One Punch Man Review Season 2 Episodes 7 + 8

The Hero And The Pretender

One Punch Man Season 2 Episode 7

The S Class heroes are finally on the move against the monsters, not that the audience or One Punch Man cares given how little screen time the catastrophe striking multiple cities is given. Instead our focus is either on the end of the tournament or on a little aside with some swordsmen that ends up revealing that by consuming monster cells humans can become monsters.

The Hero Association really isn't very good at their job - One Punch Man Season 2

I’m certain that’s actually worth knowing given the smart monster association currently causing all the problems (even if the S Class Heroes are mostly mopping them up) but this episode doesn’t dwell on that situation and takes us back to Saitama.

I’m sure this will be important but right now I want to know who won the tournament.

Which is okay actually. The tournament doesn’t linger on the lead up but gets to the fight between Saitama and Suiryu in relatively short order. The similarities between the pair are drawn into the open as is the overwhelming difference in the conclusion the two have drawn. Both characters have suffered from being too strong and essentially facing no opposition and wanting a fun fight. Yet Suiryu looks down on heroes and others in general where Saitama is mostly hopeful of finding a challenge and doesn’t look down on those weaker than him, even if he isn’t always particularly nice to them.

The fight is lively enough and entertaining in the ongoing joke of Saitama holding onto his wig. Still, at the end of the day, there was no way he was going to get away with his impersonation. I guess I’ll find out what happens now that Saitama’s done at the tournament next episode.

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One Punch Man Season 2 Episode 8

Oh yes, the turning into monsters part was definitely an important sidenote that became the basis for this episode really. As the monster’s plan concludes, for now, some very nasty monsters turn up at the martial arts tournament determined to convince the strong contestants to eat the cells and become monsters, or to kill them. It is a simple conflict but one that is delivered fairly well in this episode of One Punch Man.

With Saitama already gone after being disqualified for having a wig (and impersonating someone else), it seems like this group of marital artists are doomed. A few try to fight and are summarily beaten down with very little in the way of fanfare. Then Suiryu steps up. Not because he wants to be a hero. But because he’s a human shaped blob of ego who clearly didn’t believe he could even be challenged and before he even takes the stage he elicits a promise from a girl that she’ll essentially be his prize after his victory.

Which kind of makes watching him struggle against the humans turned monsters satisfying.

At this moment, I was hoping the monsters would win.

Then all that satisfaction turns to raw horror as he takes on some brutal punishment. To his credit, he doesn’t actually try to run away until after everyone else has already gone except for the two heroes who were in the tournament who come back for him. It doesn’t do him any good, and the sounds of bones breaking are all kinds of horrific, but it does make the sight of him lying on the ground, reaching out, and crying for a hero affective. Seeing such a massive contrast from the beginning of the episode to the end just works.

Now I kind of want someone to rescue him.

However, as with all good hero stories, just when you think it is all over, in swoops the hero, cape flying all.

Sometimes Saitama just looks completely cool. Then he goes back looking like a doofus, but seriously, that entrance was awesome. Looking forward to next week.

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Is The New Season of One Punch Man Disappointing?

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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.

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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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One Punch Man Review Season 2 Episode 6

Everybody is Monster Fighting

One Punch Man Season 2 Genos

Episode 6

Monsters outside the arena and monsters inside it. This episode keeps cutting between the two and both are interesting enough in their own way.

Alright, I’ll be honest. I liked this episode a lot because we got quite a lot of Genos. Genos left the arena to go fight some monsters and we get a number of sequences of Genos taking down monsters and just looking awesome. Of course, One Punch Man isn’t above disassembling or crushing Genos and by the end of this episode he’s been stomped into the ground (or at least that’s what it looked like) but he certainly got to look cool first and that is worth celebrating.

It should be noted that episode 6 doesn’t really progress anything. At the end of episode 5 we had monster outbreaks everywhere and the martial arts tournament was underway and the rich guy’s son had been kidnapped. This episode we still have monster outbreaks, a couple more heroes are down, the son is still kidnapped and the hero association is freaking out about the possibility of losing an investor (rather than the fact that they are currently failing miserably to actually stop the monsters) and Saitama is still taking part in the martial arts tournament.

I mean this looks cool and all but is there a point other than being cool? And does it matter?

It could be considered a waste of an episode except that the cuts between fights were all interesting enough and One Punch Man has never been one to avoid burning screen time on the set-up for a fight or a joke. What matters is whether or not it was an entertaining spectacle rather than whether it drove the plot particularly far.

In that sense there’s a bit of a mixed response. Without the impressive soundtrack and smooth visuals from season one there’s a lot less wow factor in these mini-skirmishes and while watching Genos is always awesome I kind of wanted a bit more spectacle. I mean, if we’re having spectacle for spectacle’s sake it should be extraordinary and yet this was just kind of okay.

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Still, if you like watching the heroes and monsters scrambling about and seeing some pretty standard tournament smack talk before various opponents are put down way too quickly there’s entertainment to be had. That, and all the Genos fans out there will certainly be happy with his screen time this week. I certainly was.

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One Punch Man Review Season 2 Episode 5

The monsters attack!

Episode 5

Metal Bat versus Garou; heroes of all shapes and sizes versus monsters who have suddenly started thinking and planning; Saitama versus random guy that we’ll probably never see again… One Punch Man season 2 really decided to go for some fighting this episode and it isn’t just the tournament Saitama has entered that is heating up.

The ridiculous hero and villain names come thick and fast while watching this episode and largely it doesn’t really matter. The crux is that in every city the heroes are fighting the sudden appearance of monsters but through some plan or design the monsters they are facing are the worst possible match up for the hero in question. This leads to more than one hero biting the bitumen and the monsters largely gloating that they are in fact strong.

Possibly this would be a more interesting development except for the part where I’m thinking that if Saitama ever leaves the fighting tournament he’d just end them all in a single punch and things would go right back to normal. It is the fundamental problem with the premise of this anime in that you know no matter how dire things look you really just can’t take it seriously as a threat.

As for Saitama, he takes on his first opponent in the martial arts tournament and ends it with a backhanded slap. It is as underwhelming as any of his previous fights have been and you can tell even he is disappointed. It will be interesting to see if any of the contestants end up giving him even a moments trouble.

However, as usual, this anime knows how to over use a joke. They begin introducing the fighters of the tournament and you start being worried they are going to individually introduce each one. Then they comment that there are many others and you breathe a sigh of relief, right before they launch into a rapid introduction of every fighter. Sigh.

This episode did leave me feeling bad for Metal Bat. All that effort and then his little sister knocks him out cold.

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One Punch Man Review Season 2 Episode 4

Meet Metal Bat – He Hits Things With His Bat

Episode 4

While there’s a little of the Saitama joining the martial arts tournament in this episode, he’s decidedly in the background, as this episode focuses on S Class Hero Metal Bat (they really need to fire the guys who come up with these idiotic names). Anyway, Metal Bat is stuck babysitting some executive from the Hero Association and his son when some centipedes attack.

It’s exactly the kind of silliness I came to expect from One Punch Man in season one after the mosquito attack. Really you have one centipede, than a bigger one, before a giant one attacks. Through it all Metal Bat does his hero thing but before he manages to take down the massive one (if he even can), Garou shows up.

See, even as a little kid Garou just wanted monsters to succeed. He has a goal. In any other show he’d be the protagonist.

For those who have enjoyed One Punch Man up until this point, there’s nothing in this episode that will disappoint. Between the ironic humour of Mumen Rider trying to convince Charanko that Saitama would never enter a tournament under a false name because he is a hero to the eye-roll inducing display of ignorance by the executive and his son at a train sushi restaurant, it hits all the right marks to leave you with a smile, particularly when Metal Bat thinks to himself he’s going to kill the executive if one more plate gets put back on the train.

The fight is also interesting enough if standard fare of keep making the enemy bigger. While Metal Bat doesn’t have the most interesting fighting style, I mean he hits things with a bat, they certainly kept him moving and managed to keep each section of the fight fresh as we moved from the restaurant to the street, to seeing the impact across the city.

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My only actual complaint would be the decided lack of Genos this episode.

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The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Series Review

The boys, and Fuzzy, are back for a more dramatic season of supernatural events.

I had the distinct pleasure of getting to review The Morose Mononkean Season Two with the lovely Irina and I will admit, I went in with fairly low expectations. Season one of the Morose Mononkean was okay but that was all. I love yokai stories and so I’d enjoyed it but that was no real drama, no real forward driving story, and the characters all seemed to lack development. They just kind of drifted about happy to deal with the immediate issue but not to address any of the larger world questions that seemed to keep coming up.

Fortunately, season two of The Morose Mononokean is one of those exceptions to my usual rule that sequels offer diminishing returns. Season two of The Morose Mononokean took everything that was nice and lovely from season one (the colour scheme, the relationship established between Abeno and Hanae, the yokai designs) and then added in everything I felt was missing. The end result was a season that was superior in every way and getting to discuss it each week with Irina just added to the fun as we speculated about characters and plot developments.

For those who are unfamiliar with the premise, Hanae can see yokai and in the beginning of the first season is actually possessed by one (the one that comes to be the cute mascot character of the show, Fuzzy). Hanae is saved by Abeno who while being human, and Hanae’s classmate, is also the master of the Mononokean, which means he can open the door between the human realm and the underworld and he exorcises yokai (essentially sends them home).

In season two we see a Hanae that initially starts off more comfortably in his role as Abeno’s assistance but a trip to the underworld and an encounter with one of the three powers there, the Executive tries to kill him because he is human.

This is by far the most danger he’d faced since realising yokai were real and beginning his work and for The Morose Mononokean as a narrative it really upped the stakes and tension in general. It also opened the way for more exploration of the political situation within the underworld which helped to really flesh out the world that had felt kind of shallow in season one.

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By itself, this would have been enough to make me enjoy season two far more than season one, but they also began to fill in Hanae’s backstory including his family situation. While there are still a lot of questions hanging over this at the end of season two, it really helped push character development for both Abeno and Hanae. It also helped their relationship, which had always been interesting, progress further as we got to see Abeno really take on a caring role as he tried to protect and help Hanae.

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 10

Hanae’s development of powers he could use against yokai was also a really interesting progression because it opens up all kinds of possibilities, some of which unpleasant, for where the story might go. Plus, if you ever wanted to see Abeno and Hanae go head to head, you won’t be disappointed here.

The Morose Mononokean Episode 6 Ashiya and Yahiko

But it isn’t just the central duo getting a lot more development. The Legislator, Abeno’s boss essentially, was an enigmatic but interesting character in season one. While there is still a lot about him that we don’t know, he was given substantially more screen time and his meddling was far more overt in season two. The Executive and The Justice, the other two parts of the triad of power, were new additions to the cast but provided some really great moments even if they were very limited in their screen time.

There are also a host of yokai characters who come and go from the story as normal and these were all interesting and worked in their own way. Some of these have ties to the past or two the various political factions and others are just yokai of the week characters, but all leave a lasting impression on the main characters and the audience.

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 4 Kinako

In addition to the improvements in the narrative and the character development, it seems like season two of The Morose Mononkean had a real lift in its visuals. While the rich colour palette used in season one for the underworld remained, all of the visuals just seemed crisper and characters less prone to going off model in this second season.

The Morose Mononokean - Beast in human form

If you decided to pass on this second season but didn’t mind the first, I’d strongly suggest giving it a go. If you’ve never tried the anime but you like yokai stories, definitely give the first season a go and while I know this is said all the time it really is true here, this story gets better as it goes. The only thing missing now is the knowledge that we’ll eventually get a third season to get some more closure on some of the loose ends.

Now to finish off with a gallery of Fuzzy.

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One Punch Man Season 2 Review Episodes 1 + 2

One Punch returns with less impact.

One Punch Man Season 2 Episode 1 - Saitama and King

Episode 1

Probably my least anticipated sequel ever, here is One Punch Man and its second season. New studio behind the wheel and the question becomes whether or not lightning can strike twice for a story that has one joke and almost no point. Season one overcame this by being a bombastic good time with a killer sound track and while a subsequent attempt to rewatch left me feeling that it was light on any substance, I had a good time the first time through at least even if I began to find it wearing a bit thin by the end of the season.

Generic villain number 1.

Season two so far is best described as average. It isn’t as visually dynamic as its predecessor, something that is incredibly noteworthy during Genos’ fight with another robot. Season one had some incredibly fluid movement and interesting direction in the vast majority of fight sequences that elevated them despite the scale of the fight. Here, the fight works, and Genos looks great, but there isn’t really much sense of excitement that comes with it.

Where it falls down particularly far though is the sound track with the music so far being adequate but not a driving force of thrills or a hook. That is perhaps the weakest part of this first entry into the second season.

Genos however remains awesome.

However, none of that has anything to do with plot and whether or not there’s a reason for a sequel to the story of a guy who became a super-hero for fun. Here I’ll have to praise season two for giving a few interesting hooks in terms of progressing the story.

We meet King, a guy who isn’t a hero who, do to incredibly bad luck has been at the scene of a huge number of monster attacks and has become known as one of the strongest heroes (almost the direct opposite of Saitama who fights all the monsters but gets almost no credit). We have the hero association trying to recruit more fighters in response to a potential world ending prophecy. We have heroes and villains planning to target Saitama. Then there is Genos and his ongoing quest to become stronger and defeat the cyborg that destroyed his home. That seems like more than enough to push us through a season and we’re only at episode one.

For those who came for the spectacle and excitement of season one, One Punch Man Season Two doesn’t really deliver in its first episode, however, I feel more optimistic about a second season now that I can see that they intend to develop the narrative a bit more. Whether that optimism is misplaced I guess we’ll find out and whether or not it matters that the story is progressing if the rest of the production isn’t quite up to speed is something only time will tell.

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Episode 2

There’s a bit more going on in the second episode. Certainly a smack down between Genos and Speed o’ sound Sonic, even if the majority of it is off-screen is entertaining enough and when we add in a villain slaughtering his way through heroes and villains alike we end up with a fairly action packed episode even with Saitama being his usual laid-back self.

One Punch Man Season 2 Episode 2 - Genos

I kind of wanted more from the whole hero recruiting a faction plot line, but I guess expecting much from a show that really is happy to go with the obvious joke was my bad. They did enough with it and the amusement of watching her hopes and illusions getting shattered worked well enough even if it kind of lets that plot line come to a natural conclusion fairly early on.

One Punch Man - Season 2 Episode 2 - Saitama

The meeting at the hero association where they come up with Genos and Saitama’s hero names is down-played to the point where it is almost forgettable and the joke name they given Saitama is lame even by the comedy standards of One Punch man. Kind of glad they didn’t linger on this but it is given so little attention it may as well have not existed as it really didn’t contribute much from either a plot or comedy point of view. I guess it helps us fully realise the hero association is mostly a bureaucratic  joke, but we kind of already knew that.

Basically, this continues to do enough while at the same time hasn’t had any real standout moment yet. I’m still very much a Genos fan-girl so as long as we keep getting sections of Genos fighting I’ll probably be happy enough and I’m kind of glad they didn’t feel the need to destroy him in the second episode again given how many times they broke him in season one. While I will admit this does feel lacking compared to the first season, it is meeting my expectations of a season two, given I expected very little feeling this one had already run its course. It remains entertaining enough provided you don’t expect anything exceptional.

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