Reviewby David Cabrera, Mar 17th 2014
Gekijō-ban Tiger & Bunny -The Rising-
After the events of the Tiger and Bunny TV series, Koutetsu is fired from Apollon Media and Barnaby is paired up with punny new hero Golden Ryan. Meanwhile, the heroes deal with a series of mysterious super-powered incidents which seem to act out the mythological events of Sternbild's most hallowed holiday. Will Tiger and Bunny patch it up in time to save Justice Day?
Tiger and Bunny was a big hit, and several years later Sunrise is ready to finally satisfy the fanbase with what they've wanted all this time: a new anime. Though it's canon, The Rising isn't quite a sequel: rather, it's an indulgence for fans, a big splashy story that makes sure not to mess with the status quo in the series. This is the kind of fanservice movie one could completely skip without missing many details for the (inevitable) second season... but fans definitely won't want to do so. They'd be missing a lot of fun.
The previous Tiger and Bunny film, The Beginning, was only half new material. It tied together the first two episodes of the TV show with an original caper that served little purpose save to spend that movie animation budget and show off the heroes looking cool.
By contrast, The Rising fast-forwards to after the ending of the TV series, but avoids the “Do I have to watch the TV show?” angle by only vaguely mentioning those events. When, for example, it's exposited that Barnaby got revenge for his parents' murder-- but not on who!-- it feels like the movie is being deliberately spoiler-conscious. Only familiarity with the basic premise is assumed, and series newbies will easily be able to understand what's happening.
As a two-hour original movie that assumes some familiarity with the characters and basic premise, The Rising has breathing room, which the breathless extra chapter in Beginning did not. It's ultimately much better off for that.
Returning screenwriter Masafumi Nishida shows great affection for the characters, making sure to hand off the spotlight to everyone from Origami Cyclone to Rock Bison to the soft-spoken man who built Tiger and Bunny's suits. The film is so stuffed with such moments that often it feels like it's moving back and forth between two or three different movies at the same time.
Of particular note is a surprisingly poignant series of flashbacks and dream sequences about the Nathan Seymour (Fire Emblem)'s personal struggle with the lurking feeling of self-loathing that's come from the persecution and rejection he's faced as a result of his sexuality. Fire Emblem's sexuality is played for laughs a lot in this movie, making the sharp, sympathetic turn all the more interesting. This part of the film feels like a really good episode of Tiger and Bunny, the TV series, that the production crew never got around to making.
The main plot is a little more pedestrian. Big trouble is afoot-- a Steve Jobs-ish caricature buys out Apollon Media! He fires Tiger! He hires Gilgamesh from Fate! But due to the nature of the thing, like a sitcom episode or a Shonen Jump movie, we know that the series status quo can't really change.
Tiger and Bunny can't really split up; everybody, even the new guy, treats them like a couple. There's even a shoujo manga-style misunderstanding at one point that keeps them apart! Nevertheless, the movie has fun putting good-hearted, pitable Tiger-- clearly the show's moe character-- in a place of self-doubt and indecision. Like everybody else in this universe, and presumably the viewer, it likes to tease him.
Like Hero TV itself, the story does a fine job of creating several huge crises-- opportunities for the heroes to do their thing and to be lovable for the camera-- and then totally undoing them. As for the villains... I forgot the names of every single one. I'm not sure that some of their names were even spoken. They are more setups for the heroes' setpieces than actual characters.
Original director Keiichi Satou sat these movies out (he's working on a CG Saint Seiya remake), but his replacement Yoshitomo Yonetani (Gaogaigar) is certainly no stranger to superheroic action and little-boy-holding-a-balloon sentimentality, and he goes at it with panache. The long chase scene that was the second half of The Beginning was a preview of what we'd eventually see in this film. Every time the characters have a moment's downtime, it feels like a countdown until their cell-phone alarm bells go off, and the Hero TV tells them that they've gotta move now. Every super-powered battle they run to is animated with the kind of attention to detail that could only be achieved in a theatrical production... and this movie is mostly battles.
The 2D/3D action animation that Satou made his name for with Karas has evolved tremendously since then; the 3D suits blend and interact seamlessly with the 2D surroundings, and aren't distracting even when other 2D characters are on screen. The action scenes themselves are suitably excessive: the fights are so many and so long that the finale starts to get disorienting, switching between, at one point, four fights that are taking place at the same time. Like the Hollywood superhero movies that likely inspire it, The Rising overwhelms with spectacle.
So The Rising is a fun superhero action movie, which is all it needed or wanted to be. Fans of the series, on the other hand, get quite a lot of service with that as well. At the theatrical showing we attended, there was a huge amount of fan applause at every heroic triumph... but the “aww!”s and the squeals were more passionate. That's Tiger and Bunny, after all.
Overall : B
Story : B-
Animation : B+
Art : B+
Music : B
+ High-caliber fanservice for fans of every character, impressive superhero action, Rider Kick is used
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