Are you prepared for the epic and ridiculous story of Dark Schneider kicking ass and taking names? Are you ready to observe the cast of colorful characters interact with one another? Are you prepared to watch villains ham it up while eating scenery? Are you ready to experience more of the epic qualities that made BASTARD!!’s first season so captivating? Well…You may have to wait a little longer because that stuff won’t arrive on your doorstep until around five episodes in, and even then, it doesn’t reach the degree that it did at the end of season one.
Season two of BASTARD!! began with an intriguing new status quo. Because of the season one cliffhanger, our ensemble of characters has dispersed to unknown lands; two years have passed, interesting alliances have formed, and the final leftover villain from season one is embarking on full-fledged global conquest. What began as an attack on a specific kingdom has now erupted into a full-fledged global war, and with Dark Schneider presumably AWOL, humanity is hanging by a thread. This appears to be the plot’s logical progression, yet this story path may have harmed rather than helped the series in the long term.
BASTARD!! never seemed like a show designed to be taken seriously. It’s the poster child for tacky self-indulgence. Dark Schneider is a pompous, over-the-top, overpowering, and entitled jerk who almost wins every battle just because he is the attractive main character (his words, not mine). He wants to fuck everything that moves, and despite the fact that he doesn’t respect anyone in the show, women literally fall at his feet and are eager to let him do anything because he’s just that wonderful and assertive. It was pure desire fulfillment, and there’s nothing wrong with that, especially given the series’ self-awareness. That was initially conveyed solely through tone, but by the end of season one, it was shattering the fourth wall without a care in the world. It wasn’t for everyone, but an unabashed show was a breath of fresh air. My only real gripe was that it felt like it wanted to go further with its violence, cheesiness, and sexual escapades, but for whatever reason, it was never permitted to.
Season one’s narrative crescendo and the new size of season two should have resulted in unparalleled quantities of cheese. But it takes a long time to get there, and even when we do, we rarely reach the huge highs of last season. BASTARD, instead!!
Season Two attempts to take a more serious tone with its narrative. The character depictions in the series are based on tragedy. There are a few obvious social commentary morsels about how faithful someone should be to leadership, no matter how corrupt. The villain’s past is heartbreaking, requiring the audience to empathize with him the most of everyone in the drama. The characters had a genuine sense of camaraderie and intensity, and I was astonished at how much I cared about everyone.
The show could take a more serious turn, especially because it has precedent. The issue is that it tries to have its cake and eat it too by continuing to have Dark Schneider…act like Dark Schneider. The show spends several episodes creating this new tone with Schneider completely missing from the tale, but when he returns, it’s back to the molesting, slapstick, and fourth wall breaks. Every few minutes, it felt like I was watching two different shows and getting whiplash. These styles don’t mesh as well as the staff would have liked.
Previously, the plot began to bend to Dark Schneider’s charisma and viewpoint. Everyone got increasingly self-aware as events progressed. It also helped since the previous cast were Dark Schneider’s former buddies, so they were familiar with his quirks. It resulted in some pretty amusing chemistry and banter. Now, our newly established cast lacks that chemistry with Schneider, who desperately wants to take center stage but is limited to chewing the scenery due to the narrative’s many moving components. Yoko, who originally appears to go through a character metamorphosis while Schneider is not around, is now the only thing tying Schneider to the good side. Even so, the moment he’s reintroduced, it’s back to business as usual, minus the entertaining component.
This is an example of a show that is being tugged in too many directions. It intends to create a sympathetic buildup for the primary villain while also expanding the cast by introducing a slew of new characters to the audience. It wants to raise the stakes by making things feel more tragic, but it also wants to include the main couple in this unique slapstick comedy. It seeks to grow Yoko and Schneider’s relationship by giving us the impression that things are being handled more maturely, but then it’s back to business as usual, with Schneider wanting to fuck anything that moves. It’s as if for every aim that the tale develops, there is a polar opposite intention that undermines it, and this sadly leaks into the show’s presentation.
By no means does the show appear to be poor. From an aesthetic sense, it appears better than season one. Because of the time jump, the character designs have been appropriately enhanced, and certain nice moments of added shading give the character designs more dimension. Furthermore, the scale has grown, with new locales to explore. Not to mention that the soundtrack, with its heavy-metal-inspired guitar and drum rhythms, is still the best part of this program. However, because it cut out to so many different scenarios and environments, there weren’t many impressive animation moments.
While things do become more spectacular by the end of these fifteen episodes, the journey is far too protracted. This season did not build on the previous season’s foundation, hence no new heights were achieved. This was a case when doing less would have allowed them to do more since, unlike Dark Schneider, BASTARD!! does not get to succeed simply because it wants to.