Tiger & Bunny Might Be the Best Live Action Adaptation Yet

Posted October 12, 2015 by Kierra Prince in Nerdy Bits

Friday at New York Comic Con, Bandai Namco announced that the hit anime Tiger & Bunny was getting a live action feature film. Partnering with All Nippon Entertainment Works (ANEW) and Imagine Entertainment, this adaptation will be in English and will be produced by Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Sandy Climan, Annmarie Bailey, and the original show’s producer Masayuki Ozaki.

While I was at first skeptical, the talent attached to the project thus far has a great reputation for making some great content. Grazer and Howard are most notably famous for their award winning work on A Beautiful Mind and the duo has quite an impressive resume of films under their belt. Having Ozaki on hand will be a huge help as well.

However, what will make this an even better live-action film is that the content is fairly universal and will be easily adaptable for an English speaking audience.

For those of you who haven’t seen the show yet, Tiger & Bunny is set in a futuristic city based on New York in which corporate sponsored superheroes save the lives of its city’s citizens on live TV. Heroes (who wear costumes covered in the logos and slogans of their sponsors) compete for points and the hero with the most points is crowned “King of Heroes” at the end of what’s essentially a “season” of TV. When Kotetsu T. Kaburagi, better known as Wild Tiger”, suddenly sees his favoritism and fanbase sharply decline, his sponsor decides to drum up some viewers by introducing a young newcomer as his partner, Barnaby Brooks Jr. While the show mostly deals with Kotetsu and Barnaby’s relationship, the series pans out to incorporate some dastardly villains and bizarre mysteries that haunt our cast of heroes.

Our heroes and their corporate sponsors

Our heroes and their corporate sponsors

Reading that summary of the series makes it pretty easy to see how well the story can be adapted to English audiences. Or rather, that it doesn’t really need to be changed at all. Tiger & Bunny simply ups the ante of superheroes but imagining a world in which not only have we adapted to heroes, we’ve bug to profit off of them as well. Imagine a world in which Bruce Wayne was not only Batman but splashed the Batmobile in logos of Wayne Enterprises. Where we got new Robins just because the last one was pulling in ratings. Where Superman couldn’t stop that speeding train just yet because it would be too easy and his sponsor demanded it be caught last minute because more and more people were tuning in (and he’d earn more points). Where we find out that our female heroes are wearing heels and leotards because someone needs to pander to the male gaze demographic (and what better way to sell _____ in those sexed up ads?).

We also get to see how this directly impacts both heroes and the people themselves which is an added interesting mix to the universe. As ratings rise and companies get more money, we see them pump that money into their heroes which leads to better equipment and better capabilities which leads to them being better equipped to fight villains and save citizens.

It’s a weird sort of ultimatum of capitalism and corporate power when we see these corporations have such an impact over people’s lives. If Batman couldn’t afford all of his gadgets then what does that say about where the people of Gotham would be? And at what point are we ourselves guilty of this sort of reality TV addiction where we gleefully watch our own destruction and even moan that we were saved too quickly, as if citizens being hurt is an abstract and not a reality?

Basically, Tiger & Bunny expertly dissects every major complaint we have ourselves about superheroes and comic book culture albeit in a fun and tongue-in-cheek way with the occasional hard-hitting episode.

Tiger & Bunny also has an exceptional cast of characters with a fairly decent amount of diversity which I desperately hope makes it to the big screen. Most notably that of Nathan Seymour, a black character with fire powers, and Pao-Lin, a Chinese girl who has lightning powers and knows Kung Fu. Both characters hit upon quite a few issues of gender identity and Nathan particularly opens up about gender and identity and the lack of support from parents. Both characters have important stories to tell that are genuinely treated with sincerity and are important parts of their characters so I sincerely hope they aren’t taken out for the sake of streamlining the film.

Our supporting cast of heroes

Our supporting cast of heroes

That being said, most of this adaptation’s success is going to lie with the script and with the casting. While Tiger & Bunny is big on action and has some wild arcs to it when it comes to villains and attacks on the city, at its heart it’s really about the characters and their relationships with one another. Kotetsu and Barnaby have one of the most realistic and heartfelt relationships in any media and that needs to be fostered slowly and by some great actors. And I’d like to see the same level of care be brought to the supporting cast as they all have important character arcs and roles within the cast of heroes. Nathan Seymour, for example, is a sort of “mother” to the female characters and one particular female hero, Blue Rose, has a powerful arc in which she discusses having to put her dreams on hold (or perhaps give them up) to be hero as well as why she gets regulated to being the sexy character who runs from trouble (which hilariously is treated as an actual superpower move).

Tiger & Bunny has a tremendous amount of potential to be a really good adaptation that doesn’t require much, if any, tweaking to be a hit. It’s still a successful formula of superheroes coming to terms with their powers and themselves but with the added mix of corporations determining their futures and their success.

And by all means, if you have yet to see Tiger & Bunny by all means check it out immediately. While it’s a bit of a slow burn at first as it introduces characters and sets up the rivalry between Kotetsu and Barnaby, the last 3/4ths is a flurry of emotions and the kind of content that will keep you hitting “Next Episode” well until the early hours of the morning. It’s a fantastic series that pokes fun at the superhero genre while injecting it with a ton of heart that is desperately needed in a world of stoic heroes.

About the Author

Kierra Prince

Was born with a controller in her hand. Fan of all things nerdy and has a tremendous amount of love for RPG's, anime, and anything horror. She secretly wishes to be a mash-up of Catwoman and Sailor Moon.