I watched Tiger & Bunny episode 15 over the weekend and was impressed with the writing to point I wanted to look up who wrote it, and find out what else they had written. I won’t talk too much about the episode, as we’re going to talk about Tiger & Bunny in more depth on the next episode of Dynamite In The Brain, but I’ll just say it handled a story that could so easily have been cliched melodrama with a tone and touch that didn’t insult the viewer’s intelligence.
So my first point of call was Anime News Network’s page for the show. The first thing I noticed was that none of the writers listed were underlined. This usually indicates that this is their only credit in ANN’s database. And that is the case here.
So who were these guys? Particularly who is Masafumi Nishida, the name listed as series composition and a writing credit on every episode?
Well, turns out he’s an actor/director/screenwriter/playwright.
This was interesting to me, as one of my favourite shows of the last few years was Gurren Lagann, which had been written by Kazuki Nakashima, another creator with a background in theatre rather than animation. And in watching older Osamu Dezaki shows in preparation for the Anime 3000 podcast I appeared on, I was struck by some of the theatrical approaches I saw in them. I don’t think the T&B team of writers get animation in the same way that Nakashima does, but they’ve definitely made for a fresher show with different nuances than you might have expected.
Last year he worked on the live action version of Fujiko Fujio’s manga Kaibutsu-kun (there had been anime versions in 1968 and 1980). That, along with the management company Queen-B, seems to be the factor that ties the writers together.
Nishida, fellow Queen-B client Tomohiro Suzuki (3,4,7,11) and Unibird member Yuya Takahashi (9,10,12) all worked on Kaibutsu-kun. And the writer of episode 5, Yasujirou Tanaka is also a Queen-B client. All have backgrounds in theatre, writing and acting.
Now it’s not all that surprising that there’s a management company that’s tying this together, you see it here in the UK most obviously with comedy shows, and I’m sure it happens elsewhere too. I imagine it happens all the time in anime too, it’s just when you get this situation with a whole load of guys with little to no anime experience writing a hit it makes it stand out.
And based on his work on Tiger & Bunny I’m definitely interested in checking out more of Nishida’s work. Probably starting with Gachi Boy if I get the chance.
NB: it looks like Nishida does have some former anime experience from a segment on the NHK show “Shakin‘”.