The Spring Anime season is upon us and over and over again I’ve been seeing blog posts discussing how this season is a slow season or a poor season in terms of anime. I don’t necessarily disagree but at the same time I’m actually having fun with the season even if a lot of what I’m watching is decidedly average. However, there’s one title in particular that I’ve seen being hammered because it is a ‘disappointment’ and it made me wonder whether or not One Punch Man Season 2 is actually disappointing?
Though, realistically, the answer is pretty evident. The vocal fans of the original season are disappointed. Whether the second season is objectively any worse than the first season is potentially something to be discussed, but the palpable feeling of being let down by a lacklustre second season is wide spread. Even the MAL score supports this with season one scoring 8.87 and season two coming it at 7.90 and likely to fall as more and more episodes come out and more people check out the second season.
As for my personal satisfaction levels, I’m enjoying season two of One Punch Man well enough. Then again, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the original season. While I loved the music, found it on a first watch through amusing enough, and enjoyed some of the social observations it offered, there was little rewatch value and even by the end of season one it felt like the punch-line had worn a little thin.
Therefore, I wasn’t one of the fans hotly anticipating a season two. I was more the person who was wondering just why a second season was even needed.
The key to no disappointment is no expectations.
While that might seem like a simplistic view it really has had a strong impact on my viewing of One Punch Man so far this season.
However, taking my personal expectations out of the equation, what is better and what is worse about One Punch Man season two? Or what are people saying is better or worse and are the criticisms warranted?
Right from the news that One Punch Man was changing studios, from Madhouse to J.C. Staff there was criticism and concern. Admittedly, an anime changing studios isn’t the end of the world but the two studios are known for such vastly different types of stories that it seemed like an odd fit and the question of whether J.C. Staff could deliver what fans were demanding was opened before the first trailer even dropped.
When you couple that trepidation with promotional videos that do nothing to address the concerns, showing neither the bombastic animation or musical score that characterised the first season, and providing little else in place of it, the concerns and outright derision for an anime that hadn’t even aired yet got a lot louder.
Throw in an OP that in no way lives up to the original and you have a recipe for disaster before a single minute of actual episode has even played. It is probably telling that actually finding a YouTube version of the new opening is actually kind of hard and then I realised I didn’t want to listen to it anyway. The OP of season 1 however is perfect in every way. From the dramatic visual of Saitama punching the screen to that initial “One Punch!”, it hits the perfect note for hyping you up for the series and the show you are about to watch. The new OP lacks impact in more or less every way. Whether it is visuals or sound it is a poor second at best and for an anime that is largely loved for those elements not spending the time to get them right is certainly a clear way to upset the fan-base.
Then we have the anime itself. Still just focusing on the visuals, we get tweets such as this one that remind us clearly how much better the animation was in season 1.
For a sensationalistic anime that built itself on its aesthetics, those explosive scenes where the sakuga took over and nearly took on a life of their own were key and 8 episodes in to season 2 we’ve nothing that even comes close.
Is the animation in One Punch Man season 2 bad?
No. It is perfectly adequate. And adequate would be fine if we’d never seen season one. Alas, this isn’t a matter of comparing apples and oranges. We aren’t comparing the biggest work of the season to some small project. We’re comparing the first part of the story with the second and the second has been found wanting.
And let’s not even discuss the actual soundtrack within the episodes. See, watching the scene in that tweet, outside of how good it looks is how well the sound contributes to the impact of the scene. This aspect has largely been ignored by season two and while again the sound direction is adequate it also isn’t in any way memorable or noteworthy.
In fact, the only element I’d possibly argue that One Punch Man Season Two is maybe at least on par with season one is the narrative itself and the occasional moments of comedy.
Now, if you read my blog regularly you already know I’m not a big fan of comedy, but I liked the sense of humour in One Punch Man. The repetition of the same central joke got a little tiring but Saitama’s laconic nature and blunt replies as well as the gap between his superhero prowess and his lifestyle was amusing.
Season two actually continues the humour pretty well and I really liked the introduction of King and listening to Metal Bat plan to kill the next person who returned a sushi plate to the train was pretty funny. And Saitama’s entry into the martial arts tournament has had plenty of comedic moments thrown in.
Additionally, the story feels like it has more direction this season with a building threat rather than just seeing Saitama go about his daily business before a large threat comes to the city seemingly out of nowhere.
Is a slightly more plot driven season enough to overcome the disappointments that season two has brought?
Most viewers would apparently say no if the online chatter is to be believed. It isn’t as though they were watching One Punch Man for the plot.
However, I’ll throw this one over to the readers and ask you: “Has season two of One Punch Man been disappointing?”
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100 Word Anime:
- One Punch Man Series Review
- One Punch Man Season 2 Episodes 1 + 2
- One Punch Man Season 2 Episode 3
- One Punch Man Season 2 Episode 4
- One Punch Man Season 2 Episode 5
- One Punch Man Season 2 Episode 6
- One Punch Man Season 2 Episodes 7 + 8
- One Punch Man Season 2 Episode 9
- Images from: One Punch Man Second Season. Dir. C Sakurai. J.C. Staff. 2019.