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Review

by Caitlin Moore,

Tiger & Bunny 2

Episodes 14-25 Streaming

Synopsis:
Tiger & Bunny 2 14-25
Barnaby and Kotetsu find themselves, once again, at the bottom of HeroTV's rankings after taking an extended hiatus to heal from the injuries they sustained fighting the twins Hugan and Mugan. They may have been resting up, but Ouroborus never is, and now they've hatched a new scheme – one that threatens to completely overturn the tenuous acceptance that NEXT have found in human society. Good thing our two heroes are back in action and ready to take them on! Except that Barnaby has started to experience debilitating knee pain every time he uses his Hundred Power…
Review:
I'm not going to pretend they're a fully representative sample, but all the Tiger & Bunny fans I know are tired. It's been years since the show first aired, and as the fandom has aged, it's gone from a continuous stream of output and discussion to a trickle. Kotetsu keeps holding onto his career as a hero even as his power fades and his daughter grows up without him, and he's been forced into retirement and made a comeback twice over. Nobody feels like they have the heart to watch him cycle through gesturing toward retirement and then changing his mind for the third time. Despite choosing to watch the show for review, I felt the same.

If you share that feeling as well, let me offer you this: if nothing else, Tiger & Bunny 2 will bring you closure.

That may sound like I'm damning it with faint praise, but I promise, I enjoyed the season the entire way through! However, as I've processed my thoughts and feelings about the series in the days since I watched the whole thing, that sense of closure, that Tiger & Bunny is finally well and truly over with its loose ends tied up, is the one thing that kept floating up to the top. I'm not going to tell you exactly what form that closure takes, but it satisfied me, and I hope it satisfies you as well.

Of course, all the parts in the middle matter as well, and those are… a bit more uneven. The latter half follows up directly on the groundwork in the first: Gregory Sunshine has the power to make other NEXT go berserk. He was being used to test power-enhancing drugs but now is on the loose with the backing of Sigourney Rosicky, a high-ranking member of Ouroboros, and is causing NEXT all over Sternbild to lose control. Without any clue about what is causing this, people without power once again become fearful of NEXT, interning them in encampments and suspending Hero TV.

Taken at face value, it's a lot of fun to watch. After all, we've known most of these characters for over a decade, and these episodes follow up on the chemistry and dynamics introduced in the first half. Between the Buddy system and the major threats they've faced together, our heroes have gone from halfway between rivals and coworkers without more than a passing interest in one another's lives to a real team. Now, they're facing a powerful enemy and a situation that has rendered them metaphorically powerless to help the city. It may be a bit hokey and certainly isn't breaking any new ground in the superhero genre, but it's still gratifying to see how their relationships have evolved as the story unfolds.

There is a genuine sense that tying up loose ends was not just incidental to the plot but a major goal of the sequel, and that gives way to some of its best moments. Ryan confronts the man who destroyed his team before he came to Sternbild, Karina faces her feelings for Kotetsu, and Antonio finds love. This is probably the last time we'll see these characters in an official capacity, so I appreciate that the creative team gave the whole cast space to move forward.

Plus, I don't think Tiger & Bunny has ever looked better than this. The first episode of the batch is stiff and frequently off-model, but it turns out that was not an indicator of things to come at all. Right up until its conclusion, the animation stays on model… all the better to look at Kotetsu and Barnaby's handsome faces, right? I mean, assuming you all have the same priorities that I do. The action is well-choreographed and impactful, the CG well-integrated, and it's solidly done all around. The script and voice acting in both languages are punchy, with strong vocal performances.

However, no matter the joy of finally seeing off these characters who we've loved for over a decade as their stories conclude definitively, there is no denying that the sequel never reaches the heights of the first season. This is caused, in part, because of the new characters. I understand their purpose within the plot and setting; they were there to show the cyclical nature of time, the new generation rising up as the older heroes take a step back, to put older cast members into a mentoring role, and to fill out HeroTV's Buddy System. However, by the time the final credits rolled, I realized I had no attachment to them or their storylines. They were poorly woven into the main story and, in the end, added little thematically. They could have been slaughtered at the end, and I would not have shed a tear because I simply did not care about them. Instead, they were taking up time that would have been better spent on the main cast, especially Kotetsu, Barnaby, and Yuri.

Plus, some of the story beats felt a bit half-baked; they either needed more time to reach their full power and connect to the characters or should have been cut entirely. The cast is all too casual about NEXT being forced into what is basically internment camps, concerned more about their identities as superheroes being taken away than the discrimination happening around them. Much of the appeal of the original Tiger & Bunny stemmed from how its themes, story, and character writing all intersected and reinforced one another; likewise, the frustration many people felt with the ending was how Kotetsu returning from retirement seemed to walk everything back. Here, while the character beats are nice and satisfying, everything seems clumsily tied together. I craved more unity between the different facets of the storytelling. While I was content with the closure the ending brought, it came across as abrupt, and a bit convenient rather than something the story had been building to.

Tiger & Bunny was a show ahead of its time. It was a superhero story before the Marvel Cinematic Universe truly took off, out for official streaming when downloading fansubs was still the norm. If it came out today, I have little doubt it would be a smash hit. At the same time, I wonder if I would have watched it now since my superhero fatigue set in years ago. Now, Tiger & Bunny 2 doesn't recapture the original's magic, but it concludes it all the same, and in an era where every superhero story feels the need to set up for the next thing, that's almost courageous. Now, if only they dared to let Kotetsu and Barnaby kiss onscreen…


Disclosure: Bandai Namco Filmworks Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Bandai Namco Holdings Inc., is a non-controlling, minority shareholder in Anime News Network Inc.
Grade:
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B-
Animation : A-
Music : B

+ Conclusively wraps up Kotetsu and Yuri's story arcs, as well as tying up other loose ends; consistently strong animation from episode 15 onwards; strong vocal performances in both languages
Punches above its weight thematically; new characters never really come into their own; character arc conclusions are a bit abrupt; let Kotetsu and Barnaby kiss, damn it!

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Production Info:
Director: Mitsuko Kase
Series Composition: Masafumi Nishida
Script:
Norikatsu Kodama
Masafumi Nishida
Minato Takano
Erika Yoshida
Music: Yoshihiro Ike
Character Design: Masakazu Katsura
Art Director: Junichi Higashi
Animation Character Design:
Norihiro Itagaki
Nozomi Tachibana
Mika Yamamoto
Mechanical design: Kenji Ando
Art design:
Yohei Kodama
Takashi Miyamoto
Sound Director: Eriko Kimura
Director of Photography:
Haruhi Gotō
Yui Tanaka

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Tiger & Bunny 2 (TV)

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