Sep 172012

There was one genuinely great moment in the second season of Moyashimon.

When the gang gets back from their little trip to France, Yuki finds out that Sawaki got a little friendly with a girl– a girl who just happened to look eerily like Yuki despite being female and of a completely different nationality.

So what does Yuki do? He slugs Sawaki.

This was no lame, comedic “baka!” slap or some old school hammerspace mallet to the head moment. The dude clobbers Sawaki in what’s clearly a moment of jealousy. He knocks the kid to the ground. It was downright violent.

And that was the only moment in the entire second season of this thing that came close to capturing the same vibe of the first season. Shame the series didn’t start with that moment and build upon it.

You’ve heard the spiel already. The character designs weren’t the same. The comedic timing wasn’t there. Moyashimon Returns was more like “I want to Return Moyashimon and get my money back, but I didn’t pay anything for it so I guess I gotta shut up.”

What really did this season in was focusing on an actual story. That first season was a bit of a scatter shot. It introduced us to the concept behind everything, let us mess around with the characters during their daily lives, and then threw in an unexpected development at the end. For the most part it was a sitcom. Even when it ramped up the drama with all that Hasegawa stuff, it was dealt with in the same manner as a sitcom. Stuff got resolved pretty swiftly, even if it wasn’t resolved permanently.

That’s what was lacking in this second season. That brevity was tossed out in favor of this slow burn story that took up the bulk of the screentime. Almost everything was tied into Hasegawa’s plight to get out of her arranged marriage. Even the rehash of the school festival was less about those antics and more about raising money to run after her to France.

There was purpose behind everything in this season, and that dragged everything down. Moyashimon doesn’t need that shit.

What’s funny is that all of this was already covered in the live action adaptation of the series back in 2010. That adaptation condensed everything we saw in both seasons of the Moyashimon anime and made one cut which retroactively looks brilliant: They cut out the entire France thing.

The live action series condensed both festivals into one outing. All of the “we gotta raise funds to save Hasegawa” stuff happened at the same time we were introduced to the wacky competitive stuff that went on during the festival. Part of the problem with the second season of the anime is that, despite the festival being interesting enough, it felt like a rehash of what’s already happened. That wasn’t the case in the live action series.

And you know what happened once they had the cash to run off and save Hasegawa in France? They found out she wasn’t in France. It was a joke born out of the series’ lack of budget to film in France, but it was a brilliant move, especially considering that the France arc was pretty lame in the anime. The live action series made us believe Hasegawa was in France. Her scenes with her fiance were filmed to make it seem like she was in fancy restaurants and hotels in France, but in fact she was just on the other side of Japan.

When the characters realized this, they cut to a scene of a girl who was clearly meant to be Marie, and she whined about being edited out of the series. That was something I didn’t quite get at the time, since I hadn’t read the manga, but looking back it’s pretty amusing.

So yeah, the live action series condensed everything to avoid that repetitive feel that came early on in the second season of the anime, and it cut out all that stuff in France that wasn’t all that interesting. But the kicker is that the finale actually felt like a finale. I wrote about it way back when, but if you don’t feel like reading that here’s the gist of it:

The characters storm the hotel Hasegawa’s in. Literally. It turns into an epic fight scene, complete with characters “sacrificing” themselves so Sawaki can make it to Hasegawa and save her from being married. It even has Yuki busting out some kickboxing moves. That’s way better than the anime’s “oh, I ate some bad oysters, so I’m sick and can call off the marriage, so you can go home now” ending.

So yeah, the second season wasn’t all that, but I’m not too down about it. I already got a vastly superior version of the story two years ago with the live action series.

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