There were very few surprises in the season finale (and my choice of words is quite intentional) of Tiger & Bunny. It was brisk and quite entertaining, though I can’t help but feel in the end it pulled its dramatic punches and opted for the easy rather than the challenging.
So we’ve hit the grand slam of “dead” characters – all of them survived. I have to admire Sunrise for the simplicity of the way they handled it, as much of a head-slapper as it was. Kotetsu’s death was simply a dramatic faint (feint?) – no one bothered to check whether he’d actually died. So after a pretty bracing fight between Maverick’s legion of cyborgs and the heroes – ended when Saito managed to figure our the Brooks’ password and activate the fail-safe – Kotetsu matter-of-factly stood up and liberated Kaede from Maverick. His reaction to “I’ve come back from the depths of hell” falling flat was suitably dorky, but my favorite part of the scene was his reaction when Blue Rose (she was involved in both my favorite comedic moments this week) broke down and hugged him – “Uh? I’m sorry, what?”
So thus ended Maverick’s grand scheme at last, with the help of Agnes and her prying camera. Like so much of the final arc it was pretty conventional, though there were a couple of interesting moments. Faced with capture Maverick used his powers on himself, apparently literally turning himself into a drooling moron. This was done, I assume, to keep himself from being interrogated and spilling any secrets about Ouroboros. Before that he gave a rather convincing speech about how it was his genius that had made the heroes what they were and made Stenbild a prosperous place, and of course he’s probably right. Disappointingly, the only role Lunatic had in the final episode was to hijack the paddy wagon carrying Maverick and kill him in cold blood. I do think Maverick had to die to give this arc closure, but I was sad to see Yuri given nothing more interesting as a part in the conclusion than that. As a character he was certainly interesting enough to earn better.
My biggest problems with the episode came not so much from what happened before the credits, but the extended postscript. With his secret out and Kaede telling him he was cool, Kotetsu did what the series had been building towards and retired. Unexpectedly Barnaby did too, but for what I thought was a pretty good reason – as a hero he was living out the life Maverick had plotted for him, and he wanted to find his own path. Unfortunately the “One year later” provided an effective “never mind” to all the buildup we’d been seeing for the last cour. The good? Checking in with the other heroes – especially Karina reading “100 Ways to Land a Single Father” in the bookstore.
Not so good? Both Barnaby and Kotetsu unretired. Barnaby’s decision made a lot of sense, as he’s a young man and in the prime of his hero potential. I can see him simply deciding after a year not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, as it were, and that just because Maverick was a snake that doesn’t mean their aren’t guys like Kotetsu heroing for all the right reasons. But Kotetsu’s decision was much more bothersome to me. The main reason for it is one I’ll cover in the series review, but what we saw here was for lack of a better word, lame. Wild Tiger is now “Wild Tiger One Minute”, and teaming up with the second-division heroes. His reason for returning? Kaede thought it was weak for him to just be a couch potato. As we see her back with her Uncle and Grandmother, I assume this means she’s not living with Kotestsu. Effectively, things have returned to what they were on the personal side, except Kaede knows the secret and Tiger is a bit of a joke as a hero. That’s disappointing to me.
I do think there was a larger point in showing how Kotetsu’s way of dealing with his loss of powers was so different than Mr. Legend’s, and no doubt that will impact the way Kaede develops in contrast to Yuri. It was all a bit too neat and a bit too fluffy for me, though. This was a series that showed quite a bit of subtlety and dark innovation as its best, and I would have liked to have seen a little more of that and a little less of the conventional comic book route at the end.