Home > Episode Reviews, Tiger & Bunny > Tiger & Bunny Episode 15 – Decline is a Choice

Tiger & Bunny Episode 15 – Decline is a Choice

Last week established that our two main heroes were at the pinnacle of success. They have the most prestige, the largest fanbase, and the endorsement requests spilling in from all sides. Their attention with media matters is such that the Wild Tiger begins to complain that they don’t have the time to fight crime anymore. (And given their current status is due to doing so well in the hero rankings, one would think their boss would care about that.)

But with winners come losers: You can’t have the New York Yankees without the Kansas City Royals. Really, it’s amazing that the heroes cooperate as much as they do given that their occupation involves a zero-sum competition for points. Last time it was Rock Bison who nearly faced the axe. This time the attention turns to the former “King of Heroes,” Sky High.

This episode hammers home all the different ways that heroes are commercially exploited. It’s been toned down before now only because Tiger wasn’t popular enough to get this treatment

Sky High had been at the top of the hero rankings for what seemed like an eternity, so his fall came as a shock both to him and to his producers. But Sky High’s funk is deeper than that. Jake Martinez taught him the meaning of defeat, and since then he has lacked the confidence and drive to do great things. He’s struck with thoughts of his own falliblity, and this uncertainty only lowers his performance. It’s a vicious cycle that is threatening not just to keep him at number two, but make him fall even lower.

Sky High needs something to save him, and the show obligingly provides, with the best thing to make his man prove his worth: He meets a woman and falls in love. Of course, Tiger & Bunny is too cute to just run with the cliche, so they throw in the twist that the “woman” he falls for, Cis, is actually an android, and the main villain of the episode. Come to think of it, that’s a bit of a cliche too.

Sky High’s dog immediately notices something is wrong with Cis. That his owner doesn’t follow suit doesn’t speak well of his discernment

I don’t mind that cliche, for two reasons. The first is that Sky High never makes the connection. By the time he comes in to save Barnaby and Tiger from the rampaging robot, “her” skin has already burned off. After taking it apart, he returns to thank Cis; his part in the episode ends with him sitting at the park bench where they met with flowers in his hands, waiting for a woman that will never come. It’s a cruel move that is still far more satisfying than the shock he would have faced learning the truth.

The second is that Cis is really robotic, to the point that Sky High not noticing is a sign that he’s not that bright. (It’s not the first one we’ve had, either.) Cis’s conversational system is limited in the extreme, but all it takes is its repeatedly asking “Why?” to convince Sky High that his problems are all in head. Just by realizing this, and realizing he has something to fight for, he comes to understand how to solve his problem. He still has all the same gifts and abilities he had before Jake came along. Why not use them?

Sky High’s attempts fall flat against Cis’s monotone indifference, but given how clumsy he is, I don’t know if he’s succeeded even with a normal girl

That question is posed in a far more serious way to both Barnaby and Wild Tiger. For Barnaby, he discovers that the researcher behind the berserk android Cis worked with his parents, and piggybacked off of their research. He’s an irresponsible scientist of the classic mode, aware that his creation is a threat to others, but too admiring of its combat potential to feel guilty when it malfunctions and starts attacking. He’s technically not responsible for the havoc his robot creates (it was a freak accident that set it off), but he’s sort of cheering for it anyway.

For Barnaby, who idolized his parents like the citizens of Stern Bild idolized him, this is a bit of a blow. He had always thought his parent did admirable work; while the villain’s suggest that Barnaby’s father would have taken his research in the same way is questionable, it still gives Barnaby pause. The idea that the power of robots could be used for ill as well as for good—that the work of his parents could be used for ill—is not something he ever contemplated.

The researcher, despite being nearly killed by his creation moments before, is overwhelmed with joy at how powerful Cis is. Barnaby hopes his father would have been better than that, but how can he really know?

Tiger, on the other hand, finally gets the word from his former manager that his power surges are likely signaling a future power burnout. Having been a hero for so long, his powers are finally coming to an end. Why this is something his former manager would know (and not his current one, and the scientists working for him, etc.) isn’t clear to me, but it finally gets across to Tiger that his situation is far more serious than he thought. He may not have his powers, his gifts, for that much longer.

I don’t know if the show deliberately timed Sky High getting his groove back with Tiger and Barnaby losing theirs, but regardless it works out well thematically. Sky High learned this episode that his decline was a choice, one he can change. For Tiger, his coming decline may not be so easy to reverse.

Wild Tiger’s former manager has worked as a cab driver since his company folded. Even so, he was always the brains behind the pairing, which is why making him the bearer of bad news is only somewhat odd rather than completely bizarre

You can watch the episode here.

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  1. September 12, 2011 at 6:18 pm

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