Posted by SuperMario on 15 October 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Thunderbolt Fantasy

Fun fact, I had just been to Taiwan and while in their local old bookstores and DVDs, I saw a section of puppetry animation dvds in the corner of the store (should’ve bought one now that I think about it). Apparently wuxia puppetry has a niche market in Taiwan, and so I’m glad that me, along with many anime fans all over the world, are aware about it. Thunderbolt Fantasy plays a huge role of bringing it to mainstream attention. The first season offered a refreshing aesthetic and playful characters that you won’t see anything like it in this medium. This show, I’d argue, help redefining the endless boundary of anime medium. To those of you who complain that Thunderbolt Fantasy isn’t animation, you’re technically right (read my old post how I break down about its technicality), but I’m on the side who consider that this wuxia fool is every inch an ANIME. It’s just not a style you’d see anywhere else.

The first thing I have to note on this second season is that you don’t really need a prior knowledge of the first season, so for anyone who want to go for a ride you can just jump right in. The first two episodes do a decent job of setting up the main conflicts, at the same time they suffer in term of pacing because of it. There’s just way too much exposition with very little awesome battle sequences, which make the story so far a little underwhelming. We pick up some time after the end of the first season, but with the issues we all know will come like a ticking bomb. Our Shang Bu Huan has an index of 36 insane legendary swords (think of flashy-sounding name and weird affect sword in Katanagatari x 36) and naturally it’s just too much of a burden for him to keep them with him. So our lead seeks assistance from the formidable Xian Zhen fortress, known as the most secure fortress in the side of the land. Things go awry very quickly because, as far as action show goes, the moments you leave the treasure to others’ hands, it’s a guaranteed that you’d spend the rest of the series cleaning up the mess. One thing that I didn’t expect is how quickly the tide turns against Shang Bu Huan.

For this installment we have a whole new set of supporting cast, all of them who come from Shang Bu Huan’s hometown and having crossed the Wastelands of Spirits. So far, it’s interesting that they fit in different roles in this ongoing conflict. On the one hand, we have red-haired Lang Wu Yao and his demonic talking pipa who is the blabbermouth that appear to be our lead’s ally. Well, for now they are but I can see the status quo change quickly once we  learn their true motive. As opposed to Shang Bu Huan we have the Princess of Cruelty Xie Yingluo, who tends to use tricks and poison to do the dirty job. On the other spectrum, we have the general Xiao Kuang Juan who (by coincidence) was escorted by our Gui Niao AKA the guy who could not be trusted. Gui Niao is curious as soon as he hears the name “Shang Bu Huan”, and so far this side of the battle is more high mind and conversational than his friend’s counterpart.

One other major development in these first two episodes is that Xie Yingluo manages to steal two legendary swords out from her half-piece sword index. Thunderbolt Fantasy makes it pretty clear that sword-skill wise she can’t compare to Shang Bu Huan. However, with the assistance of The Night of Mourning – a sword of mind-control, she turns all the helpless villagers against him and intoxics him. It’s the other sword (which we haven’t known the name or its affect yet), however, that proves to be more fearsome. I’d say that sooner or later that sword will fall into the wrong hand. Although the trademark over-designed and mannerism help making each of new character stand out, it’s sad to note that so far they’re more like chess pieces rather than full-fledged characters. The campy fun is still apparent, though.

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