Home > Episode Reviews, Tiger & Bunny > Tiger & Bunny Episode 9 – Familial Affection

Tiger & Bunny Episode 9 – Familial Affection

Another episode, another hero to meet. It looks like Tiger and Bunny is finally taking the time to introduce the rest of the cast. This time the hero is Dragon Kid, Pao-Lin Huang, a powerful electricity-wielding Next and talented martial artist. A Chinese native, she was scouted from her home country and feels the weight of her country’s expectations on her. But far more than that, she feels pressured from her parents.

Like Blue Rose, Dragon Kid is a teenage hero, but unlike Karina, Pao-Lin lives half the world away from her parents. Also unlike Blue Rose, Dragon Kid downplays her femininity at all costs, even though her parents keep sending her cute and girly clothes and accessories to wear and her agent comments on how she lacks a certain appeal. That much is true—despite being one of the most talented and effective heroes on the circuit, her popularity trails behind Blue Rose and Barnaby.

Given how much Blue Rose's public persona plays up her appeal in somewhat exploitative ways, I don't blame Dragon Kid for trying to stay a bit boyish

That provides the context for the heroes’ latest mission: safeguarding the mayor’s infant son while he and his wife take a trip. While the mayor has his reasons (there have been a rash of high profile kidnappings as of late), it feels to most of the heroes like an over-glorified babysitting gig.

Wild Tiger is given the assignment, as he has experience as a father, but the baby doesn’t take a liking to him, or to any of the heroes save Dragon Kid. The child is also a powerful telekinetic, so with everyone very eager to keep the child in good spirits, Pao-Lin gets roped in (dragooned? shanghaied? OK, I’ll stop) along with him.

If The Incredibles taught us anything, it's that superpowered infants are a recipe for disaster

A cliche way to handle the situation—that is, the way I expected it would play out—would be to have Pao-Lin discover her inner mother as a result of her babysitting experiences and accept her femininity more as a result. That doesn’t happen at all. Pao-Lin is perfectly capable of appreciating a cute kid while still maintaining a tomboyish attitude toward most everything else.

Rather, taking care of the kid, including against the kidnappers who come along to provide an external threat, drives home to Pao-Lin the depths of her parents concern for her, and how much love they put into every gift they send her. By thinking they were giving her “feminine” gifts to pressure her, she wasn’t giving them proper credit for the affection.

One touching moment is when Pao-Lin realizes the flower hairpin her parents sent her has a deeper symbolic meaning. This finally convinces her to start wearing it

The focus on parental love also relates, in a very indirect fashion, back to our main heroes. For Tiger, it’s his usual chance to deliver the moral of the episode even as he fails to have his personal life match up. (His own daughter gives him subtle slights all the time.) For Barnaby, who lost his parents, it provides further resolve to locate his parents’ killer.

That resolve pushes Barnaby to bring Tiger into the loop, as he explains what he’s learned and how he’s hit a block (as the audience has seen the past few episodes) when trying to remember the killer’s face. This episode, prompted into an flashback by an unsuspecting Tiger, Barnaby finally remembers what the assassin looked like.

We haven't seen this man before, but if the end of the episode is any indication, that might change very soon

Such revelations provide a needed drama which is completely lacking elsewhere: The main villains this time, aside from serving as eye candy, are not particularly interesting (and certainly not threatening). There’s also, aside from the Blue Rose/Dragon Kid comparison at the beginning of the episode, little attention given to the ironic/subversive elements of Stern Bild’s heroes, so don’t expect much comedic value from that.

Of course, the “cast gets stuck with a baby that everyone has trouble keeping happy” plot is one of those perennial storylines of last resort by writers out of better ideas, so ultimately I’m happy the show accomplished as much with it as it did. This episode gives us another introduction to a hero, combined with a surprisingly touching outcome to the show’s hijinks, while not sacrificing progress in the metaplot as a consequence. There’s plenty to be happy about just with that.

A trio of talented voice actresses can't keep the villains this time from being utterly forgettable

You can watch the episode here.

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