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Tiger and Bitching

June 20, 2011

I’ve been on board with Tiger and Bunny since the first episode. I’m still digging the show as a whole. But damn, that latest episode was kinda lame. So let the complaining begin.

Let’s start with Jake Martinez. He ain’t all that great of a villain. He’s likely a decent excuse for a mid-tier super-lackey or something, since there’s no way in hell I buy him as the head of Ouroboros, but he isn’t making for a particularly impressive feature antagonist.

I’ll give him this: While his powers at first seemed ill-defined and ultra-twinked out, they make a hell of a lot more sense now after this episode. He’s basically Invisible Woman without the invisible part. Sue Richards not only turns invisible, she can create “force bubbles” that can act as force fields and can be used offensively. Jake here seems to emphasize the offensive part, honing these “barriers” to laser like precision to use them as attacks. So yeah, as far as super hero powers go, his make sense now. He fits into the dynamics we’ve seen thus far.

Personality-wise, though, he’s a bit lame. He wants to be some sort of amalgam of The Joker and Magneto, doing the whole “I’ll put you into morally compromising positions” thing while preaching about the superiority of mutants the NEXT, but he’s doing it all half-assedly. His grand scheme to hold the city hostage is kinda cool, but he isn’t putting the heroes into a situation that compromises their believes to the full extent. He’s just a glorified terrorist, and not the dark messiah-like figure it seems like he should be. And if he wants to go the “join me and the NEXT side” routine, he should be reaching out to the heroes and trying to convert them to his ideology rather than outright assaulting them. They coulda taken Jake in so many different, interesting directions, but the end result is some tatooed loser with a Harley Quinn wannabe at his side. He just ain’t all that.

Unfortunately that ain’t the only bit that’s annoying me about the recent developments in this series. We’re 12 episodes into this series. The bulk of the character development has been devoted to Tiger and Barnaby’s buddy cop shit. I like that shit, but we’ve also reached several points where it seems like they’ve come to grips with one another and trust one another. At least it seemed like there was enough trust between them that any future tension would be played for laughs. You know, like Danny Glover and Mel Gibson in the latest Lethal Weapon movies or something like that.

Nope. Tiger makes yet another dumbass assumption about Barnaby’s actions and interferes in the whole “rescue Origami Cyclone” bit. Letting Jake get away wasn’t the sucky part about that scene (Although we’ll get to the end results of that in a bit). It’s seeing their relationship revert to square one after 12 episodes of forward movement just so a poorly thought out plot point could be executed. They needed Jake to get away, so instead of having Jake show how super awesome badass he’s supposed to be by kicking some hero tail, they have Tiger fuck things up for everyone. Way to compromise some decent development for a major cop-out, dudes.

But all of that wouldn’t bother me so much if it wasn’t for how the second half of this episode played out. Right when things should have reached their peak tension-wise, rather than following through with Jake making good with his promise to blow up the city or something else exciting, Tiger and Bunny resorts to the anime equivalent of stock footage by having everything boil down to a goddamn fucking tournament.

Now I’m down with tournaments as a concept. I’ve already gone on about how the best part of Naruto is the Chunin exam/tourney, and some of the best martial arts movies revolve around tournaments. The catch there is that the tournament acts as a narrative device to allow other things to happen around it. Not only do you have dudes fighting against each other in single elimination format, you have people sneaking about trying to figure out what’s the true purpose of the tournament and romances growing between characters involved in the whole thing and shit like that.

That’s not what Tiger and Bunny is doing here. It’s playing things out the way they do in your typical shounen fighting series. Rather than having the tournament be a narrative device to act as the centerpiece of the story, the tournament is being used as a convenient way to keep the heroes from ganging up on the main villain and solving the damn thing with greater ease. It’s that Cell Games shit from DBZ all over again or something similar. Sure, it allows Jake to taunt each hero individually in front of a televised audience, but it reeks of the sort of contrivance that we haven’t seen thus far in Tiger and Bunny. We’ve seen some nods to anime conventions, like the whole hairpin/Dragon Kid episode, but we haven’t seen this sort of stuff on this level thus far in the series. I thought Tiger and Bunny was better than this. Whatever.

And to make things worse, the tournament ruins what could have been an awesomely dramatic moment. Sky High was the first hero to be chosen. Since we’ve yet to “get to know” Sky High the way we have with all of the other heroes, he seemed to be primed as the sacrificial lamb to show off Jake’s shit. If the second half of the episode had been devoted to their prolonged fight, resulting in Sky High’s death (Or conversion to Jake’s pro-NEXT ways.), this could have been a brilliant way to lead into the next episode’s showdown between Jake and Barnaby. Instead, Sky High just gets roughed up, followed by Rock Bison being defeated off-screen (LAAAAAAAME!). Tiger gets his ass kicked again, but seriously, does anyone think that he’s not gonna make it? Having Tiger be the one seriously hurt has absolutely no tension to it. He’s gonna be fine after an episode or two and the status quo will be reestablished.

The series not only pulled its punches by refusing to cause any serious harm to the other, expendable heroes, its move was even safer than that by jeopardizing one of the lead characters. Since there’s no way in hell Tiger’s gonna bite it or be severely crippled, there’s no consequences to what’s going down. Jake’s plan will be stopped, all of the heroes will be hunky dory, and Tiger will be back at it after this storyline gets resolved.

None of this is a dealbreaker, since I’m still digging this series quite a bit, but it’s hard to stand back and see all of the different directions things could have gone only to see things play out in the safest manner possible. That sucks, dudes. Hopefully the resolution to all of this will redeem this lack of tension and escalation.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. June 21, 2011 2:28 AM

    While I saw and agree with most of the flaws in this episode(tournament, tiger & bunny development, lack of tension, etc), they didn’t bother me nearly as much. Well except for lack of Rock Bison action, that was annoying. But even if all the heroes would had teamed up against Jake, I doubt they would had come out victorious due to that secret Origami was trying to inform them about.

    There is also Lunatic who will most likely show up to help or team up against Jake.

    • Landon permalink*
      June 21, 2011 8:48 PM

      I’m not banking on Lunatic doing anything here unless things get really bad for Barnaby and the others. It seems like he’s pulling a “let’s see what these heroes do when shit gets real” bit. Then, if they fail, he may use this as a launching pad to make his vigilant stance seem more feasible to the public. But if they pull things off it lets him keep his public identity safer since he doesn’t have to “excuse” himself from the ineffective meeting just to have Lunatic pop up at the same time.

  2. June 21, 2011 6:40 PM

    >If the second half of the episode had been devoted to their prolonged fight, resulting in Sky High’s death (Or conversion to Jake’s pro-NEXT ways.), this could have been a brilliant way to lead into the next episode’s showdown between Jake and Barnaby.

    WHAT DO YOU HAVE AGAINST SKY HIGH?

    • Landon permalink*
      June 21, 2011 8:45 PM

      Someone that nice and perfect needs to have his teeth knocked in.

  3. June 22, 2011 7:35 AM

    So, Jake’s power is super hearing, meaning he can only be hit by “accidents” since he can hear your muscle movements or heart rates and stuff?

    I reckon that means he already knows what the city has planned.

    Does growing red mean you have 2 or more powers?

    Did Mr. Legend beat Jake because he’s a clumsy fat old man?

    Personally, I thought the episode was okay, except that Jake needed to be replaced by Kaori Sakiyama, since he lacks the charisma to pull off what they were trying to do with ’em.

  4. June 28, 2011 9:04 PM

    Invisible Woman – Invisible = Woman

    That’s Jake’s true skill?!

    @updatedude

    Jake was probably killing police and shit and suddenly this FAT OLD MAN ARRESTS HIM. I mean, who the heck would expect that? (Same with Tiger’s surprise kick)

    To be honest, I think Jake’s purpose is still to disillusionize the public, making them lose trust in heroes. Seeing as these NEXTs are already brought up to think like heroes, there’s no way they could get on Jake’s side, right? Better to dispose of all the heroes, and then recruit future NEXTs after the public starts discriminating against them because of their failures. What better way to showcase how stupid the heroes are than by defeating ALL OF THEM?!

    The ‘no deaths’ part was pretty stupid too, imo, but the tournament had a reason too:

    Sky High needed to tell them that Jake was using barriers, and Rock Bison needed to tell them that his barriers were so strong that brute force couldn’t break them. Tiger’s going to tell Barnaby something about his kick, probably. Since Sky High doesn’t have brute force, and Rock Bison can’t tell what kind of barriers Jake has, you need both of them – and Tiger has to be involved too, just because.

    Haven’t watched episode 13 yet, but I’m sure it’ll resolve the entire thing.

    (And yeah, Jake’s obviously a midboss, maybe even just the first midboss. Episode 13 to wrap up Jake, 14 – 16 for more development/Sky High, 17 – 19 for second midboss, Episode 20 to build up tension, and then Episodes 21 – 24 for final boss with 25 wrapping it all up)

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