Okay, it looks like someone let the air out of this one mid-way through. I was pretty sure Yuusha Yoshihiko to Akuryou no Kagi (hereafter known as Yuusha 2) was going to be one of my crack dramas of 2012. And it was — for the first four episodes. After that, it started meandering around, spoofing random things here and there as it tried to come up with enough material to see it through the rest of its 11-episode journey.
The main problem with Yuusha 2 is that in trying to recapture last season’s success, it ended up becoming a rehash of its predecessor. I’m not sure why this happened though. It can’t be for lack of material — there are so many other RPG tropes this drama could have parodied, not to mention I also wish Fukuda had done more with his characters. I wasn’t expecting any depth to them but at least let them power up or get a new weapon that’s actually of some use. I can’t believe Murasaki’s still stuck with her trick knife after all this time. Don’t these RPGs usually have a shop where characters can upgrade their skills/weapons or something? And I know Merebu’s spells are supposed to be lame but after the first few episodes, the joke started to wear really thin. (Plus, as much as I found their bickering relationship cute, I wish Murasaki had decked Merebu at least once for all those stupid spells cast at her expense.)
Maybe it’s a case of Fukuda spreading himself too thin (the man has way too many projects going on at the same time) but I suspect that he didn’t really think the plot through this time round. In the first season, the objective was simple enough: gather the weapons needed to defeat Maou. The characters knew what they were supposed to do and it didn’t feel like they were wandering around aimlessly looking for something that might or might not exist, as was the case in this one where they spent eight episodes looking for a key, only to be told where to find it when time was running out. Seriously, why didn’t you just say so and save me the trouble of having to sit through so much filler?
I enjoyed the first season for its irreverent tone and the way it poked fun at RPG clichés. Yuusha 2 tried to do the same thing but it ended up recycling a lot of the scenarios from the previous season, especially in the second half of the show. Towards the end, many of the jokes felt tired and out-of-place. For example, I didn’t see the relevance of the Beach Boys parody or One Piece spoof in episode 10. They’re fine ideas on their own but they just didn’t bring anything to the story.
It’s too bad that Yuusha 2 ran out of steam. It had a solid start with the first four episodes (I have to confess the Kinpachi spoof in episode 5 was lost on me) and despite my grouses about the characters, they were the reason I stuck with the show till the end. Yamada Takayuki & Co made up one of my favourite ensembles of 2012 and if only Fukuda had made better use of his cast and spent more time etching out the plot, I’d be able to call this drama a keeper.