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:

Spring Season Anime Round-Up

We’re a couple of weeks into Spring season, so it’s time for some impressions again. Aki and I are still shedding tears into our Pepsi about there not being more Tiger & Bunny, but this season is actually turning out to be better than expected. Since we talked about ZETMAN before so I guess that’s a good one to start with…

We Are Disappoint

The worst fears I had about ZETMAN are turning out to be true. 13 episodes is too little, the pace is far too fast, and they’re changing things too much. I fully expected them to change something – that’s always the case with adaptations – but they’re making the story less dark. I won’t say more about the changes since Aki’s avoiding being spoiled about the manga story. There’s no time to build any characterization at the pace they’re going, and Aki is just confused and doesn’t really give a damn about any of the characters. Or the plot. If they’re even managing to build any plot, so far they’re going for the cool factor and nothing really clicks together. I’m mostly just feeling sad about what they’re doing to ZETMAN. The more I watch it the more I feel like I can’t really recommend it to anyone, and it’s a shame because it does look good and the action sequences are well composed. The opening song is very catchy too. I might end up watching this alone if Aki decides to drop it and read the manga instead.

And The Rest

The previous season, most of the stuff we dropped was because it just turned out boring or plain bad. This season seemed like the season of the ragequit because we actually started with a few of those! After the ill first impressions we found a title that is really worth checking for Taibani fans.

Space Brothers (Uchuu Kyoudai) – Hirata Hiroaki plays the main character: a thirty-something guy who gets fired in the first episode from his job designing (red) sports cars, wears too short pants that show his ankles, squashes his burgers and fails a lot. Sound familiar? Well, it’s not Kotetsu but the parallels are really amusing. We got no idea if Hirata got a bit of typecast here after his success with Kotetsu because he’s using a very Kotetsu-like voice for the role. The series is entertaining with a good pacing, even though the setting itself feels quite generic – the main character has to overcome a lot of obstacles to reach his dreams. I feel like I’ve seen a story like this many, many times before but it doesn’t really bother me. The other things outweigh it. Oh, and Crunchyroll is streaming it so you can watch it there.

We’re also happy that Noitamina is good again after a few seasons of stumbling. We were a bit iffy about Sakamichi no Apollon at first because the series compositor Kakihara Yuuko did an epic failure with Persona 4 the Animation, but so far it’s been really pleasant to watch. Tsuritama was automatically on our watch list because we’ve both got the hots for Nakamura Kenji‘s series – Mononoke is one of our all-time favourites.

The rest of our watch list for this season looks like this: Arashi no yoru ni, Folktales from Japan, Hyouka (this just started so we’re still undecided if we’ll stick with it), Jormungand, Lupin III: Mine Fujiko to iu onna, Eureka Seven AO, and Shirokuma Cafe.

It’s Not Anime But I Like It

Actually, there’s something we want to recommend this season: Unofficial Sentai Akibaranger – a parody on super sentai shows. Now, what makes this interesting for us is that Satou Keiichi did the character design for the show. Maybe we’ll get to see some dangerous underpants (with a surprise bulge) in it. Plus it’s really really funny, even for people who don’t normally watch tokusatsu shows. Give it a try!

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


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.