This is going to be a combined review for volumes 1 and 2, so be warned, there may be some spoilers lurking ahead. But I’ll try to keep them to a mini...moreThis is going to be a combined review for volumes 1 and 2, so be warned, there may be some spoilers lurking ahead. But I’ll try to keep them to a minimum. After watching the anime series last year, I totally fell in love with the world that is “Tiger and Bunny”. I’ve grown to love anything with superheroes in them, especially ones that are able to make fun of themselves. I think everyone’s going to fall in love with the “Tiger and Bunny” series like I have, and I think everyone will find something to like in it, too. If you’re looking for a great new superhero manga (or anime) with lots of wackiness and fun, definitely choose “Tiger and Bunny”.
The first volume basically introduces us to the world of NEXT and its superheroes, and how the entire competition to be the King of Heroes. We’re introduced to Wild Tiger, Bunny, Blue Rose, Sky High, Fire Emblem, Dragon Kid, Rock Bison, Origami Cyclone, as well as the villains Lunatic, the organization Ouroboros, and others that make for an explosive world where crime becomes a race against time for fame. People don’t get scared, because they know the superheroes are out there, going against each other so they can become the King of Heroes. There’s also the element of “not being cool anymore”, as we see in Tiger’s case in the very first chapter, and how one has to keep one’s image up in order to keep competing in the contest. I thought that all of this was very interesting – that saving the day isn’t about saving people, but about saving one’s image to the media and the fans instead. It’s a clever little social commentary about the world today, even if the NEXT world is a parallel one to ours, and how the drive for fame has eaten our world whole.
I can honestly say that the creators at Sunrise (who originally came up with the concept for the anime, which later turned into this manga) that they’ve done their American-type superhero research, and it really shows. It’s more that slightly critical – at least, in the way I read it – of the drive for fame in our current culture and using superheroes as a vehicle for that. However, Tiger is different, still insisting he’s not about the fame, but about justice, which is where our tale truly begins. There’s also mentions of Free Agents (as in, who do you work for?) and organizations like NEXT, making references to American sports. I thought that was a great way for Tiger and Bunny to initially meet and how the world of superheroes has become twisted, making it all about the money when it should be all about saving the day. Business strategy and ratings, fame and fortune – all of these things have blinded the rest of the superheroes, including the newest of all, Bunny – aka Barnaby, the guy who teams up with Tiger to start taking the bad guys down. And mixing in all of these media phenomena into how these superheroes (and villains) act was a really clever move.
It’s made clear from the first chapter on that Bunny is Tiger’s foil and vice-versa, initially a move used to help boost ratings as NEXT’s first superhero duo to compete. So we have the odd couple, at first really chafing against each other, since both have different objectives. This first volume documents them learning to work together. However, not all is lost with these greedy superheroes – they can and do work together when Tiger and Bunny (with Bunny made as the chief superhero to take care of crime in Stern Bild) can’t quite handle the bigger bad guys alone, and that made me quite happy. At the end of volume one, we’re introduced to the villain organization Ouroboros in a very mysterious cliffhanger – are they the ones behind these criminals that are so strong that Tiger and Bunny need back up to beat them?
Volume 2 goes a little bit more into Tiger and Bunny’s origins, their lives as children, and their decisions to become superheroes that stem from those painful times, as well as their methods of using their superpowers in order to stop criminals. As usual, Tiger and Bunny fight over which is the best method while Bunny rockets to fame as the newest superhero to be declared top cop in Stern Bild, and we get to see a great amount of variation on his personality – his “outside” and “inside” faces (in Japanese, known as “omote” and “ura” – acting one way in public, and another in private) – something that I wasn’t really expecting for Sakakibara to go into detail with Bunny, but I’m glad she did.
We also see more into Tiger’s private life as well – and what’s more interesting? His family (wife and daughter) don’t know he’s Tiger the Hero. Again, a very clever move on Sunrise and Sakakibara’s part in order to keep the tension going, and even though there’s no lack of tension with all of these heroes trying to get on top for fame and fortune, it’s a nice personal touch that further puts the strain on Tiger and Bunny’s new (albeit forced) partnership. We also see some significant character development for Bunny – how his want for fame is starting to melt away and how he’s starting to really share Tiger’s work ethic of saving people. Not that he’d actually admit that aloud.
Admittedly, volume 2 does have some filler material in it made to squash Tiger and Bunny together so that they can get used to each other – not much actual saving going on here. But what we do get is important, and we start to see these two personal journey arcs start to align in intent, which was great in how quick that went. We also get to see them use their powers outside of their superhero suits, and start to bond over their actions together saving lives and fighting crimes. And there’s no shortage of laughs – so much of it is couched in comedy that if you didn’t look beneath that layer you wouldn’t always see what’s really going on – Tiger and Bunny are really becoming one team, and that drive to become the King of Heroes is starting to turn back into what it should be – saving people.
Final verdict? If you’re looking for a fresh new series with some laughs and some rather sobering social commentary lying just beneath the surface, I recommend the “Tiger and Bunny” series. Volume 1 is out now, and Volume 2 will be out July 2, 2013 from Viz in North America – so definitely be sure to check it out when you get the chance!
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)(less)
This is a REALLY interesting one, guys, and definitely another feather in Angry Robot's hat when it comes to original content. After finishing "Black...moreThis is a REALLY interesting one, guys, and definitely another feather in Angry Robot's hat when it comes to original content. After finishing "Black Feathers", this first book in the new "Black Dawn" series, I'm definitely hungry for book two, and I want it now. No, seriously, now. If you're looking for something fresh when it comes to fantasy (in this case, dystopia marrying the apocalypse and urban fantasy), this is definitely a book you simply must try out.
The only major issue I had with this book was pacing. I absolutely loved the idea of the near-future and the far future alternating in telling the Crowman/Black Jack's story, but for most of this book, the pacing is more than a bit uneven between them - and it isn't until D'Lacey starts putting both POVs in one chapter (around halfway through, I think?) that I feel like D'Lacey really starts hitting his stride in terms of the rhythms of the storytelling within this story.
However, the sheer creativity (and some of the scenes that made me raise an eyebrow - two words: mud ejaculation) of this book really wins out over its main weakness. Yes, we've seen oncoming dystopian societies and apocalypses, and we've seen the societies that come after them, but we've never seen them narrated as they're both happening at the same time/in real time. It's a really ambitious way of looking at a narrative, regardless of whose POV it is, and it's difficult to execute. The fact that D'Lacey was able to do it in a coherent way at all has me tipping my hat in his direction, because by the end, he definitely had things well in hand.
I do feel like Gordon's character got a little more thorough character building in compared to Megan's, but we do have another book coming, and that's something for D'Lacey to work on. Generally, the characters of the Black Dawn are more developed than those of the Bright Day - but I think that's partially because the Black Dawn era is pretty much more or less our current time period right now, so there's more to work with. The Bright Day feels like a big teaser of what's to come after the Black Dawn, and I feel like that's how D'Lacey's playing it here in book one as a way for those of the Bright Day/the Black Feathered Path to look back toward the past, to untangle how the Black Dawn happened just like we as the audience are. Really, it's a brilliant way to do things, but this also means you have roughly half the book and its characters more than a bit underdeveloped. I think out of all of the Bright Day characters, Mister Keeper is the most developed, and while we watch Megan really start to hit her own stride as the next Keeper, I don't quite feel it's equal to that of Gordon, who's also doing the same thing in the Black Dawn era. Hopefully, since things more or less evened out at the end of this volume, things will be better balanced in the next.
The worldbuilding is interesting because it's double-worldbuilding. Actually, it might even be triple/quadruple worldbuilding (if we include Gordon and Megan's internal worldbuilding in that count), and it's done really well on both ends. Again, we only get kind of a tantalizing glimpse of the Bright Day era, but we get a pretty clear picture of how Megan is developing as Keeper's apprentice internally. The Black Dawn and Gordon, however, are both very clear (almost startlingly so) and I had no issues really relating to both of those worlds. It's the Bright Day era as a plot device and as a world, that needed the most development, though for now, it's good enough to serve as a stark comparison to how the world is falling apart in the Black Dawn era.
Finally, we have social commentary. Yes, I do feel like D'Lacey did get a bit preachy when it came to the environmental apocalypse thing, but it wasn't so much that it lessened my enjoyment of the book. It was simply there, and as it's a big plot element, I can see why he was able to slip in a little thought or two about why the environment (and getting along with it) is important. Not optimal in terms of preachiness, but not over the top, either.
Final verdict? This is definitely one of the most creative urban fantasy books I've read within the last five years, even with its flaws, and I really can't wait for book two, whenever it does decide to come out. "Black Feathers" is out now in both North America and the UK from Angry Robot, so definitely be sure to check it out when you get the chance!
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)(less)