The battles against gods to determine the fate of humanity continued to the second season. This season focuses solely on two rounds which take place right after the end of the prequel. The first half brings us to Round 4 where Heracles the God of Fortitude fights the Most Infamous Serial Killer in human history, Jack the Ripper. While the second half shows us a bit teaser of the upcoming Buddha’s fight in Round 6, and a legendary brawl in Round 5 between Shiva the God of Destruction against the Peerless Rikishi, Tameemon Raiden.
This second season only has 10 episodes in total. The production committee behind the creation of this anime adaptation is pretty much the same just like in the first season. The animation studios are Yumeta Company and Graphinica, while the main licensor of this series is Netflix which also has the exclusive right to broadcast this anime.
The anime is adapted from a seinen manga in Comic Zenon magazine. It is written by Takumi Fukui and Shinya Umemura, and illustrated by Ajichika. Prior to the release of the anime adaptation, the manga already had popularity due to its cool premise, and once the anime premiered, the hype and fame for this series doubled up.
The story is basically a simple fighting tournament-style premise. But the major difference and uniqueness are the contestants of the tournament are 14 gods from various mythologies who must battle 14 representing humans picked from centuries of mankind. If the gods win, then humanity will perish, otherwise, humanity will remain alive for another century. Thus, the magnificent and prestigious tournament called Ragnarok begins! While the first three rounds have been adapted in the first season, this time let’s talk about the execution of Round 4 and Round 5 of the tournament.
Plot / Battles
Round 4 is probably the most emotional, intriguing, contradictive, and controversial battle thus far in the entire story. It does not only arrange a deadly battle between two strong men but two totally opposite personalities and embodiments. While one is a kind and humble god, the other one is a cunning and cold-blooded psychopath that gives not care about life.
The battle between Heracles and Jack the Ripper shows the usual dynamics of the series that are combined greatly with a clash of ideology between the two fighters. The battle is super tense because Heracles with his silver club, Exodus, extreme durability, and undying will of kindness definitely drops the jaw and touches the heart of us. Meanwhile, Jack the Ripper who is designed to be a Joker-like character succeeds in giving chills and exceeding the expectation with his charisma, calmness, Volundr, and strategies.
Round 5 is a typical brawl and kind of wrestling match between two muscular and giant figures. The flow of the battle is somewhat similar to the first fight when Lu Bu fought Thor. Both Shiva and Raiden have their own belief, backstories, supporters, and fighting style that become the spark of fighting will not only for the characters but also for the real-life viewers.
Aside from the main battles, this season also introduces the character of Buddha who seems having an issue with the 7 Gods of Fortune for the longest time. The post-credit scene in the aftermath of episode 10 is kind of predictable yet still pumping up the tension and spirit since Buddha decides to fight for humanity in the next round.
Let’s start off with Heracles. The representation and design of this character are inspiring and beautiful. Although it may not be accurate with the Greek mythology version of Heracles, the strength that he holds and the compassion for humans shown by him give an impactful essence to the character.
This aspect is somehow doubled in the characterization of Jack the Ripper. Since the personality and identity of his real counterpart are never exposed at all, the range of creativity in making this character is totally vast. The decision to give him the side of a gentleman murderer but also a brilliant Joker-like strategist is simply wonderful. Not to mention the additional details for his character who sometimes speaks in the English language, acts in British manners, and sings the popular kids song “London Bridge is Falling Down” in the original Japanese dub version.
The characterization of Shiva is probably a bit off because, in the first season when he was a spectator, he seemed to be a fighting maniac type of guy who only cares about fighting and winning. Yet in his battle, he looks to be more calmed and a man with total respect towards his opponent. However, his backstories are really touching, his fighting spirits are jaw-dropping, and his Tandava Karma mode is simply astonishing.
Tameemon Raiden has the charm of a sumo wrestler even though his physique does not indicate he is a rikishi at all. The main point of his character is how he mostly suppressed his full potential his whole life because his muscle power is too strong, and seeing him able to release all his limitations to fight until his last breath is what makes the character so compelling.
The last one, let’s talk a bit about the adaptation of Buddha in this series. He is shown to be a rebellious eccentric guy who wears sleeveless with a rabbit design, sunglasses, and licks candies all the time. This version of Buddha is fresh, charming, unexpected, and also intimidating at the same time because let’s face it, nobody would ever think that Gautama Siddhartha ever looks and behaves this way.
Now let’s point out the biggest issue in this anime adaptation which surprisingly (or not) has not been fixed since the first season of the anime. To be fair, the “PowerPoint animation” does still exist but appears in a pretty minimum number of scenes, it may be disappointing for the fighting scenes, but the animation studios definitely learned something from the critics and make up for it.
But, although the main issue of the first season is handled fairly, a new issue arises in this anime adaptation: the use of rough 3DCGI. We all might agree that anime is not on good terms with 3D technology. There are plenty of anime adaptation animated in CG or has some scenes with CG effects in them, and most of them are total disasters.
That is arguably the biggest problem in this second season. It can be obviously seen in the intense battle of Heracles VS Jack the Ripper. At one moment they are in 2D, and once there is a fluid attack exchange, the characters turn into rough and clunky 3D. It is kind of ironic that action scenes in an action anime must be done in 3DCGI.
Don’t get it wrong, aside from the disappointing 3DCGI use in the second season, the other aspects are handled pretty well. The backgrounds, surroundings, and particle effects are well animated and somehow manage to give immersiveness to the story.
VA & Soundtrack
Truth be told, “Rude Lose Dance” by Minami is a good song, but unfortunately, it does not hold up the hype of the story like the first season’s opening theme. On the other hand, “Inori” by Masatoshi Ono as the ending theme is a fit song to bring the sense of divine battles and to pay respect to the fallen Ragnarok fighters and Valkyries.
The voice actors (seiyuu) for the Japanese dub are pretty suitable. Every character in the story is elevated and felt like a real figure fighting in Valhalla at the moment due to the wonderful performance of every seiyuu, especially Tomokazu Sugita as Jack the Ripper. This review may talk too much about this character, but really, everything about him is just pure gold, including his voice which matches his personality. A deep-low tone of voice gives a sense that he seems to be an ordinary British man, but deep inside he just loves to paint his targets red.
This season gives a sheer amount of cool and epic moments that may become headlines in the head of the viewers and fans such as:
- The introduction of Jack the Ripper, Buddha, and Shinsengumi
- Jack the Ripper singing “London Bridge is Falling Down”
- Jack the Ripper’s strategies to trick and defeat Heracles with his Volundr
- The clash between Loki & 7 Gods of Fortune against Buddha, Kojiro Sasaki, Soji Okita, and Isami Kondo
- The pressure and dark aura of Odin
- The backstory of Raiden from a weak toddler to the strongest sumo wrestler
The second season of Shuumatsu no Valkyrie (Record of Ragnarok) has pretty solid stories and characters, even though the animation quality is jumping back and forth from good, to great, and meh. The battles are extremely exciting, the unique abilities of each character are engaging, and the results of Rounds 4 and 5 are thrilling. It continues to bring surprises and awesomeness for the viewers, especially ones who don’t read the manga. Considering the battles are still nearly halfway through the whole tournament, we should be patient for more actions and characters to come, especially Buddha’s fight which is about to come in the next 5 episodes of this season that should be released later this year.
Overall Rating: 7.5/10