Home > Episode Reviews, Tiger & Bunny > Tiger & Bunny Episodes 6 and 7 – Burning for Justice

Tiger & Bunny Episodes 6 and 7 – Burning for Justice

In any superhero comic where the hero must continually defeat the same bad guys over and over and over again, there remains a lingering question: Why doesn’t Batman simply kill the Joker? Yes, there’s issues of personal moral lines and the boundaries of vigilantism (and the desire to bring the villain back later when the writers need a new plot), but countless lives would be saved if someone had the good sense to put a bullet in the Joker’s head.

It’s an ethical quandary between utilitarianism and more stringent, first principles-based ethical systems that, with a proper writing staff, can be addressed in a mature and engaging fashion. Tiger & Bunny apparently doesn’t have that staff and/or the inclination, so instead the topic gets addressed in as ham-handed a fashion as possible.

I can’t fault the show for that: Tiger & Bunny was never intended to present an ethical treatise. More to the point, however shallowly the show treats the ethical issues at stake, these episodes ratchet up the dramatic tension and provides the show with its first multi-episode villain. It looks like he’ll be worthy of the role.

Fire Emblem gets plenty of screen time in episode six, but not much is revealed about him save his vanity. After Blue Rose's treatment, I would have hoped for more

After three (admittedly dastardly) criminals are roasted alive in their jail cell, authorities start looking for the Next who could have pulled off such a feat. At first suspicion falls on Fire Emblem, but when another prisoner gets fried while Fire Emblem is known to be elsewhere, the search turns to finding the new perpetrator.

The plot continues to pile up as Tiger is targeted by a mech-wielding menace, whose bot has a flamethrower capable of spewing flames just like the ones that killed the prisoners. The criminal is the same man who tried to bomb a tower in episode three; we never learned of a motive for that attack, but it looks like he’s trying to cover his tracks by killing anyone who could identify him.

Maybe it's just me, but a 15 to 20 foot mech seems a bit difficult to smuggle through city streets

The bomber/tech expert also has an Ouroboros tattoo on the back of his neck, which sends Barnaby into a near frenzy when he sees it. His attempts to interrogate the guy get a little out of hand, and result in the criminal finding a way to escape. Before he can, he’s immolated like every other criminal whose had a speaking line this episode.

Most of episode seven is spent trying to ascertain the motives of the Next who did the killing. At first, the consensus is that he’s a clean-up crew from Ouroboros, eliminating those who could provide information on the organization. That doesn’t quite make sense given his actions: He’s killed people who were about to escape or who otherwise were in no danger of testifying, and he declines several opportunities to vaporize the heroes instead.

Barnaby's temper becomes increasingly frayed as every avenue of investigation into Ouroboros gets cut off

As the bodies pile up, and the new Next finally starts talking, it becomes clear that he’s not part of Ouroboros at all. Instead, he fancies himself a new breed of hero, one that will actually eliminate the evil festering in the city, rather than settling for simple arrests. The fact that one of the people he killed was Ouroboros was a complete coincidence—albeit one that still makes Barnaby very, very mad.

“Mad,” in a different sense, is a perfect characterization of the vigilante Next, who even calls himself Lunatic. Much like Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, it’s one of those names that seems more an author intervention than anything the guy would actually call himself, even if the name sort of fits. Lunatic is exceedingly powerful and skilled, but he does come across as a bit off his rocker.

Not just Lunatic's words, but also his speaking style, costume, and mannerisms all point to deep-seated psychological issues

The madness he conveys keeps his point of view from being taken seriously. Perhaps also because most of the villainy we’ve seen on screen has been rather low-key, his kill-them-all mentality toward the evil-doers in Stern Bild comes off as rather excessive. Rather than present a serious ethical case for Lunatic’s actions, the show is content to have him be a serial murderer driven more by internal demons than the needs of a terrorized city.

Honestly, none of that matters. That Tiger & Bunny didn’t take this in mature and thoughtful directions is mildly disappointing, but hardly crippling. With the introduction of Lunatic, the show receives its first major external challenge, and I hadn’t realized until he arrived how much the show needed that. While the show has always been more about the interplay between the characters than the various crimes in progress, having a serious backdrop makes the internal conflicts more serious too.

Lunatic's way of handling a bunch of criminals holed up in a church? Burn the place to the ground

It helps that the action is much improved in these episodes, with Next-on-Next fights and fast-based aerial combat. The show always looked nice but was missing the extra oomph that would ratchet up tension. It gets that in spades here. The CG work is perhaps a bit too obvious, but that doesn’t keep it from looking very pretty.

There are still some interesting questions lingering about. Is it just a coincidence that an Ouroboros operative had tech that could produce the same blue flames that Lunatic does naturally? By what criteria does Lunatic choose his targets? Why is he coming on to the scene now? For that matter, why did Ouroboros want to bomb the tower?

One question we don't need answered is who Lunatic really is. The show bends over backward to reveal that he's Yuri Petrov, a judge who works on hero-related cases

I’m fully expecting Tiger & Bunny to glaze over some of these questions or ignore them entirely—the show isn’t inclined to touch on subjects not directly related to the plot. But by weaving in events and characters from several episodes back, the show is demonstrating that its plot is better thought out than I expected. Now that the introductory episodes are over and the series is starting its first major plot, Tiger & Bunny feels like it has taken off its training wheels and started its first race. And once again I’m eager to see how well it does.

You can watch the episodes here and here.

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  1. May 24, 2011 at 11:43 am

    I’m loving this show so far, and I just wanted to point out that another reason for the name “Lunatic” comes from the villain’s moon motif — the moon is always full and blood red whenever he appears, and he seems to pose in front of it dramatically a lot. Quite fitting, given that the word “Lunatic” originally referred to people who were thought to be driven mad by the phases of the moon. I thought that was a neat little touch.

    • threeheadedmonkeys
      May 25, 2011 at 11:41 pm

      Good catch on that. Makes me wonder if his powers are linked to the phases of the moon, or if it’s just an artistically convenient coincidence.

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