No big speculah this week. Actually, this week’s episode was pretty relaxing after all the backstory and revelations in the previous one.
This week, Kotetsu finally manages to go see his daughter. The meaning of the title this week was pretty obvious since it referred to family matters. Some people have understood the title as Kotetsu choosing his family over everything else, but we think it’s more about the family still being there for him, even after a long absence. No one’s posing Kotetsu ultimatums about choosing one thing over another, and we don’t think it’ll come down to that since the series does its best to stay true to real life relationships where things rarely are black-and-white.
The writing in this episode was a bit uneven, but when it comes to human relationships Tiger & Bunny wipes the floor with just about every other anime out there. Director Satou talked about wanting the characters to be life-like and this episode is a very good example of how to achieve that. The whole atmosphere in the Kaburagi family and the way how everyone acted was very natural. So natural actually that the initial awkwardness was uncomfortable on a personal level. (If you’ve ever gone back home after being away for a long time, I’m sure you recognise this feeling.) The way Kotetsu and Kaede acted around each other showed how estranged they’d become. He might not have been able to see her in person for months or even years, and he seemed to think she was still a pre-schooler, not on the brink of puberty.
Kotetsu’s brother that so many people had been looking forward to seeing finally appeared. It’s pretty clear that Muramasa is the one with his feet on the ground and we really liked him and his way of thinking. Although initially he seemed very cold towards Kotetsu, he acted as the voice of reason and gave Kotetsu that little shake that he so sorely needed. Instead of letting Kotetsu wallow in his despair over losing his powers, Muramasa got him to realize that it isn’t the end of the world. And saving Kaede during the storm gave him more confidence. This could also be a subtle message to all the parents: children see them as their heroes. Kotetsu will always be a hero to Kaede, no matter what, even if he has to stop being a hero for Sternbild. (We haven’t abandoned the line of thinking that he might in fact be evolving a second NEXT power much like Jake, but since the story is about growth it’s very possible it’ll take a turn the other way and he will have to stop working as a hero. Maybe the next episode will give some more plot…)
Our first major gripe with the storytelling in this episode was using the storm as a plot device to push Kotetsu and Kaede to become closer again. We can see why they chose to do it like this, though. There are only so many episodes left, and many subplots to bring together. They can’t keep Kotetsu in the countryside forever, the story has to keep moving. Although this kinda leaves a nick in the whole, we’re going to overlook it since it achieved its goal.
Barnaby had less than a minute of screentime this week, but those seconds were used to their fullest. Mad props to Morita, he needs to do more roles like this, considering how much nuance he can pack into his voice as Barnaby. You can actually read between the lines if you listen to the tone, not just the words. We think that the voice acting carries Barnaby’s character a lot more than the actual visuals now post-timeskip. People aren’t giving him enough credit, even though Barnaby’s really not good with this friendship thing he still tries hard when it comes to Kotetsu. Kotetsu just hasn’t realized how big a part he plays in how much Barnaby has changed. (In fact, Kotetsu is really damn dense about other people’s feelings when he himself is involved. For example, daughterzoning of Karina.)
We’re kinda glad that Tomoe’s death wasn’t emphasized too much. It was important for us to see her, because she’s left a huge impact on Kotetsu and he still lives following her last wish. It should be time for him to move on, though. It’s also important to note that both Barnaby and Tomoe say the same things in this episode. This isn’t because they’re so similar but because they have something in common: Kotetsu. Kotetsu doesn’t even realize how he affects other people, but both of them were saying those lines because of him. They may have been something Tomoe originally said to Kotetsu who has then subtly passed this thinking on to Barnaby.
What’s NEXT (pun intended)?
Let’s face it. Mr. It-Would-Be-Troublesome-If-You-Quit Lloyds won’t let Wild Tiger quit just like that. Kotetsu’s decision to resign is just like his usual way of doing things on the spur of the moment, without thinking everything through. Like Muramasa said, he doesn’t want to rely on other people with his problems, so he’s probably thinking that “Bunny will be fine even without me.” (In fact, this is in the short flashback in this episode. In the beginning Barnaby tells Kotetsu “if it’s just for a little while I’ll be fine on my own”, but Kotetsu only remembers the part where Barnaby tells that he’ll be fine on his own.) But stuff is going to start happening with Barnaby now, and we doubt Kotetsu will want to leave him on his own once he realizes that he still needs his support. As a person Barnaby leans on Kotetsu more than either of them realize.
There’s also the question of Kaede’s NEXT powers. We aren’t happy about them at all although it wasn’t a surprise to see she had developed them too. It’s possible that they’re just another way for Kotetsu to try and connect with Kaede again, without deeper meaning (tho we aren’t really buying that). People have theorized that NEXT powers would be passed on from parent to child, since Legend was losing his powers and we know Yuri is a NEXT too. That theory might work in other circumstances, but a) the powers are different and b) we have no idea when exactly Yuri became a NEXT. We can’t connect a parent’s loss of powers to a child gaining them with the little information we have. Besides, NEXTs are caused by a mutation and genetics don’t work that way.
All in all, this episode averaged on the good side. We were (and I think everyone was) really nervous about what would happen after the “punch in the gut” that Yuri’s backstory gave last week. Judging from the preview (and taking it with the very possible grain of trolling) more serious stuff is going to start happening next week. Our bodies are not ready