Agnes Joubert just wants something. Something she can use.
What They Say:
In the metropolis of Stern Bild, there are heroes who wear the logos of sponsors and protect the city from danger. Their exploits are broadcast on the popular HERO TV.
WILD TIGER (Kotetsu T. Kaburagi) is a veteran superhero past his peak who is ordered by his company to team up with the rookie hero BARNABY BROOKS JR. Can these two mismatched superheroes overcome their differences to protect the city?
The audio, while only in 2.0 (not that my setup has 5.1 capabilities), allows us to fully appreciate the contrast between the characters talking and the louder TV broadcaster. The sound is really full too, allowing for all of the effects to “feel” like its surround, even though it’s not. The audio is far and beyond the video, and I’m completely satisfied with it.
The video quality hovers somewhere between Sentai’s passable discs and Discotek’s somehow amazing discs. It’s appreciated that the Hero TV video quality is noticeably worse, because its meant to emulate that kind of poor TV quality you would get. The CG still doesn’t quite meld with the regular animation, but the quality of video itself is not affected by this. Overall, I’m satisfied with the DVD video, but I can’t help but want to watch it on blu-ray.
The case is pretty standard, but the inner holder for disc one (there’s two discs; one for extras) is rather nice. It’s flexible, so you don’t feel like you have to bend the disc to get it out, instead you’re bending the holding, which is a nice change of pace from that horrifying feeling that you might, just might, break the disc.
The backdrop of the menu is from the best part of the movie, the last half, and has Tiger and Bunny in front of the amusement park they defended. The chapters don’t have titles, but they have little screenshots, which makes it kind of hard to know exactly where you’re going. The extras section of this is just one big section with all the extras listed, some of which are in 5.1. There’s no background music in the menus either, which is alright, if not weird.
Viz really did go all out with the extras on these discs. There’s tons of stuff, from extra Tiger and Bunny content to the typical textless opening and ending to original trailers for the film. The first disc is mostly promotional stuff, but the second one has all the good stuff. The production art is really cool and what you’d expect from a typical artbook. The USTREAM digest is a huge promotion for the production of the film itself with some pretty cool interviews from the staff. The beef of this is the 2 hour 15 minute world premiere event that has a longer running time than the film itself. It’s a pretty cool concert and promotional event where people dressed as the Tiger and Bunny heroes fly in and make appearances, reminiscent of me going to the mall to see the REAL Power Rangers. Overall, these extras are definitely some of the best I’ve seen on a disc ever and I’m super glad Viz went the extra mile to put all these out.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Disclaimer: I have seen exactly four episodes of the Tiger and Bunny TV series. I loved what I saw, but that’s all Neon Alley had at the time and I just haven’t gotten around to buying those blu-rays. So my view on this film will be based on that exposure.
Tiger and Bunny the movie begins in the exact same way Tiger and Bunny the TV starts: with Hero TV covering a robbery in progress. It’s a great commentary on our news media right now that sensationalizes anything and everything they possibly can for ratings (it’s like that Don Henley song, “Dirty Laundry”). Hero TV literally asks Wild Tiger to hold for a 30 second commercial to create suspense. Tiger, of course, denies the request because justice waits for no one.
To top this off, the heroes are wearing ads from their sponsors. There is a hilarious commercial in the middle of the movie where Blue Rose is doing a shoot for Pepsi. It’s even more telling of the sensationalism because these sponsors (the money behind everything) are actually in control of the ones who dish out the justice.
My main problems with the film lie in its story, which the first 40 minutes or so of it is just content cut straight from the TV show. The stories are A-level stories, but they don’t work all together in one film. The film as a whole feels disjointed and, until that 40 or 50 minute mark, just like pasted together episodes of television put together with that ominous ouroboros thing with Barnaby.
The best part of the film, though, is that last half, which is spectacular. It continues from the second episode; the story is placed in the same night as that second episode. Tiger invites Bunny to meet and greet the rest of the heroes. This is a very much needed introduction to the human halves of all the heroes, which I saw woefully little of through four episodes of the TV series. We know about Kotetsu, but that’s about it. But through that segment, I learned a lot about those characters that just wasn’t presented before. I learned that Karina is kind of bratty (which I knew from the four episodes), Huang has a childish curiosity and naiveté, and Antonio is the fun-loving big guy. These are things I could infer, but they’re nice to have more solid backing in the actual story.
Their main opponent in this entire endeavor is Robin Baxter, a NEXT that can change positions with another person in his view. He proves to be quite challenging for the heroes, as it’s only when Bunny goes it alone that they’re able to defeat him. It’s quite clever how Bunny manages to do it, but it’s merely laying the groundwork for the larger teamwork that’s to come from the franchise.
The film delivers in plot, but is weak in characterization. That was my complaint through four episodes of the TV series, but you’ve got 21 more episodes to go. In a film, you should set up your characters more and I think you just have too many characters to do that with in this film. They wisely focus on Tiger and Bunny, the titular characters, but it still felt lacking. Like the plot, not the characters, was driving the conflict. But perhaps that’s the message they’re trying to convey, that the news media is plotting our every thought and motion, just as Hero TV does with the heroes.
However, this film won’t serve as a good “Beginning,” as the title suggests, for newcomers. It’ll be a fine coupling of stories, but it’ll feel disjointed and it’s simply better to watch the TV series first because of this.
The dub cast for Tiger and Bunny is, thankfully, really good. Like one of the best dubs I’ve seen in a while, good. Wally Wingert as Tiger is the perfect kind of dad figure that’s trying to stay relevant. Yuri Lowenthal plays off him perfectly as the young dude that knows that Tiger’s well past his prime. The remaining five heroes didn’t have much talk time, but they all did splendidly in their supporting roles. Veterans round out the cast and the surprise rookie, John Eric Bentley, is really good as effeminate Fire Emblem. Those kinds of roles can be hard to pull off and Bentley does it well. Perhaps with flare.
The film suffered from being based off of those two TV episodes. If it was just that second half story with more characterization, it would have received a higher score. Still, given that, it was a great film whose strengths were outweighed by its weaknesses because of my existing love for the franchise. I’d still suggest the film to anyone who’s seen as much of the TV series as I have because there’s enough new content for it to be really interesting. Though you might just skip that first 40 minutes.
Japanese 2.0 Language, Japanese 5.1 Language, English 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English subtitles, World Premiere Event, USTREAM Special Digest, Production Art, Special Pilot Trailer, Pilot Trailer, Promotional Video, Commercial Collection, Theater Commercials, Weekly Hero Countdown, Clean Opening, Clean Ending
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: A+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: October 1st, 2013
Running Time: 92 minutes + 206 minutes of extras
Review Equipment: Radeon 7850, 24 in. Vizio 1080p HDTV, Creative GigaWorks T20 Series II