Home > Episode Reviews, Tiger & Bunny > Tiger & Bunny Episode 25 – Fighting to the End

Tiger & Bunny Episode 25 – Fighting to the End

Well, I shouldn’t have been surprised that Tiger & Bunny pulled in the one loose plot thread from last episode and did something useful with it. After the heroes gather around the fallen Wild Tiger, Maverick and Rotwang show up and unleash a squad of H-01s on the heroes. The safety feature mentioned last episode, activiated at the last minute, is the only thing that saves the lives of the heroes.

Do I mind another obvious attempt at padding through an artificial threat resolved by an artificial solution? Not in the slightest, at least this time, as the animators blew what remained of their budget in a glorious hero on android brawl. Note to studios: If you’re going to stall for time, do it with enough style and we won’t mind.

There are so many good action shots from the fight that it's hard to pick just one. I'm singling out this one because it hints that Origami Cyclone can do more than just shapeshift

Once that is done with, all that’s left is the obvious. Maverick betrays and kills Rotwang, is cornered trying to get his robots working again, and has his lies caught on tape, broadcasted to the entire city. When it becomes obvious that he won’t be able to escape, he turns his memory power on himself. Through self-lobotomization, he can’t give up any information on his links to Ouroboros.

Meanwhile, Tiger reveals that he didn’t die, he gets to act cool saving his daughter one more time, and Agnes gets her best ratings day ever. It’s the sort of thing that seems schmaltzy, but it’s toned down by a few things. Both Tiger and Barnaby officially retire, for example, Tiger for power weakness and Barnaby because he just doesn’t know what to do with his raison d’etre for being a hero taken from him. It’s a happy ending, but one which doesn’t just preserve the status quo.

Maverick goes on a traditional self-serving rant explaining how everyone should really be thanking him for the prosperity he's brought to the city. The heroes are less than impressed

Ok, it does preserve it a bit more than it should. Tiger eventually comes back to heroing in the “junior league” even as his power becomes limited to one minute intervals. And Barnaby, reflecting on the dreams and legacy of his parents, decides to take up the role of a hero to honor their wishes for a better future. But unless they were going to rename the sequel, they couldn’t have the show without Tiger and Barnaby together.

I said last time that I was afraid that the show wouldn’t come to a properly satisfying ending, at least from a moral perspective. That is, I didn’t think that Tiger would every have to pay a price for his deception about his power loss. And in fact, he doesn’t; but the way in which he openly accepts his declining powers after that, and presses on regardless of his weakness, is an effective atonement. It’s the sort of thing that even seems to please Lunatic, whose own father was far too weak to admit weakness. Tiger will continue to fight because, as the show has taken the time to point out before, heroism is about what you do, not about how useful your powers might be.

Speaking of which: Lunatic makes it a point to incinerate Maverick even after the latter turned himself into a drooling vegetable. Let it not be said he isn't thorough

With the two united in the end, it looks like next season will carry on in much the same way as the first, even regarding the ultimate villains. Lunatic is still at large, after all, and Maverick makes it clear that just because he dealt with Ouroboros didn’t mean he was a controlling factor. That means the basic external conflicts of next season are likely to be remarkably close to this one.

I for one was hoping and praying for Lunatic to make it to next season, though, and Ouroboros as an organization likely has other personalities at work than the megalomaniac Jake Martinez. As far as major tensions the show can have, the line between heroism and vigilantism, between justice and vengeance, is a good one; also solid is the tension between humans and Next and how anti-Next prejudice is still at work in society.

When Maverick kills Rotwang, it's not just because he doesn't need the scientist anymore, or because the latter has put him in a precarious situation. It's because the latter's anti-Next ranting has really gotten on Maverick's nerves

Thus, I’m hopeful overall that whatever Sunrise has planned for the next season will be something worth waiting for. How will the increasingly powerless (and aging) Tiger work his way back into the hero A-tier? How will Barnaby support him? What new heroes, villains, and side characters will step up to liven the mix? Will Kaede become more involved?

The show offers little hints to that—although it makes it clear that Ouroboros will have plenty of prime time next season—so I suppose the only way to answer those questions is to stick around for next time. And unless the second season completely erases all of Tiger and Barnaby’s character development and restores the buddy cop antics that marred the opening arc of the series, I’ll be doing just that.

I'm not certain whether the Ouroboros symbol here means that the organization is engaged in counterfeiting or if the group's ties to the city are far older than one might guess

Series Review: I don’t think I have much to say on Tiger & Bunny that hasn’t already been said. At its heart, the show is about classic comic book superheroes, only seen through distinctly modern lenses. It’s not as cynical and brutal a deconstruction as Watchmen, or as good at its character studies as Astro City, but particularly when you consider it’s a Japanese take on a quintessentially American form of media, it’s remarkably on target.

The focus on the crass commercialism of the hero industry, and inbuilt tension between saving lives and making ratings, also played out to good effect, particularly as Maverick’s various misdeeds cast a shadow over the entire business. The show stops short of openly rejecting the model, though Tiger’s persistence at being a hero even when he can’t do prime time anymore perhaps shows a way to simply ignore it. Perhaps the best way to look at it is to say the show acknowledges certain ethical issues with the practice just have to be accepted for success, while still drawing the lines at outright corruption.

Agnes is thrilled that exposing Maverick's plots has created yet another ratings boost. But she's been thrilled by several other events that boosted ratings, despite how dangerous to the city they might be

That, I think, is ultimately where the heart of the show lies. Tiger & Bunny might play with conventions, but it also wants to preserve them. This is a show where heroes don’t kill, where villains get their comeuppance, and where truth, justice and the Stern Bild way always prevail.

I can’t say for certain that I’ll blog the next season of Tiger & Bunny when it comes out, I picked up this one at the time due to a lack of better alternatives, even though there were series I already knew would be better even then (just not better from a blogging perspective). This isn’t a perfect show, or even a great one, and I don’t expect the next one to be either. But while Tiger & Bunny is not perfect, or even great, it is good: solidly entertaining, worth watching, and something utterly unlike 95% of all anime that has ever existed. That’s not a bad list of accomplishments.

The show does end with a call back to the opening of the series, but it's sufficiently different to make me hope next season will be too

If you haven’t started yet, you can watch the series here.

  1. September 20, 2011 at 1:31 am

    Although I was somewhat disappointed by a few of the cop-outs at the end of this season, which were probably due to the declining animation budget (most notably, the episode that was advertised as a knock-down, drag-out duel between Tiger and Barnaby and ended up being a rather ho-hum deus ex machina), I did enjoy this series and I’m excited at the prospect of another season, especially because they had the balls not to restore Tiger’s powers (something I briefly feared would happen at the last minute to save the heroes from the mass produced androids). It shows that, like you said, the creators are not afraid of change. I can see two paths for the second season to take:

    1. Tiger and Barnaby team up again and go crimefighting, trying to make the most of Kotetsu’s declining powers. Early on it was stated that his powers became stronger as they waned, and assuming it’s proportional to the time increase, that would mean that Kotetsu would have something like the 500 power, but only for one minute. I think that would be really cool, especially because the two leads would no longer have identical powers, leading to a more interesting action dynamic. They would still have to deal with the loss of his powers eventually, but I wouldn’t mind them stalling it until the end of the season. Unfortunately, they seemed to have totally ignored the power increase in the episodes after it was introduced, including the change of his aura from blue to red, so perhaps this story element was dropped for some reason? Maybe back when there was only going to be one season, the intent was for Kotetsu to go out in a blaze of glory, and when they were greenlit for season two the power increase was no longer needed.

    2. Focus on Bunny more, possibly introducing a new main character, and having Kotetsu remain in the Secondary Hero League to act as a mentor. I would enjoy this also, as it would be interesting to see what aspects of being a Hero Kotetsu would want to hand down to the next generation.

    Either way, I feel like it’s only a matter of time before they introduce a villain bad enough to force a hero/Lunatic team up, and THAT I am looking forward to, because seriously. Everything about Lunatic is pretty badass.

    • threeheadedmonkeys
      September 24, 2011 at 4:39 pm

      From what I’ve read about the second season, they intend for it to be still about “Tiger and Bunny.” One of the creators did speak about a show covering “the next generation of heroes” but then clarified soon afterwards that the second season would not be that show. We’ll see what Sunrise has coming down the pike. I will say I’m not exactly enthralled with their offerings for next season, so sooner will be better.

      And yes, more Lunatic is always a good thing.

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