Heyo! So this is my first opinion piece aside from my top 10 list, but I felt like Tiger and Bunny needed some love. That being said, everything in this article is strictly my opinion.
You don't have to agree with everything or really anything I say. I'm always up for debating and if you have things to add I'd love to hear them!
Also, just as a heads up: I'll be using singular they/them pronouns for Nathan and she/her for Pao-Lin. They use he/him for Nathan in the show, but I just feel better using they/them.
I'll be going pretty in-depth on the show, and even though I'll say when I'm talking about spoilers, I'm just going to stick on of these on here:
If you haven't seen Tiger and Bunny yet, you should absolutely go watch it. It's a ton of fun with a great plot and a completely **~amazing~**
movie. Now, onto the reasons why I think Tiger and Bunny is one of the greatest anime ever!
#1 - The Story
You can't really talk about Tiger and Bunny without talking about the story. So, let's just kick off with that. The story revolves around the city of Stern Bild, a very well-off city built above the water and home to humans and people known as NEXT. The NEXT are humans with enhanced powers and while they used to be discriminated against, they are now widely respected in most parts of the cities as heroes, even being promoted on their own show called Hero TV. The main focus is the first ever hero-duo of Wild Tiger and Barnaby Brooks Jr. Wild Tiger, aka Kotetsu Kaburagi, has been in the hero business for quite a while and is the oldest hero there. Barnaby shows up out of nowhere and doesn't have a lot of respect for Kotetsu. Alright, time to analyze. The story of Tiger and Bunny is very open, with an underlying plot that doesn't make an appearance in every episode. The underlying plot is that Barnaby is seeking out his parent's killer, who he lost both his parents to as a child. That being said, there are episodes dedicated to other characters that actually build character.
As much as I love Barnaby and his whole quest, some of my favorite episodes were those that centered around the other characters. I'm going to go in-depth on one episode in particular just because it's one of the greatest episodes I've seen in anime overall. The story all ties together which is wonderful. The only thing left unresolved is the cliffhanger in the very last scene of the show, which is amazing. Everything has been wrapped up, the villain stopped and put to two very different types of justice. Barnaby and Kotetsu are happily marri- I mean, happily at peace. The cast all gets a happy ending. Then in the veeeeeeeery last scene, a Stern Dollar falls into a puddle and we see something kind of chilling. Those who have seen the show and finished it know what I'm talking about and it got me really hyped for a season three. Which doesn't exist, but it's kind of a cool open ending like "Yeah, they could have more adventures if we ever wanna reboot it. Whatevsies." The effort that went into tying everything together and having it all make sense was really great. Though, naturally, what's a story without a cast?
#2 - The Characters
I just want to give them all hugs.
Tiger and Bunny has one of my favorite casts just ever. They have a pretty diverse cast, but it actually makes sense. Stern Bild could easily be in the US as easily as anywhere else. In fact, the diversity of the names (Pao-Lin, Keith, Antonio, Kotetsu, Karina) make it basically able to take place anywhere NOT in Asia. The U.S. makes the most sense, as the names are all pretty American, though it could also take place in the U.K., Canada, or Australia. This presents the ability for quite a few people of different backgrounds to mix and hoo boy. They sure do. Even the side cast who aren't heroes are really well done. Agnes, the person who runs Hero TV, is a blast to watch. She's completely obsessed with views and ratings, but she has moments where you can tell she really cares for her heroes. The villains are also really great, from Jake's psychotic tendencies to Kreim's obsessive nature to The Main Villain Who I Won't Name's ability to make you hate them.
Kotetsu is great as a main character in my opinion. Often, characters like Barnaby or Ivan would be focused on due to their age, but Kotetsu is clearly in his late thirties. He's a dad, but also a son. He checks in with his mom, who knows he's a NEXT while also checking in with his daughter, who doesn't know. The added responsibility of being a parent is something we don't see from a lot of main characters and it's pretty great to see him struggle with something other than the teen/young adult problems that most protagonists deal with. The only one who really comes even close to dealing with those things is Blue Rose/Karina Lyle, who is in high school. Kotetsu has to worry about getting a job, keeping a job, calling his daughter who he doesn't live with, and the sorrow of losing his wife. Yeah, he was married too. A married man with a daughter, or at least a widower with a daughter, isn't very common as a main character. That's one of the reasons we love him so much. He tries so hard to uphold his promises of being a hero, while also trying to be a good dad. That, and he's absolutely hilarious. I've only seen the dub of Tiger and Bunny and truth be told, it's probably all I'm ever going to see. Wally Wingert does an amazing job as Kotetsu, giving him all the goodness but also all the sass that comes in the character.
Please be my dad. Please.
I mean, you can't talk about Tiger without talking about Bunny. Now, if you think of Barnaby as the main character... yeesh. I dunno, I found him a little repetitive after a while. I feel for him, yeah, but you can only say "He killed my parents!" so many times there, Harry Potter. However, if you think of him as a
main character, he's much better. He works off Kotetsu beautifully, with his desire for attention and revenge going against Kotetsu's idealistic and more honest nature. Also, you know the thing where the only faults in a character are their desire for revenge and the fact that they're too headstrong? Yeah, no. He has those faults, which is possibly why he's not even in my top three favorite T&B characters. He's also vain and kind of a brat. The fact that he was raised by someone who was wealthy and focused so much on image actually shows and he's not all that likable in the beginning, which is also pretty new. He's not flawless and the fact that he's a brat without it being a good thing is great. Still, his favorite moments are when he's showing pure emotion. He made me fricking cry in the final arc.
When the person who actually killed Barnaby's parents is revealed and Barnaby realizes it, his reaction breaks your fricking heart. Instead of getting angry or hateful, he just falls apart, not even trying to defend himself from getting his memories replaced again just because of the betrayal. The man he trusted as a father figure is the one who is responsible for everything that has gone wrong in his life and it's just painful and heart-wrenching to watch Barnaby lose all his grace and eloquence to just an utter piece of human garbage.
Pretty boy prick, how can you not love him?
AAAAAAAAAAAA. I'm sorry. I really love Nathan. I can't describe how much I love Nathan. Fire Emblem (yes, Fire Emblem. Like the game. It's great.)/Nathan Seymore is an angel baby who deserves everything good in this world. They're ultra-flamboyant and into guys, and while this is kind of just a gag in the show, the second movie Tiger and Bunny: The Rising fully goes into this and made Nathan a truly amazing character. They're really entertaining in the show, especially when Lunatic is first introduced and they have to prove innocence. They also have one of my favorite lines in the entire show: "Oh, someone's gonna get bitchslapped for this." Again, the voice acting is perfect in the dub, though I dunno about the sub. The thing that really made me adore Nathan is their arc in The Rising. The short of it is: Nathan is put in a NEXT-power induced coma and will be stuck there until they deal with the hardest memory. Their hardest memory is pretty much their entire life before owning the company they took at twenty years old.
They were looked down on by their friends and family for dressing like a woman and being into guys. For most of it, they run from their past, quite literally. The negativity of their memory takes the shape in their feminine form. The arc ends with them hearing Dragon Kid on the television through their coma and how much she cares for them no matter their gender or who they like. Nathan finally just ends up accepting who they are by literally hugging their past self. It's a beautiful moment and one of my favorite parts of the series. The message of loving yourself no matter what is honestly inspirational and then the fact that they get back into the fight and kick some serious ass is majestic.
YOUUUUU ARE THE OCEANS GREAT FLAAAAMES.
Speaking of Dragon Kid... Pao-Lin is pretty great. Her section will be shorter, though there are things to be said about Pao-Lin Huang. She sometimes likes being a girl, sometimes doesn't and is the only genderfluid character that I've seen in anime so far. She has an arc where she also accepts herself, though a) it's in the show, not the movie and b) it's toned down a lot. Pao-Lin turns out to be the only one who can comfort the mayor's baby despite not wanting to babysit him. She gets kidnapped and her protective instincts take over, making her realize it's okay to want to be a mom. It was sweet, but nothing all that inspirational. She does get some nice development and her interaction is really sweet, especially considering that she's, y'know, thirteen. Yeah, she's thirteen and a really awesome hero. The fact that she sometimes has moments where she just acts like a little kid is also really sweet and reminds us of her age. I would have liked to see more moments where she acts like a kid, but eh. Also, her acceptance of Nathan makes me so happy. The two are such great friends despite the age difference and agggh.
Be my little sibling. Please.
SPEAKING OF AGE DIFFERENCE. Oh, Karina. Oh, sweet dear Karina. She has her good points but I never really cared for her. Though, as not-great characters go, she was just that: not great. She wasn't bad. She wasn't terrible. You knew who you were supposed to hate and man is it easy to hate the villain at the end. My main problems with Karina were problems that were actually done very well. She's a teenager, plain and simple. Her Blue Rose persona is actually more likable at least to me. Her "cutie escape" is kind of funny and the way we see her arguing with her manager about her catchphrase in the beginning is great. The only thing is, as Karina, she gets on my nerves. For one thing, she's a tsundere. I don't have a great relationship with tsunderes. They get to me. She also has a very high-key crush on Kotetsu which is... a little weird. He has a daughter seven years younger than her. He's in his late thirties. She's sixteen when we meet her. It's interesting, and I'm really glad they don't do anything with the pairing other than give her this one-sided crush. It was a little cringy sometimes, but other times you actually felt bad for her. Still, there are other fish in the sea. (Excuse me while I unashamedly ship her with Pao-Lin and/or Ivan uh oops-)
The angsty teen in all of us. Though her voice is so pretty I'll be honest.
Antonio Lopez/Rock Bison is such a sweetie. He's all big and tough but he just needs a hug. He doesn't get a lot of development (actually, he gets NO development) which is sad. I would have liked to see his backstory, but we never get it. He's pretty much just the best friend character for Kotetsu and sort-of love interest for Nathan. I don't really like that they gave so little to Antonio, though it is kind of funny when you know his ranking in Hero TV. He isn't really that relevant, so the fact that he got very little development kind of plays on that. Though, the way we see him interact with Ivan in The Rising is really sweet. Both of them had felt useless at one point or another, with Ivan feeling that way in the show and Antonio feeling that way in the movie. It was nice to see Ivan give advice for once and see them interact.
He's a teddy bear with horns I swear.
Origami Cyclone/Ivan Karelin is such an angel baby. He also needs a hug. Like, he really needs a hug. You can tell he started as a joke character but became someone you felt genuinely bad for. He's really upbeat despite doing practically nothing on Hero TV while being Origami, but as Ivan he's always down on himself. The arc where we find out about this is great and seeing him stand up for himself and his friend who tried to kill him that same episode against a guy who can literally kill you with a glare was awesome. There's not much to say about him, sadly, but the show speaks for itself with Ivan.
He just needs a hug.
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA ANGEL BABY. PRECIOUS SATANIC FLAMMABLE ANGEL BABY. I... I really like Yuri. I'm sorry. He means so much to me. It's really cliche to like a character like him and honestly he could have been done better but his backstory just aaaagh. Mr. Legend, one of the first heroes, is someone who we think of as a great person through most of the show until we get into Yuri's backstory.
We find out that Mr. Legend was Yuri's father and was also an alcoholic who was abusive to Yuri's mother. Yuri tried to stop him from hurting her and found out he had NEXT powers, specifically fire hotter than anything ever known on Earth. His father died because of it and Yuri got a massive burn scar on his face.
He's a judge by day and Lunatic by night, going on rants and killing criminals Death Note style with fiery blasts of justice. I think my favorite part of Yuri is just how different Yuri is from Lunatic, despite them being the same person. Yuri is very calm and collected, with seeming to have utter control of everything he does and not betraying a hint of his true feelings. In a way, he's the perfect judge. As Lunatic though, he's just that: a lunatic. He seems to have no control and is really long winded. He's all about flair and attention while Yuri is about subtlety and silence. The closest character I could compare him to is Lelouch from Code Geass. Yuri = Lelouch while Lunatic = Zero; same person, but very different personas.
The voice of Thanatos compels you... Watch more Tiger and Bunny.
On the flip side of Lunatic's hardcore, execution justice, we have the embodiment of purity. Sky High/Keith Goodman is the sweetest character in the show. He really is. He's so nice and idealistic, I love him. This never really changes, which is okay at least to me. He wasn't someone I felt needed to change. His sweetness and purity was enough to build a really likable side character. I won't say much on him as I'd rather talk about the episode people remember him for: The Sky's the Limit episode AKA the Cis episode AKA the episode that breaks my heart.
((This whole thing is technically a spoiler, but only for the episode itself. It doesn't have much to do with the main story. Still, if you'd rather not read it, skip to #4.))
# 3 - The Sky's the Limit... Episode
There is one episode where Keith is feeling depressed, which is completely unlike him as he's usually the optimist. He meets a girl in the park who doesn't say much outside the simple question of "Why?" whenever he talks to her, but through that question he begins to question himself and actually get out of what was bothering him. It's a simple concept, but it's one of the times we get to see just how sweet Keith is and how innocent he is, despite being dubbed the King of Heroes. The twist is with that episode: there's a man who has engineered an android with AI who is programmed to hate NEXT, especially heroes. This android, named Cis, is the same girl as the one in the park. The main group ends up fighting her, with Sky High showing up late enough that she's been basically fighting until she's just metal and an evil looking robot. He flies her into the sky and destroys her, this being the first time he's been fully back in action since the beginning of the episode. He destroys the robot, job well done. However, the next day he takes a bouquet of flowers out to the park to thank the strange girl he met, never knowing that she was the same "person" that he fought and destroyed the night previous. The episode ends on him sitting on the park bench, waiting for her, and the audience knows she'll never come. WHAT. For a show with a name like Tiger and Bunny, there's some dark crap in it. The Cis episode is one of my all-time favorites just for how tragic it is. This is one episode I rewatch again and again just for how well done it is. The fact that it centers around the purest character in the show AND the fact that in all the episodes and both movies he never finds out.
The scene would have been tragic if he did, but the fact that he doesn't I think makes it worse.
#4 - The Fight Scenes
YOU TWO ARE THE REASON I'M EMO.
Tiger and Bunny has really, really great fight scenes. The fight mentioned above is a case in point, but my favorites have to be the fights with Lunatic and Kotetsu's fight with Jake. The dynamics and tension are great. The fight against the main antagonist of The Rising is also beautiful with all the characters working together. I can't say much about the fights, as they're more of a visual thing, but I can say that they're a blast to watch.
#5 - The OST
I wanna make a joke, but they're just so cool-
I can't scream over the OST enough, particularly the character songs. EVERY CHARACTER GETS ONE!! Ｏ(≧∇≦)Ｏ EVERY SINGLE ONE!!! That makes me so happy, it really does- Wait, what? Nathan doesn't have a character song?? WHAT!? *clears throat* Okay, the almost all have character songs. BUT! They are featured in a song with Pao-Lin and Karina, which is a really cute song called Koisuru Heroine. Their songs are also so good! I can't say much on this either sadly, but I will leave a link for the playlist below:
#6 - Tiger and Bunny: The Rising
I want all the character songs. ALL OF THEM.
I love Howl's Moving Castle. I love Wolf Children. I love From Up on Poppy Hill. Tiger and Bunny: The Rising is my favorite anime movie of all time. It is so, so good. I actually like it better than my favorite anime of all time which is not T&B mind you. The way that each character gets their own dynamics and the relationships it builds is beautiful. More than that though, the fricking SUBTLETY. Not the message, though that's kind of blurred outside of "revenge is bad." That was kind of the message of the show too... Anyway, the subtlety comes from the main villain and the theme of the show. Now, you can usually spot when something is going to be tied in with the theme. However ((This is kind of a spoiler? Not really, but I thought it was cool when revealed. It doesn't wreck the ending)), somewhere in the show, Kotetsu calls his daughter like in the show and asks her how school is. She brings up that she has to write a poem about the sun and doesn't know how to write it to make the teacher like it. She wants to fit someone else's standards instead of writing it for herself, which is another theme of the movie about being proud of who you are. The topic is kind of dismissed until later on when he calls and it comes up again. He says she should write it how she wants and that will be good enough for anyone who matters. The movie ends with her poem and it honestly made my heart break. It gives a sweet ending to every character with no final questions or little hooks like the show. It has a really sweet line on being who you are and even in the darkest moments, there's still light. These messages have already been done, but the way they do it is sweet and so wonderful to watch. The poem at the end makes me cry and just feel so happy, no matter how many times I see it. While this isn't part of the actual show, anyone who liked the show should absolutely go see the movie.
R I S E
Well, that was my kind of review of Tiger and Bunny. I hope you enjoyed it and I hope you go watch the series if you haven't already! If you have any thoughts about my article or T&B in general, let me know! Until next time!
Thanks for reading!