Tiger & Bunny The Movie: The Beginning is the first Tiger & Bunny film, and the first half of it retells the first two episodes of the television anime series. The film was released to Japanese theaters on September 22, 2012. VIZ Media holds the North American distribution rights for the film, and the company released it as a two-disc DVD and Blu-ray set on October 1, 2013. This review will be focusing on the two-disc DVD release, since that is what I watched.

Tiger & Bunny The Movie: The Beginning
Directed by: Yoshitomo Yonetani
Written by: Masafumi Nishida
Starring: Hiroaki Hirata, Masakazu Morita, and Minako Kotobuki
Run Time: 90 minutes
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Format: DVD
Home Media Release Date: October 1, 2013

Tiger & Bunny is set in the year NC 1978 and takes place in Sternbild City, which is a futuristic version of Manhattan. 45 years prior to the start of the series, superpowered individuals known as “NEXT” started appearing through a mysterious mutation. Some of them became superheroes, and each of the city’s famous superheroes work for a sponsor company, and their uniforms contain advertising for their sponsor company. Their heroic activities are broadcast on the popular television show Hero TV, where they accumulate points for each heroic feat they accomplish. The best ranked hero of the season is crowned “King of Heroes.”

At the beginning of the film, there are seven heroes on Hero TV: Wild Tiger, Blue Rose, Sky High, Fire Emblem, Dragon Kid, Rock Bison, and Origami Cyclone. During the crime at the beginning of the film, an unknown superhero appears on the scene and is able to capture the criminal. This new hero is introduced as Barnaby Brooks, Jr. and it turns out he has the exact same power as Wild Tiger.

When Wild Tiger’s sponsor company is taken over by Apollon Media, he is told he has to become partners with Barnaby. Unfortunately, their personalities don’t really work well together, which makes the partnership tough at first. And it doesn’t help that Wild Tiger gives Barnaby the nickname of “Bunny” because of his armor’s earpieces and Barnaby’s use of long jumps and kicks.

The film has a rather similar opening to what was seen in the first episode of the television anime series, except that there is footage added that shows why Kotetsu (aka Wild Tiger) was late to the crime in progress. Another one of the smaller differences I noticed is the fact the film says that Origami Cyclone and Barnaby went to the same hero academy, which is a fact that never came out during the television anime series.

The second half of the film shows a story that was never seen during the television anime series. This section starts with Kotetsu arranging a get together for Barnaby with the other heroes so he can start getting along with the others. Unfortunately, it fails due to the other heroes considering themselves rivals in Hero TV.

The heroes are then called into chase after a thief named Robin Baxter, who has stolen a statue that represents the importance of heroes. The heroes chase Robin into an amusement park, but he’s next to impossible to catch due to his NEXT ability. It ultimately becomes up to Barnaby, with some assistance from Wild Tiger, to bring the criminal to justice.

Personally, I thought that Tiger & Bunny The Movie: The Beginning was a rather well-done film. While I may have already been familiar with the story in the first half from seeing the first two episodes of the television anime series, the second half brings something new to the table that I’d never seen before. Overall, I thought that the new story that was introduced in the second half of the film could easily fit into the timeline of the television anime series without causing any real continuity issues.

This film could be a great way to introduce Tiger & Bunny to someone who is not already familiar with the franchise. It provides the same basic setup as the first two episodes, and the 90 minute runtime is a smaller time commitment than the 26 episode television anime series. The film is also enjoyable for fans of the anime series, since it provides some new things that weren’t presented in the television anime.

When it comes to the DVD release itself, it was released as a two-disc set. The first disc has the film and some of the set’s bonus features. The second disc is comprised entirely on bonus features, which run for about 175 minutes.

The main disc contains a total of nine bonus features. The first six features are trailers and promotional videos for the film. They include the special pilot trailer, the pilot trailer, the preview, a promotional video, a commercial collection, and the theater commercials. The first six are all animated trailers and promotional videos, while the theater commercials feature people dressed up as three of the superheroes with voice-overs done by the voice actors. Unfortunately, all of these trailers, promotional videos, and commercials have Japanese audio without English subtitles.

The “Weekly Hero Countdown” runs for 12-and-a-half minutes, and it includes footage from a weekly countdown of the top five heroes as determined by fans voting. Unfortunately, each segment opened the same way, so it did feel a little repetitive after a while. A clean opening and a clean ending are also included.

The second disc includes a total of four bonus features. The first is the World Premiere event, which runs for two hours and 15 minutes on the disc. However, from what’s said at the event, the actual event itself ran for four hours. This was an event to promote the premiere of the film, which was broadcast live in Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. The voice actors for all of the heroes were involved, as well as people in costume for three of the heroes. Throughout the event, there are skits, singing, and interviews with the cast. This was kind of neat to watch, since you’d never see a premiere event for a film like this is America. It looked like the cast and the audience had a lot of fun!

Next is a UStream Special Digest, which runs for 39 minutes. First, there’s a Tiger & Bunny New Year’s special, which includes footage from VIZ Media talking about the simulcast of the series, as well as some information on the release of the film. The other segment sees the two host characters going to the pre-sale ticket commemoration in Hong Kong. There are interviews with the voice actors for Kotetsu and Barnaby, a live event at C3 in Hong Kong, as well as the characters visiting the Sunrise studio and getting a sneak peek of a storyboard for the film. This was a decent enough feature, although I really didn’t care too much for the hosts.

There’s also 20 pages of production art, as well as trailers for properties that VIZ Media was promoting at the time this DVD set was released.

If you’re a fan of Tiger & Bunny, I would recommend watching this film and then adding it to your anime home video collection. If you have the capability to watch Blu-rays, then I would highly recommend getting the Blu-ray pressing of the film.

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