OP: 「週替わりの奇跡の神話」 (Shuukawari no Kiseki no Shinwa) by Kinniku Shoujo Tai
“The Wind Blows”
A Slow, Romantic Start:
Ushio to Tora is back, and it feels like it never left. That may just be because we’re picking up directly where the previous cour left off, but I think there’s a certain charm and individuality to Ushio to Tora that is unmistakable; while it is certainly a product of its time, its likability doesn’t have an expiration date. We’ve got the same cast of characters back, and they’re all filling their roles as you’d expect, but there has been developments since this story began last year, and that is made evident in the first half of this return.
The portion of the episode that focused on Ushio and Asako was my favourite. As someone who most enjoyed the earlier monster of the week stories and the dramatic and game-changing flashback arc, this gave me exactly what I like most about the series. While the epic fights and sweeping story can be impressive, I’ve always preferred the quieter moments that play off the chemistry of the main cast – where their world isn’t in danger of being eradicated, but there’s still some action to be had and developments to be made. For that reason, the cherry blossom scene has to be one of the most rewarding parts of the series up until now. Asako may be a proper tsundere (as they were in the 90s), but seeing her smile and blush along with Ushio was too sweet for words. Though that could not last forever. This is a battle shonen after all – a classic one at that – and so there must be some fights!
And Suddenly… Everything!:
I think MAPPA have done a stellar job at adapting a series this long. Ideally this could have lasted at least 2 years if adapted like regular battle shonens, but that is a luxury that can rarely be afforded in modern times. There’s a good and bad to all that material being cut: the good being it feels lean and hits all the right notes with as it intends, the bad being it often feels a little too fast, as if we’re rushing from one thing to the next. I marathoned most of the second cour last year, and there was a stretch of episodes I’m glad I got to watch back-to-back rather than weekly, because they just felt too all over the place. If I had to mull each episode over for a week at a time then perhaps I wouldn’t be so eager to see what happens in this second season.
That being said, the second part of the episode was certainly entertaining. I do think it was a mess – especially compared to the grounded and emotional first half – but it was nice seeing so many characters return. And better yet, it all made sense in the end. Because of Ushio and Tora’s partnership and developing powers over the course of the show, there is some unity between the humans and the spirits in order to take down Hakumen no Mono, who obviously wants to put a stop to that. Everyone forgetting the main character is a common trope, but its done well enough here that I wasn’t fussed by it. But whatever happens, if it can match the peaks of the flashback arc, then this final cour could end up the best yet.
Overview – What’s Next?:
I’m glad to have Ushio to Tora back. But I should say that out of the four battle shonen airing this season it would be fourth on my list, though it is doing its own thing, proving popular among those with nostalgia for the anime/manga from the 90s. I don’t have that nostalgia, so the series doesn’t resonate with me as much as it may for others, but it’s damn good when it pulls out all the stops. It’s just too bad the female characters tend to be poorly written and end up damsels in distress more times than I can count, or getting slapped in the face – that was weird, Ushio.
ED: 「決戦前夜」 (Kessen Zenya) by LUNKHEAD