24. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
We pick up where last week left us off, Wild Tiger and Barnaby facing H-01, the rest of the heroes locked up in Rotwang’s deathtrap, and Kaede taken hostage.
They don’t make evil henchmen like they used to…
If Rotwang is good at something, it’s gloating and spewing his anti-NEXT opinions. Maverick doesn’t have a problem taking advantage of other NEXTs, but being a NEXT himself he didn’t look all too pleased listening to Rotwang’s ranting so he’s probably planning to get rid of him as soon as he’s no longer needed. It’d also be risky to keep Rotwang around, because he could turn on Maverick if he ever found out he’s a NEXT. Where Maverick fails as a classic villain, Rotwang is almost a caricature of one, egging the heroes to betray each other while gleefully pushing the controls. It wasn’t a surprise that the bomb collar set up was rigged and no one would be able to get out of it alive.
The one who had the hardest time seemed to be Rock Bison. Kotetsu entrusted Kaede to him if something should happen, and he had the most internal struggle about freeing himself. In the mean time, Nathan seemed very thoughtful so we might find out next week what he had on his mind. The magazine spoiler about Blue Rose acting mature during the climax of the series came true, but she’s actually been headed that way for a few episodes already.
Another expected turn of events was how Kaede showed yet again that Kaburagi women are a force not to be messed with, and freed herself and the rest of the heroes. Personally I’m still iffy about how her ability is utilized, but as long as she does what she does out of her own free will and not because someone tells her to do something, I’m fine with it. Her opinion of her father seems to have changed a lot, too. Next episode will show if she gets a chance to tell Kotetsu that he’s cool.
Yuri has probably figured out what’s going on by now, the short flashback to when he helped Kotetsu continue his flight shows he was going to find out who’s behind all this. It also shows that unfortunately H-01 managed to land a shot on him, so it’s uncertain if he’s capable of fighting at the moment. Still, he could well play a part in finally stopping Maverick since he is in the building, and he seemed suspicious enough to maybe even go tailing him.
Say hello to my little friend
The battle against H-01 had us on the edges of our seats. The pacing in this episode felt good, with just enough breathers between the action scenes to keep the tension on both how the heroes will get free of the bomb collars and the main fight. The fight choreography was carefully planned, and in fact this episode had several animation directors, one of them worked on the previous action heavy episodes. The battle was also a treat to the eye after the time limit on their 100 Power reset and the suits went into Lightning Mode. The activation of Good Luck Mode was another display of how well Kotetsu and Barnaby work together.
Kotetsu: Got it!
Barnaby is clearly in a protector mode during the battle. He pushes Kotetsu out of harm’s way several times and looks pained whenever Kotetsu takes a direct hit. Compared to many other anime the use of expressions and body language in general is on a different level in Tiger & Bunny, and it’s good to note how they don’t forget this even in the heat of the battle.
This week’s title pretty obviously refers to the final shot on H-01 and Kotetsu and Barnaby risking the shot. This gamble could be the “test of their bond” that was referenced in the magazine spoilers. It paid off with H-01 destroyed, but Kotetsu’s powers running out left him severely hurt, and possibly dying. However…
There are a number of reasons why Kotetsu will survive, but thanks to Satou and Nishida’s superb trolling skills, they’ve left just enough room for us to get worked up with “what if?” worry. If anything, the “death scene” was a way to get the two to finally fully open up to each other. As for the reasons, killing Kotetsu this late in the series would be pointless if we consider character development. He’s finally reached a point where he can be honest about things to
other people Barnaby, which was the major flaw he had to work on. Not to mention, Kotetsu as a character is aimed at the 40’s working male demographic. His message is that there’s still a lot he can give, even if he has to look for a new direction in his life. Having him die at this point would not fit with this message. Same goes if we look at it from Barnaby’s viewpoint. His confession of how he’s been practising cooking fried rice so Kotetsu could try it shows a different side of him – ready to do something just to please another person because he wants to do so, not because it’s expected for publicity. Having Kotetsu die now would destroy him. He’d lose yet another important person, and even worse – he was the one to pull the trigger.
To put it in a tl;dr version, all 24 episodes of build-up to this point would be for nothing if Kotetsu dies now. There would be no reward, and we just can’t see that happening. Besides, we think Nishida’s a better writer than those who end up using character death as a device to get an emotional reaction. We’ve had plenty of emotional reactions already, thanks to this story. So we’re just gonna sit back and enjoy our fried rice and the feeling of being totally trolled for the next week.
Pay attention to the voice acting in the final scenes. Tiger & Bunny is shaping up to be Best Role™ for both of the leads, and especially Masakazu Morita has totally changed the image we had of him before we heard him as Barnaby. The amount of emotion he can pack into his voice was something we didn’t expect, because up until Tiger & Bunny he’s been “that Ichigo guy” to us.
He’s just taking a nap!
Now that I have had time to give it a bit more thought, the whole cliffhanger reminds me of the scene near the end in Bayside Shakedown. Aoshima is shot and bleeding all over the place and they’re rushing him to the hospital, and when he starts drifting off and passes out the female police officer holding him freaks out because she thinks he’s dead. But instead, the guy starts snoring like a lumberjack after working for days and lacking sleep. Kotetsu is kind of in a same situation, running for his life all day, being in a bike chase, punched around on the bridge and then running from H-01 on top of all that. It’d even be in character for him to start snoring there… (In fact, I’m just gonna call snoring Kotetsu to be on the safe side.)
We’ll find out NEXT week. Sadly it’ll be the last week, too. In the mean time, please check out our Sternbild Friend Rice Event and send in your submissions!