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'Tiger & Bunny: The Rising' review: The greatest minute man in the business

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Tiger & Bunny: The Rising

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"Tiger & Bunny: The Rising" will have a very limited release in Houston starting Friday, March 14 at both the Alamo Drafthouse Vintage Park and Mason Park locations.

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"Tiger & Bunny: The Rising" is the sequel to "Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning" and both films are based on "Tiger & Bunny," a 25-episode anime series. The observations in this review are from someone who never had the chance to see the original series. This is a world where superheroes are superstars. Every hero competes for points as Hero TV broadcasts their life saving crime and gives points to such actions as saving lives or thwarting crimes. Kotetsu Kaburagi, known as Wild Tiger, has the ability to increase his strength and speed 100 times that of a normal man but it only lasts for a limited time. The veteran Kotetsu is forced to team up with the young rookie Barnaby Jones Jr, dubbed Bunny by Kotetsu, who has the exact same power as Wild Tiger. While Kotetsu's morals and principals differ greatly from Bunny's, the two eventually become a functional heroic team despite hating each other and clashing heads at first.

"The Rising" apparently takes place after the anime series has ended. Barnaby and Kotetsu are in the second league of superheroes until Apollon Media is bought out by a very rich man named Mark Schneider who wants to see them back in the first league. However, it's soon revealed that Barnaby will have a new conceited partner named Golden Ryan while Kotetsu is fired and shoved into the more traditional job of a taxi driver. Adjusting to a less hectic lifestyle isn't so bad for Kotetsu, but Barnaby has suddenly become the lame one of the superheroic duo. The city's most well known folklore known as The Goddess Legend that was once told to children suddenly starts being reenacted by a group of mysterious villains and the lives of every innocent civilian is at stake, which assembles the assistance of every hero including the ones forced into retirement.

The animation in "The Rising" looks quite a bit different from the style used in "The Beginning." The first film seemed to either be all tradtional animation or mostly hand drawn animation while the sequel is a blend of traditional and computer generated animation. The combination of the two does have huge payoffs at times with certain sequences, like nearly every fast paced action scene at the end of the film, but it does look really awkward at times as well. Imagine the head of an animated character in "Batman: The Animated Series" being thrown onto the body of a Transformer from "Beast Wars" and it looks kind of like that; just unnatural and clunky.

The transition between the two films seems very extreme, as well. In the first film, Kotetsu is very adamant about keeping his identity a secret and he even keeps it hidden from his daughter. But in the sequel everyone knows who Wild Tiger really is. Barnaby is on this quest to find who murdered his parents when he was younger. It seems like a gigantic selling point at the end of the first film, but in the sequel you discover that he's already found the killer and received his vengeance. It's just a shame you find that out in the form of a 30-second montage. Then there's the anti-hero Lunatic who seems to have this huge backstory that's just glazed over. These are likely issues that are rectified with the TV series, but from a film to film standpoint it seems like so much was left out rather than put in to the sequel.

While the beginning of "Tiger & Bunny: The Rising" looks like a side-scrolling video game with top notch manga artwork, the biggest asset "The Rising" can boast about is Fire Emblem's side story. For those who aren't aware, the Fire Emblem character is gay. The character is put into a deep sleep during the sequel and the dreams he experiences, those nightmares from reality that he has to revisit, are extraordinarily genuine. It's as if he has to go through the struggle of coming to terms with his homosexuality all over again. It's very real and written extremely well.

"Tiger & Bunny: The Rising" is like a mixture of "Jojo's Bizarre Adventure," "Iron Man," and "G-Force." The vivid animation is both fluid and striking and the story is more intriguing and rewarding than it originally lets on. If you're a fan of big superhero blockbusters, then you'll likely have a blast with "Tiger & Bunny: The Rising."

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