WARNING: The following contains spoilers for World Trigger Season 2, Episode 1, « The Attack, » which is now airing on Crunchyroll.
The World Trigger anime got off to a very rough start. The very odd pacing and low-quality animation of the first season make it one of the less popular Shonen J ump adaptations of recent years. Very few series have recovered from a season like this. Even good anime can sometimes have a bad sequel, with One-Punch Man’s second season being the most infamous example in recent years. Fortunately, World Trigger is an exception in this regard; After almost a five-year hiatus, the show now returns greatly improved in Season 2, both in terms of animation and storytelling.
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The second season premiere begins in chapter 121 of the manga, the beginning of the Galopoula invasion arc. It’s a good place to reboot the anime with the introduction of some important new characters, and it’s also a very exciting battle arc. There are some coincidences with the last episode of the first season, so this episode also serves as a good summary.
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The animation is a huge improvement over the first season. Characters move into action scenes rather than being shown as still images. The art in general is much more detailed and better rendered, as the image above demonstrates, comparing the same scenes of an army invasion that are featured in Season 1 (top row) and Season 2 (bottom row). Although the framing of the scenes is largely the same, there is much more detail in season 2 compared to season 1, as well as greater contrast and lighting. Toei must have taken all of the Season 1 reviews to heart and has completely remade the animation, rather than reusing old shoddy footage.
More importantly, the second season makes major changes to its storytelling style and pacing. Season 1 relied heavily on recaps from each episode to inform the audience about what happened previously, with additional expository scenes at the end of each episode. These scenes are largely redundant, and can sometimes take up a quarter or even a third of the duration of the episode. The second season has completely removed these scenes and thus has much more time to tell the real story.
In general, the second season is picking up the pace considerably. By comparison, the final episode of season 1 covered about two and a half chapters of the manga, while episode 1 of season 2 covers almost four entire chapters, never feeling rushed. The first season also had the strange habit of taking long pauses between the spoken lines of the characters; fortunately, such a thing has not yet happened in the second season.
The heavy filler of the first season was due in part to mangaka Daisuke Ashihara’s frequent health problems, but also because he ran continuously for almost two years. World Trigger’s return is running on a more reasonable seasonal schedule, so you shouldn’t have a problem with filler to wait for the manga to come out ahead. More than 80 more chapters of the manga have been published since the first season ended, so the second and third seasons will have many stories to adapt.
Even something with an engaging storyline and funny characters can’t survive a terrible execution. A poor execution killed the World Trigger anime the first time, and the fact that World Trigger can still get a season 2 and 3 after a poorly produced season 1 is a testament to the strength of the source material.
World Trigger is a great Shonen series that should be appreciated by more people, and hopefully this improved Season 2 will be a gateway for a wider audience to discover this excellent series.