One-Punch Man 2nd Season – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Saitama only became a hero for fun, but after three years of “special” training, he finds that he can beat even the mightiest opponents with a single punch. Though he faces new enemies every day, it turns out being devastatingly powerful is actually kind of a bore. Can a hero be too strong? (Official Hulu Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: As someone who isn’t a huge animation buff, I’d like to start by saying that while this new season is no eyesore, you will most likely notice that there’s been a switch in studios between seasons. Certain scenes and still shots often look a bit bland, lacking the flash and eye catching flair of One-Punch Man’s first outing. Whether it’s the colours or the art itself, there’s this slight feeling that things don’t look quite right. The good news is if like me, you’re not eagle-eyed, you should still be able to enjoy this new season but you will have quick moments here and there where you’ll find yourself feeling something amiss.
Tom: Madhouse, responsible for the power house visuals that put Season 1 on the map, has been switched out for J.C. Staff, a studio not exactly known for tremendous quality. But it’s not just that though, the staff behind One-Punch Man’s 1st season was quite an assortment of talent, and J.C. Staff hasn’t been able to amass that same level of incredible skill. Keen eyes will notice frequent sequences with minimal movement, or slight off-model visuals during Genos’ big fight that makes up the majority of this episode’s ‘eye-popping’ content. Even the opening credits sequence leaves much to be desired, consisting mostly of static images. It’s not to say One-Punch Man Season 2 is ugly, but it’s a massive step down in terms of the visual feats Season 1 became known for.
Linny: Season 2 kicks things off by having a big reveal between Saitama and King, the top hero, but the rest of the episode feels somewhat slow even though we get a fight between Genos and a super powered robot. The episode sets up and alludes to upcoming, big events on the horizon with appearances from various characters but all of it feels like a slow and languid build up rather than an explosive and energetic return. Genos’ battle feels insignificant thanks to a somewhat generic villain and the middling animation. The comedic moments in the episode don’t feel like laugh out loud moments either but rather just a rehash of jokes from last season, such as King’s love of dating sim games. This return to the series seems to be missing the humour and the energy One-Punch Man is so beloved for.
Tom: Even with the step-down in animation, One-Punch Man is still fun. Saitama brings the comedy you’d expect from him, and the action generally works, even if the framing is tighter so there’s less to animate. But what anime only fans need to know is that the further we get into One-Punch Man the less it works as a parody of typical shonen/super hero fodder. The series gradually becomes the very thing it parodies, for all the good and bad that entails. It’s still a fun series, but ultimately feels like a step down from all the content presented in that first season. But if you’ve become thoroughly absorbed in Saitama’s quest for a worthy opponent, or the talk of a world ending threat on the horizon, it’s still well worth following through this Spring.
Linny: What made this episode feel truly mundane for me is the big reveal that Saitama was the hero who saved King the first time he was ever injured and involved in a showdown with a monster. It feels like a strong sign to me that as Tom mentioned, One-Punch Man is actively falling into the very tropes it was mocking. What started out as a hilarious parody of Shonen tropes is now showcasing the same cliches. As someone who loved the series for its unique take on all that, this was a disheartening realization. If you love One-Punch Man for its ridiculous action and you can handle the change in animation, there might be still plenty to love this new season. This premiere episode promises big action and crazy developments, but for anyone hoping the series continued to shatter tropes and cliches, brace for disappointment.
One-Punch Man Season 2 is available for streaming via Hulu.