「ヒーローの帰還」 (Hiirou no Kikan)
“The Hero’s Return”
Well boys and girls you can stop holding your collective breath, because this season’s heavy hitter (sorry SnK) is here at last. Considering all the talk concerning release delays, studio choices, and that oh so divisive PV animation quality, OPM’s sequel was always going to lead to some serious post-premiere discussion, and so far at least that aspect hasn’t disappointed. No matter one’s bald headed opinion of things to date, there’s no denying the results in practice so far are not at all what many were expecting.
Given it’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue might as well get the obvious out of the way first: yes, the animation quality doesn’t live up to the first season. Frankly this was always going to be a struggle to achieve, even if Madhouse was potentially brought back for this round—the money, staff, and committee desire (read: willingness to spend large sums of money) were perfectly in sync then to give us that bit of anime gold, and lightning rarely ever strikes twice. The good news though is J.C. Staff’s version (so far at least) isn’t as terrible as many were fearing from the PV. While a noticeable qualitative drop does exist—see Genos’ (Ishikawa Kaito) cyborg arms or the use of camera movement to cover up the use of still shots—J.C. Staff have kept the art similar and made attempts to retain detail. The colours and colour filters may be bad, but overall it’s good animation, and far beyond the likes of Index III last season (seriously, if you think this is bad you haven’t seen some of J.C. Staff’s other work). The caveat of course is we don’t know what the rest of the season will bring (especially with the bigger fights to come), but here at least OPM has hit the ground running.
Similar to the first season, where OPM may quickly run into problems is in regards to story. No matter how gorgeously animated the fights here may be, there’s no denying OPM to date has largely been an odd-ball collection of arcs banded together with no real linking thread, and this episode (and the first part of this season) won’t be changing that approach. While plenty of teasers for the later overarching plot are slowly surfacing (ex. the Organization, Shibabawa’s prophetic vision, Genos’ mysterious cyborg enemy), it’s easy to think this season will just be more of the same when you have Genos hurriedly battling robot gods and Saitama (Furukawa Makoto) showing why King (Yasumoto Hiroki) is the best (truly) in the same episode. It may not technically be rushing, but damn it sure felt like it at times. Provided you’re here for the characters (King is the best dammit!) and not for any multi-season save the world plot however, it’ll probably be like OPM never left. Considering all the teasing in that OP and the promise of some fan favourites making their return before too long, I don’t imagine there will be too many complaints on that front.
While we may not know yet what the rest of OPM’s return will bring us, you can bet the results will prove highly entertaining. It may not wind up being the OPM everyone desperately craves, but one way or another, this is one ride which certainly won’t prove disappointing.
OP: 「静寂のアポストル」 (Seijaku no Apostle) by JAM Project