Anime Expo 2012: Tiger & Bunny and Puella Magi Madoka Magica Draw Huge Crowds at AX
What makes an anime series a hit? That's hard to say, but after years of hitting up L.A.'s thriving convention scene, one thing is certain. Amongst the slew of new shows that come out of Japan every few months, the ones that grab the most attention here are those that do something different. They play with genre conventions, tell stories in unusual ways and present characters that are not only visually interesting, but tug at your heartstrings.
Liz Ohanesian The costumes were superb inside Tiger & Bunny's Anime Expo panel.
That was the case for two of the standout programs at Anime Expo 2012. Tiger & Bunny and Puella Magi Madoka Magica are two very different series, but they have one thing in common. They drew large crowds at this year's convention panels.
Tiger & Bunny is already a hit with anime fans. Last year, Viz Media picked up the show for the United States and began broadcasting subtitled episodes as the series was airing in Japan. Right now, Viz is working on a U.S. dub version of the show-- they're more than halfway through the 25-episode series -- which will air on their forthcoming 24-hour, subscription-based network, Neon Alley.
Liz Ohanesian Cosplaying Barnaby Brooks, Jr. at Anime Expo
As far as recent anime series go, Tiger & Bunny is the one with major crossover appeal. It's the show that I would recommend to friends who aren't into anime at all, like a Cowboy Bebop for this decade. That's by design. Masayuki Ozaki, known as Ozaki-san in the anime community, is the executive producer of the show. I spoke with him at AX on Saturday and, through an interpreter, he noted that his intent was to make an original series that would appeal to people in their 20s an 30s, whether or not they were already anime fans. In Japan, that's happened. He has heard from people who said that they haven't watched anime in decades, or never watched it, before Tiger & Bunny was released.
Sunrise, the company behind Tiger & Bunny, is well-known for its original anime, i.e. shows that aren't based on manga or other media. Some of their biggest hits include original work like Gundam, Cowboy Bebop and Code Geass. Ozaki-san said that they wanted to keep up that spirit with Tiger & Bunny. Director Keiichi Satou came in with an idea to do a show about heroes. Ozaki-san was keen on making something that would relate to the audience. So the heroes work for companies as the stars of a contest-style reality show called "Hero TV." They're also sponsored by real world corporations, like Bandai, Amazon and Pepsi.
Tiger & Bunny was also made with the international market in mind. In addition to producing the show, Ozaki-san is the general manager for Sunrise's international sales department. He knew the show would be airing in the U.S., as well as the U.K., Australia and France, as it was airing in Japan. While developing the show, he kept the television standards for different countries in mind. That's why there's no gratuitous sex and violence in Tiger & Bunny.