It’s nothing short of amazing to me that I’ll be posting back-to-back reviews about anime sequels a decade past their original series, first Thermae Romae, and now Tiger & Bunny. Having first aired in 2011, the franchise gifted us a film in 2014, and now we’re treated to the sequel in 2022. Like the original, we’ll have a 2-cours, 25-episode second season, the first thirteen episodes of which are fully out on Netflix.
This sequel launches us right back into the action where we last left our heroes, only this time around the veterans have a fresh cast of young heroes eager to prove their worth. Opposing them are a mysterious duo of antiheroes seemingly with little purpose other than proving themselves stronger than any other NEXT, as well as a shadow organization Ouroboros.
When I heard Tiger & Bunny was getting a sequel, I was astounded. There was definitely a time when I expected another season, but that was several years ago and I had pretty much given up on any chance of it happening. Then I learned Netflix had snatched up the release and dreaded waiting for all 25 episodes to appear all at once a full season after the announcement. Thankfully, they opted to halve our pain by releasing the first part, episodes 1-13, all at once immediately after the news, but now we must wait for part 2 until a still unknown date (correct me if they’ve announced this by now).
Part of me expected a bit of a rough reunion with our heroes given the span of time since we last saw them. Thankfully, that absolutely was not the case. Perhaps we have the simplicity of the setting and story to thank, but when I saw Kotetsu and Barnaby it felt like I had just seen them yesterday. Their teamwork and banter were familiar and instantly endearing and they remain to this day my favorite heroes. It was also wonderful to see the rest of the crew as well, like Blue Rose (what happened to the Pepsi NEX sponsor?), Sky High, and Fire Emblem. I love them all, really. And once Hero TV decided to move to a partner program, I learned to love them all in a new way as they struggled to re-learn how to be heroes as 2-person teams. Rock Bison and Origami Cyclone used to be peripheral characters to me, but after their team arc and histories I better appreciated them as individuals and as a duo.
The decision to add in a new cast of characters to the 2022 series may put off some fans like me who really just wanted more time with old friends; however, the younger heroes not only introduced us to some interesting stories, they also provided some depth to the existing cast. Take for example, Dragon Kid, another hero from the original series whom I sort of always forgot about in favor of Tiger and Barnaby. This time around, she takes a much more prominent role after partnering with new hero Magical Cat. Even though they look similar in age, their personalities and styles differ greatly, and we even see some of the best tension in their relationship.
Other new duos like He is Thomas (the reason for this name and reactions to it are pretty hilarious) and Mr. Black took much longer for me to warm up to. My irritation with them had less to do with poor representation–for the most part–and was actually a testament to the writing of their histories and motivations. Magical Cat, too, has an interesting relationship with her mother that overshadows her personal desires and connections to other people, most notably her partner, Dragon Kid.
The posterchild villains, Fugan and Mugan, ran me through a gamut of emotions, first curiosity at their short ending scenes, then a mix of annoyance and revulsion at their attitudes towards the heroes they defeat, and later to pity for the circumstances that shaped and propelled them. I honestly don’t even remember how much Ouroboros featured in the first season, or much of the conflicts in that series at all, but seeing the shadow organization manipulate these young men, vicious as they are, is effective in propelling us into the second part of this season.
As for other differences between the two collections, it does look like they’ve added in much more CG animation this time around, but it isn’t typically done in a tasteless or senseless way. Usually the CG is reserved for high action scenes, or when our heroes stand in the distance. As before, they tend to reserve more of the hand drawn animation for characters whose faces are visible outside of their suits, like Blue Rose. Production changing hands from Sunrise to Bandai Namco doesn’t seem to have impacted the quality, my misgivings about Netflix handling the release aside. It was admittedly fun to marathon through this at my own speed, and I’ll definitely add the 2nd cours to my watchlist the moment they release it.
Rating: 1 dango
- 0 dango – average and forgettable.
- 1 dango – very good in its category.
- 2 dango – excellent show that is worth a try.
- 3 dango – exceptional show one must watch.