Tiger and Bunny: The Beginning

NB: Some of my earliest blogs no longer have their accompanying images but enjoy the copy!

If you’re a fan of the wacky-yet-brilliant anime series Tiger and Bunny, you may have heard that its first film of three, The Beginning, was screened at the BFI Southbank last Sunday. Unusually, this one-off screening coincided with the film’s release in Japan. No ‘straight to DVD two years later’ business here, thanks to Scotland Loves Anime.

If you haven’t seen or heard of the series, it’s definitely worth a watch. In a nutshell, it’s the Japanese version of X-Men. I won’t spend time telling you about the plot when you can easily look it up online. Plus you probably already know what it is…

Rather than spoil the film and rub salt in the wound for those of you who missed it, I’ll give you a quick run through of the plot and what a special screening such as this could mean for the UK anime community. I don’t keep up religiously with the latest anime releases – I’m actually very behind with ‘what’s hot’. That said, the Tiger and Bunny series came out last year and my friends wouldn’t shut up about it. So, I marathoned all 26 episodes in a week and am definitely a fan now.

Tiger and Bunny: The Beginning is the first film in a trilogy following on from the original series. So, what’s it even about? Not bothering to ask this question, I just booked tickets for me and my friend Jenny, who I later found out hadn’t actually seen the series, but this didn’t turn out to be a problem because about 50% of the footage was rehashed from the first few episodes! At first, I thought this would mean the film would be a disappointment as I’d travelled down from Manchester to see something I’d already watched on my computer but this wasn’t entirely the case.

The film was clearly designed not only to delight the existing fans (and milk them for more money!) but also introduce new people to the franchise. It took a lot of material from the first few episodes that introduces the characters and the setting for the benefit of those who were new to it all, then in the second half we were introduced to a new villain who the heroes had to band together to defeat. In the directors’ own words, it was intended to be a ‘hybrid’ episode.

They also kept one of my favourites original scenes in the film, which made me happy! I’m still not sure why I find it so funny though…

I made the most of the Southbank outing by spending the weekend in London (Planet Hollywood, Japan Centre, Tokyo Toys and watching anime films with Jenny on Saturday) then joining a pre-movie meetup where I caught up with some friends and met new ones too! As you’d expect, there were quite a few cosplayers. I ONLY SAW ONE TIGER AND ABOUT A MILLION BUNNIES! This picture proves it…

Hopefully, this one-off special London screening of Tiger and Bunny: The Beginning will be repeated elsewhere for other anime films. I had to travel to Japan last year to watch the Sengoku Basara movie (no need to comment on how cool that is) and I’d rather not pay that kind of price again! UK anime fans will typically have to wait to import the DVD from Japan or download it online. Licensing anime is definitely expensive but should that mean the Brits must continue to stream or download (technically illegally!) a film they’d happily pay for if they liked it enough?

Scotland Loves Anime seem to be on the ball with these UK screenings, but how about setting up a few more? Anyone else interested in discussing a potential Manchester Loves Anime? Or maybe a UK-wide project where a particular anime film might be screened in several locations for one weekend? Maybe I’m dreaming, but I hope that the BFI will at least screen the next Tiger and Bunny movie, The Rising, next year.

Most importantly, did I enjoy the film? Umm, YES!

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