In the wake of defeating Boros and his mighty army, Saitama has returned to his unremarkable everyday life in Z-City. However, unbeknownst to him, the number of monsters appearing is still continuously on the rise, putting a strain on the Hero Association’s resources. Their top executives decide on the bold move of recruiting hoodlums in order to help in their battle. But during the first meeting with these potential newcomers, a mysterious man calling himself Garou makes his appearance. Claiming to be a monster, he starts mercilessly attacking the crowd.
The mysterious Garou continues his rampage against the Hero Association, crushing every hero he encounters. He turns out to be the legendary martial artist Silverfang’s best former disciple and seems driven by unknown motives. Regardless, this beast of a man seems unstoppable. Intrigued by this puzzling new foe and with an insatiable thirst for money, Saitama decides to seize the opportunity and joins the interesting martial arts competition.
As the tournament commences and Garou continues his rampage, a new great menace reveals itself, threatening the entire human world. Could this finally be the earth shattering catastrophe predicted by the great seer Madame Shibabawa?
I wish I could say the sequel for one of the most popular anime of this year to be good. I really wish I could. One Punch Man’s release back in 2015 made headlines with its high caliber animation quality and ultra comical character cast. The manga itself is also very popular. Ask anyone who’ve read the series will tell you that it’s more than just your usual battle shounen. Known for its top notch quality comedy and unorthodox storytelling, it’s a sensation. But this…second season is nothing short of a horror story. It’s the type of horror that scared me to realize how far
this anime has fallen. What did the second season go wrong?
Well for starters, there’s the change in the staff. Director Shingo Natsume left this season and responsibilities were handed to Chikara Sakurai. One of their previous project was Majimoji Rurumo, a show that probably most people has forgotten by now. One Punch Man has already established itself beyond the anime medium and with a growing popularity, it tries to aim higher. However, fans coming into this season shouldn’t have any high expectations especially if we take a look at the promotional material. While the key visual doesn’t turn heads away, the preview will. With the J.C. Staff in charge of this sequel, this raised a lot of red flags. In respect, the animation quality severely suffers in quality. Rather than a sharp, crisp quality animation with stylish aesthetics, we get static-like power point slides. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit but this second season’s quality is easy to point fingers to. Unfortunately, it seems J.C. Staff couldn’t handle the job of making this into a sensation again. They already have their hands full with a lot of projects this year after all.
Storytelling itself doesn’t improve much either if we talk about the main plot. Again, I really wish I could say the opposite but this sequel proves itself to be a tragedy. From the rushing of certain content to underwhelming delivery of some of the important fights, I felt no impact from this season at all. Zero. Early on the in season, we also meet Fubuki (Blizzard) who leads the B-Class hero group. At first, I was ecstatic to finally see her gain some relevance. However, the fight between her and Saitama passed like a flash. There’s almost no charisma besides Saitama’s heroic speech and attitude. Even on a comedy level, it didn't draw much popcorn entertainment. Similarly, many of the dialogues this season sounds very scripted. As a manga reader, I wanted to see much more than characters speaking their lines. What I got instead is just words and words coming out in a desaturated manner. Saitama is still the bald caped hero with unstoppable power. The first season captured the magic of his character while this sequel didn’t move the needle. What I mean is Saitama’s fight against adversaries this season isn’t even near the caliber as the previous season.
But it’s not always fair to compare the previous season with this continuation, right? Truth to be told, season 1 did set the bar high. Known for its visual dynamics and ONE’s creative writing, One Punch Man has always done all it could to be its own special series. Here, it’s lost the fire. People made memes out of One Punch Man because it was comically entertaining in a genuine way. Here, there’s worthy made besides weak impressions. Even the hero hunter Garou didn’t make much of an impact. As a foil character to Saitama, I expected his personality to be a bright flair. However, Garou ended up being someone that I forgot easily. Perhaps it’s because the overall directing of the show as several events takes place at once this season. There’s the fighting tournament involving various heroes, the invasion of the monsters, and Saitama living his day as usual as a hero. The joke of being one punched is far over after we’ve seen it so many times. The monsters themselves are hardly worth writing home about. To be honest, does any antagonist this season even contain an ounce of charisma compared to Boros? That fight from season 1 was legendary.
On the hero side, we do have some characters making reappearances. Names like Genos, Metal Bat, and Tatsumaki are a few I’m sure fans remember. Unfortunately, their roles this season has degenerated to little value. New faces like Suiryu brings in some excitement although he can hardly carry this season. In fact, the Super Fight Tournament arc felt like one big talent show of weirdos gathering together. I didn’t feel the stakes were impactful nor did the results feel satisfying. I mean, the show is One Punch Man. Who else is going to dominate this tournament?
Oh how the mighty of fallen is the easiest way to describe One Punch Man Season 2. The first season was a juggernaut that exceeded expectations. Fans still embrace what became a blockbuster. It’s 2019 now and we’ll have people talking again One Punch Man again. Unfortunately, people will quote more from the manga than recommending this sequel. Trust me, One Punch Man Second Season is a mistake. A grave mistake.
The second season of One Punch Man is a miserable fall from grace, with a quadruple whammy of circumstances contextualizing the gravity of the show’s failures. It’s a sequel to one of the most well-animated mainstream anime of all time, released over 3 years later. On top of that, this franchise’s counterpart, Mob Psycho 100, got adapted for a second season that practically pushed the boundaries of current TV anime 3 months before this season came out. Combined with the awful feel and presentation of this new season, that set of circumstances becomes the world’s nastiest measuring stick.
Sadly, the inability to live up to any decent set of expectations isn’t unexpected when you look at all the writing on the wall. The stiff and barely animated trailers, the off artwork, and the fact that production switched over to J.C. Staff all should have told you this was doomed to fail. The worst part is I can’t even blame the people involved, as they simply didn’t have the time, physical capacity, or resources to pull together an acceptable product. It’s a cruel joke, and a herculean task for director Chikara Sakurai and team to be burdened with.
This isn’t to say that that this season would have been great if Madhouse or the original team took over. Boogiepop 2019 was animated by the same team and studio as One Punch Man Season 1 and it didn’t look that good. It was plagued with terrible artwork and redesigns, and a sheer lack of the atmosphere that both its source material and the 2000 anime bathed in, thanks to the removal of the rustic color palette for a generic one. Madhouse also animated the Overlord anime trilogy, which is littered with repulsive CGI and artwork that I’m not a fan of. The two shows they produced this season are a powerpoint presentation baseball anime and a show no one likes that apparently also suffers from hideous CGI, so it’s safe to say there’s no way they’d fix this on a visual level. Maybe the color palette wouldn’t be so unpleasant but that’s about it. Hell, I’m not even sure that studio could fix how drab this season feels, since everything feels so floaty, awkward, and self-serious. The jokes, the excessive monologuing, the terrible attempts at emotional beats, and the mind-shattering attempts at retroactively downplaying the threat of the first season’s climax are all downright surreal.
When it comes to the jokes, there’s none of the exaggeration or punchy energy to them that was present in season 1, and the lack of comedic facial expressions only adds to how limp and awkward the delivery is this season. The deadpan humor is also weakened by the stumbling, borderline lifeless presentation. I can honestly count on one hand the number of times I even chuckled in any given episode, barring maybe episode 3. On top of that, despite Saitama still one-punching overconfident bad guys in this season --i.e the main gimmick/punchline of the first season-- we don’t get to see him OHKO anyone on-screen even once until the finale. Perhaps they thought saving it up for a grand climax was a good idea, but all things considered, it’s just not worth it.
Getting back to the other issues at hand, one of the strangest criticisms I’ve ever had to lay out is that moments that seem to have happened simultaneously like the encounter between Genos and Speed-o’-Sound Sonic and the encounter between Saitama and Fubuki in episode 2 turn out to not happen simultaneously. This isn’t the first time that time becomes a liability in the show but detailing the other instance in the second half would get into some head-scratching spoilers. Another strange issue is how some episodes just end abruptly, as if they had no idea where and how to stop an episode. For a more traditional complaint, the pacing in this show is abysmal. Once the main arc of the season kicks in around episode 3, the pacing slows down to a crawl for several episodes before blitzing through everything in episode 7. The weirdest part about this is how apparently this adaptation has been burning through chapters like Sonic speeds through stages, making the sense of fatigue and whiplash all the more dizzying. No matter what, things just happen with no time to really establish anything or allow the audience to breathe and let things sink in. This, along with lifeless direction and lackluster character writing, makes it so there’s almost never any weight or impact to the big and intense moments that permeate the bulk of the season, adding to the vicious cycle of everything and nothing happening as events simply cycle through one another for no apparent reason. It’s issues like this that remind me why even in season 1, OPM was never good at being a serious narrative, let alone shuffling between parody and serious shounen.
That said, the overarching narrative of this season isn’t necessarily bad on its own. In theory, showing how the hero organization is now yet another corporation that cares more about the safety of its executives than those who work for them, and how it, Suiryu, and Garou are all foils to the heroic traits Saitama values and finds fun in, are good ideas. On top of that, the narrative genuinely gets interesting towards the last leg of the show. It’s just that everything gets tremendously bogged down by terrible presentation, hollow characterization (which we’ll get to), and a sense that vital moments are actively missing from otherwise solid character arcs and plotlines. Even worse, this season’s bloated, badly paced, and watered-down arc is all setup for a third season, so all of that arc fatigue meant nothing.
Speaking of nothing, there’s the gigantic cast of characters for this season. The characters all feel stale, including Saitama, the most entertaining character from the first season. He’s no longer this disgruntled guy who wants some respect for the hard work he put into his fun superhero craft, nor is he someone constantly wishing to fight someone strong because he hates how he can just one-shot everyone. The first scene of episode 1 tries to pretend that he still deals with the former issue, but make it past that and you’ll see that’s not the case. As for the latter problem, it’s no longer this drive that’s been eating away at him due to how disappointed he is all the time. Instead, he just casually wants stronger opponents, so he enters a tournament of martial artists, where he meets a foil of his now watered-down need to fight strong opponents. They don’t justify any of this either, so it creates this disconnect between season 1 Saitama and season 2 Saitama. They try diving back into the issue in episode 9, but they should have further demonstrated how empty he was feeling beforehand, as this episode cements that he’s not just bored, he’s practically lost and depressed. It feels like prior to tackling this issue, they wanted to give Saitama a flat arc, where people grow around him. They didn’t do a good job, for reasons mentioned prior. Another reason this doesn’t work is that the rest of the characters are incredibly one-note and eager to monologue about their baggage at the drop of a hat. Several of these monologues are intrusive and redundant as well, so the sheer abundance of them becomes grating, especially early on when they’re at their most prevalent. You know it’s bad when the one-off heroes and villains have more personality and presence to them than important side characters like King and Fubuki. Secondary and tertiary characters were never one of season 1’s strengths, but this is just lousy!
We do at least have a somewhat entertaining villain, that being Garou. However, when everything around him is so dull and when the action and presentation is as bad as it is, his intimidation and fun factor are somewhat diminished. Additionally, despite him actively going out of his way to kill both heroes and villains in his first scene and siding with the monsters who kill heroes and everyone else alike, he doesn’t kill anyone in subsequent fights. They don’t even try to justify this inconsistency. He does have some decent scenes and he does work as a warped foil of everything Saitama stands for, so despite the glaring inconsistency mentioned earlier, he’s still the best character in this show full of lifeless side characters for whatever that’s worth. On top of that, his arc to become stronger is probably the only compelling piece of writing in the show. He’s not the only foil for Saitama, as Suiryu from the god-awful tournament arc is like a more selfish, less dangerous version of him. His main difference is that he wants an easy life with his strength, and we actually see a decent arc come from him halfway into the series. The show gets to a point where I sometimes almost root for him and Garou because almost everyone else in this show is so unlikable. Practically everyone in this show is either a blank sheet or a total prick, sometimes both! Apart from a few side characters in episode 11, the only notable exception is Metal Bat, and that’s literally because of one scene at a sushi bar with like two funny jokes. Yes, they wanna show that heroes aren’t all morally sound because Garou has to have a point, but that doesn’t mean we need Saitama’s foils to be the only ones with any layered writing behind them. One last issue regarding characters is that even the world around them has none of the vibrancy and personality than in season 1. None of the one-offs are as funny or vivid as the disgruntled alien crew from the end of season 1. What a shame.
Another positive aspect of the first season was the music. The OP was a thrill ride and the admittedly overplayed OST was filled with incredibly memorable tracks that accentuated the hype and emotionally satisfying feel the show aimed for. None of these return for this second season (barring that one time they remixed one of the OG season’s tracks in episode 5), and in their place lies a bunch of boring background tracks (save for one or two of them) and a mediocre opening that doesn’t even remotely capture any of the excitement or aggressiveness it shoots for. The visuals are somehow even more lifeless in the OP than in the show too, which almost never happens. The ED is also grating to listen to thanks to the vocals, and it’s even worse than season 1’s lackluster ED. The part that stings the most is that the composer for this season was Makoto Miyazaki, the same guy who did the last season’s music. What happened?
Above all else, this show’s most controversial aspect is its visuals. By the standards of season one, the standards of the manga, the standards of both seasons of the franchise’s counterpart Mob Psycho 100, the standards of an action anime, and even anime in general, the visuals of One Punch Man Season 2 are terrible. There’s about as little animation as your current non-action seasonal or a long-running slideshow like Yugioh Duel Monsters, and almost no visual flair to compensate, with loads of panning shots, and badly edited quick cuts which make some of the fight scenes simultaneously as unstimulating as the rest of the show, and more incomprehensible than the most badly edited fight scenes from SAO and Fate/Apocrypha. Episode 7’s fights are the worst by far, with constant character model mishaps, extreme usage of bad, looping ghosting afterimages to simulate characters attacking rapidly, frame rate-killing camera movements, and CGI objects that also kill the frame rate. Even the best fights are barely above your average Fairy Tail GIF-fests, and your average fight in this show is just that but undetailed and incomplete. There are occasional, freakish drawing mishaps even outside of the fight scenes, such as the sequence where Saitama’s head is shaped like a lightbulb during a camera rotation in episode 1, or the entirety of Saitama’s conversation with King in episode 9. That alone is inexcusable, especially when this anime is 90% panning shots filled with stock assets as is! It’s even worse here where the artwork tends to be incredibly rough and badly drawn, especially with the characters’ faces and the close-up shots with inconsistent outlining, especially in episode 1. Practically every episode has a unique, outstandingly awful visual blunder to notice, and the few well-animated cuts in the show, primarily towards the final third of the series, can’t make up for that.
The strange charcoal coloring of Genos’s metal frame doesn’t even feel like it fits with the rest of the drawing of the character, and not only is it inconsistent with his season 1 frame, it constantly changes from scene to scene in the first two episodes with no rhyme or reason. As of episode 3, it seems like they’ve settled on what he should look like again before changing it one more time in another repair late into the second half, but that should have been done in the character design phase, not after production of certain episodes has ended. You can’t use the excuse of him getting all those repairs and new parts since he did the same in season 1 while looking consistent. The show doesn’t justify this itself, so neither should you. Back to the issue of charcoal-esque metal feeling out of place on the characters they’re attached to, as it applies to another returning character, Speed-o’-Sound Sonic, and other pieces of metal like Metal Bat’s...bat. This raises another issue with the show as a whole: the coloring in this season feels off. This season has a darker and more off-putting color palette than before, and along with some of the colors they used, it makes the show generally awkward and strangely bleak to look at. Even if the show somehow was animated beautifully, the color palette alone makes this show aesthetically displeasing to me. It’s a shame considering how good the returning character designs are, since now they just look off, regardless of if they’re on-model or not. Still, along with the interiors and entire buildings comprised of terrible CG assets, all of these issues make it so there can almost never be a scene that genuinely feels great to look at. Even the incredibly few moments of fluid animation suffer from most of these issues.
This isn’t even a question of failing to live up to the stellar animation quality and overall visuals of the first season; this is a case of visuals that are just plain bad. It doesn’t take an animation snob to look at this and go “wow this looks wrong” or “this feels off”. No one should be grateful that a studio forced a bunch of overworked, under-scheduled staff members --including a director with almost no prior directorial experience-- to make this show. It’s not a gift, it’s a product, and a badly produced one at that. The production is so bad that the proofreader for this review had an absolute ball with the visuals, often pointing out several awful aspects and moments even I didn’t even notice. Sure, it’s no Berserk 2016/17 or Hand Shakers franchise, but that doesn’t mean we should bend over backwards just because this is a continuation of a show most of us like. As much as it hurts to say, I’m glad that this hate train started simply because it shows that even despite the pushback against this movement, we can still put our foot down on what is and isn’t an acceptable product. It shouldn’t take 3 episodes for us to see a fight with acceptable animation quality or a single cool shot, nor should it take until episode 9 for them to even attempt any interesting techniques. It also shouldn’t need up to 5 animation directors working on an episode like with episodes 2 (or 15 in the case of episode 8). That just proves this show was poorly managed, badly scheduled, and doomed to fail.
This really is the anime equivalent to Anthem and Mass Effect: Andromeda, isn’t it?
The second season of One Punch Man is the end product of mismanagement and production issues emblematic of the dismal state of the industry. This show was practically destined to fail when given to a studio that’s been spreading their teams thin through 2-5+ projects a season and having well-documented scheduling issues for the past 3 years. I can’t imagine what the team must have gone through, trying their damndest to live up to the show’s monumental expectations with such little time, staffing, or resources. It’s crushing to think that when OPM 1 came out 3 years ago, people jumped on the hype train, and now with season 2, people are jumping on the hate train. Hell, as someone who only kind of liked season 1, that’s the main reason I watched this season. While the first season functioned as the fun blockbuster anime it wanted to be, this second season was unable to truly be what it wanted to be. Honestly, it’s more depressing than hateful, and it didn’t have to be this way. That’s the anime industry for you, where blood, sweat, and tears are soaked up by cash that get put into the next season’s 5 isekai shows. One Punch Man 2 is a casualty of the industry we’re encouraged to support, and the worst part is people are ok with this.
Written and edited by: CodeBlazeFate
Proofread by: Peregrine
It's not a very hard task to tolerate with low production values, but when the heart and soul of a beloved franchise gets destroyed by directing that completely misses the point of the series, it becomes near impossible to overlook the massive amount of problems we have at hand. Welcome to the 2nd season of One Punch Man, sequel which inferiority is beyond comparison, show which is not only terrible but an absolute disgrace towards its fans. This is simply not acceptable.
This review will cover 3 main points explaining why I personally found this series to be complete bollocks. These are 1) Comedy 2)
Directing, and 3) Art.
1) The comedy doesn't deliver due to poor comedic timing. It's a hollow, near dead version of what it used to be. Scenes end before they reach their climax. Nothing shines or stands above the rest. The content is never pushed to its limit or even tried to. There is no pinnacle to be found as the show is flat like the chest of those countless loli tsunderes J.C. Staff is most famous for. It's like the entire thing has been made without any vision, possibly by someone who never thought there was anything fun about this series to begin with.
Season 1 played around with its comedy, waited for the right moment and even pushed the overall comedic resolution to its utmost limit. It was the type of content that constantly showed respect to its audience, and this was done to an extent that made it very easy to respect it back. After all, making a series about a dude who -- most of the time -- wins everything with a one punch is a risky move which could only ever work if there's a perfect harmony and the strongest merits are polished. And that was done and achieved. With this 2nd season, the presentation is bad, the execution is worse, and its overall form is, at best, like a parody of its predecessor; The punch is still there, but it doesn't have any impact.
2) Immersion is the key, and it's best achieved by atmosphere because with atmosphere comes awe, and awe is something that limits disbelief and gives us the basis that is needed to forgive all sort of flaws, problems and questionable choices any series contains and does. Experiencing the gar-like awe this series is famous for and getting into the show at all has been hard, if not impossible. Action comedy series (and visual comedy alike) tend to be on par with blockbuster action by default. They in generally are build around empty and soulless ideas that don't have much good things going on. This weakness needs to be countered to create this so called "genuine entertainment" that has minimum amount of annoying problems that ruin the fun. This is typically done with written details (such as oneliners or unique characteristics), audio directing, and visual execution that solely exist to make the series seem better than it would otherwise be. I.e. value is placed on details to carry the otherwise lacking content. This job is what the director is supposed to do. But OPM S2 did nothing to fight against its own flaws, rather, it only created more of them, poisoning its own core.
Audio choices, audio directing and directing itself are some of the most important things when it comes to turning mediocrities into something outstanding. But it isn't there. Rather than playing around with the mood and teasing the audience by making us wait -- or alternatively doing the opposite by throwing in some ridiculously energetic beats -- the series is more like "let's get this over with" and then they do. End of story. It promises to reward the viewer but never does. No real value is given to any scene or moment with the comedy (like mentioned earlier) and the same thing applies with the story board, the action scenes, the visuals, and music choices and seiyuu work. To get completely serious here, nearly every scene could be used as a material for Every Frame a Painting videos as an example of the unpreferred way to do shit.
Perhaps the best example of all of this are the first 8,5 minutes of episode 09 which are so poorly made I doubt anyone who gets into film school, but hasn't even taken any lectures yet could manage to do worse job even if they tried to. Heck, I doubt there are even many graduates who could purposely achieve this level of awful. Pay attention to the lackluster sound mixing, monotonous voice acting, the near complete absence of SFX and note the music choice that would be tagged as (mellow piano) in hearing impaired subs. Perfect mood for a scene where some incredibly socially awkward dude tries to kiss his crush with whom he has never spoken with, right? Guess again! It's the most badass fight scene in the first half of this arc! And this is only the audio we're speaking of. What the actual krukk? Talk about failed delivery. Life of an art house visionary, I tell you. This can hardly be called "directing", rather, it seems like a serial production process for products that should've been buried deep under ground and sealed away in cement. Tho a better example of how awful the SFX is is a fight scene from episode 11 where the sounds of landing punches were most likely created by someone repeatedly hitting church organs with a wet sock.
3) Art. When we asked for "loyal adaptation", no one meant "keep the webcomic art as it is", but that's all we've got. MadHouse's art and animation cannot be overhyped. One Punch Man is the single best animated action anime that has yet been made, one may disagree but not change my mind. I saw it 4 times, own it on blu-ray and it looks glorious, visually one of the best things that are called anime, especially when looking into modern productions. Season 2 is a generic J.C. Staff production where still artwork flows around the screen, cheap effects and camera tricks are trying to create the illusion of animation and movement; Even the most basic scenes are done with voice-over narration to ensure there is no need to even animate mouth movements; If there is a way to save money and time, it's chosen every single time; Character models are only few steps away from sanic-tier, purposely terribly drawn memes; The color pallet is not only bland, but inconsistent to a point that the episodes could have as well been made by completely different teams who never shared any data between each other. Just compare the colors of episodes 3 and 4. Let me repeat what was said in the opening paragraph: low production can be forgiven, but One Punch Man 2nd Season's production is a heartless piece of industrial waste, anime that has not known love or passion.
What J.C. Staff is doing here is despicable as it's making their creation seem like an attempt to use this entire medium as an investment platform. Minimum effort and risk to ensure profit. The ultimate safety route. "We missed out Bitcoin so let's see if this can cash us some." I guess that's why they couldn't even color metals properly since those aren't gold or silver. This is the furthest from a work of passion, driven by creed alone. Saitama is not "ok" anymore like in the meme, rather, it's a full turn around with a K.O. (sorry, I just had to put this here somewhere)
When series comes with such obvious and serious issues, I don't think there is any real reason to go in depth with the story and characters because OPM S02 is fundamentally so broken that no amount of pros falling under these categories could fix it. I will only talk about them briefly. Keep in mind that the technical aspects of the show lessen the entertainment value of its story and characters -- and ultimately they are just an inferior version of the re-drawn manga, which I personally recommend reading instead of watching this anime -- but since they are a part of this anime and not an entity that can be completely taken out of context, and considering this review is not aimed for the manga, you will face criticism that is only relevant to the anime. + This anime is not 100% loyal to canon anyway.
The story type changes during this season. The monster of the week formula is put in the background when new type of elements and side-plots are expanding the verse and moving the main focus from Saitama to other characters. At first, the series seems to be quite lost when the storyboard is all over the place, introducing characters at episodic speed and following wide range of different pov's in each, offering fights that don't seem to have real substantial value and showing monsters that are partially making the entire idea for the series seem old and outdated. It takes over half of the entire run time before the story finally tightens up, the supposed build-up phase concludes and the filler-ish feel of the past events start seem significant. Most of this run time is used to make the viewer understand the characters better and see what type of people they are, the actual means used to achieve all of this being secondary. Despite everything there is to criticize, the characters are not a missed shot. Fubuki is strengthening her role as the best girl for anime only watchers, King especially is portrayed to be an actual real human, and Garou "The Hero Hunter" is shown to be an actually very well-thought out villain. With mild issues in the storyboard (and major in their execution, of course), the story knows where it is headed and majorly improves towards the end. From these departments, the series seems bearable even under its massive problems listed above. There definitely was room for improvement from these departments, too, but even so, at least they managed to make watching this series more tolerable.
One Punch Man is the second series from the 2010s that I have witnessed since Attack on Titan that became a crossover hit with many anime fans and the mainstream. The memes and parodies featuring its dopey, bald star were in every corner of the internet and soon became one of the most popular franchises in 2015. A second season was soon announced, but in 2017, an announcement was made that had the effect of nails on a chalkboard. Because why change something that isn't broken? The series changed production houses entirely, delaying the release. Fast forward to 2019 and the man donning the colors
of Hulk Hogan—the yellow-and-red-clad hero has returned to our screens and is packing more power than season 1.
So, let’s get the 'obvious' out of the way. The production of season 2. J.C. Staff (which turned out to be perfect) has taken over the reins from Madhouse, and also directors saw a change, from Shingo Natsume to Chikara Sakurai. Many One Punch Man fans are rejoicing that the visuals are just as spectacular, if not, even better, and it’s understandable since the 2019 version delivered one of the most sakuga-rich anime experiences of the decade, just like season 1 did. The art style is more refined, the animation feels a lot smoother and crisp, the cinematography, in general, seems to have turned up a notch. One word: Dedication. The production team effort is very visible and you can see how many hours were put into this season. All the battle sequences are stunning thanks to the amazing choreography, the sound design is gorgeous, shot-composition perfectly tells the story where you could mute the volume and still understand the story, the characters motivations, their relationships, and feelings.
Basically, One Punch Man delivers a knockout when it comes to art, animation, and sound. As for the story? Well, this is where it takes things to the next level. But, first and foremost, action and comedy drive One Punch Man, and the series is able to emphasize the best of both when combining them. Saitama’s search for an enjoyable fight lampoons superheroes feats of valor. It’s not a story about an unbeatable hero meeting his match and surpassing it, but rather decking hulking, homicidal maniacs and still searching for more. Though he is played off as a simple person, the layers to his motivation are interesting as his craving for an opponent is almost maniacal. One Punch Man has the thematic depth and really complex character dynamics, which shows ONE’s prowess as a writer. This series is a mirror held up to the malaise of Japan’s disaffected, dissatisfied and disinterested young adult generation. It forms a sort of bookend with “Boku no Hero Academia” as manga takes on the American superhero genre, but this always struck me as the more innately Japanese in approach.
We also get plenty of new characters, but one in particular, Garou. He is a big part of what separates this season from the previous. What really makes him stand out is that in this season full of transparent motives and disinterested slackers, he’s actually passionate about something. He’s a child, no doubt, but his self-belief and work ethic can’t be questioned. As misguided as his drive for monster-dom is, there’s a kind of purity to it. Garou is weird, kind of twisted, and interesting. One of the things that makes him someone you can get behind in a fantastical series like this is that he’s genuinely strong—probably at the top level of A, with the potential to jump to S-class. Also, he never backs down for a fight or bitches about the odds—he takes on anyone, and even any group all at once. He is the perfect foil to Saitama and adds a lot more depth to the story. Still, as with Stain, knowing the character is in the wrong doesn’t mean you can’t empathize with them, and so it is with Garou.
He’s saved hero kid more than once; he disgustedly rebuffs the advances of the Monster Association. He’s not a monster himself in either the literal or figurative sense—just a seriously fucked-up dude with a twisted worldview. But there’s something in there worth saving, and a power that if channeled for good could be of huge value to the heroes in a figurative sense. And that makes him an amazing character too much the greatness of Saitama and give the story more depth. In addition, we have more from characters such as King, Metal Bat, Blizzard (best waifu) and a new character-Suiryu. Saitama and Genos are still a hilarious combo, and the world retains its goofy tone. Calm and collected, Garou is far from another one-note abomination for Saitama to steamroll over, and a growing band of allies promises and delivers a satisfying season arc. The comedy is just the best. A classic ONE gag is when Pri Pri Prisoner went up against a porcupine monster holding a “free hug” sign.
Then you have Saitama’s interactions with King and Suiryu, the Martial Arts tournament, the dynamics between Blizzard and her sister Tornado, even Garou conversations with the hero kid. All punches thrown with weight behind it and successfully hitting its target. The comedic timing remains impeccable, the visuals gags are as funny and meme-worthy as ever. It is just a masterful sequel on every level. And of course, the main killer joke of One Punch Man never wears thin! Saitama one shotting every monster remains as hilarious as ever. Make no mistake, the praise is deserved—ONE’s writing is excellent, and the amazing J.C. Staff have proven once again that everything they touch, turns to gold. They have done a stellar job of adapting it (and Murata’s art style). It was beautifully animated throughout with battles feeling like I was watching vintage Gainax. Take the episode where that wonderfully animated colossal centipede was wreaking havoc as an example.
Season 1 of One Punch Man was a true mega-hit, but season 2 is a monster that solidifies this show as a generational classic. No question it’s a gorgeously produced piece of work from J.C. Staff, and it’s the funniest show of the season. But it’s also deceptively smart and deceptively subversive, setting its sights both on the superhero genre and on the malaise gripping the young in today’s Japan. It is one of these shows that can be enjoyed perfectly well on a superficial level, as the funny and epic thrill-ride it is, but if one chooses to embrace the social satire this show elevates to another level altogether. It speaks to many kinds of fans on many levels and comes at the audience from a very smart and intellectually challenging place. This is the kind of shounen and the kind of hero fiction that can cross demographic and cultural lines and international borders and connect with the masses—this is perfection. Thank you J.C. Staff!