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Kekkai Sensen & Beyond – 02 »« Kekkai Sensen – 12 (END)

Kekkai Sensen & Beyond – 01

OP Sequence

OP: 「fake town baby」 by UNISON SQUARE GARDEN

「ライツ、カメラ、アクション!」 (Raitsu, Kamera, Akushon!)
“Lights, Camera, Action!”

Welcome back to Hellsalem’s Lot, the weirdness capital of the world.

Kekkai Sensen is back, and it’s wasting no time. The entire action intro was delightful for all the Kekkai Sensen hallmarks in which it wholeheartedly indulges: senseless chaos, gratuitous violence, hilarious character, and miles and miles of style. It’s an instant reminder of why people enjoy this series, and for all the teeth gnashing about the director change, it—that’s actually besides the point. Those worries could still come true, and will manifest (or not) in the larger plot. What this episode shows is that the day-to-day DNA of Kekkai Sensen is alive and kicking.

It doesn’t escape me that I’m praising this series for jumping straight to the action, when I criticized another intro for doing exactly that. There’s method to my madness, though, and it lies in an element of storytelling that is oft underrated: Setting. Hellsalem’s Lot is more than just a city. It’s very nearly a character in its own right, one with life and personality distinct from those of its characters. You get the feeling that Hellsalem’s Lot would be exactly what it is even if Libra never existed. Compare that to . . . basically any other setting in most fiction, but I’ll use a series I love as an example. Does U.A., or any of the settings in Boku no Hero Academia, have even one tenth of the personality of Hellsalem’s Lot? They don’t. HeroAca is a marvelous story, but its settings are just places things happen. Hellsalem’s Lot is alive. And that affords the writers benefits which other storytellers do not have.

When crazy shenanigans happen in Hellsalem’s Lot, they barely need to be justified. Ridiculous chaos is baked into the city’s DNA, so when a certain shenanigan requires Libra’s attention, it comes as no surprise. It’s a difference of degree rather than kind. The whole city is designed such that explosive, eccentric weirdness is commonplace, which means that the writers don’t need to give reason to any crisis. Reason lacks primacy in Hellsalem’s Lot. They can just make crazy shit happen because that’s what happens here every single day, and with a dash of style we’re off to the races. The most important character will get us there in a flash.

So it is with the action intro, so it is with the mission in the second half. But I don’t want to undersell the human (or not so human) characters, because they’re a delight to have back. Leonardo Watch (Sakaguchi Daisuke) is a constant delight, for being that rare PoV character who is eminently relatable (mainly due to his reactions to the chaos that surrounds him) while having plenty of personality, and more than a few quirks, of his own. His reactions though, man. I laugh just at his reactions! Sakaguchi-san kills it as the voice of Leo.

I’m not going to list out everyone, but of course Zapp Renfro (Nakai Kazuya) is hilarious, mostly for being a terrible, terrible person, and I’ve always been a fan of K.K. (Orikasa Ai), because—I mean, who wouldn’t hate it if someone else talked over your called attack? (Trope!) Oh, and Steven A. Starphase (Miyamoto Mitsuru) of course, because I’m always happy to see a Stephen in anime, even if he spells his name wrong. Pleb.

Kekkai Sensen is back, it’s fun, and I enjoyed the crap out of the first episode. Maybe the plot will go all wahoonie-shaped later on—and as someone who enjoyed the anime original plot of the first season, especially White, that’s still a concern—but so far so good. I’ll watch either way.

Random thoughts:

  • I love the references, which draw more on American pop culture than Japanese. It’s nice for a change of pace. I mean, Piderman? Shawarma? Actually I think someone just watched a lot of Marvel movies, so not exactly deep references. Still, I laughed!
  • Poor demonbeasts. You lived just to die. Pretty much like everything in Hellsalem’s Lot, to be honest.
  • I knew, as soon as Leo started talking about his Xbox X-Station, it was toast. That’s the kind of foreshadowing where foreknowledge doesn’t ruin the moment. It just made it funnier!
  • On the other hand, I so called that the blonde lady would be the enemy within the ranks. Which would have been more of an issue, but, eh. Short mission, and who it was didn’t really matter.
  • The art direction continues to be great. The shots are so dynamic and varied. I also liked how they played with the name plates, drawing attention to them while poking fun at ‘em.

My SECOND novel, Freelance Heroics, is available now! (Now in print!) (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Sign up for my email list for updates. At stephenwgee.com, I’ve begun blogging again! The latest post: Help Houston.

 

ED Sequence

ED: 「ステップアップLOVE」by DAOKO x Okamura Yasuyuki

Preview

October 8, 2017 at 1:28 am
19 comments »
  • October 8, 2017 at 2:27 amWeird d

    Here’s to hoping the brief glimpses of whitein the OP and ED foreshadow her return… Besides Leo will go insane if he doesn’t get his best friend back.

  • October 8, 2017 at 5:41 amzztop

    But will S2 use another anime-original story that strings together the manga’s loosely connected adventures, or will it follow the source’s anthology format?
    White from S1′s in the ED sequence to boot.

    • October 8, 2017 at 12:56 pmStilts

      I suppose we’ll find out! At least Kekkai Sensen gives us a marvelous sandbox to play around in.

  • October 8, 2017 at 6:51 amSouma

    http://randomc.net/image/Kekkai%20Sensen/Kekkai%20Sensen%20Beyond%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2010.jpg

    Ahhh~ the feeling When all your DOTA teammates spam ulti at the same time.

    http://randomc.net/image/Kekkai%20Sensen/Kekkai%20Sensen%20Beyond%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2001.jpg

    Heiwa desu ne~ pfftt Lol’ed seeing Leo don’t give a fu*k when there’s an explosion and an UFO kidnappings people…it’s like watching gintama.

  • October 8, 2017 at 8:24 ampaulrenzo

    Leo’s sister’s “eyes” still creep the heck out of me

  • October 8, 2017 at 10:08 amVermillion129

    With this and Mahou Tsukai no Yome, I’m fully enjoy this season of anime already.

  • October 8, 2017 at 10:16 amOri

    Am I the only one who was pleased they showed White at the end? I mean surely, Leo didn’t just forget what happened there right?

    I hope Leo visits that cemetery a few times in the actual show or that her butterfly can play some role some how in this season.

    • October 8, 2017 at 12:58 pmStilts

      The ED was playing, but that wasn’t *the* ED. That was the show. He was visiting the cemetery right there, and even if White doesn’t play a role in this season, I have every faith that Leo hasn’t forgotten her. It would be a betrayal (of her, and of us the viewers) if the writers pull that crap.

  • October 8, 2017 at 10:52 amZJZJ

    I don’t always remember the names other than Zapp, Leo and Klaus, but I know who most of the characters are when they appear, because they’re all quirky and memorable. Though Brigade does look a tad normal. I had the same reaction as Leo when the two had their hands up in the air as if surrendering. “Um, what are you doing?”
    And of course I knew everything would turn out fine in the end except for Leo who just can’t have a peaceful day, but the ride was so fun and I was grinning throughout. A nice intro in which instead of recapping too much, simply gives us once again what we fell in love with the show for in s1. Great episode and looking forward to more. Leo is too precious.

  • October 8, 2017 at 12:04 pmyoloalchemist

    This is too obvious to say by now, but Kekkai Sensen is one anime that I would love NOT to explain itself. It just wouldn’t feel right.
    I mean, when Leo was kicked away sky high and landed someone he’s been before, despite his super eyes, he’s still a human, so he should’ve outright DIED. But he didn’t. How is that shit possible? Then I remind myself “You know what, this is Kekkai Sensen, it’s not gonna explain itself, and it certainly doesn’t need to.”

    I do hope for a plot that is impactful, though. This is one case where, because I’m not familiar with the source material, all I have is the original 1st season to go on in terms of quality, and due to how wacky this whole thing, I don’t know what to expect. But then again, this Kekkai Sensen we’re talking about. We never know what to expect, but I’m gonna watch it anyway.

    I don’t know if it’s just me, but that X-station felt like a forbidden love affair product of PlayStation and Xbox, and I was like “Nope. Never gonna happen. DOWN with X-station. It’s an abomination of nature MUAHAHAHAHAHA!!”
    Oh man. My dark side is gonna reignite the console wars :(

    • October 8, 2017 at 1:01 pmStilts

      I did briefly flashback to when All Might almost broke Izuku’s back in HeroAca this past season, when Leo crashed down into that sign. But as you said, it’s Kekkai Sensen, so I didn’t let it trip me up and enjoyed the ride.

  • October 8, 2017 at 1:06 pmJon Oscar

    Love that Trigun reference in the first scene! (the Meryl and Milly dolls)

  • October 8, 2017 at 1:29 pmFaolin Eye

    http://randomc.net/image/Kekkai%20Sensen/Kekkai%20Sensen%20Beyond%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2028.jpg

    That big thug is like ‘Unchain my Heart’

    Okay, I will see myself out…

  • October 8, 2017 at 7:49 pmneko_in_blue

    UNISON SQUARE GARDEN’s boys have their pocket full this season!

  • October 9, 2017 at 1:37 amJHN

    Seriously, not even 1 screenshot of Leo’s eyes? smh tbh

    Anyway, it’s great to have Kekkai Sensen back. It’s always so wonderfully predictably unpredictable.
    Best part really was when Leo saw Klaus and Steven taken hostage and he was like “What are you guys doing?”

    That and White getting a silent mention.

  • October 10, 2017 at 2:57 amtanz

    X!!! X!!! DOUBLE X!!!!

  • October 10, 2017 at 9:24 pmBROOKLYN otaku

    soooo damn good! WELCOME BACK!!!

  • October 14, 2017 at 3:17 amFrost

    This ass kicking series is finally back! I’ve been longing for it after that fascinating ending at season one, and now its back again with USG fake town baby! and Daoko feat. Okamura Yasuyuki’s Step Up Love, I would not ask for more again =D

  • October 14, 2017 at 12:18 pmK

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