I confess, I am really bad at keeping up with ongoing manga series, and I prefer to read tankobons or completed series. That’s why I’ve been putting this off until the first arc completed in Newtype Ace‘s serialization of Tiger & Bunny by Sakakibara Mizuki.
The manga is four chapters long so far, and in regards to the anime story line we’re at the end of episode 2. Although there are a couple of new scenes in the first chapter it felt kind of boring to me since most of it is spent on the chase and presenting all the heroes, and the first episode is mostly condensed in it. The following chapters have more new stuff that also explain things that were left open in the anime, such as how Tony got so quickly to the statue to stop the skating rink from collapsing. Knowing that Nishida and the other writers had way more material they could use for the anime makes me hope Sakakibara will use it to beef up the manga. (Maybe some of those red herrings the anime liked to drop will get an explanation. I’m talking about that ring they teased us with.)
Art wise, I’ve got mixed feelings. There’s something about Sakakibara’s style that I don’t like. At first I thought that maybe I was just too partial to Katsura’s style, but then Aki and I came to the conclusion it’s probably the way Sakakibara draws the characters’ eyes. The hero suits look great and there’s a lot of attention to detail, but somehow the characters themselves feel less expressive. Body language is utilized just as in the anime, the eyebrows and mouths aren’t expressionless but somehow the eyes just don’t look lively and it leaves a cold impression on me.
When adapting a story from one medium to another, you can’t always bring it over just as it is because what works in manga may not work as well in anime format, and vice versa. Change too many things – or the wrong thing – and fans will complain. In my opinion Sakakibara is doing well with this adaptation, the story is following anime very closely but the change in point of view from Kotetsu to Barnaby makes adding new scenes easier and helps to keep it from feeling like it’s all “been there, seen that”. As a protagonist Kotetsu was easier for the audience to approach, and even in the anime I was first put off by Barnaby’s character and it took a long time before I started really liking him. I also think that telling the story from Barnaby’s point of view wouldn’t have had the right impact in the anime, telling it from primarily from Kotetsu’s side helped to keep the mysteries longer.
The manga hasn’t gotten very far yet, but if it continues like this I think it’ll complement the anime very nicely. I’m not sure if the aim is to retell the entire anime storyline in the manga, the thought of seeing the 2nd cour from Barnaby’s perspective is kinda unsettling. (I already know Aki will be flipping tables at Maverick if they show more of those memory alteration scenes in the manga.)
I haven’t seen any dates yet for tankobon release, the chapters are pretty long and released monthly so there should be enough for a full volume soon. There’s also the bi-monthly serialization in Miracle Jump by Yoshida Erika (story) and Ueda Hiroshi (art), more about that later when I have more than just one chapter to read!