sequences here, plus what appears to be a reference to the animated film Metropolis, which was a nice little addition to the android theme. Safe to say though, the ending is not a happy one for Sky High. Poor guy. The final episode of the first disc is where things get truly interesting though, with a couple of major reveals in regards to the plot and a focus on Lunatic as a character, featuring his past. Also included is Tiger finding out that he may well be losing his NEXT powers, despite such events being a rarity. The severity of this issue becomes apparent when Tiger gets beaten down by a human criminal due to his Hundred Power ending significantly earlier than it should’ve done, although the criminal suffers a fate later on at the hands of Lunatic in the episode’s conclusion, which is really quite awesome.
The second disc opens up with the episode Tiger’s been waiting for; he finally gets some time off and goes home to visit his daughter, Kaede! Problem is, she doesn’t particularly like him as he keeps breaking his promises and she catches him peeking at her Barnaby collection in her room, dropping his reputation even further. After Kaede’s grandmother collapses due to exhaustion and her back giving out, Kaede visits a local shrine on the way home from school, just to get caught in a freak storm which subsequently ends up with her trapped inside. Of course, as any hero and father should do, Tiger comes to her rescue, concluding with a lovely scene of him cradling a smiling Kaede whilst the shrine collapses into the earth behind him. Tiger then agrees that he’s getting too old for his hero job and that he should retire to look after Kaede, neglecting to mention his fears about his powers fading. The episode concludes with a surprise for Tiger though, as Kaede starts to show powers of her own, similar to his.
Back in Sternbild, episode 18 opens up with Jake’s partner Kreim waking up from a coma in hospital, taking Tiger & Bunny on a trip to visit her to ask why Jake killed Barnaby’s parents. All is not as it seems though, as she reveals her backstory and how she was picked up by Jake when she was at the worst moment of her life; an event which clashes with the day Barnaby’s parents were murdered and seems to rule Jake out as the murderer. The remainder of the episode gets a little bit messy though, as its mostly Barnaby moping about in a confused state whilst Tiger is trying to build up the courage to tell Barnaby that he’s going to retire as a hero. It’s not bad, but it does feel as if it could’ve been handled a little better.
The final episode of the volume does just what the final episode of the first volume did, but better. Barnaby is confused as the murderer’s face has been changing repeatedly after finding out that Jake couldn’t have been the killer, revealing the faces of many people he knows as potentials. A little moping around, followed by some more investigation and a chat with one of Barnaby’s old friends, a woman named Samantha who used to work for his parents. As she appeared as one of the faces, he wants to check with her to make sure she had an alibi for that day, to prove she wasn’t the one. Whilst she manages to do so, the method in which she does it changes other events which he remembered clearly in his mind, revealing who the actual killer is. The murderer is a NEXT with a very particular power, and the episode, along with the volume, finishes with this particular person about to unleash his ability on Barnaby, alone and unknown to anyone else. If that isn’t a cliff-hanger, I’m not sure what is.
Overall, the plot progression in this volume is very solid aside from a little bit of meandering around near the end before the final reveal of the volume. Barnaby and Tiger’s relationship continues to grow throughout, Blue Rose’s love interests continue to bother her and Sky High finally gets an episode, whilst a few more questions are answered and many possibilities opened up. Tiger’s waning powers and Kaede’s development of her own powers have potential to continue further in the remaining episodes and may well be of great importance, whilst the plot twists change a whole lot and, if the truth gets out, has the potential for a huge impact upon the city of Sternbild. Lunatic getting his own episode was unexpected but his continued development seems to be building up to something significant in its own right, plus making for an interesting anti-hero alongside the main cast of heroes. Not only that, but the transition between concluding the first main arc and starting the new one was well handled and didn’t seem out of place at all.
As for aesthetics, the quality of animation continues to remain impressive despite being 19 episodes in. Music is generally used for great effect where necessary or hangs around in the background to create ambience, whilst sound effects remain unobtrusive. The new opening and ending sequences are also both decent with some lovely choreography and stylistic touches, whilst the songs themselves don’t seem out of place with the series at all and are similar in tone and style to the first pair. Some of the expressions from a certain character at the end during the climax of the volume were impressively creepy too and rightfully so. The pacing of the episodes also remains on target for the most part, not seeming dull or rushed. The only issue I have is that since there aren’t many episodes left and the main plot seems to be heading towards a climactic conclusion, I’m not sure if they’re going to do individual episodes for Rock Bison or Fire Emblem. If they do have episodes focussing around those characters, it’s probably going to be quite tough to fit them in without breaking the increasing pace of the central plot arc or having them tacked on somewhere feeling a little out of place. It would seem unfair to miss out two of the main heroes but taking up two whole episodes when there’s so few left could be problematic, so it seems like it could cause an issue either way. Hopefully they’ll find a way to do it but it remains to be seen.
Tiger & Bunny continues in its Western-inspired superhero romp, continuing on with its crime fighting ways. Further development for Lunatic and Sky High expands the universe and their characters and reveals some interesting details, especially in regards to Lunatic’s past. Meanwhile, Tiger has a problem of his own show its ugly face, whilst Barnaby’s closure on his parents’ murder isn’t quite as closing as he’d thought, raising more questions. However, all is revealed to the viewer by the end of the volume, leaving the series on a huge cliff-hanger and opening up numerous extra questions to be answered. Whether there’s enough time left in the final volume to cover everything is yet to be seen, but considering the plot progression and pacing so far it shows promise that the final section shall be satisfying. See you again next time for Tiger & Bunny volume 4, same bat channel, same bat time.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Ustream Mini Corner Volume 2, Karaoke versions of the opening and ending
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Menu Grade: A
Extras Grade: A
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: July 15th, 2013
Running Time: 150 (Series) 29 (Extras)
Price: £22.58 (BD + DVD Combo)
23” Samsung HDTV, Creative speakers and Sub, Laptop via HDMI port