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90’s Antihero

May 17, 2011

Being the only person in the known universe who genuinely liked Heroman, I’m pretty sure I wrote the only blog post in existence that actually kinda took it seriously and tried to make heads or tails out of it. The gist of that post was that Heroman was like a tour of comic book history, going from the idealistic days of the “Golden Age” right on up to the ridiculous mess that has been the past ~20 years of superheroics.

Tiger and Bunny’s doing something similar to that, except its mashing all of these eras together into a cohesive whole. And it’s a hell of a lot better than Heroman.

Despite the show having a big cast of heroes, it looks like things are gonna boil down to three primary protagonists: Wild Tiger, Barnaby, and Lunatic.

Yeah. I’m listing Lunatic as a protagonist rather than an antagonist.

With these three dudes we get the general spectrum of superhero archetypes.

Tiger’s your classic Superman/Captain America/Spiderman type. He’s an earnest, optimistic (for the most part), true blue hero. He wants to do good for the sake of doing good. He’s something of an artifact in the “modern age,” but he’s also a type that’s sorely needed to act as a counterpoint for everything else.

Barnaby’s the middle ground. He’s your Batman or Wolverine type. He’s a good guy that’s all for righting wrongs, but he has personal issues as well. It’s said personal issues that define his character rather than his do-gooder nature. He plays along with the crowd, goes along with the Hero TV game and all, but it’s all to further his vendetta against the syndicate that murdered his family. You get the feeling he’ll probably keep being a hero after he manages to fulfill his goal, but he’s in it for personal motives first and idealism second.

Then there’s Lunatic. The average anime fan might view him as a villain, what with all the burning of peeps and such, but he represents the most recent heroic ideology. He’s The Punisher. He wants to remove criminal elements from society just as much as the other two, but at the same time he feels that society’s primary means of “justice” has utterly failed. So, instead of giving criminals due process, something he feels is ineffective, he just puts a proverbial cap in their ass. And with that justice is served.

In the comic book tradition, Lunatic is every bit as much a protagonist archetype as Barnaby and Tiger. The Punisher’s had ongoing comic series since the 1980’s, and the 90’s saw a massive boom in these sorts of characters. And while said style worked at times (I loved the early issues of Ghost Rider’s comic, for instance.), for the most part it pretty much stagnated the industry. But I’ve already talked about that shit before, so we won’t drone on about it here.

So what we have in Tiger and Bunny is something of a cultural clash. We see this sort of thing a lot in Marvel and DC’s stuff, where characters of varying ideologies clash. Batman and Superman argue about the best way to deal with criminals all the time. Punisher and Spiderman started off at odds and have never really seen eye to eye. And comics tend to handle it reasonably well. Sometimes. Again, it doesn’t always work, but when it works it’s good stuff.

We see this sort of thing often in anime as well, but the problem is that said series often takes the side of one of the characters. That’s my main beef with Ruroni Kenshin and Trigun: The series weights in and judges one viewpoint, rather than having both sides presented and allowing the viewer to decide for himself. But again, I’ve droned about that before as well.

While it looks like Tiger and Bunny has already sided against Lunatic (And I can’t blame it. How in the hell can you root for vaguely bishounen Joker? That’s just creepy!), I’m hoping it doesn’t go down the moralizing path that we see all too often in anime. Let them all duke it out, let them join forces to tackle a greater foe, and let them live in ever-arguing harmony. If Captain America, Wolverine, and Punisher can all get along relatively well, so can Tiger, Barnaby, and Lunatic.

That’s real Love and Peace.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 17, 2011 3:52 PM

    Yeah, right away at the reveal at the end of the episode, I started viewing Lunatic as an alternate protagonist, since he clearly isn’t going to be the Final Boss. There’ll be more regarding Ouroboros, and it’ll be fun to see that all flushed out with everyone working the cases their own way.

    But, yeah, with this latest episode, I think Tiger and Bunny has become my favorite of the season. Pretty awesome.

  2. May 17, 2011 10:53 PM

    I am more than pleased with the direction Tiger & Bunny is going with its story. I think your assessment of the three ‘protagonists’ is very accurate. I do wonder if Tiger & Bunny has already sided against Lunatic, especially since he was actually introduced in this episode. Maybe when we get his back-story and learn about what motivates him to do what he does, there may be a change. But if it’s anything like the Marvel/DC counterparts that you mentioned, I doubt it’ll change.

    It’ll be interesting to see how the ‘lesser’ heroes respond to Lunatic, if they are going to fight him or just try and save his victims. Same goes for HeroTV.

  3. May 24, 2011 4:52 PM

    Well… Shit. Looks like you’re right.

  4. June 4, 2011 11:12 PM

    It’s interesting, seeing as Lunatic is pretty obviously that judge guy; how does he act (as a judge) so fair and unbiased, giving all criminals a chance, but (as Lunatic) kill them all in cold blood?

    I feel like I should make some Death Note reference here but nothing comes to mind.

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