Would Fans of Superhero Comics Like Tiger & Bunny?

With its German-sounding location (Sternbild City), prominent use of English, and decidedly American superhero motif, Tiger & Bunny resembles something closer to the comics of Marvel and DC than it does Japanese-style costumed heroes, your Kamen Riders and Gatchamans and the like. At the same time, it’s not just a direct imitation of the superhero genre, and puts an interesting twist on the whole thing by making the heroes both celebrities and walking billboards for corporations, like if the fame and fortune-seeking Booster Gold (I know, he’s changed now but bear with me) was doing those old Hostess snack cakes advertisements.

Because of how Western Tiger & Bunny is in concept, though not necessarily execution, I’ve been wondering whether or not the show would be capable of reaching that English-speaking superhero comics fan community in any form, be it through the current Hulu stream  or dubbed and put on cable television. In considering how I would sell the series to superhero enthusiasts, I’ve pictured myself describing it as a somewhat more light-hearted Watchmen because of how it takes a critical, yet relatively optimistic view of heroes, but when I consider how many factors might make that comparison feel off for readers. They might find that the writing isn’t as airtight as Alan Moore’s and that I’m insolent enough to compare the two. They might feel unsure about the title itself (“‘Bunny?’ Do you really expect me to take that seriously?”), or that it’s still too anime for their tastes, or that the popularity of the show among fujoshi sours its reputation. They might not even like Watchmen and the comparison would have them want to check it out even less.

So I’d like to ask both superhero comics fans, anime fans, and fans of both to tell me what you think about selling Tiger & Bunny to the Marvel/DC crowd. From your experience, how do you think it would fare? If you’re a comics fan and you’ve never heard of Tiger & Bunny, what do you think of my basic Watchmen/celebrity comparison? If you have heard of it but chose not to check it out, what about it turned you away?

10 thoughts on “Would Fans of Superhero Comics Like Tiger & Bunny?

  1. Good question!

    Only heard of Tiger and Bunny through whispers carried through the air from anime-loving friends (I love anime too btw, just don’t watch that much anymore), and the concept is interesting. I’m actually interested in superhero concepts translated to anime (like Heroman, though that left much to be desired IMO), and T&B sounds more action-packed and right up my alley.

    I think the comparison to Watchmen is unfounded, since Watchmen is basically a deconstruction of the superhero genre, a far cry from the fun and exciting world I’ve heard about T & B so far.

    You won’t have a hard time selling this to comic fans. I’m already itching to watch an episode after this.

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  2. In my experience, it’s definitely an easier sell to superhero fans than Heroman was. In fact it might be an easier sell than your actual Marvel anime are. The writers and director seem to want to make a superhero cartoon, rather than self consciously make a “superhero anime”.

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    • I agree!

      Heroman kinda fizzled out after awhile and the Marvel anime seem to just wanna cash in on “that whole anime craze the kids are into these days”, although I admit that the Marvel anime seems the least sell-outy out of all of them (is sell-outy even a word?).

      On a side note, how come every human in anime who’s not Japanese is an Aryan with a sometimes wicked case of ass-chin?

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  3. I think that it would be more appealing then what Madhouse has been releasing , as TIger and Bunny is wholly an original work and not a Japanese take on well established and mega popular properties. When I was a bigger fan of comics in my teens, TIger and Bunny would have been perfect for my cravings for wicked superhero shows that were a little more out there and sophisticated than some of the stuff that was on the air at the time.

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  4. Got thrown for a loop wondering “what happened to the comment box?” until I realized it was there if you just scrolled way the heck down.

    As the other commenters noted, it would be a monumental error to compare Tiger and Bunny to Watchmen because your “both take a critical view of superheroes” interpretation of the works is wholly lost on most everyone who cares about that book. Watchmen endures among the mainstream comics crowd because of reasons such as “Rorschach is a badass,” “there is cursing and sex and blood and stuff in a comicbook,” “it’s super gritty” and all the other reasons that, between Watchmen and DKR, gave US comics “the 90s.”

    Tiger and Bunny simply does not adhere to those conventions. I wrote about the series in the latest Otaku USA, so I’ll leave it at this, but the way you want to sell the series to comics fans is to frame it as a combination of specific well-received elements/characters they are already familiar with. Your “Booster Gold in 52” analogy is one such example (I used it too).

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  5. I think it would work… I showed episode 1 of T&B to a friend when we couldn’t go out to see X-Men First Class, and at the end, he said, “That was a pretty good replacement.” I think some of the themes that course through the show–alienation and loneliness because of who you are, childhood traumas, the desire to do good despite the odds–are common themes among a lot of American superhero comics.

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  6. I think the biggest problem would be that the show treates the heroes as Japanese idols rather than American-style celebrities. It makes for a weird disconnect, for me at least, in the character’s expected behaviour. I wonder how someone who isn’t familiar with the idol industry would take it.

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  7. Tiger and Bunny resembles most to me, like you’ve said, Booster Gold–some kind of strange mixture of his appearance in 52 and the more lighthearted, funny comics he was in during the 80’s (Justice League International). It’s almost as if Japan made a Saturday morning superhero cartoon. I wouldn’t go so far as to compare it to Watchmen, while it does critique the status of a superhero; the two are just too different to draw a whole lot of parallels.

    But yeah, the show’s a lot of fun; it’s the first anime I’ve really been invested in since I changed gears from being a big manga fan to a comics fan.

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  8. Pingback: 2010–2019 Part 2: Looking Back | OGIUE MANIAX

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