The second season of Kekkai Sensen is more of the same show from 2015. If you liked the first season, you will probably like this one as well. If you did not like the first season, chances are high your opinion will not change. Style over substance - the anime.
STORY: Bizarre, aimless and minimalistic.
Kekkai Sensen & Beyond is a simple case of the week show. There is no overarching plotline, 1.5 episodes of overall story progression is a major letdown. Each episode is concatenation of bizarre events mixed with introduction of Libra members, who did not get attention in the first season. Those small and
isolated stories are random to a degree, that you could think anything can happen in this city. In the process the show cannot establish its internal rules or boundaries for the world it is presenting and seems aimless. I mean if there are Vampires and Demons, why not highly advanced space bacteria?
There are numerous attempts to do humor, however most jokes, especially the physical ones, don't land; the whole ep 10 is one ongoing joke, which overstayed its welcome. The show tries to do meta humor with a lot of references of other shows: Inception ep 4, HxH ep 6 and more, however subpar writing transforms it in cheap rip-offs.
CHARACTERS: Wide as a sea, shallow as a puddle.
Kekkai Sensen & Beyond will often dedicate one whole episode to a character, and yet it somehow manages to tell almost nothing about the person in spotlight. Those episodes focus too much on the case and not the character, so that only one or two attributes can be added to a character description, leaving them paper thin. Afterwards their screen time will be reduced to nothing per episode.
There are not many occasions when the whole (or some) cast is in one room and bounces of each other in a snappy dialogue, a setting I would like to see because it actually advances characters and shows relationships. Zapp and Chain got their moments, sadly those are rare and far between.
I don’t remember Leo being this annoying in the first season. He is still a damsel in distress, but now he is mostly targeted by random thugs for his pocket money and not some higher beings for his God’s eyes.
But Sonic is still the best and steals the spotlight in every frame.
ART & ANIMATION: All that glitter is not gold.
Backgrounds are detailed and character models are appealing, although the later ones will be off model from time to time.
The animation of action scenes is somewhat sparse. Those will often consist of stylish freeze frames, most notably in ep 2 or 6. However, from time to time the viewer is spoiled with beautiful sakuga, like in ep 5. All in all, Kekkai Sensen & Beyond draws attention with its high production values, but cannot deliver consistently high quality visuals.
MUSIC: Some big shoes to fill.
The first season had very memorably music, especially the end theme, so that reaching the same quality was a very difficult task. Background music and original voice acting are still amazing.
Watching some over the top action anime these days can really fill anyone with a dose of popcorn entertainment. There’s popular Marvel based movies coming out each year, book adaptations that turned into cultural influence, and iconic Hollywood stars that made history in the film industry. Then, there was Kekkai Sensen. Remember Spring 2015? Among the many action based shows, Kekkai Sensen stood out as a show that stylized action and violence to present a storyteller of supernatural gimmicks. Well guess what? Bones is back at it again and made sure that Kekkai Sensen is here to talk about for 2017.
I’m not going to lie.
Kekkai Sensen’s return didn’t come as a total surprise given the popularity of the manga in Japan. What started out as a one-shot by Yasuhiro Nighthow became a serialized manga and eventually turned into this animated action flick. Known for his work Trigun and Gungrave, Kekkai Sensen had to make a name for itself. It did just that through the incredibly addicting storytelling and characters. To make things even better, the franchise adapted Nighthow’s style of humor, the type that can hook anyone in with just how over the top it can be.
Titled as “Kekkai Sensen & Beyond”, the sequel starts off in the aftermath of the first season. Some time has passed and once again, we are introduced to the city of Hellsalem’s Lot. From the first few episodes, we see that Leo’s life is still as hectic as you can imagine. It doesn’t long at all for the sequel to get you into the mood again as the pilot episode reintroduces the humor of the franchise. Episode 2 also gives an insight on the backstory of Hellsalem’s Lot that is more than just an exposition. It’s told through meaningful dialogues and gives the viewers a better understanding of its world setting. Indeed, Kekkai Sensen’s world fiction is colorful and has always bought a fascination to me.
Now, here’s the curious part about Kekkai Sensen. Who is your favorite character? Maybe you like the typical main protagonist, Leo. Perhaps someone as crazy as Zapp is on your list to look out for. Or maybe, someone that was overlooked from season 1 like K.K or Gilbert? Thankfully, Kekkai Sensen & Beyond gets to work at bringing those characters to attention. The first season heavily focused on the core members of Libra. However, this sequel brings to light with storytelling about the other characters too. Some of the noticeable examples are Chain, Gilbert, K.K., and even Zed. It’s interesting to see what these characters do during their free time and honestly, it bought more interest to them. For instance, did you know that Chain and her fellow comrades (a member of the Invisible Werewolf) still had an old nemesis who wanted revenge? Ever curious about what K.K’s family life is like and relationship with her son? Or even, Zed. The man has been really an outcast but in this sequel, he gets a nice spotlight with is background storytelling. I can also confess that seeing Gilbert go beyond his duty as a combat butler was highly entertaining. It reminds me of the Gotham/Batman-style action that became iconic from American culture.
That being said, I can’t say the storytelling is always great at selling its plot. Some of the later episodes can be a bit tedious and even boring to watch. Two episodes in particular (as a 2-episode arc) in the latter half of the show gave me a weak impression. It focused on one of Leo’s friends (Riel) that I just couldn’t bring myself to enjoy watching. Not mention, Riel’s personality isn’t interesting to watch either despite the friendship he shares with Leo. In addition, it also felt inevitable that the sequel would bring back important characters from the first season. Leo’s sister Michella is a prime example. There have been several flashbacks throughout the sequel that shows how important she is to his life. It’s hard for me to say this but while it’s important to get to her character’s story, it doesn’t feel that impactful. Sure it’s important to see her again but did we really need two episodes to focus on her? I’ve only read parts of the manga so this came to me as more of letdown than as a blessing. Still, the series does maintain a decent pace mostly thanks to the character cast, stylistic episode adventures, and excessive humor.
Bones is back at it again and Hellsalem’s Lot is looking better than ever. Just like season 1, this sequel makes attention to detail as one of its highlights. The complexity of the cities, advanced technology of abnormal sci-fi elements, and the even everyday objects makes its mark. It really excels at making its world feel alive. Character designs still gives a sense of style to themselves and we also get to see the hardcore action that bought so much entertainment like the first season. Fan service is mostly presented through the action sequences as the characters showcase their unique powers. The key selling point is how they influence outcomes and interacting with certain situations. I also can’t stress this enough but when it comes to action, Kekkai Sensen knows how to hit the bull’s eye to give the viewers what it wants.
While I can’t say Kekkai Sensen & Beyond’s theme songs are as creative as the first season’s, it still gives a memorable impression to showcase the talent of the directors. What really drew my interest towards technical aspects of the show is the OST. The mixture of jazz, eerie, orchestral, and melancholic music really synchronizes well with each other.
After watching this show, it’s easy to say that Kekkai Sensen still has what it takes to deliver entertainment. It had the capability of expanding its plot even with episodic adventures while giving side characters their own stories. However, I will say that the sequel isn’t as impactful compared to the first season. At some point, you may feel like the show tried to showcase everything and has nothing more to offer. I had that feeling at some point especially in the final few episodes. Still, give the sequel a try. It’s a series celebrating the work of Yasuhiro Nighthow that opens the doors to fun.
I'll try and explain why this isn't a good sequel, at all. [Spoiler Free]
I'd just like to get it out of the way that I'm watching this hot off the heels of the first season, as I binged the first and second season in about a day. The details of which are still very fresh in my mind.
This is also the second season of Kekkai Sensen, so I'm assuming you're familiar with the story.
Why does Kekkai Sensen 2 fail as a sequel? To put it bluntly, it's because this season is much more episodic in nature.
In the first season, almost every episode leading up
to the finale had something to do with or laid down the subtext for the overarching plot of the story, which culminated in a satisfying, if a bit hollow ending. It was still episodic, but was also eluding to the bigger picture.
The second season has failed to do this mostly and has felt flatter and less engaging because of it.
This is a spoiler free review, but the plot point that ended up being the finale was the exact one I thought it was in my preliminary review, and was only mentioned a grand total of about two minutes before the final two episodes.
Every other episode just feels like exposition and world building that are just loosely strung together without any grounding in a plot structure.
That's why I feel like this fails as a sequel, it feels like a bunch of OVA episodes mashed together.
Except for the last two episodes, there is no plot in none of the 10 episodes. Some are just background of Libra members (4,6,7), others are nonsense ( 1,8,9) and some are rushed (2,3,10). The episodes 8 and 9 are the worst of the season. The episodic episodes feels like a bunch of OVA mixed together.
In this aspect the show in much better than the other options. The fights have very good animation and the colour is beautiful.
Besides the opening and the ending, i don't remember much of the soundrack.
Despite the show have episodes dedicated to Libra members, after that,
their presence feels nonexistent. Also they still are some Libra members that barely know anything. Leo is undeveloped until the last two episodes, he is just beaten all the time. Klaus feels more a background character in most episodes unlike the first season. Zapp have less screen. Steven in the only character in this season that was well treated.
The villains: all are generic, boring and are the same just with different designs. The Blood Breed of episode 10 and the villain of the last two episodes are the only with personality in the entire season. They are so bad written that i just remember the villains of the first season. Aligura and Femt barely appears despite being in the opening.
I don't like most of the episodes. Nearly all the episodes are just the same: some generic villain do something against a Libra member → characters try to finding them or do something to defeat them→ explosions everywhere and the generic villain is defeated. Even in the background episodes this happens.
I don't like this season. Despite the first season was average (5/10), this season feels more chaotic and a wasted of time in most of the 10 episodes. This season handled very bad the villains and forget Femt and Aligura. Only for the animation and the last two episodes, my score for Kekkai Sensen & Beyond is 4/10.