Sunrise is one of the most important animation studios in the world, responsible for creating masterpieces such as Cowboy Bebop and Code Geass. In 2011, they delivered Tiger & Bunny, a quirky little show where superheroes fought crime while also serving as advertising displays for several of the most significant companies in the universe. It could be said they were the original corporate heroes, a concept that has been explored many times more in shows like My Hero Academia, and One Punch Man.
Anyhow, the show was a success, and it gave Sunrise another hit on the market. However, instead of continuing the series, Sunrise decided to continue with other projects, and the Tiger & Bunny IP stayed dormant for 11 years. Now, in the form of Bandai Namco Pictures, the IP comes back to life for a new season of superhero adventures, this time finding its home on the Netflix platform.
The new season of Tiger & Bunny matches all the current standards of production by Bandai Namco Pictures, and it is a very cool looking anime. However, it is different from the beloved Season 1. Well, some parts are still the same, for example the visuals. The excellent 2D animation that was a staple of early anime shows from the 90s and early 2000s has been replaced by a mixture of both 2D and 3D.
This decision, of course, is a cause for controversy. There hasn’t yet been an anime that has been able to justify the use of CGI to such an extent without being criticized for it. It is incredible that after 11 years, the technique hasn’t been perfected.
Thanks to shows like Berserk (2016), the use of 3D character models has not been well received, and with good reason. Most of the time, the 3D models look out of place with the backgrounds and the rest of the characters. On this occasion, the 3D models are used for when the characters enter their superhero suits, so it isn’t that bad. And yet, the models look stiff and unresponsive.
It is well known that the use of these 3D models helps the animation pipeline, but the technique is still being perfected. The Tekken series, also on Netflix, will be the next one to tackle the challenge, but this time with the help of Team Red from Arc System Works, so they might have better luck at overcoming the techniques’ issues.
When it comes to the 2D animation, the original show just looks better in any way possible, which was a staple of Sunrise shows back in the day. It is a shame that that kind of quality has not been preserved in this new season.
Outside of the visuals, the show remains quirky and fun. There are some serious moments here and there, of course. And because of the wackiness of everything, they feel potent when they appear, but the writing just doesn’t reach the heights of the original season, where it felt more inspired and newer.
In the 11 years the IP has been dormant, superheroes have taken over every single piece of media; anime, movies, books, and manga, have all been invaded by the genre, so this new season of Tiger & Bunny feels more like Bandai Namco taking on the opportunity of riding the wave everyone is riding as well. It isn’t a bad decision at all, but this time the studio isn’t creating the trend, they are just following it. Maybe because of that, the writing feels less special and more like an assignment.
The show is still fun, though. This new batch of 13 episodes is filled with humor, action, and adventure, and the show overall makes for a fun watch. Kotetsu and Barnaby come back as the two main characters, and their friendship and antics are just as entertaining. If you’re a fan of the original anime, then getting into this new season will be very easy or very hard to get into because of the consistency issues on display.
If you’re new to the show, it is, of course, better to just start watching from Season 1 and fall in love with the characters and the world-building. Yes, you might have seen superheroes like these before, but the show manages to be entertaining even despite its lack of originality.
Tiger & Bunny 2 doesn’t match the quality of the original season and much less the quality of other Sunrise shows, but if you’re already invested in the characters, it is well worth the watch. If you’re not already invested, just watch Cowboy Bebop or Code Geass. They are already available on Netflix and are shows completely superior to this one.