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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One Punch Man Series Review: One Punch – One Joke

One Punch Man Saitama Flying

This is part of a series of re-posts of older reviews on 100 Word Anime. The original review came out in August 2016 and can be found here.

I’ve not made all that many changes to this one as my opinion really hasn’t changed. I did however, get rid of the plus/minus format. Still, if you read the original post, that kind of covers it.

It’s really difficult to review One Punch Man. On the one hand, it is awesome. The main character defeats his enemies with one punch. It’s funny. It’s visually striking. The music is really well chosen. On the other hand, essentially the plot is about a guy with almost zero motivation who instantly kills his opponents removing any tension from any conflict and once you’ve seen the punch line to most of the jokes there isn’t a lot of rewatch value. And in honesty, rewatching this one was kind of dull. While there are a few moments that still really shining, without the novelty factor there just isn’t much here.

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At the centre of the story is Saitama. He really feels like a character for the modern world. He’s self-centred, lazy, and reasonably ignorant of things that don’t particularly impact on him (not saying that everyone in the modern world is like that but it is certainly a recognition of a social trend). He also has a very high opinion of himself and his value and at times seems to carry a giant chip on his shoulder about the lack of credit he receives for his work. Compared to the superheroes of the past (or the current Hollywood trend of dark and edgy heroes), Saitama is a fantastic breath of fresh air and fairly easy to relate to.

And he has even more depth than most of us initially give him credit  for. There are times when he could receive recognition but because of the ramifications to others, Saitama deliberately plays down his part in a job. Given his usual self-involved attitude, these moments are really important to making him feel like a genuine character and someone who is becoming more aware of the world around them even as he seeks recognition.

Basically, this character has toed the line and managed to make us not hate him, even while he plays up some of the less desirable traits of the modern culture. Its an interesting mix and one handled more deftly than you might at first assume, but a lot of that gets lost under a fairly one note plot.

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Sticking with characters though, I want to give a shout out to Genos. My favourite character from the show (and someone who deserves some kind of award for the sheer amount of determination he has and how little it actually gets him). He is your typical hero in every sense of the word. Tragic childhood on quest for revenge and to save others from the same fate. Willing to sacrifice himself and always working to improve. He is also the only one who really recognises Saitama for what he actually is (even if his perception is a little tinted by rose coloured glasses).

Genos also brings about some of the more amusing and tragic moments of the anime as he tends to attempt self-destruction fairly regularly (to save others of course) or gets swatted into pieces. You feel bad for him but can’t help but laugh and given how much damage he sustains in early episodes without lasting impact (because apparently being a cyborg means anything can be fixed) it takes a lot of the trauma out of his injuries. While Genos couldn’t carry the show by himself (he is too weighed down with clichés), he is an excellent support character and adds just the right notes of earnestness, dedication, and over-zealous stupidity to most scenes.

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However, that one note plot is a problem as is the inability to escalate tension throughout the story. When you start your anime with city destroying monsters, giants, cyborgs, gorillas and life sucking mosquitos, how do you up the ante? Sure, aliens? Why not? Only they don’t come off as any more threatening than the hoodlums or any of the other villains we’ve seen. I think they are supposed to, given all of the heroes are seemingly gathered to face them, but what we end up with is a series of small group fights that lack punch (sorry about that) and then Saitama squaring off against the leader of the aliens and… well winning with one punch. They may draw out this battle sequence for longer than others in the series, but to be honest the outcome is obvious and you’re not sitting on the edge of your seat waiting but rather just waiting for the inevitable punch line.

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And so our plot line boils down to a single manta. “Saitama is strong. Saitama is good. Saitama hits things and kills them in one punch.” Possibly this is a story about the organisation for heroes and maybe there’s more to the whole thing there but in the first season (which is all we have at the moment), there is genuinely no real plot. There are a series of incidents that get dealt with and in the process we see Saitama and Genos interacting more and more with other heroes (all of which have their own agendas and motives). This is not actually a plot. The series is a collection of set-ups and punch lines with just enough world building packed around it to make it feel like maybe there is some plot progression. Certainly there is space for there to be a plot. You know, the hero guy who seems to be wanting to take over, and the other guy who… wait we just don’t know what they are actually up to and they probably made up less than 5% of the screen time so let’s not justify that as a plot.

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But the weak plot isn’t enough to take away from the fact that this show knew what it wanted to bring. This is high energy fun. I may make fun of the obvious ends to battles but the show continues to find ways to make these amusing and visually appealing regardless. More importantly, they keep finding ways to make battle sequences look and feel different (even knowing they will end the same way). The sheer variety in the enemies and the use of lesser heroes and even the stronger heroes in the early stages of fights keeps things feeling fresh and moving.

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For me a lot of the jokes fell flat. Even the ones that were pretty funny the first time round weren’t particularly amusing when I tried to watch it again with a friend. A lot of the humour relies on shock and spectacle and unfortunately that just doesn’t hold up to a second viewing (and a third viewing for this review just killed it – there’s almost nothing left that sticks when you have already seen it and you know where its going). The character related humour worked better but even that didn’t have the same impact on rewatch. There are definitely some satirical elements at work here, but the show isn’t really cohesive enough to call itself a satire. Mostly, it’s just going for amusement and entertainment and for the most part it succeeds.

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After all of this, I’m still going to recommend this one to people who haven’t tried it. The first watch is great fun and you’ll have some great laughs with it. However, I don’t see myself ever wanting to buy this one on disc and I probably won’t go for another watch of it anytime soon.

What did you think of One Punch Man?

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ONE PUNCH MAN ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
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My Hero Academia Season 2 Series Review: Shining the Light on Heroes and Villains

Overview:

There’s no denying that season 1 of this show made me sit up and take notice when I picked it up mid-season after reading many positive reviews. The second season continues Midoriya’s journey (as well as the rest of the students’ journies) to becoming a hero.

Earlier I covered some of the ideas in this series in Friday’s Feature: Not a Character, an Idea.

Review:

With the exception of Bleach (which even I’ll admit isn’t all that great when you break down the story) I’ve never been much for straight shonen action shows. I can’t stand the shouting, the long drawn out fight, the pointless arcs where a villain is built up to be beaten down, the random hero power ups, and all the other silliness that tends to infect those kinds of shows. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good action story, I just prefer something a little less aimed at teenage males. Surprisingly, My Hero Academia kind of has all of the qualities of a shonen story that usually annoy me and yet, much like Bleach before it, instead of turning me away it kind of manages to draw me in a little bit more with every ridiculous fight sequence.

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The first season was utterly charming and just plain fun to watch, and season 2, despite launching into firstly a tournament arc, and then a training/power up sequence, before going into an exam sequence (all of which should have killed any fun or momentum for me) managed to not alone maintain that sense of fun, it also fleshed out a very real and meaningful dialogue around the nature of heroes and villains. All of this while characters continued to grow and develop and come to a greater understanding of themselves.

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Now, there is nothing new to be found in My Hero Academia. We have seen each of these characters before and asking the question of what makes a hero is pretty much story-telling from cave-man days. So it isn’t the novel content that is keeping me fixated. It is all about the delivery.

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This world and these characters are bright and larger than life. Their actions, their ideals, their emotions, everything is heightened unapologetically and then dropped into a world is becoming more and more real with every point we learn about it. While we don’t have Quirks in the real world (or at least not that I’ve noticed), there is something extremely relatable about this social media, popularity focused society that has taken a noble calling (being a hero) and made it a vocation. One that is highly sought due to monetary rewards and social recognition. All of this makes for a very grand and highly energetic narrative even when not a lot is actually happening with the main characters. I’m pretty sure these students could make catching a bus entertaining at this point.

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Part of this is because of the sheer number of characters and their diverse personalities. While some of the less important classmates are still pretty one-note, a lot of these characters have had their moment in the spot light and have started to become far more interesting as the series has progressed. My Hero Academia is very big on giving characters clear motivations for their behaviours and attitudes and ensuring the audience understands these. That way, when a character begins to change or grow, or even just acts out of character, it is immediately apparent and the impact is even greater because we’ve understood why that trait was significant in the first place.

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It also helps that the characters are just fun to spend time with. Even Bakugo, the overly angry and shouty one, is always great fun on the screen. If he could learn to focus some of that rage he could be a truly awesome asset in the future, though at the moment he’s more of comic relief and occasional bringer of tension to an otherwise fairly happy group of kids.

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This season saw Todoroki and Uraraka both gain ground as characters. Each had a number of moments to shine throughout the series and learned from their own actions and the actions of others to progress toward their goals. Seeing the these two characters finding their way and seeing how that changed their relationships with other characters in the story, felt very rewarding. Both kind of gained ground in terms of being my favourite characters from this show by mid-season.

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However, the real spot-light this season needs to go on All Might and Midoriya’s relationship. If growth along a journey was the theme for the season, Midoriya truly personified this as he fought hard to gain control of his ability and also really considered why he wanted to become a hero. Early in the season he loses a fight in the tournament to Todoroki, not necessarily because he couldn’t win (although arguably at the time he couldn’t) but because he needed to help Todoroki. Midoriya chose a tournament loss to ensure a greater victory, helping a friend. And that more or less defined who he was. But, there are greater dangers coming and All Might is trying to prepare Midoriya for those. We see the greatest change in Midoriya, spurred on by Bakugo, when he actually strikes All Might during the exam. Season 1 Midoriya couldn’t have even tried to strike All Might. This transition from idolising All Might, to working to surpass him as a symbol of justice, is just another step on the road for Midoriya though for the audience, there’s the added tension of kind of suspecting All Might’s time is more limited than Midoriya knows. All Might is definitely holding back from telling Midoriya everything so that is one puzzle piece we’ll all be waiting for in the next season.

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Turning our attention to the villains, we see the Hero Killer rise up during this season and his impact on both the narrative and the characters is enormous. Even other villains are launched into renewed vigour because of the Hero Killer’s actions. For me, this part of the season was by far the strongest and most interesting. Mostly because the rest of the season focused on the growth of the future heroes but didn’t really give them a real world challenge to face. Though, the final episode this season leaves little doubt as to where the story is going.

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To begin bringing things to a close, I wasn’t overly thrilled with the openings this season. They worked and they definitely grew on me after several episodes, but initially I was kind of underwhelmed by them. Also, some of the fights in both the tournament and the exam arcs just felt like they were there for the sake of completion rather than for adding anything into the story. But these are minor complaints when considering the season as a whole.

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Season 2 gave me more of what I loved about season 1, and continued to grow both the world and characters in an  immensely satisfying manner. While I would have liked a little bit more from the narrative as we seem to be moving very slowly forward, this is a minor nit-pick to what is a fun series to get into.

I’d love to know your thoughts on My Hero Academia so be sure to leave me a comment below.


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Karandi James.

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My Hero Academia Episode 37: Those Two Have Got To Work On Their Issues

Review:

I know they put Midoriya and Bakugo together because their communication was dreadful, but that just seemed needlessly unfair. Midoriya was trying, kind of, to work with Bakugo and he is an absolute jerk. I still can’t believe we’re actually supposed to see him as a future hero and not a villain. Though in a world where Endeavor is technically a hero (the number 2 hero) even though he’s also a jerk I guess we’ll just have to accept that hostility and violence are apparently not disqualifying characteristics.

This fight was as explosive as you would suspect with Bakugo in the mix, but I think All Might was the surprise this episode. He really plays the role of a villain well (even if he did provide multiple openings for the students – it wouldn’t really be a test if they couldn’t have done anything). He’s actually pretty scary when you realise that once he doesn’t care whether the city gets destroyed his power is even more dangerous.

And in the midst of getting crushed, Bakugo and Midoriya kind of come to an understanding even if they still don’t like each other and still can’t really work as a team.

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Still, I will exhibit no surprise is Bakugo ever becomes evil. Might be a little judgemental, but the kid is dangerous.

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Overall, a pretty good conclusion to the exam but nothing overly unexpected except perhaps how good All Might is at being a fake villain. Then of course we got the preview for the next episode and it seems we’ll end the season with the return of the villains so something to look forward to.


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My Hero Academia Episode 36: And So They Fought

Review:

If this wasn’t the second last episode of the season, you would swear it was a filler episode. We get the match ups of most of the characters we don’t really care about (Uraraka is the exception here but her match is over and done in almost an instant). While there’s certainly merit to seeing some of these classmates in a fight, and some of the teachers that previously had been been in the background, there’s no plot progression and the main characters are sidelined quite literally, taking the role of commentators rather than participants.

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That isn’t to say the episode wasn’t fun or that there weren’t some cool moments to be found here. However, from a strictly plot point of view this episode gives us very little. Nother is really revealed about the characters that couldn’t have been surmised prior and none of this is leading to anything except Midoriya and Bakugou’s fight against All Might which of course doesn’t start until the final minute of the episode (almost as if the writers were worried we would suddenly stop watching without that bit of a cliff-hanger).

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All and all, as part of the overall feeling of My Hero Academia, this episode works, but it is hardly one of the better showings we’ve had from this second season and I think most of the tournament episodes earlier in the season were stronger than this.


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Karandi James.

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My Hero Academia Episode 35: Aizawa’s Always A Teacher

Review:

There’s a lot of terrible teachers out in the anime universe, fortunately for Todoroki and Yaoyorozu, Aizawa isn’t one of them. Even when he’s hunting them down, he still takes the time to reflect on their progress as students and to give them the push they need to overcome their own difficulties. As much as he likes to play the tough guy, when it comes to his students, he is always a teacher.

Still this episode sees us go through three different tests and after the inglorious defeat of the two muscle heads in round one it seems like most pairs have at least discussed possible plans.

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The teachers aren’t going all out but they aren’t playing overly nice either so it is kind of nice to see the students rise to the challenge.

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Still, this episode hits you with the emotional high of Yaoyorozu finally getting to do something other than fret or worry about her own inadequacies. It has been a long time coming but she’s finally joined the many other awesome female characters in this show that get to stand on their own two feet and be counted. And seeing Todoroki follow her lead and learn from his own mistakes was also pretty cool.

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Now we just have to hope that some of our other favourite characters don’t bomb out next week. This show continues to be a bundle of fun as even the most mundane of events (a school exam) comes to life when these characters take the stage.


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Karandi James.

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The Defenders First Impressions: I’m Half In and Half Out on This One

What do you do when you watch something that for everything you love about it, you find something else completely cringe worthy, dull or irritating? Well, in my case you keep watching but then you write a blog post to both celebrate what this long anticipated series does well and to openly wonder just what the deal is with everything else.

Review:

The Defenders on Netflix finally brings together a group of heroes that on paper are exactly what I like in a hero. Daredevil amazed me when I saw the premier at Supernova and it is the reason I even have a Netflix subscription. It wasn’t a perfect series but for all the gritty retellings of superhero stories going on in the cinemas, Daredevil as a TV series just grabbed me in a way none of those other stories had. A lot of that is because of the main character and just how well Charlie Cox manages to portray both the devil and the lawyer.

Then I got stuck into Jessica Jones and was also utterly blown away. I loved Jessica’s character. Okay, sassy and downtrodden girl is getting a little old, but she wears it very well. Plus, we got David Tennant as a villain so there really wasn’t anything to complain about with that.

Moving along, Luke Cage got his own series. This is where I started falling out of love with Netflix superheroes. Luke Cage is one boring protagonist, and I know I just offended some of his fans, but I find him incredibly dull and as a result I never actually finished his series. Though, when I compared that to the mess that was Iron Fist… well, Luke Cage didn’t look that bad anymore.

And all of that leads me to The Defenders and their series. I was most definitely taking some personal time after mid-last week and I’d been dying to try this series so I took an early afternoon and watched the first three episodes back to back, so just until they got the four characters together in the same location really. And as the title of this post suggests, I half love it and I half don’t.

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Basically, any scene with Matt or Jessica kind of inspired the same love I’d had for their individual efforts, and bringing the two together, albeit very briefly so far, was pure joy. Watching the banter between the two as they see who can be snarkier or one up the other was highly entertaining. Honestly, the only downer with Matt is the whole inner conflict he’s going through about whether he even still wants to be the devil. Hopefully he gets over that soon, because that indecision has been played to death by other heroes and it is never very interesting.

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Marvel’s The Defenders

Conversely, any scene with Luke or Danny just feels emotionally overwrought (in the case of Danny’s opening scene), or completely flat (all of Luke’s scenes so far and Danny after the opening scene). Even putting the two together for a fist fight did nothing to impress as you have a guy with an iron fist pounding at a guy who literally stops bullets. Admittedly, Danny did finally get in one decent punch but this was basically like watching a guy spar against a cement post and finally at the end knock one tiny chip off of it. It was not an interesting fight and that’s because Luke doesn’t fight. He pushes, occasionally punches, stands stoically around, but he isn’t built for, nor is his style, flashy or interesting.

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Someone else who reviewed the whole series of The Defenders mentioned the use of colour so I was particularly looking for it (not that you need to) and it is both striking and very affective. That kind of attention to visual detail deserves recognition and it carries a lot of the characterisation and tone of the show without the characters doing anything other than being in the scene. Now if they’d applied that same simple is more approach to the camera direction at times this could even be said to be a beautiful show.

Alas, the camera blurs, takes on weird focuses, cuts continuously (particularly during skirmishes), it pans, it tilts, it shakes, it drives you absolutely crazy until you want to reach out and just hold the thing still so you can just watch what is happening. It is so needless and distracting.

I do have to briefly turn my attention to Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver) and Elektra who are the face of the enemy so far. Alexandra apparently being on top and Elektra being the whole Black Sky thing (whatever that may end up being). To be honest, neither of these two have been overly impressive in the first three episodes. Admittedly, Alexandra has the potential to be a truly interesting villain at this point. She’s a reserved but fairly nuanced character and given more screen time could really flesh out the role and be quite chilling, but these first three episodes (given they are understandably focussed on getting the actual defenders together) don’t really give her much space. Elektra is more or less a blank slate at the moment so nothing really happening there.

So I’m fence sitting at this point. I really want to like this series and there are certainly parts of it I love so far. But, there are some definite issues going on and some characters I’m a little less fond of, so I guess it depends how it balances now that the whole team is together and whether the plot actually goes somewhere now. Once I finish watching this I’ll write up my final thoughts, in the meantime, I’d love to know your thoughts on The Defenders.


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