Tiger & Bunny 2

After an episode of quickly introducing everyone, “Tiger & Bunny” settles down with a fairly standard buddy cop episode…or buddy hero, I should say. It stayed nice, light, and witty, and the comedy, while not Level E, was definitely a cut above many anime that attempt comedy (Sket Dance, for instance…) It’s pretty amusing that “Bunny” is just Tiger’s messing up of his partner’s name, Barnaby, for instance.

It’s also great that even in the line of duty, this guy tries to make the last minutes of his daughter’s skating recital. Less humorous but still informative, we learn about what inspired Tiger to get into the superhero business in the first place. Tiger was a NEXT, a kind of human who has a choice to make in how to live their lives: they can be self-loathing freaks who cause problems, or ass-kicking, day-saving freaks in awesome costumes and mecha with ads splashed on them.

Tiger chose the latter, and has to convince a punk NEXT kid (who is animating statues to help him wreak havoc) to do the same. This kid, or shonen, I should say – is named Tony, and I kept thinking as I watched him go: thank god he isn’t the protagonist. Instead, this is a show primarily about adults, particularly ones like Tiger who are in mid-life crisis mode. These adults still dress up in weird costumes and say ridiculous things (looking at you, Blue Rose), but they’re adults nonetheless. Rating: 3

Hanasaku Iroha – First Impressions

Hanasaku Iroha was instantly enjoyable, wisking you along with Ohana on a semiepic journey from the cramped and monotonous big city to the sprawling grandeur of the countryside, then into a fircely strict and unyeilding work environment the likes of which she’s never seen, experienced, or expected. I also found the character instantly appealing; easily moreso than many others Kanae Ito has voiced.

That her mother essentially abandons her and makes her move away from her life and friends to the home of a grandmother who wants nothing to do with her (and slaps her) and it all happens so fast. Still, as we listen to her inner monologue, she is acting quite mature for a 16-year-old: certainly unprepared for her plight, but keen enough to know it and be ready to adapt, which she’ll have to do.

And while this introductory episode was just about perfectly paced, with nary a dull or wasted moment, it felt like an hour (and I say that as a good thing); so dense was the narrative. It was also exceedingly good-looking, with loving attention to detail and some truly gorgeous vistas, both urban, rural, and, er, town-y. Immediately this series establishes itself as both coming-of-age tale and slice-of-life, and I haven’t seen one as good as this since Working. The bathhouse also brings to mind Spirited Away, though Ohana is older and far less bratty than Chihiro, and its role as a world in and of itself, where everyone has roles to play.

We got a sneak-peak at some of the people who will help shape Ohana’s life, including Minko, a taciturn girl who immediately takes a dislike to her (and is voiced by a toned-down-for-once Chiaki Omigawa) and Nako (voiced by Aki Toyosaki, also voice of Railgun’s Uiharu). These three girls will likely form the nucleus, but the creepy uncle and battlaxe grandmother should prove entertaining supporters. I’m definitely stoked about this one. I don’t often toss out “4”s to first episodes, but this one’s deserving. Rating: 4