Tiger & Bunny Episode 14 – An Excess of Affection
Ten months after Barnaby defeated Jake Martinez and saved the city from destruction, the tide has turned for both heroes in general and Wild Tiger in particular. With Ouroboros out of the picture and Lunatic having gotten no new kills under his belt (whether because he’s been laying low or because the heroes have managed to counter him is not specified), the city feels secure, and is grateful for it. Hero TV even has started the equivalent of a JV hero league for less dangerous crimes.
Tiger himself is having his best year ever. Having come in a respectable fourth in rankings last year (with Barnaby taking top honors), he no longer has to worry about his boss threatening to fire him. But the biggest change in attitude comes from Barnaby, who seems to have finally figured the selflessness at the heart of Tiger’s personality. The result is a partnership that at times feels too saccharine, but can get the job done.
It’s to the show’s credit that it waits to pull out the foreshadowing of Tiger’s next great challenge until the end of the episode, and even there it’s only hinted at. It’s also to the show’s credit that this challenge is left to fester precisely because of Barnaby’s newfound goodwill.
This episode focuses primarily on Blue Rose/Karina’s longstanding crush on Tiger, which she has always had trouble admitting to herself. (Understandably so, as Tiger is probably twice her age.) Reflecting on the growing popularity of Tiger and Barnaby, the two are partnered with Blue Rose for her next single, giving them plenty of bonding time.
I’m not going to talk much about that because it’s fairly predictable: By the end of the episode Karina has come to understand and accept her feelings for Tiger, even if she’s not going to express them directly. They may not be entirely rational feelings, but they are hers, and she’s okay with that. I’m also not going to talk much about the lone criminal element of the show, a cross-dressing stalker who uses his powers of invisibility to steal trinkets from pop idols like Blue Rose.
The interesting part is how Barnaby goes to bat for Tiger, explaining to Karina that while Tiger seems a bit klutzy at times, what really drives him is his desire to help others. Thus, Tiger will pretend to fail to protect others from the embarrassment, or give others credit for things, and so forth. Karina’s affection for Tiger is well established, but Barnaby’s is new.
Thus, when Tiger seems to lose his abilities about thirty seconds too early when chasing the criminal du jour, and Rock Bison catches him instead, Barnaby assumes that Tiger staged it deliberately, to give Rock Bison the credit. Bison came up last in the most recent annual rankings, so his job was coming into question. By passing on the catch, Tiger helped Bison regain some credibility.
It’s a reasonable inference, given that Tiger did something similar in the show’s second episode. But it’s not true: Tiger’s powers did run out early, just as before his powers really were even more supercharged than usual. His powers are changing, burning brighter but faster. And that leaves the question if his powers might one day burn themselves out entirely.
Tiger should of course immediately tell someone, but he doesn’t. He’s more pleased with the gains in power than with the loss in duration, and he is too flattered by Barnaby’s explanation of his supposed magnanimity to correct him. Tiger is selfless, as Barnaby notes, but he’s also a bit vain and not always the most forward thinking individual in the world. Even though his power fluctuation nearly let a criminal get away, he isn’t taking the steps to prevent a future failure under more dangerous circumstances.
The irony is that while the old Barnaby wouldn’t have given Tiger credit when he deserved it, the new Barnaby is giving him credit where he doesn’t—and this could be equally bad. Tiger is neither a failure or the saint: He’s an ordinary guy with understandable if occasionally flawed motivations. Those motivations are currently guiding him in the wrong direction.
Given next episode, according to the preview, is going to be a character portrait of Sky High, we might not find out how this is going to play out for a while. With Jake’s accomplice Kriem not divulging anything about Ouroboros, there’s a good chance that someone in the organization is still out there waiting to strike. And of course Lunatic is still a menace waiting to kill criminals and any heroes that step up to protect them. The show has plenty of plot threads waiting be be picked up, and its willingness to let plots linger and develop has been one of the better aspects of the middle stretch of episodes, particularly as each new advance opens up a new thread to explore.
Likewise, while this episode continues to develop Karina’s feelings for her fellow hero, it also ties them to Barnaby’s change of view. Barnaby’s not in love, but he’s in the honeymoon period of his partnership with Tiger. After such a rocky “courtship,” the change of pace is welcome, but it’s taken to an extreme that will likely prove a problem later. How much, we’ll have to wait and see.
You can watch the episode here.