November 9, 2014
Masafumi Nishida/Mizuki Sakakibara – Viz – 2013 – 5+ volumes
I won’t lie: I watched this anime, and LOVED it. I rarely watch anime, but this type of hero story has my name written all over it. I knew the manga was an adaptation, but I was hoping for an expanded or slightly different story. Sadly, everything was exactly the same in the first volume. Bad news if you’ve already seen the anime, but awesome news if you’re mostly a manga fan.
The reality TV of choice in this series follows corporate-sponsored superheroes as they bust monsters and stop crime. Heroes are assigned points based on their roles in each televised battle, and their sponsorship may be revoked if they underperform. The ultimate goal is to be declared King of Heroes at the end of the season. There are several heroes in this series, some with hilarious alter-egos like idol singer. The main character, however, is Wild Tiger, real name Kotetsu Kaburagi. Kotetsu is an older man who’s been a hero for a long time. His power is to gain super strength and speed for five minutes. But he’s never been very popular, and gets in a lot of trouble for causing collateral damage that his corporate sponsor has to pay for.
When the series starts, new hero Barnaby Brooks Jr. appears in his own hero suit. He uses his real name, is very charismatic, and has the same power as Wild Tiger. Soon, the two are teamed up, though the corporate sponsors emphasize that hot newcomer Barnaby is the star of the duo, and Wild Tiger is only meant to assist. The two do not get along, as Barnaby likes to plan and Kotetsu likes to act. Hilarity and lots of awesome action ensue.
The first volume introduces the complicated Hero TV system and the ins and outs of life in Stern Bild, the city that the series takes place in. We learn about Kotetsu’s everyday life and his struggle to keep his hero identity secret, we learn about the NEXTs shunned from society (people with power mutations that eventually become heroes), and we learn about the complicated social structure within Hero TV itself, along with all the other heroes. All of it is fairly tongue-in-cheek at the beginning, and a lot of the more ridiculous aspects of the plot are played up, as are Kotetsu’s more silly and outgoing personality traits and Barnaby’s prickly nature. There are three chapters, and again, we do get to see a couple hero fights, but it’s mostly just meant to introduce us to things.
I was disappointed that there wasn’t anything new, but on the other hand, this story is so awesome that I don’t mind reading it again. Plus, there’s always a chance things will diverge further down the line. I’m sticking with it to the end, for sure.