Dropkick on My Devil!! Dash – Review

So here we are with the second season of Dropkick on My Devil! and immediately it feels like I’m in an even trickier critical position than I was with the first season. At least I could approach the original season from the hypothetical angle of getting into the series from the beginning as we approach the crowd-funded third season’s premiere. Dropkick on My Devil!! Dash is ostensibly just more of the original, so if you heeded my advice and confirmed if that freshman outing was for you or not, then the same should hold true for this follow-up. Never mind that I found the original Dropkick to be mostly serviceable while not necessarily to my tastes, meaning my consumption of this continuation marks it as more obligatory, and I basically binged the two seasons back to back and can already feel them blending together into one ultraviolent lowbrow-comedy cocktail within my brain to the point that I can’t get the opening themes and background music out of my head and oh no will I ever be free—

Dropkick on My Devil!! Dash starts with what could be considered some key additions and improvements to the original’s structure, at least based on the issues I took with it at first. We actually start with a properly fleshed-out showing of Yurine’s impulsive summoning of Jashin, the inciting incident of this whole venture, which definitely feels like a response to any communicated confusion the first season’s premiere might have prompted. Its just a little more sense of lend structure to the dates of Dash, followed up by a full-blown multi-episode story arc centered around, what else, Pekola’s suffering. And perhaps it’s the more dialed-up metahumor, or maybe it’s the Stockholm-esque relationship I cultivated in consuming so much Dropkick In only a couple of weeks, but this opening stretch of the new season was the most fun I had with the series in a bit, prompting several actual laugh-out-loud reactions to its intense, concentrated humor.

Things taper off just as well in the wake of that, of course. If I had to define the difference between the original Dropkick and Dash, it would be that the latter has much higher highs, but decidedly lower lows than the original. Expected, perhaps, from a series whose humor prided itself on extremes of content and character treatment, but it means that for every element of an episode that made me out-and-out guffaw – sequences like Jashin’s contribution to the series’ very title being questioned, or her taking out her aggressions on a deserving target like Twitter trolls for once – I was otherwise near dozing off from the show’s long stretches of dedicated setup. I’ll give the series credit for commitment to its bits; Dash particularly has no qualms about taking all the time it needs to concoct just the most infuriatingly amusing long-form punchlines at the end of a sketch. One early demonstration of this, for instance, would be the point at the beginning of the third episode, wherein they make clear that the title of the show is going to be jokingly replaced with ‘Smart-Aleck Devil’ for this one iteration of the opening, except that said title only appears at the end of the sequence, turning the whole thing into an oddly-paced waiting-game for viewers who might otherwise watch through Dropkick‘s absurd intro songs on the merits of their own entertainment value. It completely jibes with the knowing shitpost energy of the show, but also highlights how hit-or-miss the deployment of that specific kind of humor is going to be.

But as I outlined at the beginning, that’s the hitch with a show like Dropkick, isn’t it? You know if it works for you or not already, so the role of critical evaluation like this, I suppose, ought to be one of comparison. I just outlined the functionality of those lower stretches of the show I felt were present, but what about those supposed improvements I alluded to? It’s not just that the humor is either significantly funnier or I’m just used to it by now. The additional characters introduced in this iteration each bring something new to the cast, as to be expected in an eclectic ensemble excursion such as this. Persephone II’s inclusion in the cast’s circle turns out to be a sharper addition than I might have expected. Far from a cloying ‘little sister’ type for Jashin, she proves to be the one most capable of calling the dropkicking devil out on her bullshit, setting the stage for much of the show’s antics to effectively punch down at the cartoon’s villainous focal character in an even more entertaining way than last season. Meanwhile, Kyon-Kyon the Jiangshi and her panda-fied sister make the most of their surprisingly limited appearances in the show after their initial introduction. And additional angel Pino is a real standout as the suddenly-appearing villain of that opening story arc in the first couple episodes, but her presence somewhat levels off after she’s pacified into custodial work for the rest of the series.

On another developmental track, the hints from the first season that Jashin might actually be more tsundere towards her circle of ‘friends’ than she lets on continues here, allowing some (keyword: some) of her interactions with them to be softened to a more tolerable slapstick treatment overall. In particular, some flashbacks to how she childhood friends with the likes of Medusa and Minos sheds some light on the more heartening aspects that established their relationship in general, while still maintaining that brand Dropkick turnabout viciousness as a punchline. Even with that, the sincerity of connections between characters actually gets to linger as genuine in a few segments here, which is more than I could say for all the subversion-setups that the original’s attempts at emotion always turned out to be. It’s particularly notable as we come to the tenth episode’s faux-finale fake-out, which of course throws us for a loop and continues on with more stupid-ass sketch comedy afterwards, but it’s the thought that counts, and Dropkick It seems to have just a few more thoughts bouncing around in its head this go-around.

Does all that make this season ‘better’ when the slightly softened antics otherwise mean we’re spending whole stretches watching characters eat pie and try on cosplay? This is the place where knowing whether Dropkick is your particular cup of tea will really be a make-or-break proposition: you either care for these characters long enough to watch them faff about in an extended run-up to some new form of hyper-bloody punch-line, or you just mentally check out thanks to sheer ambivalence. Things look a little nicer this go-around, at least, with a bit more fluid animation contributing to the antics as well as the action in places where real combat factors into the narrative. It probably helps that there was a little less show to go around in this season – it’s technically only ten episodes long, with one bonus clip-show episode, and a later OVA release with still more lavish antics. It makes for a rewarding glow-up compared to the clunkiness I felt from the first season, while still maintaining the purposeful rougher charms that define Dropkick. More of the same, just with some of the dials cranked up even further than you thought they could go.

I guess that’s the ultimate verdict I can deliver on Dropkick on My Devil!! Dash: If you weren’t a fan of the original, and were wondering if the second season would demonstrate enough updates or improvements to change that opinion…probably not. But if you were Buying the original’s specific brand of outlandishness, you can rest easy going into this one knowing it probably won’t let you down. It’s another step in the story that makes sense, of course; If Dash had been a let-down, there probably wouldn’t have been that clamoring crowdfunded creation of the third season, so once again we end at the question of what you even needed me for here. Maybe it wasn’t the same level of satisfactorily silly schadenfreude as watching Jashin be messily murdered on an episodic basis, but I can hope you gleaned at least some entertainment value from me grasping at what I thought and didn’t with this unquestionably unique show. I’ll see all of you back for the third season.

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