Tiger & Bunny Ep. 24: Men of a certain age

I’m surprised Kotetsu even had enough strength to hold H-01 down all by himself. The penultimate episode unfolds as one might expect. The heroes are pushed to their physical and mental limits. Kotetsu and Barnaby are desperate to find just any weakness in H-01. The rest of the heroes must decide whether or not to sacrifice each other. Meanwhile, the villains cackle with glee. So was this episode effective? Mostly yes, but it’s disappointing to see that Tiger & Bunny just can’t avoid its genre’s typical trappings.

Oh shut up, Rotwang
I must confess that I’m not really a fan of superheroes. I don’t really care for comics either. T&B is a bit of an exception if only because Kotetsu is such a charismatic character, i.e. a bro’s bro. If there’s going to be a sequel, however — and it appears as if there will be one — I wonder whether or not another lead could really be as effective as Kotetsu has been. Anyway, if I do root for anyone in superhero stories, it’s usually the villain. Alas, Rotwang does not measure up.

We have a bit of a reversal here, I guess. I actually think the protagonist is cool as hell, but the villain just aggravates me. Unfortunately, Rotwang has a rather large role in this episode. And he should — don’t get me wrong; since H-01 is a mute robot, it’s all up to Rotwang to deliver on the evil front. His running commentary on the heroes’ plight, however, is just really dull and flat. He doesn’t captivate my attention. One of the most interesting things a story could do is to make the audience root for the bad guys. You know the bad guys are wrong, but they’re just too sexy not to root for. That’s how evil gets us all riled up. We become blind to the moral content of our actions; we just want to go with the flow.

Well, damn, I don’t think anyone’s going to mistake Rotwang for sexy. He’s not going to push any of our emotional buttons. He’s just this clownish-looking dude with a goofy voice, but it’s not like he’s the Joker by any means. The Joker is chaos personified. Just the idea of such a person makes you sit up and wonder, “What does that even mean?” Then the devilish cadence of his voice enraptures your attention. Rotwang on the other hand?

Ugh. So yeah, if T&B dropped the ball anywhere, it’s that the show’s villains have plain sucked. From Lunatic (he was the show’s villain for a short time) to Jake to Rotwang, these guys do not inspire. And c’mon, let’s face it: evil is scary because it can inspire.

Oh, they won’t betray each other!
A good chunk of the episode is also devoted to whether or not one of the imprisoned heroes will fall for Rotwang’s trick and sacrifice his or her friends. Of course, this isn’t going to happen. The heroes have gotten along too well over the course of the series for such a scene to work. I mean, in order for there to be any tension here, you would have to believe that one of the heroes would actually betray his or her friends. So this is where T&B dropped the ball. The writers should have included in the story that one loner character who would get on everyone’s nerves.


Looks like Mad Bull is bulimic or something.

Technically, this was kind of Barnaby’s role, but he only got on Kotetsu’s nerve. Plus, he’s not in this scene anyway so it doesn’t really matter. The point is that one of the six imprisoned heroes should have been sort of a self-interested jerk for the last twenty episodes. This way, we could actually doubt whether or not he or she wouldn’t sacrifice the others. In fact, this would have been a good role for Mad Bull. Maybe he could’ve been the cranky veteran who doesn’t see eye-to-eye with his younger colleagues. In any case, the real heroes are too pure, too good and believe too much in the the power of friendship to give this subplot the effectiveness it needs. Without tension, it just feels as though the anime is buying time.

Just a quick note, isn’t Sky High a clod? You know the bad guys are listening in on you. Why would you ever think aloud?

How do you defeat those stronger than you?
Duh, use their strength against them! Wait a minute… a man and his friend go looking for the man’s kidnapped kid. The man is made to fight a stronger version of himself — a brother, if you will. Neither the man nor the partner can take down this villain. The man decides that they have only one chance: he must sacrifice himself in order for them to defeat his brother.

No, no, not Dragon Ball Z. I’m talking about Tiger & B-

Well, shit. Okay, okay, is this a flaw in the anime? I’ll leave that up to you to decide. I’m more amused than anything. We even have Kaede freeing herself from her “prison” and utilizing her raw, undeveloped powers to overcome her predicament. On the one hand, the two anime aren’t exactly carbon copies of one another, but on the other hand, it’s just really goddamn funny how closely certain events played out. I’m not sure Goku ever complimented Piccolo on his eyelashes though, and I guess we’ll have to see whether or not Kotetsu survives next week. After all, I doubt he’ll be training in heaven somewhere, biding his return for the second season of T&B.

So what’s good?
I liked the ending exchange between Kotetsu and Barnaby. Like the rest of the episode, it doesn’t break new grounds either. I mean, it’s a tearful goodbye from one partner to another. How original could it be? But why do I find this scene effective as opposed to all of the other cliched moments in the episode? Because it bothered to make us feel.

And let’s face it, this is the whole point of storytelling. We want to make an emotional connection with the characters we see onscreen. Rotwang isn’t a good villain because he doesn’t get us to feel anything; his evil doesn’t inspire. The lesser heroes’ plight doesn’t have enough tension; we know they won’t betray each other. So while Kotetsu’s tearful speech isn’t any more original than the two previous examples, it works by actually getting us to feel anything. And if you didn’t think it was sad that Kotetsu is dying, maybe you should buddy up with H-01.

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17 Replies to “Tiger & Bunny Ep. 24: Men of a certain age”

  1. I do for some reason have no problem with the run-of-the-mill villains (Maverick is enough for me as the big-bad and Lunatic doesn´t count for me), but didn´t exactly like how the handled Rotwang Situation here. And I disagree with the inclusion of a annoying loner character. The reason why I did not feel the tension here was Kaede.
    Kaede saving the day once again felt really anticlimatic for me. Way to make the secondary heroes look even more useless once again. There´d be some nice tension if there would be a situation where it isn´t so obvious that Kaede will step in. I mean, them getting along so well, wouldn´t it make the whole situation even more dramatic if they´d have to figure something out here.This would have been a great chance show other sides of the heroes personality. Or as you said, this could have been Antonios chance to shine here…

    Kaede becoming the overpowered (in a certain way ) kid was pretty much what I feared ( surprisingly she suddenly handled her powers very well), I simply don´t care enough for her…didn´t even notice at first that Kotetsu doesn´t mention her in his death speach …

    The fight against H-01 was great imo. It´s been easy to foresee how it was going to end but I was still biting my nails during the fight. I must admit that I don´t exactly know how Kotetsu dieing would fit with the overall tone of the series. I had the impression that the series was trying to encourage and cheer to the older crowd… And now sacrifice the main lead? Or maybe his death was more symbolic for the “old” Kotetsu (Wild Tiger) dieing ? Oh I don´t know.. still, I´ve been a bit teary during that scene (´;_;`)

    Also I thought that Barnabys voice actor did a nice job here…

    And did Kaede kill Rotwang? If they brush it off just like that it would leave a really bitter after taste, but let´s see how the next episode will handle this.

    1. Way to make the secondary heroes look even more useless once again.

      How could they escape from a spiked room with a bomb strapped to their necks though? Unless one of the characters didn’t get caught, the other heroes looked screwed. And I don’t really have a problem with Kaede saving the day because I think it makes some thematic sense. The next generation of NEXT (sounds clumsy) should be even superior to the first.

      I don´t exactly know how Kotetsu dieing would fit with the overall tone of the series.

      Unless he’s in a coffin for the next episode, I’m not sold on his “death.” It just seems really weak to kill the main character off before the last episode.

      And did Kaede kill Rotwang?

      I’m going to assume they didn’t have a little kid take someone’s life, but you’ll never know.

  2. Please, he’s so not dead. The only real indication that he might be dead is that the suit isn’t transmitting, which is easily explained as it’s half gone. We all saw what the robot looked liked after being blasted. If it really hit tiger critically I doubt he’s have a solid body left.

    1. Well, unless you’re responding to S, I’m not sold that Kotetsu’s dead either. Probably be saved by the power of his friend’s love or some nonsense.

  3. I would have been more affected by that scene if I actually thought Kotetsu might die. It hadn’t even occured to me as a possibility. I was fully expecting him to start snoring (a la Bayside Shakedown). But Barnaby’s desperation was pretty moving.

    Honestly, who didn’t think of DB during that scene? I think it’s intentional…

    >Sky High a clod
    Yeah, he’s definitely the thickest of the heroes and always has been. But it’s part of his charm (the “gap moe”) – looking all in control and heroic on the job, but when you
    actually talk to him all he can say is “Thank you, and thank you again!” with corny hand motions.

    1. Yeah, I still don’t think Kotetsu’s dead yet. Years of corny movies, TV shows, and anime have taught me that heroes don’t die that easily.

      But it’s part of his charm

      Lately, it has just been wearing thin on me.

  4. Rotwang? Thats his name? Bahahaha!!! Sounds like a disease or something.

    I was going the spoil this episode for you E minor, but I couldn’t. Kotetsu will be misssed. He will be put in the hall of anime manly men like Spike, Mighty, Hughes and Kamina.

    1. People keep saying Kotetsu’s dead for good. I’m not saying they’re wrong, but to kill the main character off in the second to last episode is kinda lame, no?

    2. Rotwang is more than likely a reference to the truly awesome villain in Metropolis. Without any visible confirmation that this is actually the case however, it’s nothing more than a ruinously silly name. Oh, and this Rotwang isn’t even remotely awesome.

      1. Ooh, that’s a nice catch. And I disagree. We don’t really need visual confirmation. They are both inventors and I can’t imagine that the anime would come up with the word ‘Rotwang’ on its own. But you’re right in that the anime’s incarnation is just weak and really lets the story down. You want the excitement and tension to continually ramp up, but you can’t with such a dull villain.

  5. I don’t agree with the idea that bad guys have to be inspiritational. While charisma can definitely make for a great villain it’s perfectly possible to have a good villain who lacks any sort of charisma or physical presence. Carter Burke from Aliens is a good example of that, I would say.

    That said, I do agree that Rotwang isn’t that great of a villain.

  6. The robot battle felt a little anticlimactic to me; after struggling to regain their powers and taking numerous beatings, Barnaby saves the day with…a giant LASER gun he stole from H-01. The whole man vs. machine theme feels wasted when we have to see our heroes resort to guns/firearms over their more human strengths. Ah well, maybe it fell flat for me because I never watched Dragon Ball Z :P

    I agree with your stance on how parts of this episode were weak, and I can only hope the gang’s confrontation with Maverick leads to a satisfying conclusion. I also doubt Kotetsu will die, I mean, this IS Tiger & Bunny, it just wouldn’t mesh with the tone of the show.

    So far I think Tiger & Bunny is a solid show. Sure, it has its share of contrivances and tropes, but it generally succeeds in executing them well enough to keep me entertained. I believe the pacing also factors into this; there never seems to be a dull moment in the anime. Even the fillerish episodes carry some weight by offering character development and setting up the overarching storyline. And of course, the dynamics between Kotetsu and Barnaby keep the show alive. I’m really glad I decided to watch T&B, despite my past skepticism of its title.

    Oh, and gosh, sucks to be Sky High these days; first he unknowingly kills his girlfriend, then he screws up Kaede’s powers, and now he talks aloud about doubting his friends? He’s not exactly maddening, just very, very oblivious.

    1. Barnaby saves the day with…a giant LASER gun he stole from H-01.

      I didn’t mind it too much. It’s human ingenuity beating artificial perfection.

      I also doubt Kotetsu will die, I mean, this IS Tiger & Bunny, it just wouldn’t mesh with the tone of the show.

      I agree. The show’s too light-hearted for Kotetsu to die. Our hero coming back out of nowhere would be super corny, but this entire show is super corny. Of course, watch them surprise us all and keep Kotetsu dead.

      So far I think Tiger & Bunny is a solid show.

      I think this about nails it.

  7. It’s been my experience that it’s rare that both the hero, and the villain, manage to entertain, impress, and inspire.

    Batman/The Joker is the exception, not the rule, which is why they’re so well-known, even amongst people who have barely (if ever) read a comic book in their lives.

    Tiger and Bunny gets the hero part right (at least when it comes to Kotetsu) so I’m going to cut them some slack on the villains. Besides, Maverick is an intellectually interesting villain at least. Not very charismatic mind you, but with a pretty good MO, backstory, and villain style.

    Rotwang is clearly one of those villains that you’re just meant to love to hate. His over-the-top racism against NEXTs is a dead giveaway there. He’s not meant to be sympathetic, and that’s the point. Maverick is the one designed to be a somewhat sympathetic figure, as some good has come from his bad deeds, and you can see why he felt he needed to go above and beyond (and into the arena of criminality) to make the public embrace NEXTs as heroes. With Rotwang you’re just supposed to cheer when this slimy douchebag gets his ass kicked by Kaeda. I don’t mind villains like Rotwang as long as you have more intriguing and well-rounded villains like Maverick to compliment him with.

    That being said, I agree with you on how the “Will or won’t one of the heroes press the button?” conflict could have been better handled. Setting up one of the other heroes to be relatively self-centered and jerkish would make these scenes more effective, agreed. Truth be told, I get the sense that the anime did in fact try to do that with Rock Bison: They just didn’t go far enough. Remember that Rock Bison was by far the most aggressive hero in trying to catch the mysterious alleged murderer Kotetsu back when the heroes had their memories corrupted. Everybody else was at least willing to talk semi-normally to the guy, while Bison just kept calling him “lowlife” and trying to take him down at the first opportunity.

    Bison has become a good commentary on how flawed this sports style points system is. It turns the heroes into competitive rivals, rather than teammates, and it means that the ones at or near the bottom of the standings (like Bison himself) are going to be very tempted to be cut-throat in order to move back up the standings, and keep their jobs secured.

    1. It’s been my experience that it’s rare that both the hero, and the villain, manage to entertain, impress, and inspire.

      And that’s why I said I wasn’t a superhero fan.

      Tiger and Bunny gets the hero part right (at least when it comes to Kotetsu) so I’m going to cut them some slack on the villains. Besides, Maverick is an intellectually interesting villain at least.

      Naw, I don’t see why slack needs to be cut. It’s just a flaw to point out. X is good, but Y is bad. As for Maverick, he’s almost there but he lacks a certain je nais se quoi. His MO is just greed. That’s not very interesting. We don’t actually know any of his backstory besides his murder of Barnaby’s parents. As for his style? Eh.

      Rotwang is clearly one of those villains that you’re just meant to love to hate. His over-the-top racism against NEXTs is a dead giveaway there.

      I don’t know what it is a giveaway for. It’s not that I hate him. It’s that he’s boring. No, I’m not asking for Rotwang to be sympathetic. I’m asking for him to be actually interesting. Instead, he’s just a buffoon.

      With Rotwang you’re just supposed to cheer when this slimy douchebag gets his ass kicked by Kaeda.

      But I don’t. That’s the thing — Rotwang is neither charismatic nor evil enough to actually make me give one damn about him. I don’t want to root for him or against him. As a result, he’s just a bad villain. Sitting there, giving commentary on the heroes’ plight — all of those scenes just made me want to hit the fast forward button.

      very tempted to be cut-throat in order to move back up the standings, and keep their jobs secured.

      I disagree that we really see this on any substantive level. Other than Bison being aggressive with a particular villain, the anime is just too much of a light-weight here to really offer any incisive critique on sports. A large part of this is that everyone’s just too buddy buddy.

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