Tiger and Bunny: the Odd Couple, Manga Style.

Cap looking classy, possibly to impress Barnaby Brooks Jr., in his fancy metal suit.

Cap looking classy, possibly to impress Barnaby Brooks Jr., in his fancy metal suit.

A few years back, a close friend that I knew from the now retired Comics Ink recommended an anime/manga series to me, called “Tiger and Bunny.” I finally got around to running down the manga, and just finished off volume one, and am sorry that it took so long to do it. It was a very, very solid recommendation.

You’re asking, “what the @#$% is Tiger and Bunny?”

Right. The series takes place in a fictional, re-imagined version of New York City called Stern Build City. 45 years before the story begins, superpowered individuals known as “NEXT” started appearing and some of them became superheroes. Each of the city’s most famous superheroes work for a sponsor company and their uniforms contain advertising for actual companies. Their heroic activity is broadcast on the popular reality television show “Hero TV”, where they accumulate points for each heroic feat accomplished (arresting criminals or saving civilians, for example) and the best ranked hero of the season is crowned “King of Heroes”.

The story focuses on veteran hero Kotetsu Kaburagi (the Wild Tiger) who is assigned a new partner as a marketing tool. The partner is a young man named Barnaby Brooks Jr., who incidentally has the same powers as the Wild Tiger…and no hero name. The team up causes drama, since Barnaby and Kotetsu usually have trouble working together. They have seriously conflicting opinions on how a superhero should act…while at the same time trying to crack the mystery of the murder of Barnaby’s parents.

In addition, the appearance of a homicidal vigilante NEXT named “Lunatic” stirs up the public and makes them question the meaning of heroes.

All in all…it’s the “Odd Couple” with superheroes, commentary on corporate endorsements, and a sort of meta-criticism of the entire Western superhero genre wrapped into one. It’s really quite clever, and very well done. Definitely something that I needed given the depressing week or so.

In the art…the background character is a detail shot of Barnaby’s “hero suit”, which is protective (obviously). Both Barnaby and the Wild Tiger can increase their strength and durability to one hundred times that of a normal human, but only for five minutes. The suit gives protection from various other kinds of damage, like fire and so forth. Presumably, Barnaby is the “Bunny” because of the ear like projections on the helmet…but I’ve only read volume one so far, so I couldn’t tell you.

Cap is modeling the civilian clothing of the Wild Tiger. This seemed on point…since the Tiger is the senior hero of the two, and kind of trapped in the various tropes of more “traditional” superhero activity. I’m often like that, and so is Cap, by necessity. Barnaby, in contrast is young, hip, and driven by forces and motivations that are pretty hard for the Tiger to understand….kind of like the way that I feel about young teachers at times, and students quite frequently.

I’m looking forward to picking up volume two.

I felt like today should be a break from school and politics, and focus on the comics industry. Hopefully, you enjoyed the diversion as much as I did, True Believers.

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