Third Time’s The Charm, Eh?

Among the things we didn’t see happening this week was the press release announcing that the Tiger&Bunny English language live action project is back.

As detailed in the press release (link in Japanese) and the article in Variety, this time they’re planning to adapt it as a series instead of a movie. The timing of the announcement makes sense, season 2 has brought back attention to the series, but at the same time it also raises the worry that it’s just riding on the popularity to make some money. Add to this the fact that anime adaptations in the West haven’t exactly been successful, and we aren’t holding our breath for a good reimagining.

The reception on Twitter has been mixed to negative – and that’s saying it nicely. Of course in our own Twittersphere we’re mostly interacting with fans, and many of them have been following Tiger&Bunny since the original 2011 release. The crowd is going to be tough, and we long time fans are fiercely loyal.

You can easily pick a couple of guys, slap them in costumes in front of the camera and make them fight a few bad guys. And that’s where we fear the adaptation will completely miss its mark. In its core Tiger&Bunny isn’t about superheroes catching bad guys. It’s about the characters, their interactions, relationships and personalities, which all happens to have the superhero gig as a backdrop. The showrunner has to understand the charm points of the source material, and it has to reflect in the script and casting. The original script of the series sets a pretty high bar, and we don’t expect the adaptation to get anywhere near it. The best we can hope for is that they respect the source material, and don’t just treat it as inferior because it’s animation.

Casting is going to be challenging and it could potentially make or break the adaptation. The actors need to look the part (unless they go the Netflix Death Note route and change a character’s appearance completely – but we really don’t want to talk about that adaptation and drag our spirits down even more).

Screenshot of Tiger&Bunny The Live stage play with Masakazu Morita playing Barnaby and Hiroaki Hirata playing Wild Tiger. Also in the picture are the hero suit actors for Barnaby and Tiger, and the actors for Dragon Kid and Blue Rose in hero suits.
When Tiger&Bunny The Live stage play was running back in 2012, they cast the original voice actors Hiroaki Hirata and Masakazu Morita to play Tiger and Barnaby on stage because no one else would have felt right. That’s the level of association they’re going to be up against in this project.

They also need to have chemistry. You can’t wing chemistry, you either have it or you don’t. Is it a better option to choose actors that look right for the part, but don’t feel right when you put them together in the scene – or pick actors that feel right, but may not look like what the people watching the finished product will expect? How will the fans respond to the latter option? Often anime adaptations go more for the appearance in everything. Deviations from the appearance do cause backlash, as was the case with Ghost in the Shell – but going on about that would open an entirely different can of worms and we’re not here to discuss Scarlett Johansson (unless they cast her as Blue Rose).

On the other hand working in favor of the project is that the setting of Tiger&Bunny should make it easy to adapt to a Western version. Stern Bild is already based on New York and the characters have a variety of ethnicities among them. The overall design should translate well to live action, the hero suits are no different than what MCU has been putting out for the past decade. Another point in favor of the adaptation is that Masayuki Ozaki, the producer of the original anime is on board with the project. At the same time there’s no guarantee, he was also the producer on Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop and that wasn’t well received. Though Cowboy Bebop gave us more music by Yoko Kanno so maybe we’ll get a new soundtrack by Yoshihiro Ike?

In the end, we would like to remain hopeful that against all odds Tiger&Bunny will get a good Western adaptation. The change of format is a welcome one, if made for streaming it will make it more approachable for a new audience than trying to compete in the box office.

We love the series, we love the characters, and after all you want to see the thing you love do well. Time will tell.

Text and editing by derpchan. Opinions by This is Sternbild team. Art by Tania.

TIGER & BUNNY S2 – The Social Aspect and the Netflix Treatment

It’s been a while since we’ve been blogging, and blogging again. And right now we’re not so sure about how much blogging we’ll do about season 2. It’s not just about how much our lives have changed since the first season (it’ll be 11 years when S2 airs – we’re no longer students, we have day jobs and commitments) but also the fact that it’ll be on Netflix and the first cour will be released in one go.

A large part of the experience for first season, probably for most of the people who got into TIGER & BUNNY while it was still airing, was waiting for the next episode to come out. Waiting, discussing, theorizing, talking about the plot and the characters. The wait for the final episode was both excruciating (and filled with carbs) and a lot of fun. We literally talked about TIGER & BUNNY every day for months. This social aspect is really important and I’m not sure if the series would have gathered the following it did if it had been released in one go for streaming. It might have been fast forgotten if it hadn’t been for the fans talking about it so much throughout the entire first season as it aired.

Times change, and binging a series can be fun – we’ve probably all been there with “just one more episode”. A binged series has to be great to make it memorable, it’s just too easy to zone out mentally when you’re on a full day marathon through the season. There’s no time to digest what you just watched when the next episode is already queued. Streaming platforms dedicated to anime (Crunchyroll, Wakanim, etc.) still do weekly releases, and Disney+ has been successful releasing an episode per week for their MCU series – although some of them actually work better when binged, and they feel like they were made for binging despite the weekly releases. Netflix is the outlier here and we sort of wish S2 would be streamed somewhere else.

The first season is currently available on Netflix in my country. They have removed all sponsor logos from the hero suits (which makes the opening sequences very awkward without nothing to zoom to) and the episodes lack the C-part. Not including the C-part (the stinger after the ending and before next episode preview) is like walking out of a Marvel movie the moment the credits start rolling. Many episodes had vital plot points in the C-part. So, if any of you have watched the first season only on Netflix, we urge you to find another version and check it out. This is the biggest problem with the Netflix release, parts of the episodes missing without good reason, and it raises a worry if S2 will have these mindless edits.

Lastly, there’s the QUALITY GYM. Parts of S1 production were rushed which shows in animation quality – something that is very common in anime as new episodes are produced while the show is already airing. Having half of the season released in one go means more even and higher quality… but the QUALITY of S1 had its own charm. If you haven’t seen the TV versions of the episodes, you might not realize how big the differences were.

Check some examples below, comparison of TV version and the corrections made for blu-ray release:

First Tiger&Bunny Movie To Open In September (Updated)

Just as Ozaki promised – more information on the movies! The first Tiger & Bunny movie “TIGER & BUNNY – The Beginning” will hit theaters in September, as it was announced today. There isn’t much information about the movie itself yet, but a few things came to my mind when I glanced at the site.

  1. There’s no actual staff listed yet. I doubt Satou is directing this time, his Ashura movie is opening in August and he was just announced to be directing the new Saint Seiya CG movie. He must have several projects going on at the same time on this rate, but that he would also work on Tiger & Bunny movies seems improbable. Ozaki did spoil on Twitter earlier that producer Tamura Kazuhiko is working on the movies and that the same studio is animating them as the anime itself. Only cast listed so far are Hirata and Morita, which is pretty much given.
  2. The title is subject to change as it says on the movie site (that’s what “(仮)” means after the title). I hope they will change it because right now it has too much of a recap movie vibe. It could just be signifying it’s the first movie, though.

As much as I’d like the movie to be all new material, I’m about 99% certain that a portion of it will be recap. Why? From Ozaki’s recent tweets, it’s pretty clear he wants more people to get into Tiger & Bunny and to enjoy it. It would be counter-productive to make a movie that is hard for new audiences to approach. These guys seem very good at marketing their creation, and that’s just pure marketing logic.

I’m fine with some recap though, if it brings more success to Tiger & Bunny.

Update: Seems I was right in my recap thoughts, this article at Anime! Anime! calls the movie a “hybrid episode” with material they weren’t able to use in the series (timeskip stuff, maybe?). It also mentions that the second movie is planned for 2013.

Update 2: Some spoilers from Newtype seem to indicate that the second movie won’t be a direct continuation to the first one – they’ll be stand-alone stories. New character(s) will also be introduced in the movies.

Update 3: I’m seeing lots of comments that maybe the movie will be a prequel. That sounds far fetched to me. Why? Because they’re called Tiger & Bunny movies. They met in the first episode of the series, and before that there was no “Tiger & Bunny”. A prequel would most likely be about Tiger’s early heroing days. I think it’d be fun to watch but it’d just be a Tiger movie, not a Tiger & Bunny movie (I’d totally watch an OVA about Wild Tiger’s early days). Barnaby’s early search for Ouroboros wouldn’t make a very interesting movie, and I doubt his academy days would either, since he seems to have mostly kept to himself and not bonded with anyone.

By The Way, Our Previous Opinion Still Stands

Winter anime season started a couple of weeks ago, and I could just as well copy what we posted when Autumn season began. Although this isn’t directly about Tiger & Bunny, it can’t be helped that we still compare everything we watch to reactions Tiger & Bunny got –  and still gets – from us. (Aki thinks this will go on forever, and I gotta agree. It’s not easy to beat the experience Tiger & Bunny gave us.)

For example, one thing we really got pampered with in Tiger & Bunny is the fact that Nishida held the reins on scripting the whole time. Of course he wasn’t the only writer but he was involved in every episode even when other writers worked on them. The importance of the writer didn’t really register with us before, we rarely paid attention to who’s writing the episodes until we started watching Persona 4 the Animation after Tiger & Bunny had already ended. The episodes were so uneven that it didn’t take many weeks for us to figure out that out of the three writers working on the scripts, only one actually seemed to have played the game and cared about characterization. This sucks because many of the parts that we loved about the game have been given a really poor treatment in the anime so far – the camping trip episode is a very good example, with bad pacing. Most of the things that made the camping trip so funny in the game were lost somewhere.

Anyways, back to the current Winter season. We ambitiously checked out quite a few of new series, but most of them have already been dropped due to being a) boring b) stupid c) bad d) all of the above. Some of the new stuff we’ve decided to keep watching falls into both b) and c) but because they’re so bad they end up being unintentionally funny. (That means you, Brave 10 and Aquarion EVOL.) Go figure, Aquarion EVOL gives even better laughs than the actual comedies – Daily Lives of High School Boys and Thermae Romae – that we are watching. Another is the most interesting one so far. We both love horror, and good horror anime is pretty rare. The sound design and scene planning in Another gives us chills, we just hope it’ll carry all the way through.

It was watching the latest episode of Another last night that made me realize what really is the difference between watching Tiger & Bunny and watching any other series. Allow me to demonstrate:

And we played a game until it was bedtime. Feels a bit sadman if I compare it to Superhero Saturdays and talking about Tiger & Bunny until we had to go to bed.

Aki would like to add the following:

[Aki_the_geek] one more comment
[Aki_the_geek] this is one of your shortest posts despite the fact you are talking about several anime in it
[Aki_the_geek] THAT SAYS SOMETHING.

Yyyyyyyep.

Ozaki Talks About Live-Action And Musical Adaptations

As you may know, ASCII published an interview with executive producer Ozaki Masayuki a couple of days ago. In the interview he talked about how Tiger & Bunny was born, and also about what future plans for the franchise would interest him – such as live-action and musical. It seems he may have said too much (and it’s not the first time – though who can blame him for being enthusiastic?) because he further clarified his thoughts on a live-action adaptation in length on Twitter. You can read a full translation of his tweets at Crunchyroll.

“These are my personal feelings as the producer. However, at this time nobody less than a Hollywood mainstay production studio could realize the vision I have. If we don’t secure complete agreement on staff, cast, production scale, supervisory rights, etc then I don’t intend to give permission.”
– Ozaki Masayuki

The feeling I got from his tweets is that he and the other creators are very protective of Tiger & Bunny – which is a really good thing for the future of the series. Although he has ruled out a Hollywood live-action for now, a musical seems like a possibility. The Code Geass stage musical is currently in production, and I could imagine that if it does well it would be a good sign also for a Tiger & Bunny musical. As a fun fact, director Satou mentioned in an interview around September that he’d be interested in trying a musical in the future. He didn’t specify it further and I took it just as a joke but maybe he wasn’t trolling after all…

Personally I think that Tiger & Bunny would fit a live-action movie better than musical. I’m not into musicals in general, and us foreign fans would have no chance of seeing a musical until the eventual BD release. A live-action movie – if done right – could turn out very good, but anime/manga based live-action movies have a pretty uneven success rate. The Japanese versions tend to be better than the few Hollywood versions that have been made. Tiger & Bunny has taken a lot of inspiration from the American superhero comics and movies so a live-action adaptation feels fitting – although I may be pretty alone with my opinion.

Whether or not you like the idea of a live-action Tiger & Bunny, Ozaki has no plans for that at the moment and he is currently concentrating on the already announced movie projects. That hasn’t stopped the Japanese fans from making speculations about a dream cast for a Hollywood live-action adaptation: