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.
- 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
XboxX-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: 「ステップアップLOVE」by DAOKO x Okamura Yasuyuki