Thunderbolt Fantasy 2 |OT| Yapping about swords once again


Two years almost to the day after being announced at the end of season 1, the wuxia puppet show that took the world by storm has returned.

A primer first to sell you on Thunderbolt Fantasy, if you've never seen or heard of this show before. Thunderbolt Fantasy is a show created, supervised, and written by Gen Urobuchi. Gen Urobuchi has had a prolific career over the past 18 or so years, more recently he's been famous for writing some of the most popular and award winning-est original anime of the last decade. One day Gen Urobuchi was in Taiwan for a convention and came across Pili's booth there. Pili is a wuxia puppet show (traditional Chinese glove puppetry, not stop motion) that's been running in Taiwan since 1985 and is more famous overseas for its bastardized edited version, Wulin Warriors.

Gen Urobuchi saw this and thought to himself "this is the coolest thing ever", bought a bunch of DVDs, and took them back to Japan to watch them. Then he showed them to all his buddies at Nitro+, the company he works for and serves as vice president of. This outburst of enthusiasm for Taiwanese puppetry made it back to the creators of Pili, several of whom were fans of Urobuchi. Both parties ended up reaching out to each other at about the same time, looking for a way they could possibly work on something together, and Thunderbolt Fantasy was born.

The first season of Thunderbolt Fantasy is a show about a wanderer who can do magic kung fu stuff, as he inadvertently and unenthusiastically becomes involved with an enigmatic schemer and an innocent priestess to take back a piece of said priestess' legendary holy sword from an evil group of people who also do magic kung fu stuff, led by a guy who is super into magic swords. Along the way they recruit various other characters to help them infiltrate the evil group's base to steal back the missing piece of the sword. It's all very straightforward (by Urobuchi's own admission, since this sort of show is new to Japan), at least until halfway through where the show starts to play with your expectations.

Thunderbolt Fantasy has, despite its simple premise, some of the most compelling characters to come out of any show in the greater Japanese anime/manga/game industry in the last few years. It has music by Hiroyuki Sawano, turning in some of his best work ever with not a single "oh god why did you make this" track in sight. It has some of the biggest names in Japanese voice acting in lead roles. The script is full of wit and charm, and can even be surprisingly deep at times. It has a character who calls himself the "Screaming Phoenix Killer". It is, in short, cool as heck.

Also it's got great magic sword (and other weapon) fights, way better than you would possibly expect from a puppet show. Please observe the following GIFs that I stole from this thread over here.

And now that you've presumably gone and watched all of season 1, now you can post in this thread about how much you love wuxia puppets and how cool season 2 is. Cause my god, that was a cool opening episode. Any detailed posts in this thread about the opening episode of season 2 will, by nature, probably spoil season 1. Please watch season 1 first before continuing.

Season 2 of Thunderbolt Fantasy picks up directly after the end of season 1. The lead character, Shāng Bù Huàn the Edgeless Blade, attempts to finally finish the task that he revealed at the end of season 1 (and would be massive spoilers to post here, seriously go watch season 1 first). However, old foes from his home country come calling to cause trouble for him. Stuck between the machinations of a corrupt government official and an even more powerful evil magic kung fu organization than the one in season 1, Shāng will need the help of companions new and old to stand against them. Also there will presumably be more schemes, subterfuge, swords, and awesome scenes of puppets being brutalized to death.
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Season 1 was my ultimate "gonna watch this as a joke" that turned into "This is legitimately amazing and I can't believe I thought I was only gonna watch this ironically." It's seriously amazing in a lot of ways, I'm already in awe that it was made at all but the end result blows my mind even more. Love this show.
The second half of The Sword of Life and Death is my favorite part of the series so far. Definitely looking forward to seeing more of this show!

The main crux of the first episode of what I've been discussing with people boils down to

A. Is Shang just kinda stupid?
B. Is this just part of a plan?
C. Is Lin Setsu A involved in that plan in any way?

I don't think Shangs that dumb and he's actually way more competent then he lets on (what kind of world savvy guy who crosses the no-go super death zone and has enough powerful enemies that they have their own council while collecting a ton of super powerful weapons isn't) but he's also kind of lazy so maybe he did just fuck up
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When the music hits, you feel no pain.
I literally gasped upon reading the title. Thunderbolt Fantasy was my gem that summer. The emoting and fight choreography is magnificent, and made all the more impressive that it's done through live-action puppeteering. Definitely gonna watch.

Unfortunately, I am not sure they can replicate the impact of the twists at the end of season 1. That was a one time thing dependant on your assumptions.
Totally forgot that this was starting so soon, the first season ended up being far more entertaining than I expected and I hope this season can keep that up.
I was a little down on the early parts of the new episode, considering how much of a bang the first season started on, but I was definitely back into it again by the end.
It definitely feels like it's setting up a more complex plot from the get go here.