World Trigger Season 2 Deserves an Award for Most Improved Anime

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for World Trigger Season 2, Episode 1, "The Attack," now streaming on Crunchyroll.

World Trigger’s anime had a very rough start. Season 1’s very odd pacing and low-quality animation makes it one of the least popular Shonen Jump adaptations in recent years. Very few series have ever recovered from such a season. Even good anime can sometimes get a bad continuation, One-Punch Man Season 2 perhaps being the most infamous example in recent years. Thankfully, World Trigger is an exception in this regard; after almost a five-year hiatus, the show now returns hugely improved in Season 2, both in terms of animation and storytelling.

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The Season 2 premiere starts from Chapter 121 of the manga, the beginning of the Galopoula invasion arc. It is a good place to restart the anime with the introduction of some new and important characters, and it is also a very exciting battle arc. There is some overlap with the last episode of Season 1, so this episode serves as a good recap as well.

The animation is a major improvement from Season 1. Characters actually move in action scenes rather than being shown as still images. The art overall is much more detailed and better rendered as the above picture demonstrates -- comparing the same scenes of an army invasion as presented in Season 1 (top row) and Season 2 (bottom row). Even though the framing of the scenes is largely the same, there's so much more detail in Season 2 compared to Season 1, as well as stronger contrast and lighting. Toei must have taken all the criticisms of Season 1 to heart and has completely redone the animation, rather than reuse old substandard footage.

More importantly, Season 2 makes very important changes in terms of its storytelling style and pacing. Season 1 relied heavily on recaps each episode to fill audiences in on 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 episode’s run time. Season 2 has completely eliminated these scenes and thus has much more time to tell the actual story.

Overall, Season 2 is speeding up the pacing considerably. For comparison, the final episode of Season 1 covered about two and a half chapters from the manga, while Episode 1 of Season 2 covers almost four entire chapters, without ever feeling rushed. Season 1 also had the strange habit of putting awkwardly long pauses between characters’ spoken lines; thankfully, such a thing has yet to occur in Season 2.

Season 1's heavy filler was partially due to the mangaka Daisuke Ashihara’s frequent health issues but also from running continuously for almost two years. World Trigger's return is working at a more reasonable seasonal schedule, so it shouldn't have problems with padding things out to wait for the manga to get ahead. Over 80 more chapters of the manga have been published since Season 1 ended, so Season 2 and the upcoming Season 3 will have plenty of stories to adapt.

Even something with an engaging story and fun characters cannot survive a terrible execution. Poor execution killed the World Trigger anime the first time around, 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 greatly improved Season 2 will be a gateway towards a larger audience discovering this excellent series.

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