*Mild Spoilers for One Punch Man Second Season*
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 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
Sweet justice. Everything I wrote in my review about the first season came out true. Everybody hates the second season because the animation is average, although the same people were telling me it’s not the animation that made the first season so funny.
Also the one joke that kept repeating over and over again about Saitama beating everyone instantly became as boring as I was saying since day 1. The mangaka realized it and used it as sparsely as he could. But since that was the only defining feature of the main character, that also meant he had to be absent for most of the show. In his place a hundred other heroes and monsters get introduced, and take up most of the screentime. Just like before, besides a couple of them the rest don’t matter in the least and are just there to waste your time with pointless battles that nobody can enjoy because they are lazily animated. Imagine how frustrating it is to keep waiting for dozens of worthless characters to stop talking or fighting just so you can finally go back to seeing Saitama doing… nothing. He wastes the whole show in playing videogames or beating up nobodies in a tournament.
The star of the season is Garo, a crazy dude who goes around beating heroes because he wants to see the monsters win for a change. But as soon as the monsters invite him to his organization he refuses to join because his motives make as much sense as this whole show. But don’t expect him to do something significant throughout the season, since Saitama still kicks the crap out of him with a finger. And don’t expect the monster association to do something cool either, since the season ends in the middle of nowhere.
As a whole, the second season became the very thing the first season was making fun of: a generic and forgettable fighting shonen with average animation, hundreds of needless extra characters, an underdog protagonist (Garo), and a sense of hollowness since nothing seems to matter. The first season was a repeated joke on Saitama’s boredom despite being the strongest in the universe. Now it has none of that. Saitama just plays videogames and acts like a lunatic when he loses, despite finally getting the challenge he was looking for since day 1. There is nothing motivational, or relatable, or funny about him anymore.
And the animation sucks. That is the most important part! That is why the season sucks and not because it’s now a generic fighting shonen like the ones it was making fun of! If the animation was amazing, it would surely be equally as good! Stay classy, anime community.
I was really hyped for the next season OPM a i can say i didnt quite met my expectations. I had a problem with a Saitamas time screen, because it felt like i didnt watch a one punch man but a couple of interesting and much weaker heroes. First season was more focused on Saitama and Genos and i dont really dont know why it isnt in this season too, because their characters are written brilliantly.
In the first epizodes i didnt realized the animation changed, however i noticed in the fight scenes and i could say it look pretty diferent and much more tacky. 8/10
This season of One-Punch Man is a 6 out of 10 at best mostly because of the animation company. This season has a lack of effort put behind it the company of season one decided to work on Mob Psycho 100 season 2 instead if there is a season three coming they should work on Mob Psycho 100 and OPM equally and actually put an effort the animation and such.
Well, just got finished watching Season 2. It was a mixed bag so to speak. The story was all over the place. One was Saitama entering a martial arts tournament upon hearing about a hero getting beaten by the Hero Killer Garou, so that piqued his interest. Then there's Fubuki who felt insecure in regards to her older sister Tatsumaki. The Monster Association plays a crucial role in the season such as by taking a hostage or later taking an interest in Garou. There wasn't a consistent flow in the direction of the season. Then there was the 12th episode which amounted to an underwhelming finale.
Due to the changing of animation studios, the animation was also mediocre. Unlike the first season, the animation here lacks fluidity. It looks lazy even. The fights also felt lacking. The theme for season 2 also felt pretty lackluster.
The humor is still top-notch. Part of what Saitama tries to do in the season is find something else he could get some response out of hence the martial arts tournament portion of the season. Fubuki like I mentioned constantly felt she was in her sister Tatsumaki's shadow...but nothing really significant comes out of it. Garou to me made most of the season pretty investive. Learning of how he came to hate heroes and how he sees his actions as standing up to the big guy. But I felt that as a result of the way the season played out, there was a considerable wasting of him fully reaching his potential. Really, the fight was anti-climatic.
Other than that, kind of a disappointment, but it wasn't too bad.