After twelve episodes of seeing Itoshiki Nozomu fall into despair, there can have been few fans of the series who weren’t ready for him and his eclectic class to come back for more. Fortunately, the success of the first season meant that another thirteen episodes weren’t far behind, but would ‘second season syndrome’ kick in and make this batch less enjoyable than what had come before?
In fact, although there was nothing terribly wrong with it, season two did get off to a bit of an uncertain start. Filled with renewed confidence, SHAFT seemed determined to inject their own brand of insanity into at least one of each episode’s three segments, resulting in mind-boggling levels of insanity that had the potential to twist and snap the brain of even the most dedicated lover of crazy comedy. Yes, there was still plenty of the bleak humour that had made the series so enjoyable in the first place, but was it all in danger of tipping over the edge?
Fortunately, after this shakedown phase was over, Zoku settled into the comfortable format set by season one, offering up yet more hilarious reasons to despair in each passing episode. From the danger of making assumptions to a futile attempt to escape today’s information-overloaded society, Sensei’s apt observations and myriad examples rarely failed to hit the mark in terms of dark comedy and sheer entertainment. And once the sheer insanity from the early episodes had cooled, even the ‘what if’ stories such as a double-segment in which Sensei becomes a detective who always solves his cases after all the protagonists are killed became not only worthy, but proof that there was no end to the situations the series could present.
After season one, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei already had a rather large cast of characters, all with their own unique personality trait (and/or disorder). Fortunately, only a few more names are added to the roster this time around, but as expected the series is all about using the characters and their interplay for humour- which it accomplishes superlatively- rather than developing them in their own right. Still, that’s what comedy is about, and with so many personalities each having their own take on a subject, it rarely gets stale (with the possible exception of the excessive Kaere panty shots).
Visually, this second season follows in the footsteps of its predecessor with its high contrast style and patterned backgrounds, albeit with a bit of a budget injection this time around. Background music is much the same as it was before, although there is a nice tango-style piece early on in the season, plus a whole new crazy OP and ED, the former of which earns points for contain the word “rumba”.
As with the first season, Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei doesn’t strike gold all the time, but even though there are some dud segments, when the series brings its top game, you can’t help but be thoroughly entertained by this unique blend of dark and crazy humour. And with each episode carrying the series from strength to strength, we can only hope that a third season will one day grace us with its presence someday soon.