Tiger & Bunny
Episodes 23-25

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 23 of
Tiger & Bunny ?

How would you rate episode 24 of
Tiger & Bunny ?

How would you rate episode 25 of
Tiger & Bunny ?

If a handbook for comic book-style masterminds existed, rule #1 would be something like this: “if you intend to kill the heroes anyway, never, ever toy around with them when they are at your mercy. Just kill them expediently!" Sadly for Mr. Maverick – but good for our heroes! – he and robot specialist Rotwang never learned that lesson. Really, how does a guy who has literally made a career of managing and manipulating heroes not figure something like that out? And that's just one of many classic super-hero tropes in play in these final three episodes.

But what else would you expect from a series that has always striven to embody the essence of super-hero comics? Of course the heroes have to be defeated by an android replacement, who then must be defeated by the remaining heroes. Of course the defeated heroes wake up in cells with explosive collars on and have to play a game of “who's going to save themselves” that is rigged so that no one can win. And of course a relative of one of the heroes is also endangered, and yet is still a wild card to the whole process. And of course the crucial command code to shut the androids down harkens back to a promise made by one of the heroes' long-since-passed parents. And of course the mastermind has a final hedge that the city needs him because it wouldn't be what it is without the heroes he helped foster. Really, the series' ending could not get more clichéd if it tried – which is, of course, the whole point.

Yes, this is all one big, beautiful pile of super-hero clichés, but they are assembled properly to accomplish the task at hand. In the process these three episodes deliver several great moments. Kotetsu and Barnaby naturally have to battle because “altered memories,” but what finally snaps Barnaby out of it? The “bunny” nickname that Kotetsu has used for Barnaby ever since episode 2 which Barnaby has always passionately hated. That something like that is key to resolving the issue is quite delicious irony. Kaede just continues to earn more points for herself by cleverly using Blue Rose's powers (she was the last one to touch Kaede after all) first to free herself in secret and then to shut Rotwang down so he couldn't blow the explosive collars on the imprisoned heroes. My second favorite moment was Agnes revealing that she had just been pretending to still be brainwashed ever since Kaede's flash and had spilled Maverick's plan on live TV. And then my favorite moment was Barnaby discovering how personal the meaning of the code 1104+728=10313329 – the “do no harm to humans” code for the androids – was to him: the birth dates of his parents, his birth date, and his weight in grams at birth. An earlier scene had shown his parents promising a young Barnaby that they would always protect him, and ultimately, they did. It's the one scene in the entire series that I found genuinely emotional.

The action component does not disappoint, either. All of the fights – whether it's Tiger and Barnaby's head-to-head, their later team-up against the android, or the group fight with all of the heroes involved – are active, very well-animated affairs. The series has sometimes had issues with its regular animation, but that may have been because the budget was being conserved for these scenes. And to follow up on a point that I brought up last review, the young woman who I commented on appearing multiples times before appears at least once in each of these three episodes. Can you spot her each time? I am really curious about whether this was intended as an Easter Egg of sorts or if it was done for some other particular purpose. Another interesting touch to watch out for: Karina in a bookstore near the end of the final episode, holding a book about how to win over men with children. Hmmmm. . .

The story arc ends with the major issues resolved: Maverick is defeated, brain-fries himself so he cannot reveal anything about Ouroboros, and then fried further by Lunatic. Kotetsu retires, but does not stay retired for long; he's back working with the second-leaguers. Barnaby also retires, because he has come to value Kotetsu so much that he doesn't want to work as a hero without him, but he looks like he's going to rejoin as well. The final scene – showing that the Ouroboros symbol is hidden in Stern Bild dollars – raises all sorts of extra questions in classic comic book fashion as well.

So this is the end of the Tiger & Bunny TV series, but not the end of the franchise. The movie Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning retells the first two episodes before spinning off on a new story, while Tiger & Bunny The Movie -The Rising- is a direct sequel to it. Both have been released in the States on Blu-Ray, though I do not believe that they are currently available streaming anywhere. A second TV season is also due in 2022. Thus there is (and will be) more to watch if you cannot get enough of this unique anime approach to American-style super-heroes.

Rating (all episodes): 4

Tiger & Bunny is currently streaming on Viz.com and Hulu.

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