Home > Episode Reviews, Tiger & Bunny > Tiger & Bunny Episode 4 – Should I Stay or Should I Go

Tiger & Bunny Episode 4 – Should I Stay or Should I Go

The bulk of Tiger & Bunny has focused on the plight of Wild Tiger, as he tries to stick to his principled take on heroism when crass commercialism has taken over and made it into an industry. The two problems with this approach is that the formula was overused by the third episode, and Tiger’s less than mature response to his partner/rival Barnaby began to grate after a while.

I want to pull out episode four as an example of when the show tried something different. Acknowledging for a moment that there were more superheroes in the city than just Tiger and Barnaby, the narrative shifts to the exceedingly popular Blue Rose, a.k.a. Karina Lyle. (I’m sure the name is not Catwoman reference. Really.) This presents a completely different sort of story, for if Tiger is trying keep himself in the hero business, Karina is doing her best to get out of it.

Karina is an ordinary teenage girl who would love to spend her time hanging out with friends. But no, she has to save the world. Again

Karina, as it happens, never wanted to be superhero; when she tried to debut as a singer, the company discovered her powers somehow and enforced a package deal. Karina’s never been happy about that or about several other aspects of the heroing job (including her corny catch-phrase), and starts doing small singing gigs on the side, incognito, just to keep her original dream alive.

When a routine crime bust nearly gets her killed, Karina is really ready to throw in the towel. It’s implied she wouldn’t have had a problem if she’d been paying attention (that is, if her heart was in the work), but that only highlights her issues. If Tiger is correct, when he privately rebukes her, that being a superhero isn’t something you can do unless you’re committed to it, then the mere fact Karina can’t commit means she needs to rethink her priorities.

Blue Rose has to make quick tap dance to cover after she learns the importance of disarming your opponent before delivering your overly long catch phrase

Karina eventually decides to abandon heroism altogether and shift to her singing, but when seeing the selfless heroism of Tiger and the others putting their lives on the line to rescue a single man, she’s inspired to rejoin the fray. Realizing that the work is important for its own sake, and not for simply for earning adoring fans, she returns to her work as a superhero … in front of a camera broadcasting to all her adoring fans.

There are quite a few things to like about this episode. Not only is the change of pace and fresh perspective of Karina’s problems a welcome change from Tiger and Barnaby going at it, but comparing the plight of a young attractive superhero to that of a teenage idol fits in perfectly with new media metaphors this show is built around. It’s also about time we got a better understanding of the rest of the cast.

Karina's mother has superheroes on the brain, and is pushing her daughter in a classicly overbearing way. Add that to the reasons Karina hates her job

But when the show tries to bring back in traditional understandings of heroism to the city of Stern Bild, it can only do so with massive hypocrisy. Karina doesn’t just come back to save people, after all, but to save people with her silly but trademarked catchphrase rolling off her tongue and with an alluring smile for the camera. One could say that’s the price of being a hero in Stern Bild (no publicity means no sponsorship means no legal backing), but its a far cry from the struggles of a Peter Parker, working as Spiderman when the city press treats you as a dangerous menace.

The other heroes don’t fare much better. However much Tiger says its all about the hero stuff, we’ve seen him both before and after this episode worrying about his popularity in ways that go beyond trying to keep his job. Being a hero for the sake of being a hero is the one thing that no hero is Stern Bild can actually do—and no hero in Stern Bild really seems to want to.

Barnaby even talks about being a hero for its own sake. But he's on camera at the time, so who knows how serious he is

That being said, Tiger & Bunny needed an episode like this. In fact, I think the show would have been far better off had it done a series of one shots on the other heroes, exploring the full cast a bit more until it was ready to introduce the meta plot. Something needed to break up the unending back and forth between Tiger and Barnaby, and this works as well as could be expected.

Thus far, the show’s main problem hasn’t been that it’s wanted to be both cynical and heroic at the same time. Rather, it’s been that the cynical side and the heroic side contradict rather than play off each other. But by this point, I think the show just needs to pick a direction it wants to go and stick to it. If we’re lucky the introduction of the meta-plot next episode will finally get us to that point. Like heroism, a series needs to have a proper sense of purpose and direction to be any good.

It slips out in this episode that Fire Emblem owns the company that sponsors him. Little tidbits like that signal that the other heroes have serious backstories waiting to be explored

You can watch the episode here.

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