American TV has slowly started experimenting beyond the standard “debut every series in September and see what sticks” model, but it’s still the case that fall is the season where the big ticket items are debuted. Similiarly, the big anime seasons tend to be spring and fall, with the winter and particularly the summer season left to left to flounder with continuing shows and one or two decent new offerings.
That was certainly the case last summer, as noted by our very tepid awards post for summer 2010. It was not the case in winter 2011, with some remarkably solid offerings including Madoka, which is still the most likely candidate for show of the year. It’s also not the case here, with some strong continuing series being equaled or bested by shows that debuted this season. Neither of us were prepared for how remarkably strong, on balance, this season’s offerings were.
It’s unfortunate that the strength of the best series of this season eclipsed some other gems. When the most competitive category is “Best Show We Didn’t Cover,” that’s a good sign that summer 2011 was a great three months for anime. And that remains true even though the second most competitive category was “Most Offensive Series.”
As bear didn’t have a chance to watch most of the summer shows, this post is written entirely by 3HM.
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.
It seems that both bear and I have been frustrated by stalled narratives as of late. Tiger & Bunny isn’t stalled, per say, but it’s going a lot slower than it needs to be. The central fight of this episode could have been over in five minutes if the writers wanted it that way.
Instead, the show has Tiger and Barnaby start fighting before their time-delayed powers are ready again (and why did they charge in early in the first place, knowing they’d be comparatively helpless?) so the two play wack-a-mole with H-01 for a while. Wack-a-mole, for reference, isn’t nearly as much fun when you’re taken the part of the mole.
Tiger & Bunny continues to give with one hand while it takes away with the other. Most glaringly, it doesn’t give us the action scene I craved between robo Tiger (actually called H-01) and the assorted heroes it confronted last episode. Instead, all six heroes are defeated off screen and wake up in a classic comic book death trap. Likewise, Wild Tiger breaking through to Barnaby doesn’t happen in the dramatic way I had hoped for; instead it feels like dumb luck.
That said, and while it does feel this episode dragged on a bit, just like the last one did, I’m still pleased by the overall direction of the story. Mostly, that’s because the elements of the show feel “classic” rather than cliched. But it also has to do with how, as I’ve noted several times before, Tiger & Bunny is careful only to introduce standard comic book elements after setting them up properly within the context of the story.
I had several speculations about how this episode would unfold, which didn’t pan out exactly how I anticipated. Yes, Kaede had a major role in saving her father’s bacon, and yes, Barnaby remained unconvinced even after the other heroes came around. But the method by which that came about was decidedly different than the show was originally hinting would be the case.
Much of that revolves around the “Is Tiger a genius or an idiot” discussion that took up much of the last post. I stated last time that while Tiger was often slow on the uptake, he often pulled together clever deductions right when most needed by the plot. Last episode he announced he had a plan, and Tiger’s plans always seem to pan out.
This time it doesn’t, perhaps permanently resolving the genius/idiot question. Now I think it’s fair to say he’s an idiot.
Tiger & Bunny had its path for this episode laid out pretty clearly. Wild Tiger had to evade his pursuers, figure out how he was framed, and come up with a plan to get out of it. It’s a fairly straightforward setup that hinges on alliances Tiger makes with three separate figures.
The first was made obvious from the preview from last time. Yuri Petrov knows enough to know that Tiger’s been set up, and that offends his particular sense of honor. So, careful to keep his knowledge of Tiger’s real identity secret behind a veneer of insanity, he helps Tiger to escape when he’s cornered by the posse of heroes.
Tiger & Bunny has never been one to trailblaze new paths so much as to revisit familiar grounds in original ways. At heart, despite the knowing winks and the cynical inclusion of marketing gimmicks both as a plot device and an external source of revenue, it’s a classic superhero show, with storylines that would be familiar to comic book readers everywhere.
One of the classic storylines is the hero falsely accused, so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that just that fate befalls Wild Tiger this episode. I’m a little surprised, however, that it happened in the way it did, for reasons both internal to the story and because of its timing in the season. There are some strong indications that this is the final arc of the season, and I don’t see how it can get stretched out until the end of the show.