Kyoukai Senki 14: Ongoing Struggle

Kyoukai Senki has finally come back for its 2nd cour. As “basic” as it is, the last 2 eps from the first cour of Kyoukai Senki were well made and made some of mecha fans hyped up for its 2nd cour. Some might say that Kyoukai Senki felt too normal, too basic, like an anime made with “How to make mecha anime 1 on 1” book, except for the traditional hand-drawn mech to mech combat. And with the release of episode 14, was it better?

Eight months have passed since the battle with Ghost and the loss of Kenbu, Gai and Amou. The political landscape has changed drastically, with the North American Army expanding its influence and pushing back the other forces, however, the one that suffer the most is still the Japanese people, with many refugees having to move due to escalation of the war.

We got to see Tezuka and Shion again. They look considerably more mature and battle-hardened than before. A slight change in appearance is always nice. Both of them seems to still be affected after the battle with Ghost. Tezuka – after seemingly gotten his revenge – now dedicated his effort to the liberation of Japan. But it’s not just his will alone, but also Amou’s. He wanted to make a change, make a difference just like Amou’s wish. For Shion, she is a sensitive girl – and losing a very close friend like that has caused her a lot of grief and shaken her to the core. Whenever she’s alone, those feelings creep back and cause her mental anguish. Even though they both have their ILeS partners, they can’t soothe the pain those two are enduring.

But it’s not just their mental state that is being pushed to the limit, but their physical as well. Yatagarasu, along with many other Resistance group, are facing peril with a severe supply shortage and an influx of refugee. Basically, anything that can go wrong has gone wrong for them, and they have no choice but to put up with it. And not only does the North American Army is superior in almost every aspect, they are also playing dirty. We meet yet another douchebag commander that treat Japanese people like trash and won’t hesitate to open fire on civilians. Shion and Tezuka put up a good fight, but they weren’t enough. But that’s the setting for the classic Sunrise trope: the entry of the badass saviour.

And there we have it! The Kenbu is back and even better than before. The representation is superb. That black silhouette shredding under the flame is so freaking extra that it looks badass. The special effects in that sequence was phenomenal, but you have to wonder what the hell it was covered with lol. And of course, Amou is in the cockpit – but he looks…soulless – kinda like you-know-who – yep he’s basically turned into Inaho Kaizuka. I’m sure there will be lots of answering and resolving and of course, crying next episode. But for now, let;s just marvel at the fiery return of Kenbu.

Amou surely holds the record of the fastest revived protagonist for a mecha series (or at least top 3). Kyoukai Senki part 2 opened up quite nicely. With some really great storyline setup to follow, especially with Brad. The sirtuation was worse than we thought, even worse than what we got at the start of the series.
That is it for the episode content review. Let’s dive a bit more into other parts of the anime.

Let’s start with the parts that were as well made as in the first cour: the hand-drawn mecha action. Sunrise BEYOND holds nothing back when they animated those scenes. What makes mecha fans fall in love with hand-drawn mecha action, Sunrise BEYOND got them all. The recoiling feels when Gashin fired his rifle, the impact of the explosion shells,… combines with great OSTs: chef kiss. Kyoukai Senki’s music from the first cour to the second was done by Rasmus Faber, who has done many songs for various of shows, mecha or not mecha. Macross Delta, Rinne no Lagrange, Gakusen Toshi Asterisk,…  There are not many mechs shows in this season, hand-drawn one is even rarer, so Kyoukai Senki is one of the best mecha anime choices if you run out of mecha anime. But I would not recommend you this anime if it only has good mecha action.
The plot is still the same, slow and steady, but I could feel that they are heading toward a darker tone compared to the first cour. Even in the first cour, you could still sense some of the bad things that the staff have tried to convey to us, the second cour did not hesitate to show us that scene in episode 14. I did not expect it to happen, even if death was not rare in this anime. Episode 14 half part later blew my mind. But then, it was the anime opening and the ending that made this anime more interesting.
The opening “Overload” feels more mature and darker tone but still has positive energy when the chorus kicks in compared to the first opening. Honestly speaking, it can become an opening in Gundam’s show, and that makes my expectation for the second cour higher. The Opening animated scenes depicted that as well.
But this is nothing compared to the ending, which I don’t know how but Kyoukai Senki’s staff has managed to get the signature from one of the GOATs: Hiroyuki Sawano. Yeah, you are not misreading it, the man himself made the ending melody. Let’s be honest, his music style is so distinct that we may even recognize his works just by a few notes. Because of it, some may think that he is one lazy artist that keeps using the same formula. But trust me on this one, the experience when you listen to his music alone is vastly different when you listen to his music while watching the anime. The guy knows how to manipulate our emotion, his signature drop, and his choice in the vocal for each song, works every time. It’s so simple, but to make that simple is not simple at all.
Overall, not a bad start for the second cour, however, now that we got some big upgrades incoming, I’m expecting a much more intense and action-packed season.

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