Tiger and Bunny: The Rising
Tiger and Bunny: The Rising 2014
Once again finishing up my quest to have watched every single 2014 comic book and superhero movie with this anime film that came out during the early part of this year. It’s a spin-off of the Tiger and Bunny anime TV series which I have yet to watch, though I did watch the first movie, Tiger and Bunny: The Beginning. It came out after the show, but encapsulated the beginning of what happened in the show, as mentioned in the title. This movie takes place after all of the events of the show, but there weren’t too many things that I wasn’t able to follow having not seen anything other than the first film. I would recommend at least watching either “The Beginning” or the first couple episodes of the show to get a better introduction to all of the characters. That said, I really enjoyed getting back into the world of this film where superheroes are both TV stars and methods of advertising, where each hero has their own sponsorship, and usually several. It adds a unique element to the story where we get to see not just the heroes and villains, but the challenge of filming the fights and the people who are watching the events at home. The overall story of the film wasn’t anything special, but it was great to get back to these characters I’m familiar with within this fascinating world. And I did end up watching this in the original Japanese with subtitles.
There are actually two teams of heroes in this film. The first league are the ones who work together to bring in the criminals for the big ratings and the second league are the lesser heroes who tend to fumble more often than they succeed and are losing money for the station. The film starts out showing members of the second league who mostly get in each others way and let the petty criminal escape. Meanwhile, it cuts over to the first league heroes who work in tandem and catch some high level criminals. The titular heroes Kotetsu aka Wild Tiger and Barnaby are stuck in the second league which we soon find out is on the edge of cancellation. Luckily a new CEO by the name of Mark Schneider comes in to turn the company around. He starts by tricking Barnaby into re-joining the first league, but instead of bringing Tiger back along with him, he replaces Tiger with a new hero from another area called Golden Ryan. Not only that, but he completely disbands the second league altogether. And on top of all this, there’s a group of villains recreating events from a local legend that ends with a fairly cataclysmic event for the city.
Since this is a follow up to the television series, there isn’t much development given to any of the characters as the film assumes that you’re already familiar with them. Jumping in from just the previous movie, there wasn’t as much of a learning curve, though there hadn’t been any mention of the second league, nor was it known that Kotetsu’s daughter Kaede had any superpowers herself, it’s also left unexplained that Kotetsu’s power used to last for five minutes, but now only lasts for a single minute. There were some slight changes to the characters, but they weren’t anything that wouldn’t have been explained by the fact that this takes place some time after the first movie. The one character whose changes benefited the most was Fire Emblem. He was a very flamboyant gay character that bordered on being offensive with the way he constantly made kissy faces at the other male heroes. This time, he is much more toned down, and even has a small arc where he has been put into a coma and is struggling with a dream state which actually gives his character a lot more depth and compassion. It makes him feel much more like a real character rather than a negative gay stereotype. Most of the other heroes in the first league are also given similar brief moments to shine which helps utilize their limited screen time.
There is a great shift in personality even just between the first film and this film with Barnaby’s character. This time around he’s partnered with someone who is almost exactly the same as he was in the beginning. Golden Ryan is much more concerned with their screen time and how many points they get in the competition than he is about actually capturing the criminals and saving lives. Though there’s also a touch of laziness like when he doesn’t care to drive and is happy just laying back in the sidecar of their motorbike. Meanwhile Barnaby actually cares more about saving people and being a hero like Kotetsu did and spends most of this movie realizing this. Kotetsu doesn’t really have any change in personality, he just continues being the lovable loser with a heart of gold throughout the film.
The villains were a bit hard to get a handle on. While they were relatively visually interesting, their motivations were rather unclear even through the end. There was also a bit too much where they were completely overmatching the heroes until the typical rallying cry event happened which suddenly shifted the tables for no other reason. The more interesting bits were the ones that happened behind the scenes. It’s not often that you get to see the television producer who is following the action as well as directing it in a certain way. It’s similar to some of the other behind the scenes tech support for heroes like the Flash’s Star Labs team or Oracle, but there’s a different dynamic to it since there’s always the underlying feeling that they are trying to get good ratings as the most important factor. It really was the televised aspect of this movie and this world that caught my interest more than anything else. Otherwise, it’s a generally well done, if generic superhero team adventure. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.