Without a doubt, Tiger & Bunny was one of the most popular anime of 2011. It took the idea of superheroes and mixed it with reality TV to create what amounts to a buddy-cop anime series. Now a year after the series' end, the heroes are making their leap to the silver screen with Tiger & Bunny: the Beginning.
As you may have guessed from the title, Tiger & Bunny: the Beginning is a retelling of the first few episodes of the TV series. The good news is that it's not all rehash. Actually, a little under half the movie is brand new. This new chunk of the story deals with the world's greatest thief (not Lupin III sadly) who has stolen the city's symbol of superheroism and has a seemingly unstoppable superpower. While nothing game changing, it is a decent little diversion in the world of Tiger & Bunny.
The rehashed section of the movie is usually frame for frame identical to the TV show, but it has been greatly cleaned up for the big screen. Better still, both the TV section and new section have more moments spent with each of the non-titular heroes, showing more of what they do best. So if you are a Sky High or Blue Rose fan, you will no doubt be pleased with their added screen time.
By far the biggest change in the movie deals with Barnaby. By and large, he is a much more unlikable character. In the series, he's just playing the hero reality show like it's meant to be played—trying to get the most points. But in this movie, he's thoroughly mean and
condescending to the rest of the heroes both on and off duty. This makes him come off as far more of an ass and serves to make the moments where he supports the other heroes seem more out of place than it did in the series. However, it also makes his gradual steps toward accepting Tiger as a partner all the more meaningful.
Many of the other heroes are far less developed here because of the abridged nature of the movie. However, this has the side effect that everyone is far less hard on Tiger—which is a welcome change.
While it was nice to have a large chunk of the movie to be brand new, it was mostly a throwaway story—entertaining though it was. Frankly, it was like watching the first two episodes of the series with a couple of extra filler episodes fitting in between episodes two and three. The new villain, which while creative, was hardly dangerous. The trick was just catching him. When compared with the main villains of the TV series, though, he was laughably weak.
Judging by many recent anime feature films, I went into Tiger & Bunny: the Beginning expecting nothing more than a big screen remaster of the first few episodes. The fact that there was new footage at all—much less a whole new two episodes worth—was such an unexpected plus that I really enjoyed it. However, despite being new, it was far from the heights of the TV series proper. Honestly, though, should I rewatch the series in the future, I will likely pause after the first couple of episodes to watch the new section of this movie and treat it as two lost episodes.
Tiger & Bunny: the Beginning was released in theaters in Japan on September 22, 2012, and is currently being screened in numerous countries around the world.