Thursday, December 26, 2013

Review: TIGER AND BUNNY Comic Anthology 2-in-1, Volume 2


TRANSLATION/ENGLISH ADAPTATION: Labaamen and John Werry, HC Language Solutions
LETTERS: Evan Waldinger
COVER:  Chinatsu Kurahana with Masami Suzuki
EDITOR: Asuka Henshubu
ISBN: 978-1-4215-5560-7; paperback (December 2013); Rated “T” for “Teen”
372pp, B&W, $12.99 U.S., $14.99 CAN, £8.99 U.K.

Some of Japan’s top amateur manga creators enter the world of Tiger & Bunny in Tiger & Bunny Comic Anthology.  A science fiction and superhero anime series, Tiger & Bunny ran for 25 episodes in 2011.  The series was also adapted into manga, produced by manga and comic book artist Mizuki Sakakibara.  Tiger & Bunny takes place in a world where 45 years earlier, super-powered humans, known as NEXT, started appearing in the world.

The setting is Sternbild City (a re-imagined version of New York City).  There, superheroes promote their corporate sponsors while appearing on the hit television show, Hero TV (or HERO TV).  Each season, the superheroes compete to be named the “King of Heroes.” Tiger & Bunny focuses on two superheroes, Wild Tiger and Barnaby Brooks, Jr.  Kotetsu T. Kaburagi (Wild Tiger) is a veteran superhero whose his ratings keep declining.  His new employer, Apollon Media, forces him to team-up with the newest NEXT sensation, Barnaby Brooks, Jr., the “Super Rookie,” whom Tiger calls “Bunny.”

The latest Tiger & Bunny manga for English readers is the two-volume Tiger & Bunny Comic Anthology.  Back in 2011 and 2012, Kadokawa Shoten Co. Ltd. published the four-volume series, Tiger & Bunny Official Comic Anthology.  VIZ Media published the four Japanese volumes in its 2-in-1 edition format, which collects two graphic novels in one double-sized graphic novel.  VIZ Media gave me a copy of Tiger & Bunny Comic Anthology, Vol. 2 for review.

Inspired by the Tiger & Bunny anime, Tiger & Bunny Official Comic Anthology is a collection of humorous manga shorts created by an all-star manga artist line-up and by Japan’s top doujinshi, self-published, and amateur manga artists.  The stories extend the world of Tiger & Bunny with new adventures, featuring Wild Tiger, Barnaby Brooks Jr. and other memorable characters from the anime.  Some of the stories reveal a whole new “off-duty” side of the characters, in particularly depicting stories set in the rural hometown where Wild Tiger grew up.

First, I have to admit to being a new, but huge fan of Tiger & Bunny, although I have yet to see the original anime series.  I have enjoyed the manga that I have thus far read, and I was happy to hear about the publication of Tiger & Bunny Comic Anthology when it was announced a few months ago.  Tiger & Bunny Comic Anthology Volume 2 reprints Tiger & Bunny Official Comic Anthology #3: Hitch Your Wagon to a Star and Tiger & Bunny Official Comic Anthology #4: The Age of Miracles is Past…!?

The stories featured in this volume are mostly humorous and nearly all are built on a various comic situations and scenarios.  In “Hero Freak” (by Ryoji Hido), Tiger and Barnaby try to come up with a dramatic entry they can use whenever they spring into action.  In “My Story” (by Sana Kirioka), Fire Emblem and Dragon Kid help Blue Rose do her homework, which is to write a short story, with hilarious results, of course.  There is actually a story built around Wild Tiger’s popular recipe for friend rice (“Fried Rice!!!!” by Majiko!).  Origami, whose power is similar to Mystique of the X-Men, pretends to be Tiger for a parent-teacher conference at his daughter’s school in “Mimic Panic! (by Ryo Nakajo).  Blue Rose dreams of teachers in “If Heroes Were Teachers” (by Waka Sagami).

For the most part, the mangaka and cartoonists capture the humor of Tiger & Bunny, offering new spins on the characters, while mostly staying true to what they are.  Many of the stories emphasize Blue Rose’s unrequited love for Wild Tiger in humorous, even occasionally poignant ways.  The glimpses into Wild Tiger’s personal life make this volume worth having for Tiger & Bunny fans.

In fact, these amateur and self-published artists show themselves quite well with their work here.  They prove that Tiger & Bunny is a concept that is strong enough to be interpreted by many different kinds of manga and comics creators.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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