As the first season of “Tiger & Bunny” comes to a close today—with a bit of a jarring and surprising ending, too—T&B’s publisher Viz wanted to laud the show’s immediately addictive first season and see where it’s headed next. Viz’s Robert Ramirez was able to catch this conversation with creator Masayuki Ozaki and shine some light on how “Tiger & Bunny” became a mini-phenomenon. ——Ed.
At Viz, when we first heard about the show, we had no idea what to expect—especially with a title like “Tiger & Bunny.” After reading a synopsis and viewing the preview (our only glimpse of the show) we were eager to work with the animation studio Sunrise to bring the show to America.
Little did we know how massive of a phenomenon it has become in Japan and that the popularity of the show in the US would grow every day. The premise of the show was simple: corporate sponsored super heroes. All the heroes on screen are branded with real Japanese sponsors.
In late July, our friend Christopher Macdonald from Anime News Network hosted a panel with the guest of honor, producer and co-creator, Masayuki Ozaki at Otakon, one of the largest anime conventions in the US. He spoke about the show, the concept, and the challenges of bringing this to air. The excerpts below are from the original Anime News Network article by Brian Hanson, July 31, 2011.
Macdonald asked Ozaki about some of the difficulties in getting the series off the ground. “If I start talking about what the problems were, 90 minutes wouldn’t be sufficient,” Ozaki joked. “One of the problems was there was a certain financial crisis that originated in the States that affected us in Japan as well, and so the project was going ahead, but we had a problem getting a sponsor, so we considered putting the series on hiatus many times.”
Tiger & Bunny is an unconventional anime to say the least. The characters, setting and story are unprecedented in its genre.
So Macdonald then asked about some of the difficulties in regards to the characters of the show itself. Ozaki replied: “Another problem was, as you said… it’s been considered that any anime character with facial hair would be a ‘bust.’ Apparently, Japanese women do not feel attracted to men with facial hair. In addition, the main character, Kotetsu, has facial hair, he already has a child, he’s much older than your typical anime hero, and it’s about superheroes—which is not the most popular genre in Japan. It’s a show full of elements that were considered a bust.”
In reference to that, Macdonald asked about the appeal of Tiger & Bunny towards older, more “mature” audiences. “We had 2 target audiences in mind, one is the former anime fan, the old-school people who used to watch anime,” said Ozaki. “The others were Japanese viewers of American prime-time TV shows. And so that’s why I wanted to incorporate other elements into the show, to appeal to them. One thing is that the script had to be well-written, and um, we had elements of comedy and witty dialog, and then we wanted to appeal not just to a Japanese audience but a worldwide audience, so the setting is a Manhattan-like city, and the characters are racially diverse.”
This show was a gamble on multiple fronts, but the pay-off was well worth it. Throughout the short 25 episode run audiences have fallen in love with their own favorite character. The amazing animation is awe-inspiring and we encourage readers of this blog, who are not really fans of anime, to give the series a shot.
Oh, and then there’s the big question that’s on everyone’s mind: Will there be a season 2? It’s on our minds too and only time will tell. But, for now, true die-hard fans can join us to welcome Ozaki-san to New York Comic-Con for the official Tiger & Bunny panel on Oct. 16.
And check out the full article and transcript of Ozaki-san’s Q&A.