One Punch Man’s second season won’t have animation on par with the first’s — and that’s ok.
For anyone who isn’t sure why this is being brought up, the second season of the breakout hit shonen series received a new trailer in anticipation of its premiere next month.
The trailer showed the fights, character designs and general aesthetic the season has in store for fans after a more than three-year hiatus, and going into it many were excited to dive back into the series that set the world on fire only a few years ago.
Not long after though, most all of the fandom descended into disappointment and panic.
One can look as far as one of the reddit threads on the series’ most recent trailer to deduce as much. Many fans commented on the flatter, less visceral animation style the season has compared to the first cour.
They’re not wrong either. Gone are the dynamic sweeping camera shots, replaced by static, straightforward angles. Instead of rougher, more flexible character designs, there are now flat and uniform ones, shinier though they may be.
It’s a bummer, and fans have the right to be upset by the decline in quality. After all, it was the unusually high amount of effort and style put into the One Punch Man anime’s first season that made it a runaway hit.
At the same time though, it’s a move that was vital to maintaining the series’ momentum and ensuring it can run long enough to cover its entire story.
While One Punch Man may have been huge in 2015, that was several years ago now.
Other shows like My Hero Academia, Black Clover and Boruto have emerged as top shonen properties, some of which fill a similar niche to and may have leeched viewers away from One Punch Man’s fandom.
This left One Punch Man’s license holders with a limited array of options: They could either adapt it in shorter, less frequent seasons similar to how Attack on Titan is released, or they could adapt it regularly in exchange for a dip in quality.
Though the former might have maintained the pedigree set by the first season, it would run the risk of losing viewers during its hiatus.
Granted, no one can say for sure whether this would be the case until season two aires and any sort of viewership numbers come out. However, given the general dip in popularity Attack on Titan suffered after a similar hiatus, it’s far from an impossibility.
As such, it’s easy to see why they went with the latter option. Even if it meant putting out a slightly inferior product, they could ensure One Punch Man remained relevant.
And honestly, the benefits of that choice outweigh the losses.
Even if a large number of people watched One Punch Man’s first season for its animation, an equally large number of people were watching it for its themes, characters, and story.
They enjoyed seeing Saitama get knocked around by the powerless King in a video game, accidentally tutoring Genos in heroics and sharing a meal with the big-hearted Mumen Rider.
They enjoyed watching him achieve some meaning and purpose in his fight with Boros, and watching the supporting cast struggle to find a resolution to their own dreams and desires.
Sure, the great animation made these moments and stories all the more enjoyable. But at its core, the show is driven far more by these narratives, story arcs, and dynamics.
It’s these elements that kept viewers around and, like so many other shonen series, it’s the guarantee that these relationships and stories will continue until their conclusion that will continue to keep people invested.
On top of all this, there’s also no guarantee that there will never be outstanding animation in One Punch Man again.
While they may see a dip in quality from episode to episode, shonen series are notorious for cranking up their animation quality for the bigger, more bombastic moments.
For proof, look no further than the shonen that has emerged since One Punch Man’s hiatus began. From My Hero Academia to Boruto, most all of them have seen a spike in animation when it counted most, rewarding fans for sticking out the rough patches.
One Punch Man could just as easily do the same, with the moments shown in the trailer being the in-between segments that precede stellar feats of animated bliss.
One Punch Man’s second season won’t measure up to the first in terms of animation quality, at least not across the board. Concessions will be made to keep it going, and to ensure it can continue to remain a fixture among the community’s discussions.
But in exchange, the series will have the chance to continue its story, show off meaningful character interactions and make its biggest moments count all the more as a result.