Opinion: Movie Musings

So, two movies. There’s no news yet on what they’ll be about, nor have I seen who’s in the staff (but I hope Satou will be directing again, and Nishida writing). I have a bit mixed feelings about that it’s going to be movies instead of S2 or OVAs, because I haven’t seen that many good movies based on TV anime.

My biggest worry is that the movies will be a recap – or even worse, recap that retcons the story. Recap movies tend to be boring since I’ve already seen the anime and I know what’ll happen, better graphics doesn’t really make it that much more interesting for me. The retcon movies on the other hand make me rage. Let’s take the Macross Frontier movies as an example; I saw the anime and I enjoyed it even though it had flaws and my favourite character got killed. The movies retconned so much of the story and characterization that I wasn’t even sure what I was watching – and I just couldn’t like them even though my favourite character survived in them. I really, really do not want to see retcon happen to Tiger & Bunny and its characters.

(To clarify: I don’t believe they’d take the recap/retcon route, especially if S2 is in the works behind the scenes; it makes more sense to do a proper lead up to it with the movies. It’s just something I wanted to note because many anime movies pick the easy way and recap the story.)

The new footage that was shown at the Hero Awards 2011 event may indicate that we’ll get a new story. The staff have stated on more than one occasion that they have a lot of material they couldn’t fit into the anime, so the possibility of all that being used for the movies is pretty high. They could do a lot of stuff with just the 10 month timeskip, but if I’d have to make bets I’d say at least one of the movies will be set after the anime ending because of what Ozaki mentioned in a recent interview. It’s also more than likely that the movies will get new sponsors since the sample pictures had the hero suits blank of advertisements. New project, new sponsors.

The other major gripe I have with anime movies is that I’m not in Japan and have no chance to go there just to see a movie. They can take up to a year to be released on BD/DVD, and the wait is going to be agonizing. The likelihood of getting spoiled for plot is pretty high, too, since I know many Japanese fans and I doubt I can avoid all the spoilers… I don’t know if I even want to avoid them because I’m dying for more Tiger & Bunny. I’ve seen some speculations about the movies making it to the USA pretty fast because the streams were so popular, which is great for the American fans. I’m European so I’ll probably get the Japanese version faster, though.

I’m pretty hopeful we’ll eventually get S2, and the movies’ job is to tide us over until then. Ozaki wanted to do a continuation fast, and a S2 wouldn’t have been ready until 2013. It’s understandable they want to make more when Tiger & Bunny is so popular. Too long wait would be bad in business sense, and Sunrise (and Bandai) are doing this for business after all. The movies are only step 2 in NEXT Project (Hero Awards was step 1) so who knows what we’ll get… I’ve heard there should be four steps in it.

Opinion: “But why is it not TaiBani?”

So… Summer season ended, and Tiger & Bunny with it. Fall season started, without new Tiger & Bunny episodes. This presents a “tiny” problem.

None of the new anime feel that exciting. Aki and I actually had that problem the previous season with the new series that started then but it wasn’t such a big deal because hey, we had Tiger & Bunny! We still ended up watching some series against our better judgement and for shits and giggles. Now there’s nothing to distract us from the fact that the new stuff is pretty damn stale. All the series we had decided to check out for this season have started and we’ve seen at least one episode of each.

So what’s wrong, really?

It’s hard not to compare the Fall anime to Tiger & Bunny when we’ve practically lived and breathed it for six months, and still are. Both of us have become a lot more critical of the anime we watch after – and during – Tiger & Bunny. I was actually thinking of blogging a series this season, but nothing really gets me interested enough to put the same kinda passion into talking about it as we feel with T&B. In fact, the usual proceeding after watching something that is not T&B is that we go back to talking about T&B within minutes.

The biggest problem this season has is that everything even remotely interesting has defaulted back to the angsty-teenager-high-school-student-protagonist with a backing cast of teenage classmates regardless of genre. Anime is just a medium as any other, but most of the anime produced today hasn’t grown up with the audience and it gives this feeling of “haven’t I seen this before?” Take Guilty Crown for example. It is a pretty obvious mix of Macross (songbird chick), Persona (social linking gone bad) and it tilts heavily into Code Geass. Did I mention it has an angsty teenage protagonist? This is just the impression from the first episode, so it’s a bit too early to judge the entire series based on it. First impression still isn’t outstanding.

Of course, clichés and stereotypes are easy to handle and safe bets. Although I’ve been watching the generic stuff for years, it only took a few months with Tiger & Bunny to kill my interest for it. The older protagonists and a diverse cast where everyone is a personality and not just a stereotype makes T&B much more interesting to watch. In fact, we can talk for hours about how complex characters Kotetsu and Barnaby are. For example, it’s easy to miss many finer points of Kotetsu’s character development if you aren’t putting a little thought into it.

Note that I’m not saying that Tiger & Bunny is how anime should be, because I can acknowledge the fact that it wasn’t flawless and there were a lot of things that could have been done better – and not just QUALITY gym time. What the creators of T&B did was that they dared to take the risk, and dared to do things differently and that is what made it stand out. Both of us want to see more of this kind of risk taking – not just anime that tries to imitate Tiger & Bunny but that takes its own risks and turns them into success.

Didn’t I just say that we end up talking about Tiger & Bunny all the time? I was supposed to be blogging about the anime this season…

What does Sunrise do?

Since Tiger & Bunny is a Sunrise product, it’s only fair to check out what they’re doing this season, right? I watched Sacred Seven in its entirety on the previous season, just to see what they expected would be the better seller. When it started I said I’d watch it until the first BD sales were out, and it was only later when I realized I’d actually have to complete the series before that. I was pig-headed enough to hold out. Needless to say I wasn’t impressed, though S7 had its moments… most of them provided not by the series itself.

We’ve checked the new series from Sunrise this season and it’s kinda like S7 all over. Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere is so bad it’s not even funny, and although Phi Brain sounded good on paper it sunk into mediocrity and couldn’t even hold interest for more than one episode. Gundam AGE is just a glorified gunpla ad, clearly aimed to capture a new generation to buy the plastic. I doubt we can sit through it for many more episodes.

What are we watching?

As much as this post may sound like whining, we do enjoy watching anime. (The lack of good anime this season has just made us watch more live action stuff for a change.) We’re both big fans of Persona games and especially Persona 4, so we’re watching Persona 4 the Animation. It’s not super awesome, but it’s still fun. Mirai Nikki (don’t spoil, we haven’t read the manga!) and Ben-To are the surprises of the season, maybe because we had no expectations for them. We’re also watching Mawaru Penguin Drum from the previous season.

Bottom line: There’s no point to this other than none of this anime is Tiger & Bunny, and it can’t be helped. At least there are penguins.

Hey, do you remember?

Hello, this is derpchan, the member of This is Sternbild who’s been rewatching the series from the beginning with Aki! Seeing all those early episodes – when the series was a happy-fun-cute-superheroes-doing-cute-superhero-stuff kinda thing – feels a bit nostalgic. It also made me think of how I started watching Tiger & Bunny in the first place…

Remember this anime chart for Spring season? In March/April, I made lists of stuff I was going to check out when the new season would start, and here’s what I said back then:

  • Not terribly excited about the anime this spring, but there’s still stuff to watch.
  • [Tiger & Bunny] …sounds so preposterous it’s bound to be amusing.
  • What the hell kind of a name is “Tiger & Bunny”? Seriously?

A good beginning makes a good ending.

Then the 1st episode of Tiger & Bunny came out, and I realized I had watched it at least three times before the 2nd aired. I remember thinking that Sky High was pretty cool and that Kotetsu was kind of a derp. And Bunny? Oh boy, he rubbed me the wrong way right from the start. I thought he was acting like a huge dick (although he did get some points for that first Princess Carry).

The following I wrote in June:

  • When I started watching Tiger&Bunny my initial thought was that the whole premise of sponsored superheroes was utterly laughable. But I was sold after the first episode. The cast is excellent, and all the characters are amazingly lovable.

Little did I know that just a few weeks after I typed those sentences, I’d be starting this blog with Aki. I think that teaming up with her made me like the show even more – and we’ve had a ton of fun talking about it. In fact, whenever we talk about something else it doesn’t take long before the topic somehow gravitates back to Tiger & Bunny. (The tagline in the main page sidebar is not a lie!)

whatismylife.png

Then came the 2nd cour, and Summer season started. By this time I had – at first a bit reluctantly – started liking Bunny. This time I didn’t even bother to make a list for the new season, because of this:

While shopping for all that lovely merchandise that had finally started appearing, I realized that “Damn it, Barnaby is my favourite character. When did that happen?” I had also thought that Nathan was awesome pretty early on, but around that time I realized that he was my 2nd favourite character. I love all the characters (except Maverick), so ranking them is pretty hard beyond the Top Three. Kotetsu is 3rd by the way.

I’ll take the risk of sounding like a sad no-life and confess that the graph above is still accurate. I haven’t been this invested in an anime (or any series/movie/book/manga for that matter) before, despite being active follower of many of them over the years. It is kinda scary to think that in just a few days, the series will be over (save for possible plans for continuation of some sort). Granted, there’s the reruns, manga publications, lots of merchandise, BDs coming out… So it won’t really be “over” over. But the weekly wait for new episode won’t be there anymore.

These feelings I’m feeling

Another thing is how Tiger & Bunny has made all other anime seem bland in comparison. I’ve been an avid reader all my life reading novels from different genres, so I guess it’s not surprising that what I find most enjoyable in Tiger & Bunny is the human drama and how it’s written. The characters feel so real and their behaviour and reactions so natural. I have to agree with the voice actors that it’s a good thing to have an older protagonist. Looking at the Autumn season that’s about to start, I’m just not feeling much towards any series. Everything seems so generic, though it’s possible there’s a pleasant surprise hiding among them to fill some of the void. It’s too early for Tiger & Bunny’s possible influence to show in other shows, but there’s a lot more that you can do with anime series than just tell stories about high school kids.

The staff&cast of Tiger & Bunny kept believing in it even when the studio didn’t. They have earned their praise and I hope they’re proud of what they’ve created. The end result may not be perfect in every aspect, but in my opinion those imperfections (like QUALITY gym) give the series a kind of unique character.

Last but not least… Thank you, and again thank you to all T&Bros around the world for being an awesome bunch of people. It’s a pleasure to watch the show with you. \|宜|

For Fun: The Recipe

Hello! I’m derpchan, the member of Sternbild who has more time to kill this Superhero Saturday. Tiger & Bunny airs 20 minutes later than usually, and it may be even further delayed due to sports. So in the mean time, I thought I’d post this thing me and Aki discussed earlier this week.

How to cook up a success, Tiger & Bunny style

Step 1: A studio that doesn’t believe in your project and just wants you to fail.

Sounds harsh but that’s the reality Tiger & Bunny had to deal with. Ozaki hinted in the Tiger & Bunny panel from Otakon that it had been really hard to get the project off the ground. Despite this, the care and planning that’s gone into creating Tiger & Bunny is extensive, from the environments to character designs. There was a huge merchandise void at first because who would make merchandise for a show that’s not expected to sell at all? Same trend is in the BD/DVD sales that are lower than they could be because the print amounts can’t meet the demand.

As a result of the studio’s uncaring attitude and lack of interest in controlling the production, you can witness Sunrise’s animation D-team’s work in most episodes, from the occasional derps to all out QUALITY gym. And a whole bunch of rookie animators can now add the biggest surprise hit of the year (possibly even the decade) to their resume. And the reason they can do that is because of…

Step 2: A director who is a total BOSS.

In my opinion, getting Keiichi Satou to direct Tiger & Bunny was one of the key factors to why it succeeded. He wasn’t really that big of a name, though he’s been on the industry for years. His most notable work before Tiger & Bunny is probably Karas which he created and directed. It was far from mainstream (the first half is actually pretty cryptic) so that shows he’s not afraid of taking risks. I don’t think he’ll be known as “that Karas guy” anymore, though. Why Satou was so important to Tiger & Bunny making it big was that he allowed that team of rookies a lot of creativity. Many of the “random product placement” items that you can spot in the series were put there by the animators. Also, Satou was the person who wanted to hire…

Step 3: A screenwriter who has never done anime before.

Masafumi Nishida was Satou’s choice for screenwriter. Nishida explains in an interview that Satou specifically wanted “drama-style dialogue” for Tiger & Bunny. Nishida was an incredible and brave choice for the show, and he’s also the reason why Ivan photo-bombs, why Keith is the King of Moe, why Nathan is everyone’s big sister and… In short, he created all the quirks the entire cast of characters has. Because the characters turned out so life-like and genuine, it’s given a prime chance to test their limits to…

Step 4: An enthusiastic voice cast.

Tiger & Bunny has several well-known voice actors among the cast. Reading the interviews you can feel just how excited they’re about their roles. Especially Masakazu Morita who plays Barnaby sounds like a total fanboy whenever he talks about his role – and for a good reason because it’s really different from his previous works. Kenjiro Tsuda seems to get into his role as Nathan even a bit too much at times. And then there’s of course the real life Keith Goodman, Go Inoue. The voice cast is about as adorable as the characters they play.

In short: You’re doing it right.

Productions take a long time, so it’ll probably be a few years before we see if Tiger & Bunny’s success has left any impact and gotten other series trying to do something unconventional to succeed. It’d be great to see more unusual protagonists like Kotetsu. But Tiger & Bunny just sort of happened so duplicating the formula doesn’t automatically guarantee success.

In the mean time, I’m just going to continue spending my euros on merchandise. (Maybe some pennies will even reach Mr. Satou so he can eat more ramen.) (*´∀`)

Opinion: Please, take my money!

Hello! I’m derpchan, the member of Sternbild who is trying to find ways to kill time before episode 21 airs. There’s a lot of merchandise talk now that release dates are finally coming up, so I figured I’d share some of my thoughts on that. It’s not something new for me to buy stuff related to my favourite show/movie/book/etc. I’ve got a collection of figures, books, posters, gunpla, games, CDs and DVDs that I’ve accumulated over the years to show my powerlevel. But Tiger & Bunny is really making me lay down the cash from my meager funds like no fandom before has. And judging how fast the merchandise is selling out already on preorders, I’m not the only one…

Popular theory: Keiichi Satou is a powerful NEXT.
His ability is to make people buy merchandise.

Usually I buy a lot of fanmade goods, so I didn’t mind it too much that to begin with there was barely any official merchandise for Tiger & Bunny. Many people were even looking up stuff that had been placed in the show by the animators and buying those instead to fill the merchandise void. (I wonder if Kenzo has noticed an increase in sales thanks to Tiger & Bunny? People are still buying it to smell like Kotetsu!) Now it’s like the floodgates have been opened and stuff just keeps popping up left and right (and selling out on preorders) and every week there’s something new when I check the store listings.

For me, wanting to support the show plays a big part in why I’m buying so much merchandise. I could manage without, and I could certainly use my money for something that I need more. But there’s just something irresistible about Tiger & Bunny. And it gives an odd feeling of satisfaction to me to proverbially push my money over the counter (I buy most of the stuff online, see?) to prove it to Sunrise that the show they had no faith in is really pretty awesome, at least in my opinion. That’s also why I’m mostly buying official merchandise this time – I want my money to count.

Although I’m dying to have that shiny Fire Emblem Figuarts on my shelf, I don’t expect actually getting one. The battle for every Figuarts preorder so far has been bloody, and with online stores crashing under the flood of people wanting the items I don’t expect success in getting a preorder in. Many of my friends want especially Sky High, and I’ve got a feeling there’ll be a lot of tears and despair when he finally becomes available. Even Rock Bison who isn’t so popular among the Western fandom as in Japan sold out in minutes. In that light it’s kind of relieving to be primarily a book collector, since even though the books are selling out they’re not going as fast as the figures. There’s gonna be at least as many as five or six official source books (maybe even more) and only two are out so far, so I won’t be done with my book shopping any time soon.

I wanted to finish this post with a sip from a Barnaby coffee mug like a boss, but sadly it hasn’t arrived yet. How’s the shopping working for you guys?