While Tiger & Bunny may have had an excellent first season, Sunrise has yet to provide a follow-up season and instead they have focused on bringing out a couple of movies. The first of these movies happens to be Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning. Now with a rather large following in the West and Viz bringing the movie to North America, is it worth picking up?
For those who don’t know, in the world of Tiger & Bunny a few select people have developed special abilities. These people are called NEXT and while some abilities are useless, many NEXT have turned to a life of crime with their new found powers and the best way to take down a super powered criminal is with a superhero, thus Hero TV has been formed.
Hero TV follows the exploits of a number of super heroes that have been sponsored by various companies around Sternbild City as they rescue innocents, capture criminals, and compete against one another to see who will be the “King of Heroes” by accumulating the most points by performing the aforementioned acts more than the rest of the heroes.
The veteran hero Wild Tiger, also known as Kotetsu Kaburagi, has been struggling in the rankings in recent seasons as his sense of justice often gets in the way of actually successfully capturing criminals and he often leaves swathes of destruction in his wake thanks to his NEXT ability which increases his physical abilities a hundredfold for a five minute span.
At the close of the last season, a new hero saves Kotetsu from danger and is introduced as a new hero named Barnaby Brooks Jr. Kotetsu then learns that his company has been bought out and he must now report to a new hero sponsor, but things only get worse when he learns that he will be the assisting member in the first ever hero team where he must work with Barnaby who happens to share the same NEXT ability that he does.
Now if that introduction sounds familiar there is a good reason for that, and that reason happens to be because Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning is half introduction of already seen material and half new material. The first half of the movie basically runs through the first few episodes of the Tiger & Bunny anime series with only a few re-done sequences which take a look at how Kotetsu lost his wife and another look at how the heroes interacted with one another which wasn’t shown in the series.
Outside of that, the entire first half serves as somewhat of an introduction to new viewers, but almost entirely repeats things returning fans have seen at this point. Even the introduction falls short in a number of areas as anyone looking to get into Tiger & Bunny will need to watch the full series to follow a number of plot points which are only hinted at in this movie.
As for the second half of the movie, we see Kotetsu, Barnaby and the rest of the heroes track down a new NEXT criminal who has stolen a precious item. While this sequence works nicely to show how the trust between Kotetsu and Barnaby is being built and how the heroes are at odds with one another, it is a rather simple case with little actual development outside of the minor trust building.
This means that while it is nice to catch a look at some new scenes, such as seeing Rock Bison’s NEXT ability outside of his armor, a look at Blue Rose’s costume change, and other little snippets, Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning feels like a recap with an extended episode tacked on at the end as it serves very little purpose in the overall story of Tiger & Bunny that viewers have come to know at this point in time.
Although the story might not be the most enthralling for returning fans, one thing that Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning excels at is some rather stunning looking animation. Outside of the extra special features, it must be said that the Blu-ray for this movie is highly suggested thanks to the extensive amount of detail that Sunrise has put into almost every aspect of this movie.
The wide-ranging color palette works to the benefit of the movie, especially in the latter half and the meshing of CG costumes and standard animation continues to impress throughout the film. The company has also resisted the urge to simply re-use old footage and have redone the first part of the film from scratch with everything from the highly detailed city of Sternbild to the outfits and powers that the characters use looking gorgeous on screen.
As one would expect, Viz Media has been able to retain all of the original voice actors who handled the English dub for the anime series and they have reprised their roles to perfection. Kotetsu and Barnaby’s banter still plays well in English and even though the company chose to dub Blue Rose’s tiny performance into English the song is handled well. Of course for those who wish for it, the Japanese audio track is also available.
The same themes from the anime have been re-used for Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning and while it is nice to hear these old tracks, they probably could have used some revisions or made a little more impactful as the only truly striking musical moment occurs during Kotetsu’s memory of his wife. As for the opening and ending themes, they have been changed up for the movie with “Linear Blue wo Kiki Nagara” by Unison Square Garden and “Earth Diver” by Novels taking their respective places.
As far as bonus features go, Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning actually comes with an entire Blu-ray full of extra content. On the first disc which contains the movie there is a standard collection of bonuses such as a special pilot trailer and the original pilot trailer, the promo video, commercial collection and theatrical commercials all presented in Japanese. Also found on this disc are the clean versions of the opening and ending themes as well as a “Weekly Hero Countdown” which features the top five heroes as voted on by the fans.
The second disc which is focused entirely on extras features the World Premiere Event which is over two hours long and features not only performances by a number of bands but also appearances by cosplayed actors, the voice actors themselves and much more, making it a real treat for fans of the series. Following that there is a few minute long US Premiere Event, a highlight reel from Anime Expo 2012, a few images of production art as well as a Japanese Ustream special digest.
If there is anywhere that Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning delivers it is with its visuals and bonus content offered. Sadly outside of that, a new look at some of the heroes and an emotional moment for Kotetsu, the movie only offers about forty minutes of new footage which sadly feels like an extended episode which adds little to the franchise. While the English cast does a great job with the characters, it is sad to see that the movie offers little more than a return of a familiar cast to fans and a poor introduction for newcomers.
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