Manga Review: Tiger & Bunny Volume Five

45 years prior to the start of the series, superpowered individuals known as “NEXT” started appearing through a mysterious mutation. Some of them have become superheroes who protect Stern Bild, and each of the city’s famous superheroes work for a 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.”

The series focuses on Kotetsu Kaburagi and Barnaby Brooks, Jr., who have become the first hero duo after Apollon Media buys out Kotetsu’s sponsor. Kotetsu (aka Wild Tiger) and Baranby may have the same superhero power, but they seem to be a mismatched hero duo.

Tiger & Bunny Volume Five
Written bu: Mizuki Sakakibara
Publisher: Kadokawa Shoten
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: June 10, 2014

Volume Five continues the story where Dragon Kid is given the task of watching the mayor’s baby, who turns out to also be a NEXT. As I read the manga telling of the story, part of it just didn’t seem to match what I remembered seeing in the anime. So I sat down and re-watched Episode Nine, “Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child,” and discovered that more had been changed between the two tellings than I had remembered. The biggest of which is the fact that Blue Rose was not an integral character in this story in the anime.

Another big change is the fact that in the anime, three female NEXT successfully kidnap Dragon Kid and the mayor’s son and demand a ransom. In this telling, three men come up to Dragon Kid and Blue Rose and attempt to kidnap the baby. However, they are not successful because a member of Ouroboros arrives and creates a scene. I understand why this change was made in the manga, because they wanted to tie this storyline in with the next one that includes a bridge bombing and the escape of Jake Martinez, a member of Ouroboros.

Unfortunately, these changes ultimately watered down the story as it was originally presented in the anime. In the anime, the story with the mayor’s son was meant to be an episode that focused on Dragon Kid and to provide her with some character development. However, the changes that were made in the manga made it so this was no longer a true character development story for Dragon Kid since she has to share the spotlight with Blue Rose. Not only that, the humor that was present in the anime telling of this story is almost all but gone in the manga telling.

Another interesting change between this story in the anime and manga is the scene in Barnaby’s apartment where Kotetsu and Barnaby talk after the others have gone to sleep. In the anime, they’re going over the information Barnaby has found in regards to Ouroboros, and Barnaby goes into some detail about how he learned about Ouroboros in the first place. In the manga, Kotetsu is watching a news report about the NEXT Registration Act that he shuts off after Barnaby has checked to make sure the others are sleeping. We get a little bit of their conversation about Ouroboros here, but it’s not in as much detail as we got in the anime. While this isn’t as major of a change as reducing Dragon Kid’s role in the story, it’s still a noticeable change. I honestly have to say that this is the first time that I can think of in the manga where they made such drastic changes to the story.

The remainder of the volume focuses on the escape of Jake Martinez from prison and how he starts trying to take over Stern Bild in order to turn it into a nation of NEXT. This story incorporates the “Mad Bears,” which are rather ugly-looking teddy bears that the toy stores are selling and attempting to turn into the next fad. In the anime, we see Kotetsu buying one for his daughter when he’s going to be heading home to visit her. However, this never happens in the manga, yet Kotetsu knows what the bears are when he sees one and scolds Agnes for not knowing the current toy trends. Without that scene of Kotetsu at the toy store, I have a hard time believing that he would know what they are, since he’s been portrayed as being rather clueless about the types of things that Kaede would like and the current trends for kids.

After realizing how different the story in this volume is in comparison with the anime, I found myself being a little disappointed with it. While I understand these changes were made in order to tighten up the story, I wish they didn’t have to be made at the expense of watering down what should have been a particular supporting character’s story. But now seeing the changes that were made, I wonder how many changes will continue to be made in the manga in future volumes. I’ll still keep reading, but at least I now know to anticipate that changes will potentially be made to the story.

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