Review

by Theron Martin,

Tiger & Bunny: The Rising

Blu-Ray

Synopsis:
Tiger & Bunny: The Rising Blu-Ray
With his power-up limited to one minute, Kotetsu continues to languish in League 2, with Barnaby often bailing out him and the others, a point that Kotetsu has regrets about even though Barnaby seems content with it. Their absence is also lamented by the other first-leaguers. Still, things are going better with his daughter (even if she won't let him hug her) and he even gets to hang out with her during the upcoming Justice Festival, which commemorates a story from Stern Bild City's founding. Things change when Mark Schneider, a hotshot corporate raider, buys out Appollon in order to save it from bankruptcy and restructures it – and that means eliminating League 2, which is always in the red, and conniving Barnaby into being back in League 1. Only this time Barnaby's new partner will be Golden Ryan, a gravity-manipulating NEXT whose sensibilities aren't too much unlike Barnaby's own when he started. With Kotetsu kicked to the curb, the heroes must confront a new threat without him: a trio of especially powerful NEXT who seem to have their sights set on Hero TV. But who or what is their real target, and why is Lunatic showing up but not stopping them?
Review:

As the second of the two Tiger & Bunny movies, The Rising picks up in the wake of the first. Despite that, it is essentially a stand-alone extension of the franchise, one which maintains all of the character advancements and relationships but has little real narrative continuity. That does not keep it from being entertaining – in fact, it is practically a must-have for franchise fans – but it also does not give the sense of a grander story being told, like the TV series did.

The plot is relatively straightforward: Kotetsu is forced out, and powerful new hero Golden Ryan is forced in. New foes show up, several inconclusive battles ensue, and eventually the established heroes are on the ropes. With the encouragement of Kaede, Kotetsu gets back into the mix just in time to play an important role. Who the real ultimate villain is should come as little surprise, as it is a standard super-hero title kind of twist, but that could be said of most of the movies' developments. Nothing in the themes is much deeper than “treat people like they are disposable and it could come back to bite you” or “when backed into a corner, true heroes stand their ground,” either. Still, the movie throws out plenty enough character interactions and flashy action to compensate for that. The backstory of Stern Build City and Justice Day also comes up, and my, it is more than a little harsh and metaphysical, though it does help explain how the city could become enamored of justice-dealing heroes.

Throughout this all of the staple characters get at least a little time to shine and show off their foibles, whether it is Rock Bison's recent inefficiency, Dragon Kid's struggles to master a new power application, Sky High fretting about how he does not come across to people like he intends, Origami's laments that he cannot use his power more directly, or Blue Rose continuing to be reluctant to admit her attraction to Wild Tiger. The lion's share of the development this time goes to Fire Emblem, who is forced to reexamine the difficult road he took to becoming comfortable with his homosexuality when he is put in a coma by the power of an antagonist NEXT's. Emblem finally emerging from that through his own strength of will does not have quite the same impact as it would had he been previously shown to be uncomfortable with who he was, but it is still the movie's most transcendent scene. Barnaby and Wild Tiger, contrarily, are pretty much status quo, though Agnes gets to show off more of her take-charge demeanor and Kaede shines in a few scenes. Other lesser recurring characters have at least brief cameos.

Amongst new characters, Golden Ryan is an arrogant ass and a grandstander, but he is effective and he does fully appreciate teamwork with Barnaby. He has little regard for working with the other League 1 heroes, though more from apathy than outright disdain, and has a bombastic demeanor – in other words, almost a diametric opposite to Wild Tiger. He is also not stupid or clueless, and quickly picks up on what Barnaby would be reluctant to trust him at some points. That makes him a great addition to the cast, even if he does rub people the wrong way. Far less impressive are the trio of NEXT antagonists, who have cool powers but are barely developed; they have little for personalities and offer only the briefest of background flashes to establish their true motivations. Mark Schneider, as the amoral, conniving corporate type, offers little more.

The production merits and action scenes are both as sharp as ever, albeit with little evident upgrade over the TV series. The garish, eye-popping design of Stern Bild City is still a wonder to behold, complete with all of its fantastic statuary, multilayered design, and sense of depth. Golden Ryan fits right in on the design front, and the aesthetic of other new characters remains consistent with established designs, too. Quality control lapses in minor ways in a few places, but the CG integration is nearly flawless. Less impressive but still solid is the use of the fully-orchestrated musical score, which does do a nice job in low-key scenes but is mostly unmemorable.

The English dub for the franchise has always been strong, and it shines here. Voice actors for all established roles return and do fine jobs, especially John Bentley as Fire Emblem and Eden Riegel, who makes the most of limited appearances as Kaede. The dub hits a home run, though, with Henry Dittman's performance as Golden Ryan. (His other major anime role is as Kabuto in the Naruto franchise.) He nails Ryan's bombastic, aggrandizing style just right to make him come off as a likable ass. Other new roles are good but much less of a stand-out.

The Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack comes courtesy of Viz Media, who includes both disks in the same case with bonus interior artwork of most of the League 1 heroes in street clothes and puts the case in a glossy slipcover. On-disk Extras are extensive, including an art gallery which looks to be composed of concept art, numerous trailers and commercials, clean opener and closer, a TV Series Digest which summarizes the TV series, Weekly Movies (short animated clips featuring Sky High, Golden Ryan, and other cast members), and a clip hosted by Viz's Charlene Ingram concerning the U.S. premiere of the movie in San Francisco in March 2014. The oddest inclusion is the live-action Theater Manners clip featuring Tiger and Bunny confronting personifications of various annoying theater behaviors, while the most informative is the interview segment with producer Kazuhiko Tamura, who (among other comments) praises the English dub, leaves the door open for the possibility of more franchise content if fan response is strong enough, and explains how legendary manga-ka Masakazu Katsura (the character designer for Tiger and Bunny and creator of titles including DNA², Video Girl Ai, and Zetman) got a bit part. (He voices an older man who encourages Kotetsu to keep being a hero towards the end.) Blu-Ray video and audio quality are both very good.

The Rising is only 90 minutes in length, with almost a third of that being the climactic final action sequence. Despite its limited time frame, it skillfully finds a way to give all of its recurring cast members meaningful screen time, even make up for shorting Rock Bison and Fire Emblem in the TV series, without detracting from the story progression. (See A Certain Magical Index - The Movie for an example of how to do this poorly.) As a result, it is quite a satisfying movie. Do be sure to watch through the first half of the credits for bonus scenes and keep an eye out for an epilogue after they end.

Grade:
Production Info:
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B
Animation : A-
Art : A-
Music : B

+ Balances its cast's involvement well, flashy battle scenes, Golden Ryan in the English dub.
Story elements are pretty typical, some minor artistic quality drops.

Director: Yoshitomo Yonetani
Screenplay: Masafumi Nishida
Storyboard:
Yuichi Nakazawa
Hiroshi Takeuchi
Iwao Teraoka
Yoshitomo Yonetani
Unit Director:
Masaki Kitamura
Shinya Watada
Shunichi Yoshizawa
Music: Yoshihiro Ike
Original creator: Hajime Yatate
Original Character Design: Masakazu Katsura
Character Design:
Kenji Hayama
Tokuhiro Itagaki
Mika Yamamoto
Art Director: Kinichi Okubo
Chief Animation Director:
Kenji Hayama
Tokuhiro Itagaki
Mika Yamamoto
Animation Director:
Yoshinobu Ando
Kenji Hayama
Shota Ibata
Kenichi Ishimaru
Tokuhiro Itagaki
Noboru Jitsuhara
Masakazu Katsura
Toshimitsu Kobayashi
Keiya Nakano
Masami Ozone
Masakazu Saitō
Mitsuru Soma
Chiyuki Tanaka
Yoshiaki Tsubata
Hitomi Tsuruta
Motoko Watanabe
Kazuhiko Yabumoto
Ikuo Yamakado
Mika Yamamoto
Art design: Yohei Kodama
Mecha design: Kenji Andou
Sound Director: Eriko Kimura
Director of Photography:
Haruhi Gotō
Yui Tanaka
Executive producer:
Masayuki Ozaki
Jun Takei
Producer:
Chika Matsui
Kazuhiko Tamura

Full encyclopedia details about
Gekijō-ban Tiger & Bunny -The Beginning- (movie)
Gekijō-ban Tiger & Bunny -The Rising- (movie)

Release information about
Tiger & Bunny: The Rising (Blu-Ray)

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