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The Reset Button Sucks

September 18, 2011

That’ll teach me to think a popular anime would get a good ending.

I’m not too pissed at the way Tiger and Bunny ended. Despite pulling off the biggest cop-out possible, the ending still managed to do some cool stuff.

But the ending pulled off the worst case scenario: The status quo was reset.

Tiger wasn’t dead. I can live with that. I was amused by how he came back from the dead (“I just passed out. Did you even bother to check my pulse?”). What irks me is that Tiger doesn’t get any kind of closure. He retires, but once we hit the fast forward button and skip ahead one year, he’s right back at the hero game. I dig that he’s been demoted to the second string hero team, but wasn’t the whole point of Tiger’s entire character arc leading towards his inevitable retirement or heroic death? He either fulfills his role as a hero and gets the regular life he’s always wanted or he dies heroically and is remembered as one of the greatest heroes of all time.

Instead of that we this ending. His daughter doesn’t really want him around and he was apparently never really interested in domestic life. One year later he’s back out there doing his shtick. It’s like fucking Brett Farve or something. We don’t need that bullshit. Unless whatever potential second season shows Kotetsu being a pathetic wreck who should have known better than to unretire after a perfect stopping point, everything that’s happened to this point was meaningless.

This isn’t what I want, and it isn’t what the series needed. We don’t need a “same as it ever was” ending. We don’t need that sort of cop-out to feel better about ourselves. We don’t need that safety to enjoy a series. No one’s going to freak out if, GASP, something actually changes when the final episode rolls around. You can still do a sequel with all of the same characters and still allow those characters to be in a different place when said second season rolls around. Maybe Tiger comes out of retirement in the second season. Maybe he’s forced to deal with Ouroboros when Bunny’s life is at risk or something like that. Or maybe he moves on and becomes a mentor figure of sorts– like he’s a teacher at that hero academy or something. He’ll still be in the series and he’ll still have his ambiguous relationship with Barnaby that so many people love, but he’ll have earned that change that should have happened after 25 episodes.

We’re basically back to where we were when the first episode aired. I’m not sure why anyone would be satisfied with that sort of ending. Why watch something if, in the end, you’ll be in the same place when it’s all over. That’s OK in some sort of sitcom or whatever, since you’re just in in for the laughs, but not in a series that attempts to have something resembling a story.

Reset Buttons suck, yet far too many anime series buttonmash it. Fuck you, Reset Button.

That’s out of the way. Let me talk about what I did like about the ending:

  • Liked that Maverick was well aware of that bastard robot-maker’s NEXT prejudice. He was just using the dude, hit his NEXT nature, and then offed the prick when the opportunity came up. That’s very supervillainish.
  • Liked that Maverick all but confirmed the whole “I’m just the tip of Ouroboros” angle. With the Kotetsu cop-out I was worried they were gonna do the same with the villains and have everything work out in the end.
  • Liked seeing Lunatic off Maverick despite Maverick’s self-lobotomy. Was hoping Lunatic would play a more active part in the finale, but I’m glad he got in there somehow.
  • If we’re gonna have to deal with the lameness of Kotetsu living and not retiring, I like that he’s been relegated to lame-ass second stringing. Hopefully they don’t write that off in whatever sequel comes along.
  • Loved Maverick’s speech about how he made the city what it is and how he was the one that made NEXT acceptable in the eyes of the public. As far as we can see, he’s right. Maybe someone else would have come along and made the strides he did with creating Hero TV and whatnot, but he’s the one that did it.
  • If we’re gonna have Tiger live, at least we got it in the most anticlimactic manner possible. No last-minute save or “Kaede had a healing power” ass-pulling move or anything like that. Barnaby and the other heroes were just too grief-stricken/busy getting killed/stupid to even check to see if Kotetsu was alive. “Did you even check my pulse?!”

So yeah, I’m a bit irked at how everything played out, but not as irked as I was with, say, Angel Beats or Madoka. It wasn’t a game-changing fuck-up or anything like that, it was just disappointing. Should have expected the near-worst-case scenario that we got, but I’d rather have actual expectations than be yet another “well, I lowered by expectations so I enjoyed it more than I thought I would” dude. Damn I hate that attitude. It’s like striving for mediocrity. Just because a movie or an anime strives to be mediocre doesn’t mean I should too. Screw that.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. September 18, 2011 11:21 AM

    Not that I know for sure, but I get the feeling there was some meddling involved in making Kotetsu a hero again. The perfect ending for him is, as you say, retirement or death, but I bet someone up at Sunrise was afraid the fans would get upset if Kotetsu (who is undoubtedly a popular character) wasn’t involved in a potential second season on a more active level.

    • Landon permalink*
      September 18, 2011 12:09 PM

      Yeah, wouldn’t be surprised if there was some mid-season changes made once the execs realized the series was starting to catch on. Can’t blame them since they’re doing what they think will maintain the series’ popularity. I blame those fans that DO want this sort of “I hope nothing remotely bad happens to characters I like” ending.There’s absolutely nothing about that attitude that I can relate with. It’s a purely alien thought process.

  2. Gamer2002 permalink
    September 18, 2011 12:49 PM

    The reset button thing is just same old thing from comics books. No matter what writer will do, status quo will return at some point.

    • Landon permalink*
      September 18, 2011 1:39 PM

      “At some point,” yeah. But rarely immediately after whatever change happens. A character dies, they come back in a few years when another writer gets a hold of the series. Tiger and Bunny pulled out the safety net before it was even over. At least in super hero comics we get some time to see what happens when said change happens. What went down here annoys me far more than what goes down in comics.

  3. September 18, 2011 2:30 PM

    Yeah, Sunrise definitely started this off as a low-budget ‘lets-see-what-will-happen-if-we-make-an-ambiguous-superhero-political-commentary-anime’, but once it started to rake in the figures, just moved it into a normal superhero show. Which isn’t bad, but I wanted to see it talk more about moral things like Maverick’s involvement with the city (it’s still arguable whether what he did was good for the city or bad for it).

    So I’m not really that hyped up about the second season, since it’s obvious which route they’re going to take with it, even if they did have Ouroboros become a creepy evil capitalist government conspiracy etc. etc.

    • Landon permalink*
      September 20, 2011 7:05 PM

      My enthusiasm’s down as well, but at the same time I had a hell of a lot more fun watching Tiger and Bunny that I did watching any other potential franchise in recent history. I don’t give a damn about more Code Geass or more Gundam or more Madoka or more Haruhi or more Steins;Gate, but I’d be all over more Tiger.

  4. September 18, 2011 5:50 PM

    I was saying something similar to Emily as I watched the finale last night with her. If they had stuck with Kotetsu being dead, this show would’ve gotten a perfect 10 from me. Despite whatever flaws it may have had, the entire arc of the story leading up to that hypothetical moment would’ve made this a show for the ages.

    As for what actually happened, I agree that it wasn’t a dealbreaker, but it doesn’t have that same near mythical status that it could have. It’s merely just very good. I still plan on buying it since it was the most entertaining show of the Spring for me. I know you weren’t big on Steins;Gate, but I had probably the highest esteem for that show in that season, though Tiger & Bunny I had the most affection for.

    • Landon permalink*
      September 20, 2011 7:02 PM

      That might be Tiger and Bunny’s biggest flaw: it isn’t nearly as “mythic” or “iconic” as it should be for such a superhero show. It has all of the little character moments and quirks and style down, but it doesn’t have those MOMENTS that superhero comics have when things really blow up. Despite facing the man he believed was his parents’ murder and despite facing their REAL murderer, Barnaby never really had a character-defining moment the way, say, Spiderman did when facing Green Goblin after Gewn Stacy died or seeing Cyclops try to talk down Jean Grey from killing herself during the Dark Phoenix Saga.

      The closest we get to said moments are the ones that Kotetsu and Barnaby share with one another, and that’s a completely different matter.

  5. September 19, 2011 6:17 AM

    Kotetsu embarrassing himself by trying to hold the Hero job did irk me quite a bit, but that last little speech he gives about not setting your own limits was enough to appease me. He is essentially taking a different route than Mr. Legend took when confronted with the same challenge. Maybe in S2 he will be more like Batman and use gadgets to make up for his lack of powers.

    I am also glad kotetsu didn’t die, not because I cared for him as a character but mainly as his death scene had little impact in me despite trying to be emotionally invested, you can’t force manly tears.

    • Innman7 permalink
      September 19, 2011 6:23 PM

      On that note, do we even know Rock Bison’s power? He seems not to have/use one, and he’s still a superhero. So it’s probably possible for a non-NEXT or effective non-NEXT to still be a superhero

      • Landon permalink*
        September 20, 2011 6:55 PM

        I’m assuming he’s like Origami Cyclone. His NEXT power might be inconsequential or non-combat-oriented and he makes up for it with his armor.

        Either that or he has generic super strength/durability that’s constant but not as buffed as the five minute thing Kotetsu and Barnaby have.

        But yeah, as far as I can tell a lot of the heroes get a lot of mileage out of their armor. Someone could go Batman or Iron Man and be all about the gadgets.

        • September 21, 2011 12:29 PM

          Rock Bison’s power is that he’s fluent in any language.

          Such as computer language, and kung fu (which uses body language) and… I dunno, ebonics.

    • Landon permalink*
      September 20, 2011 6:58 PM

      I wasn’t emotionally invested either, but emotional investment is rarely the case with me. Kotetsu dying seemed like an appropriate thing to happen based on prior events. I kinda liked that he “died” on such an anti-climactic line. A crack about Barnaby’s eyelashes? That seems like such a “Kotetsu” thing to say at such a moment.

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