Tiger and Bunny Season 2
Hero TV's management thinks that pairing its NEXT superheroes in a "buddy" system might improve their performance (and, most important of all, the show's ratings.) They're certainly going to NEED some enhanced performance, to take on a pair of rogue NEXTs with multiple superpowers who aim to take down ALL superheroes, and who are working their way toward Hero TV's team.
Season Two of the show picks up shortly after Season One left off, but there have nevertheless been some major changes. One is an expansion of the cast, with the addition of some rookie superheroes. (In fact, one of the potential advantages of the new "buddy system" might have been to pair them with experienced heroes to learn the ropes, but that strategy is only really used in one or two cases.) Freed from the dark cloud that hung over everyone in Season One- and prior to the descent of the NEW dark cloud of those aspiring NEXT hero-killers in THIS season- we get a number of delightful episodes exploring the relationships, both old and new, of our heroes with each other, of course with plenty of superhero action to liven things up as well. (One thing I didn't like, though: Blue Rose's crush on Kotetsu (Wild Tiger) seems to be fading in favor of a new distraction, and that distraction's attitudes are so cliche (and Blue Rose's responses ultimately so as well) that I was kind of disappointed. Besides, I felt that Kotetsu- whose power now lasts only one minute, and we expect he will ultimately lose it altogether- needs SOME kind of consolation prize. He's STILL also got the misfortune of tending to arrive at crime scenes too late to score the major awards.)
Two of our rookies are, in the color of their costumes at least, a study in black and white; their personalities are, however, both disagreeable-though in different ways. Yet THEY end up as a pair, despite BOTH being inexperienced, and BOTH being quarrelsome. (This tendency to quarrel reminded me of the original Marvel Comics heroes, who used to bicker all the time, despite supposedly being friends. In Tiger and Bunny 2, we see that genuine friends, like Kotetsu and Barnaby (Bunny), can have their spats but still come back together before long.)
Of our black-and-white pair, "Mr. Black" (the name he uses; real name Subaru Sengoku) is actually a hotheaded kid who argues all the time, at one point hypocritically accusing all the others of being in it just for the glory, even though it becomes clear that he wants some glory for himself. The OTHER one, "He Is Thomas" (yes, that's the name HE uses; real name Thomas Torus) is a surly loner, though we're shown that he's also a brilliant one.
Another new addition is Magical Cat, our first Magical Girl in this show. Her real name is Lara Tchaikoskya. Her ability is to squirt water out of her wand, which doesn't sound that impressive until you think of, say, water cannons. Her mother wants to manage her career. Her mother ALSO wants to poison her daughter's soul with her OWN old grudges. Fortunately, here they DO pair the rookie with an experienced mentor, the closest they could come in age and gender, Dragon Kid. (Did they make Dragon Kid look a little more boyish in this season than she did in the first, or is that only Grampa's imagination?)
And there are some pairings of veterans with each other as well. You might not think that the straight-arrow, boyscout-ish Sky High would make an obvious duo with the flamboyant Fire Emblem, but it not only works, it's really sort of sweet. (Here, as in the First Season, they sometimes abandon the campy stereotype and let Fire Emblem be deadly serious.)
The chief villains are albino NEXT brothers named Mugan and Fugan. In their murderous insanity, they somehow reminded me of the homicidal kids from the Second Season of Black Lagoon, though their background, while ALSO tragic, is at least not as sordid as the one the Black Lagoon kids came from. (The persecution of NEXTs by ordinary humans is a recurring theme in Tiger and Bunny.) The battle between our Hero group and the brothers (who have more than the usual one power each) has the typical shonen cliches (overlong, rally from apparent defeat, etc.), but it was interesting that it ultimately involved mostly a "B-list" ensemble. I ALWAYS cheer for the "B-list" guys.
And now the random stuff:
-The character art is terrific, though there's a tad less 3DCG here than last time. The closing song, called "AIDA", is a sweet rocker that I liked well enough to finish playing every time, rather than exercising the Netflix option of simply skipping to the next (or is it NEXT?) episode.
-Why is Kotetsu still wearing that domino mask in public appearances? Previously it was mainly to keep his secret from his daughter Kaede, but she knows his identity now. THIS time, by the way, there's also a disagreement between father and daughter over her choice of career. We also see how her own peculiar NEXT power has some limitations that should make for interesting complications in future installments of the series.
-Does blowing out one electrical circuit REALLY plunge an entire city into darkness?
-It's surely a coincidence that Bandai, which produced this series, has its logo on several of the heroes' costumes, right? (The Hero superheroes have corporate sponsors within the show's world itself. We're doing some serious fourth-wall breaking here.)
-It's always amusing when someone disparagingly mentions vigilante Lunatic's name to "Director Petrov", just to see his reaction. Of course, it's even MORE amusing that he's not only their Director, but he's often the chief voice for restraint.
Struggles with trust issues- but also moments of genuine emotional connection; a myriad of little details that are nevertheless carefully fitted together to create a coherent "alternate world"; and of course lots of superhero derring-do. What's not to like? Well, except for the shonen cliches (though they're not as bad here as some I've seen), and I'm still a little disappointed in what was done with Blue Rose- though she does LOOK a bit more attractive than last time. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Violence includes gunshot wounds and impalement. No fanservice. Netflix says TV-14; I'm OK with that.
Version(s) Viewed: Netflix video stream
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Tiger and Bunny Season 2 © 2022 Bandai Namco Pictures.
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