First Impressions – Tiger & Bunny

OK, I admit – I didn’t have a huge notion of what to expect here. I’m not generally a fan of the superhero genre, and let’s face it – superhero parodies have been done to death. Both animated and live action, some fond and some biting. But this is Sunrise – one of the titans in the business, and anything that do is worth at least curiosity’s sake. So what’s the verdict?

In short, I liked it. A lot. It took me a bit of time to get into the flow of things, but once I did I really enjoyed the tone and pace. Clearly this is a show that isn’t taking itself seriously, thank goodness – but it treats it’s central character, aging superhero Wild Tiger (Hiroaki Hirata, as good as I’ve heard him) with affection. He’s past his prime, but he’s not a joke – he takes his job seriously and even has a family to think about.

The premise isn’t going to wow anyone with originality – superheroes do their jobs in a made-for-TV setting called Hero TV. This is just a job for them – they work for conglomerates, get laid off and mistreated, and attend awards shows. In a sense, it’s an act of placing American-styled superheroes in the shoes of Japanese salarymen – and it totally worked for me. There’s a huge cast here, and the premiere spent much of its time on introductions, but that’s not unusual. The punchline of the ep is that Wild Tiger’s sponsoring company has been sold, and his new boss is a tool – and decided to pair up the fading Wild Tiger with a hot young buck who appeared from nowhere – that’s Bunny, apparently. Hijinks will surely ensue.

This has a lot of potential, and it will be interesting to see how seriously Sunrise and Gundam-veteran director Keichi Satou play up the social commentary. Even if they go more or less for laughs, I think it could work very well. No clues based on the writer – that’s Masafumi Nishida, with no track record whatsoever that I can find.

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