「正義の包囲網」 (Seigi no Houimou)
“The Encircling Net of Justice”
With OPM’s second season now rapidly approaching its end it’s hard not feeling a little conflicted. The show continues to do a fine job of faithfully adapting its source material to the big screen, but for everything which is nailed correctly another part shows just how much it could’ve improved on the overall performance. In more than one way OPM is increasingly a show without a rudder, and with a climax (and potential third season) now barrelling down upon us, it’s not the best time to lose control of the ship.
Although last week with Saitama’s battle (or intentional lack of it) succinctly showcased the main issues with OPM at the moment, this episode certainly helped reinforce them. The main issue with OPM right now is arguably a lack of focus. Sure, we may have all these great stories playing out in real—i.e. anime—time, but given how each of them must compete with the other for screen time and we’re left with a wave pool wider than it is deep. For every minute of Monster Association we get a minute of Garo, and every minute with Garo is one less minute elaborating on the enemy OPM clearly wants us to focus on. Even for more stereotypical shounens it’s not an enviable position, and when coupled with this arc’s deliberate focus on everyone else but Saitama (alongside that noticeable lack of appreciable action) we get this weird purgatory which OPM finds itself caught in. It’s easy to pin the blame on J.C. Staff for all of this, but a lot of it arguably (and ironically) comes down to this season simply being too faithful an adaptation. What overwhelmingly works in writing is not always directly transferrable to animation, and given how much OPM left open for creative interpretation this was definitely one time to throw adaptation rigidity to the wind and see how far you could take the premise.
Of course with that said not everything is doom and gloom, especially since OPM’s remaining two episodes look to return (if only slightly) to its first season roots. We’ll get at least one more episode of Garo being a literal anti-hero badass for example, which after that hilarious one hit KO and Garo’s subsequent faulting of King for definitely deserves the attention. Not much of a guess the guy will be escaping his current predicament (he’s too good to prevent a round three with Saitama from happening), but how he does and how it affects one hell of a mentorship is up in the air. Then comes the “main” enemy of the moment in the Monster Association, which while likely to serve as this season’s cliffhanger should at least offer up some tasty fun and games in the form of S class hero shenanigans and further monster beatdowns. For all the aforementioned criticism OPM is slowly but surely converging on a central story, one which stands to last a while and yield more development than the events seen up until now.
It’s just a question of how well that story will hold up to the expectations still holding out for more.