ANIME & MANGA - Review
15:00 - 4th July 2015, by NEO Staff

Tiger & Bunny: The Rising

Following on from the events of the acclaimed first series, Tiger & Bunny: The Rising sees the titular double act lying firmly at the bottom of the heap. In the city of Stern Bild, a superhero is only as good as his sponsor, and season one’s final arc left theirs, Apollon Media, struggling to make a profit. Wild Tiger’s star (and powers) have started to fade, and while partner Barnaby has opted to stick with him, the pair are a long way from their heyday racking up the points on Hero TV. In fact, their very jobs are under threat, until the intervention of a mysterious businessman saves the company from bankruptcy. Unfortunately, he’s only interested in Barnaby, pairing him up with the arrogant Golden Ryan (a new hero shipped in for the occasion), and leaving Tiger out on the street. When the city of Stern Bild once again comes under threat, however, it becomes clear that every hero will need to play their part.

A wholly original new chapter in the Tiger & Bunny story, The Rising is an enjoyable romp within a universe that isn’t much expanded by its simplistic narrative. Eschewing the conspiracies and double-crossing that made the series such a refreshing watch, this instead focuses on the action side of the story, counterbalancing spectacular fight sequences with the occasional moments of character development, particularly in the case of Fire Emblem, whose past is finally revealed.

A superhero able to blast his opponents away with bursts of flame, his flamboyant look and overly camp mannerisms seemed at times to be a part of the joke, a stereotype that lacked the hallmarks of a fully-fledged character. However, The Rising presents these in the context of a larger arc encompassing his journey from teenager ostracised for his queer identity, to beloved superhero finally comfortable in his own skin. While most of the other Hero TV stars play little more than bit parts in the movie’s various narrative strands, Fire Emblem’s story stands out as one of the finer moments in the franchise’s history to date, as well as in The Rising itself.

Tiger and Bunny, meanwhile, somewhat take the back seat for the first half of the film, going their separate ways as Tiger struggles to bond with his ever-distant daughter Kaede, and Bunny attempts to rein in his antagonistic, selfish new partner. Golden Ryan (apparently a graduate of the Gilderoy Lockhart School of Shameless Self-Interest) is about as far removed from the often-humble but heroic Tiger as you can get. Impeding not only criminals, but also his fellow heroes (in the name of getting a few extra points), he would have made for a more interesting villain than the actual bad guys that they spend the majority of the film battling. While the series produced some interesting and conflicted villains, those in The Rising are only ‘okay’, never really inspiring any real sense of threat, or demanding to be remembered.

As always, whether or not Tiger & Bunny’s combination of 2D and 3D animation techniques is engaging is down to personal preference. When used well, it adds a sense of fluidity and dynamism to fight scenes that makes you wish you were watching it in IMAX. However, there are also points where it distracts from the story itself, feeling jarringly like a video game cut scene, rather than a fully-fledged anime. However, fans of the series will know what to expect, and if you enjoyed the visual flair they mustered with this technique first time around, you won’t be disappointed by their latest efforts.

An enjoyable, uncomplicated addendum to the Tiger & Bunny story. However, if you’re a newbie, make sure you watch the series first.
SCORE: 3.5/5
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