Season aired: Spring 2019
Number of episodes: 12
Genres: Fantasy, Action, Comedy
Thoughts: One Punch Man returned with a second season this Spring and faced a combination of excitement and nervousness from the fans. Having set the bar high with its animation standards for the first season, many people worried that JC Staff could not uphold the quality that Madhouse had done. However, as someone who cares more about story and characters than animation, I think there’s a lot more to be said than just “One Punch Man’s second season has terrible animation”.
One Punch Man is the story of a superhero, Saitama, who trained and had become so strong, he could defeat anyone with a single punch. In his comical and constant search for a stronger opponent, he meets colorful character like Genos, a young human teenager who is mostly made of machine parts due to a tragedy, and Sonic, a ninja hellbent on defeating him. They disrupt his regular life as he continues to punch his way through foe after foe.
Before I go further into storytelling and characters, yes, I will admit that the animation is not as good as the first season. The art style had also changed slightly, and only the ending fight between Genos and Garou was animated in a way that resembled the quality of the first season. However, I did not think the animation was as terrible as others made it out to be, and it certainly didn’t cut into my enjoyment of the second season as a whole.
One Punch Man’s second season conflicted me. For one, I enjoyed a lot of the new characters introduced. I actually found Metal Bat to be very endearing when he had the spotlight. I really liked Garou as a character, and I think it was wise for the series to animate his backstory and his reasoning behind his goal to hunt heroes.
King surprised me the most. Despite being the most “non-heroic” of the group, he acts as a medium for the audience members who find similarities to his otaku lifestyle as well as his constant mid-life crises. And despite what he thinks of himself, I personally think he does have some superpowers, but because “luck” is hard to materialize as a punch can, he doesn’t realize it about himself. I really hope King continues to be a central character in the future with the One Punch Man storyline.
I think the addition of a plot, however, ended up being detrimental to the series. On a storytelling perspective, too many plots happened at once, and the need to focus on each separate one slowed the pacing down drastically.
One Punch Man had three different conflicts happen during the twelve episodes. One: the martial arts competition. Two: Garou and his hunting of heroes. Three: Monster’s Association. While the conflicts certainly aren’t completely disconnected from each other, it still takes a while for them to meet at a point. As a result, the series had to constantly switch between characters to cover grounds of each storyline, which also resulted in a lot of forced exposition and information dumps or else the viewers would be confused. But the lore dumps and catchup summaries made the story boring, and it never gave enough time for anybody to truly feel the situation thanks to all the quick, forced information.
What ends up happening is that certain episodes are written incredibly well, such as the episode where Suiryu faced the impending monster attack, and other episodes become forgettable, which is most of the middle episodes. Unsurprisingly, the episodes that go over well with the audiences are always the ones where the entirety of the twenty-three minutes of airtime was devoted to a single plot rather than cramming in all three.
Not only that, but the series also tried to throw in some character development for Saitama, and the series as a whole simply became overcrowded. Anime does work differently from a manga, and while mangas have often employed different storylines happening at the same time successfully, it’s harder for an anime series to do so. While readers can go through these storylines at their own pace, viewers have no choice but to spend a set amount of time in a series. In other words, pacing becomes less of an issue because a manga reader can go faster if needed, making the series flow better in the long run. However, an anime watcher does not have this ability.
The series also chose an odd place to end the season. Having introduced three separate conflicts, only one of them was truly resolved at the end. The remaining two are still dangerous problems, and it almost feels like the production team decided to put a quick pause in the middle of rising action simply because they had to. Could this be hinting towards a third season? I hope so because if the second season truly ended where it ended, it comes off as highly unsatisfying to everyone who watched.
In summary, One Punch Man still had its powerful and funny moments, but it definitely faced problems in adapting the source material. While I’m definitely open to a third season because of my love for many of the characters in the series, I understand why others are disappointed with how the second season had turned out.
Voice acting: 7
FINAL SCORE: 75