Saturday, April 9, 2011

tiger & bunny wasn't what i expected

Some time ago I think I promised you I would revisit the topic of Wonder Woman and more generally the female figure in (American) comics. Well here's a bassackwards way to get there. I have a couple of incomplete anime series reviews lying around. So instead of tackling women in American comics, I'm going to take a detour through some of the female tropes in anime via those reviews to get the ball rolling.

The series to be reviewed in future installments are: Aquarion, Claymore, and Shigurui. Rest assured I will talk about quite a few more series in the course of this explication.

But before we go there, I'd like to return to a topic just recently addressed in this here very blog, namely gamification. I just watched the first episode of Tiger & Bunny and, well, here, see for yourself...

The basic premise, at least so far, is that super heroes in this world are employed by major corporations as billboards slash publicity stunts. This answers that age logistics question of who pays for damage caused by heroes in the course of saving the city - the corporate sponsor does.

In addition, the city's heroes compete on a TV show called Hero TV to be crowned the King of Heroes of the season. Here's where the gameification element comes in. Each hero is awarded points for various activities they perform while responding to the crime featured on that episode. First on the scene, second on the scene, made an arrest, and saved a civilian have showed up so far. For the TV audience at home, as the hero earn these points, a little message pops up on the screen naming the reward and the points earned for unlocking it. The season winner is determined, as one might reasonably suspect, by who has the most points at the end of the season.

Let me make a guess as to one of the main villains after just one episode. The series is produced by a woman who says at the awards ceremony wrap party that she expects next season to be much more intense. My suspicion is that she will somehow be involved with villains to help ramp up the danger for the heroes. But this bit of foreshadowing may just be a red herring.

The tiger and bunny of the title seems to refer to the first super hero team up. Wild Tiger, the veteran of the so called NEXT, or people with superpower mutations, isn't doing so well in the rankings. Similar to Hour Man, he can gain huge increases to his speed, strength, agility and such but for only 1/12th the time of the DC Comics hero. During the final episode of the season, he is rescued by a newcomer in new power armor who is later introduced as the newest hero of the city.

Wild Tiger is quite unpopular with the audience. He isn't the reigning champion like Sky High or scantily clad vixen Blue Rose, much to his chagrin. But he seems very much dedicated to doing the right thing for its own sake rather that to become King of Heroes or gain popularity. Still, he wouldn't mind a little recognition.

His corporate sponsor is bought out or goes out of business or something and so he is transferred to a new company. His new boss explains he and Barnaby Brooks, Jr., the man who rescued him before, have the same mutant power but that Barnaby will be more successful because of his youth. Then Wild Tiger is put into a suit of power armor and sent out to do the heroic thing.

Even though the episode closes with the arrival of a bull-themed hero Rock Bison we've seen before, the clear implication is that Wild Tiger and Brooks will team up to be the tiger and bunny of the series title. This veteran / reckless rookie buddy cop dynamic harkens back to popular American movies such as 48 Hours and Lethal Weapon. Like Murtaugh of Lethal Weapon, Wild Tiger has a family, his mother and young daughter, to care for, giving his pause from engaging in cavalier stunts such as revealing his secret identity on TV.

The pilot presented an interesting premise of a world in which people with superpowers have been wedded to corporations and entertainment, participating in a game of stopping crime. I'll definitely keep an eye out for subsequent episodes.

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