One Punch Man 2 – 01 – How Did it Come to This?

“The first sequel in three and a half years…I’M FEELING THE HYPE!”

—King, breaking the fourth wall

I too am feeling the hype for the first OPM sequel in three and a half years…it’s a lot of years! That seems like several RABUJOI rating tag designs (not to mention presidential administrations) ago. But here we are, and perhaps wisely, OPM takes things nice and easy, offering a mostly quiet and laid back return in which Saitama’s only action in the episode happens so fast we miss it.

He and Genos are crossing off items on the errand list on a beautiful day, inspecting figurines for heroes like “King” (while Saitama goes unhonored) when a reptilian pervert appears. At the same time, the real Class S, Rank 7 Hero King shows up in the flesh. The crowd immediately recognizes their imminent savior, while the low-level baddie is so scared of his mere reputation, he surrenders without a fight.

That’s just as well, because King privately would rather be anywhere else…specifically, playing the newest sequel to Heartthrob Sister. So King’s a reluctant hero who’d rather laze around, right?

Well, there’s more to it than boredom or will to fight. When a giant, advanced robot called G4 appears and challenges King to mortal combat, King asks if he can use the bathroom (so he can go full strength and make sure the robot gets the best data from the fight). That leaves Genos to deal with G4 while King…cowers in the bathroom.

Turns out King isn’t a real hero at all; he simply keeps ending up near giant monsters who are dealt with by someone else, leaving him to suck up all the credit. And that someone else turns out to be Saitama. Genos assures his master he’ll be fine on his own, so Saitama leaps up to King’s 22nd-floor apartment to play some games.

Of course, Saitama is there for more than games—he wants answers, like why King ran away from a fight. When a giant bird monster appears and Saitama stops it with one hand, King wets himself and confirms that his entire reputation is a lie. And King can’t very well claim to be the victim of mass public misunderstanding, since he’s always had the agency to correct the record.

He’s just lacked the courage to do so, and at this point, when he’s been credited with so many victories he’s regarded as The Strongest Man Alive, who can blame him? To come clean is to face unimaginable backlash from the public, who may in turn come to distrust all heroes, worried there may be other frauds.

Genos incinerates G4’s outer body, leaving the feistier, laser-ridden inner body to contend with, which he does thanks to the cloud of an exploded fire extinguisher and the fact Genos is simply the stronger party. Meanwhile, King realizes it’s this Saitama guy who keeps saving him again and again then rushing off, leaving people to credit King with the wins.

Saitama is very magnanimous about this whole ordeal, though part of that is simple realism: no matter what the truth is, the public thinks he’s the Ultimate Hero. So rather than let them down, Saitama suggests King start to live up to the title he never wanted, by becoming stronger.

He also invites himself to future video game sessions, no doubt to check and see if King can follow through or will continue to cower in the corner. After all, just because he was found out by Saitama doesn’t mean the “coincidences” that caused all this will end.

Genos presents Dr. Kuseno with the remains of G4, asking him if any of them can be integrated into his systems to become stronger. The cyborg that destroyed his home is still out there, and while Genos is more focused on his hero duties and living up to his Class, his hatred of his nemesis has not dissipated, but continues to fuel his drive.

From there we’re invited to an “Explanation Meeting” by the “The Earth is in Danger Prophecy Emergency Countermeasures Team”, led by Sitch. He has gathered dozens of criminals and n’er-do-wells (and protected himself with Class A heroes) because the disaster the prophecy fortells will surely require everyone’s fighting abilities, not just good folk. Among the “ruffians” is our old friend Sound-o’-Speed Sonic, who still thinks he can take Saitama on.

Also suspicious of Saitama’s quick C-to-B rise is Class B’s Rank 1, Hellish Blizzard. Both of them have Saitama in their crosshairs, but Saitama is content to wait for all comers while gaming with his new buddy King. There’s also one more lad at the very end who I’m probably supposed to remember, who seems excited about the prophecy of the End of the World.

It’s a strong return from one of my favorite action/comedy shows of recent years. There was a lot of exposition and people talking about fighting Saitama without actually doing so, but proper table-setting must precede a good feast. I’ve also heard this doesn’t look as good as the first season (the studio shifted from Madhouse to J.C. Staff), and perhaps that’s true, though it’s been so long I didn’t notice. I’m just a man of simple tastes, and I’m glad it’s back.

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Hundred – 12 (Fin)

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That’s all, folks; Hundred is over! At least its first season; there’s no mention of a second but certainly talk of “more things happening in the future” which could be just that; talk. And we never learn why hundreds are called hundreds…I guess they just thought “hundred” sounded cool? It kinda does!

Anyway, if this is the last episode, it goes out with a bang; several bangs, in fact, from Vitaly’s hand cannon. She only uses one of the three hunter “tools”, Nakri, to get through an electrical security barrier. After that, a revived Mai-Mai trades gunfire and forces her to flee. So yeah, about all those possibilities with the three conditioned Hunters on her side…that didn’t pan out.

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In fact, Vitaly’s grand master revenge plan comes to a screeching halt just as quickly as it totally overwhelmed the rest of Little Garden’s defenses and Slayers…all thanks to Judar. Seems like she has some kind of romantic past with him (gross!) and the reason she’s here is because she’s A Woman Scorned.

Ultimately, she just wants to kill Liza by shooting her. You’d think such a science and technology whiz would have a backup plan if Liza’s shielding was bulletproof. Not only that, Liza takes semi-corporeal form to shield her brother so he can shoot Vitaly, killing her and ending what had been a pretty built up threat with all the finesse of air coming out of a balloon.

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Speaking of unappealing noises, Vitaly’s last gasp tactic is have all her replicants emit a loud screeching sound, but Liza kisses Karen, giving her use of her legs (hey! why not?) and Karen and Sakura neutralize the noise with their non-animated singing.

Ethereal Liza also kisses a KO’d Hayato in order to give him the strength to take down not only Vitaly’s flagship replicant, but a Nesat who’s gone absolutely berserk due to her siblings getting hurt.

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Nesat threatens to explode after a predetermined period of time, taking the ship with her, but Hayato is able to reach into her subconscious and calm her down by telling her they’re friends now, and the final threat is dealt with without much fuss. Glad the Hunters didn’t end up getting hurt or worse, and now that they’re free, they can be useful members of garden society.

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That just leaves the resumption of the festival, culminating in, what else, a fireworks show, under which Emilia and Hayato dedicate themselves to being with one another. Unfortunately, while they’re kissing, the entire rest of the cast comes topside, and their myriad reactions are priceless.

Suffice it to say, Emilia’s secret is out: she’s a girl, and a princess, and loves Hayato. Of course, Claire isn’t okay with that, and unleashes her Hundred cannon at the lovebirds to close the episode, and possibly the series. The goofy slapsticky mood of the scene indicates she’s not really going to murder Emilia and Hayato, just scare them. Still, she’s not exactly setting a good example as captain of Little Garden, is she?

Sooo…Hundred: Definitely a show. With stuff that happened in it. Totally inconsequential and derivative stuff that hardly ever went anywhere interesting, but mostly fun stuff nonetheless. Will I be tuning into any possible second season? Maybe…if nothing else is on.

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Hundred – 11

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Though shit was going to hit the fan immediately after Vitaly activated her  army of Evil Roombas? Nope! That doesn’t happen until five minutes into the episode.

Instead, we get more of Karen and Sakura’s concert, which consists of several slow pans over still images set to music that seems to be coming out of a handheld Dictaphone speaker. Needless to say, the shit can’t hit the fan soon enough.

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Claire is actually made aware of Wendy’s unconsciousness, short-term amnesia, and talk of coreless savages, and for a second there, one hoped that she’d lock down the entire Garden before Vitaly could accomplish too much, but…NAH.

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Yeah, time to go up a shirt size, AMIRITE? One thing’s for sure: VItaly knows a good villain tailor.

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Anywho, when the Roombas start turning into giant robotic bees, they’re treated as a nuisance…until they turn out to be much more than that, and the Garden is literally brought to its knees.

One assumes Vitaly has been planning this multi-pronged attack since she left the Garden…which begs the question: why the heck was she allowed to roam free and buy up so many warplanes? Where’d she get the money and raw materials in a world supposedly beset by the scourge of the Savage?

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I loved this: Karen and Sakura informing their crowd of 100,000 that they’re going to evacuate, but everyone else should stay right where you are! Never mind if a giant plane crashes into the stadium – The Slayers Will Protect You!

Somehow, if I were in that crowd, Sakura’s assurances wouldn’t be very comforting. I mean, she doesn’t even bother to lip-sync; she just stands or flies around smiling while the music plays?

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I do love Claudia’s attitude: she doesn’t care what’s happening, because she wasn’t able to share a chocolate banana with Emilia. Sure, she springs into action when Vitaly’s robots storm the flight deck, but it’s clear that she’s only attacking them because she’s less likely to hang with Emilia if Emilia’s city-ship sinks.

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Claire orders Hayato and Emile—who are on the sidelines this entire episodefor some reason—to protect the three captive Hunters, but with the Garden’s shields failing, Hayato decides to go topside instead, and Claire lets them go, hoping Mai-Mai will suffice as prisoner guard.

She doesn’t; Vitaly takes her out without much difficulty, then activates some kind of sonic torture device that bends the three initially reluctant kids to her will. I tellya; this Vitaly is one omnipotent villain, and this episode doesn’t reveal any obvious flaws in either her plan or her many powers.

She basically made Charlotte, Claire, Judar, and Little Garden look pretty damned weak and foolish all by herself. Now that she has three obedient (for now) Hunters flanking her, stopping her is going to be a bitch. But if anyone can do it, it’s Hayato…with some help from his friends, of course.

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Kuromukuro – 07

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Ken and Yukina achieved a great victory; they are the only ones in the world who were able to defeat a geoframe of Efidolg, even if Hedo took his own life rather than allow himself to be captured. But it’s far worse than that: Yukina is simply done.

She’s gone along up to this point, but she never truly signed up for this, and she just can’t get into the headspace required to take more life, especially when the so-called “demons” have human form. She retreats into her room; into her dreams; into her past, when she was berated by peers for being the daughter of a presumed madman.

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His “lies” made her a liar. She’s always resented this, and her mother was never present enough, either emotionally or physically, to do much about it. So it’s stewed. That Dad turned out to be right doesn’t change the fact she carries scars, even if they’re not the kind that show, like Ken’s (whose bashfulness with “virtually naked” girls during a free swim was another nice touch. Dude is simply not used to women.)

It’s not that she takes a particular moral stance against fighting the enemy; she simply feels deeply in her bones that she’s not the girl for the job. Tom doesn’t help matters by calling her worthless. At school, Yukina feels lost, and she can’t accept the adoration and gratitude of most of her classmates, because some believe she did nothing to save Akagi and Kaya from being killed (their fates remain a mystery).

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Sophie, for her part, tries to make an appeal to Yukina’s inner bushido, but to no avail. Yukina doesn’t want to be the person with the fate of the world on her shoulders. It’s just too BIG. Why can’t she just go to the supermarket after work and buy ingredients for dinner?

When Ken finally tries to assure her he doesn’t think she’s just a tool, and then plots out his post-revenge course as leading to his eventual reunion with the princess (i.e. death or suicide), Yukina’s refusal to ride with him intensifies. She doesn’t want any blood on her hands.

She also believes the demons aren’t demons, after meeting one and seeing an ordinary human. We’re finally allowed inside the orbiting Efidolg mothership, where a small council of pilots like Hedo reach the consensus that their plans cannot continue as long as Glongur walks the Earth; it and its pilot must be destroyed.

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These spacefaring warriors seem so very far away from Yukina’s simple life, but at this point I just don’t see her staying out of the fighting. Even if her mother won’t force her, something will surely come up to convince Yukina, like her male Eva counterpart Ikari Shinji, to jump into that cockpit once more.

Despite Yukina’s multiple (and reasonable, considering the life she’s led thus far) reservations, and the fact this week ends with her running away from home after her mother slapped her for being presumptuous about her late father, this only seems like delaying the inevitable: Yukina and Ken will keep fighting Efidolg, because no one else can, and because those Yukina loves and cares about will be in danger if she doesn’t.

There’s also, like, a million episodes left. Way too early for our heroine to throw in the towel…but probably not the last time she’ll waver, either.

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Kuromukuro – 06

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The time for messing around at home or school is over, as the Yellow Crab and two red Headless (which Yukina calls Dullahans) land near the airport, which, if you’ve watched Captain America: Civil War, you know is a great open place to stage a big fight while minimizing civilian casualties.

Ken and Yukina arrive to find themselves outnumbered 3:1, and the conventional military backup is completely toothless against their foes. That’s made plain when the Yellow Crab plucks an attacking gunship out of the sky as if it were a buzzing fly.

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The mission for our main couple is to stay alive and hang in there until help can arrive in the form of the two GAUS units, which are launched from a railgun-like catapult thingy that emerges from an innocent-looking telescope dome. This sequence comes with all the requisite technobabble checklists and “all clears” one would expect of a sci-fi mecha show.

The show takes its time with this sequence, making it feel like the big deal that it is that they’re launching these things. Heft is also added to the proceedings by the foreboding rust-colored sky, and the hasty evacuation of the city.

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The cockpit of Ken’s and Yukina’s artifact is pierced, but Ken only gets a glancing wound to the head and is okay. Things are kept relatively light with Yukina’s comment about there being a “bunch of things” (meaning HUD warnings), and her elation at the cavalry arriving being shot down when Sophie tells her not to chat during combat.

Once the two GAUS’s arrive, the playing field is evened a bit, as at least the two Headless are too busy fighting off Sophie and Tom to gang up on Ken and Yukina.

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With some slick moves and samurai training, Ken manages to strike a blow to the Crab’s vital area that brings it down, turning black in the process. Then, to everyone’s surprise (including Kaya and Akagi, who are filming the action from not too far away and streaming it to the world), a pilot emerges and removes his helmet.

He’s…human. Or some kind of space-faring human, or an alien who looks just like a human. He calls himself Hedo, “Frontier Reform Officer” for “Efidolg.” He also calls Ken’s artifact “Glongur” and asks why he betrayed his people. Neither Ken nor Yukina nor anyone else know what the heck this guy is talking about, but they don’t get any time to ask questions.

Rather than be killed like a dog or taken captive, Hedo activates the Crab’s self-destruct. The blast that ensues is pretty intense—intense enough to roast Akagi and Kaya, if the show had chosen to go that dark here—but not town-encompassing. All that remains of Hedo and the Crab is a crater and a heap of questions, chief among them, in the words of Tom, exactly are those asshole fucks up in orbit, and why are they attacking?

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Kuromukuro – 05

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Yukina has neither nerves of steel nor a dead family to avenge; she’s just…a girl. Below average in some areas, above average in others, and just average in still others. She has a little sister, an uncle, a morning routine.

She goes to school. She has an admirer in Akagi Ryouto, but doesn’t know it. And she’s now suddenly living companion, navigator, and classmate to a ruggedly handsome but extremely prickly 400+ year-old samurai who happens to be the same age as her and ruggedly handsome.

There’s nothing out of left field here, but I’m finding it a neat dynamic that sells itself, even if it didn’t have impeccably clean, attractive design backing it up. Kuromukuro’s originality and pacing may still be in question, but its execution is assuredly not.

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Indeed, despite being the fifth episode, a lot of people are introduced for the first time, and Yukina’s suddenly highly-modified, previously-normal life takes a lot of turns. And yet things still begin with breakfast. Kuromukuro has been adept at showing us the life in between the big bold battles.

Kennosuke, AKA Ken or “Kenny-chan”, is now a part of every aspect of Yukina’s life now, and she seems a little…overwhelmed at times; almost in a kind of shock. And why shouldn’t she? So much has happened all at once. She’s a second lieutenant now, as well as a celebrity at school, and she’s being challenged by the likes of established pilot Sophie Noelle “Why do you fight?”

Fight? She’s barely had time to catch her breath, let alone ponder such questions. Furthermore, Yukina isn’t what you’d call a deep thinker; she’s been largely gliding through life so far, and you can see the weight of all this shit suddenly on her.

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When an emergency strikes, she’s swept up in a big public departure operation with Ken with the whole school gawking at her. Ryouto, who’d been watching her from afar the whole episode (and certainly before all this stuff happened to her), isn’t content to let her speed off in Ken’s steed; he hops on his bike and goes after her.

Could he do anything to protect her? Maybe not, but he wants to. And say what you want about Yukina, but it’s not like she’s in love with Ken. We didn’t get a lot of Ryouto (most of it came via his two mates), but I don’t hate the guy, and it’s nice to see the guy chase the (justifiably) oblivious girl once in a while.

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Yukina didn’t really choose all this upheaval in her life, and yet here she is, in a cockpit, being assured by Ken that he’ll take care of everything. She’s got nanomachines in her body that can’t be removed without risking paralysis or death, and so she’s the navigator of Ken’s artifact, whether she actually wanted to be (she didn’t) or had a reason to be (she doesn’t)

She’s a lot like Shinji in Eva (sans Hedgehog’s dilemma and other psychoses); her emotions have yet to catch up to all this, even though there have been down times here and there to do so. This is a lot, and all she can do for now is go along for the ride.

And like I said, unlike Ken, she hasn’t lost anyone or anything yet, so there’s that. But does tragedy and a desire for revenge have to chart her course in life the way it charted his? Will she find her sense of duty, to protect, not merely avenge? We shall see…

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Re-Kan! – 07

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Hibiki’s ridiculous generosity and utter inability to say no to a ghost is taking its toll and  burning her out, so her friends stage an intervention on the streets, insisting she needs a break from her supernatural drudgery. They head over to her house, which while not a Gothic haunted mansion, could certainly pass for that house in Kwaidan with a few minor tweaks.

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Hibiki’s dad concurs, and produces a pair of sixth-sense-sealing glasses her mother used to wear when she needed a break from ghosts to, ya know, eat or sleep. I like how this story subverts the standard anime glasses girl trope. Sure, they make her look even more adorable (and more bookish), but they also fundamentally change how she interacts with the world. Simply put: all contact with that which most people cannot see or hear ceases. It really is like a vacation.

But the urge to take them off and sense of who’s floating around her—and more importantly, the urge help them—is strong. So Inoue makes a very childish threat: if she takes off the glasses, they won’t be friends any more, and it works; Hibiki keeps those puppies on like her life depends on it.

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Her sidekicks Roll Call Samurai and Kogal don’t like it, but they’re big enough to realize Hibiki could use a break. But when the little sister of a boy Hibiki is playing with goes missing and it starts to get dark, Hibiki desperately needs more sets of eyes to search for her.

Hibiki makes a very difficult phone call to Inoue, who is studying and absolutely scared shitless by Hibiki’s foreboding ringtone. Hibiki seems ready to accept the end of their friendship, but Inoue assures her not to worry. If it’s an emergency, it’s fine to take the glasses off. Hibiki does, and show us yet again how handy it is to have an army of the dead at one’s disposal.

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The balance of the episode is a New Year’s shrine visit by the whole gang. While I miss Glasses Hibiki, I loved how she lets spirits vote on what she wears, and the fact Inoue got drunk and loose-lipped on Amazake, and her friends decided to get her to open up.

To their disappointment, her response to almost every question is “Nana!”, so ingrained is her love for her late gran. Hibiki, not wanting to do anything untoward, simply asks Inoue if she’ll be friends with her in the next year, for which Inoue offers a more sober tsundere response of “I suppose.”

We finish things off with a fun little brawl between the incorrigible Ero-Neko versus Samurai and the Killer, who are sick of the cat’s sexual harrassment, as Kogal watches with enthusiasm.

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P.S. Like Hannah with Food Wars, I’ve taken over Re-Kan reviews from Zane in order to even out our workloads. -Preston