World Trigger Season 2
by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 7 of
World Trigger (TV 3) ?
Something I've come to really appreciate about World Trigger over the years is that it lets Osamu be genuinely mediocre. That sounds like a back-handed compliment, but I mean it. Shonen anime loves underdog stories, but most of them eventually buckle under the pressure to make their hero cool and impressive, and few can resist the siren song of giving their protagonists a special power or ability that ends up negating any disadvantage they used to have. Naruto's a talentless ninja who's ostracized? Well turns out he's Ninja Jesus and has power unto a god. Asta's the lone person born without magic? Good thing he gets Anti-magic that negates literally every power he'll ever go up against! But not Osamu. He's a thoroughly below-average fighter with C-rank trion levels, and while he's intelligent and observant he's far from the kind of super-genius who usually fills the glasses-wearing tactician role. He's just a doggedly determined boy who's willing to learn and do whatever he can to fulfill his role in Tamakoma-2, and among the ranks of Border that can go a long way.
I say all that despite the fact that Osamu racks up his highest kill count of the show this episode, using clever positioning and sneaky traps to take out both of Yoko's team members. Turns out advantageous positioning and preparation can give even a Bologna level fighter the edge! Unfortunately the overall strategy ends up falling apart by the end, with Kakizaki delivering a parting shot that leaves Yuma dangerously close to bailing out, and thus needing to rush over to help Osamu rather than chasing after Teruya. Chika puts up a good fight, and that lead-bullet Hound attack is absolutely killer (well, it's actually non-lethal but you know what I mean), but that probably doesn't bode well for the team's next match now that there's at least one obvious way to counter lead-bullet sniping. Still, both Osamu and Chika performed more than admirably with their new skills, and combined with Yuma's ever-dependable ruthlessness they come out with a win.
Really though, the star of “Showdown” isn't any member of Tamakoma-2, but rather the irritable ace of Katori squad. During the fray we get a look into Yoko's past, and it's here that the improved direction of season 2 really shines. Sure, there's some great action cuts this week after a couple of lower priority performances, but where this episode impressed me the most was in its editing and direction as we witness how Yoko and Hana (Katori Squad's ever-patient Operator) came to join Border after surviving the first Neighbor invasion. This is the first time we've ever seen a ground-level perspective on that fateful day, and it delivers in a big way, polishing the solid foundation from the manga and creating a stark, human, and mildly fucked-up story of two teenagers forging a friendship in fire.
First we get a deeper look at who both are at their core. Yoko is a gifted kid who seemed to pick up skills without effort, while Hana's much more average but puts in work to keep herself prepared. Though unlikely friends, they clearly cared about one another – with Yoko going so far as to carve out a new window in her family's home just so they can talk after Hana's overbearing parents ban her from visiting. But it's when Yoko finds herself buried in the rubble of her own house that we see just how much these two mean to each other – we only see the bloody mess of Hana's fingers after clawing through the wreckage to save her, but that image alone sells just how much this girl wanted to save her friend.
Oh, and later we find out Hana chose to search for Yoko rather than try to dig out her own parents.
Like I said, slightly fucked up. But that just adds a bit of flavor to what might have otherwise been a nice but generic sad backstory. Plus that was what ultimately spurred Yoko to join Border, and it gives us a reason to, if not like her, at least understand what drives her. She's equal parts arrogant and irritable, and seemingly an absolute chore to work with, but even she has something she's fighting for. And while Osamu's last-minute trick manages to beat her, it's still impressive how much she's able to pull off in just a single attack, alone and outnumbered.
Tamakoma-2 still comes out on top though, and while the denouement will have to wait for the next episode, this match has been a joy to follow. It walks the tightrope of showing off our heroes' new skills and making them feel genuinely effective, while still offering both character depth and competence to their opponents. This has been a sharply-written, smartly paced trio of episodes, and a prime example of World Trigger at its best.
World Trigger Season 2 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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