This Week in Anime - B: The Beginning The Sequel

4 months ago 44

Sherlock-esque detective Keith Flick is back for a half-length season that ditches the clowns for...a coup plot? Toilet humor? Nick and Steve come out the other side of this one with more questions than answers.

This series is streaming on Netflix

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Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.

Steve, I've got some bad news to break, and I'm not sure how to say it. But I remember from my high school psych class that it can be easier to deliver troubling information by pairing it with some good news. Would you like to try it?

I don't think either of us have much of a choice here.

So, bad news: It's Netflix Dump time again. Good news: It's only six episodes! Bad news: We now have to try and remember what the fuck B: The Beginning was about.

Well if we wanna start from the very, VERY beginning of B, I have additional bad news, and it's that they made the opening splash screen slightly less funny.

Only slightly, though. But yeah, seeing as that's one of 5 things I remember from the first season, we've sure got our work cut out for us.

Let me up front: I did not have time to rewatch all of the first season of B: The Beginning for this, and the last time I saw it was me slamming back 12 episodes over 3 years ago. Considering this show wasn't exactly lauded for its narrative coherency, this article is gonna be a lot of us trying to ice skate uphill to jog our memories about the gnarled lore of C: The Continuation, capiche?

I'm in the exact same boat, and I'm laying the blame square on Netflix for that. The least they could've done is slap together a 5-10 minute supercut of the first season to jog everyone's synapses, but instead they just throw us in the deep end and expect us to remember what Reggies are over 1000 days later.

So here is more or less the sum of what I remember about B:
1) There's a detective/serial killer subplot featuring Keith Flick, the unfortunately named genius detective
2) There's a totally unconnected second plot about a bunch of anime clowns trying to hunt down Koku, who is a transforming reincarnation of humanity's winged predecessor species created by human experimentation
3) At one point, one of those clowns skateboards.
Shockingly, barely any of that is relevant to anything happening in this season.

I think you've just about covered the gist of it. And I do admit I have a soft spot for the first season of B, because it was so dense with buckwild nonsense and barely stitched together. Like, we've been put through a LOT of bland sci-fi crime Netflix originals, and at least B had fun stuff like the skateboard skirt clown. That said, this second season is a murky and anemic slog.

It really is. I at least recall enjoying the act of watching season 1, even if it hasn't stuck with me. But despite being half as long, Succession drags worse than anything I've watched in a good long while. It's 6 episodes of cryptic, circuitous shaggy dog storytelling that winds up accomplishing next to nothing. I have no idea why this was made.

And it's especially baffling because season 1 ended on the beautifully trashy high note of aspiring murder husbands. Like, was it ripping off all of the major crime procedurals that were popular in the early 2010s? Absolutely. Did that still whip ass? Hell yes.

Sorry, no time for aping cop or detective shows. We need several episodes of rejected Code Geass villains standing around saying meaningless bullshit.

Yes, nothing inspires fear and intimidation like a villain wearing bright green Dockers.

Also, FGO fans, please say hi to Enkidu on the right there.

Like that's my first sign this season was going to disappoint. All the villains are just...some dudes. The most memorable design is the chick wearing a boob-sock catsuit. Where are clowns? SEND IN THE CLOWNS.

I agree, and I can't believe we've been pulled into dire enough straits to actually BEG for MORE anime clowns. This column really has damaged us beyond repair.

At least I remember the clowns! Our main antagonist for this season is this fuccboi in a knockoff Armani. And he never lands even a single skateboard trick!

Like, here's a comparison between the episode 1 villain introductions.

I know which one I want to (begrudgingly) spend more time with. Our current bad bro Kirisame is also an old buddy of Koku's, and they spend half the premiere taking a pleasant walk and chatting about world domination. Y'know. Like you do.

Turns out a whole bunch of Koku's fellow human experiments also survived the military raid on their orphanage and instead of becoming airship piloting clown terrorists, they're working on their own coup to overthrow the current king. If that sounds potentially interesting, don't worry, it goes absolutely nowhere.

Also, remember Keith? You know, the schlubby resident antisocial genius detective who definitely doesn't resemble any other public domain characters? Well he's back for more over-the-top murder solving! And by that I mean we're sticking him in a big tower for the entire season.

Oh trust me, we will get to Keith. But first we have to establish the ludicrously roundabout plan the bad guys have. When Koku rejects their plan to overthrow the government, they decide they have to FORCE him by kidnapping and/or threatening everyone close to him. Even though they're also super soldiers with swordarms so I don't get why they need him in particular.

It makes zero sense because we eventually find out that this swordarmgirl is a BETTER swordarmperson raised in a MORE advanced secret child lab, and the whole point of having her is so they DON'T have to use Koku to do whatever they're doing. But they also need her to watch Koku for that to happen? And it also turns out she can't beat him anyway?

If Kirisame just straight-up admitted that he was winging everything, I'd respect him and this show so much more.

This whole season feels like a rushed first draft, written as they went along with random twists thrown in every episode to retain audience attention. It's the worst kind of mystery box writing where they keep promising something interesting will happen and things will start to make episode!

Which in a way is certainly in line with modern Sherlock.

Amen to that lol. I guess that's the risk of flying too close to the sun when your sun is a 30 watt lightbulb buried in a pool of mud.

Doesn't help that they feel the need to bring back every character from the previous season despite having not a damn thing for them to do. Like sure, Lily doesn't spend multiple episodes naked and paralyzed in a serial killer's dungeon this time, but her main role of "driving around, barely missing the plot happening" still ain't great.

I love Lily, and I'm glad she's here, but she really doesn't do anything. To be fair, though, nobody does anything of consequence this season. At least Lily gets to complain about Keith's gastrointestinal habits I guess?

This season's got a weird focus on poop, actually. Not sure why and I kinda hope it stops if we ever get more.

It's apropos (or should I say, apropoo (actually I shouldn't)) in a sense. Oh and Lily defies gravity in her car that one time. It's no skateboarding clown, of course, but an effort was made.

Also, Yuna is here. She doesn't really do anything, but she's here! Yay?

I mean the defining "B" symbol of the first season was all about Koku trying to reunite with her, but this season makes it pretty clear the narrative didn't plan beyond that, because she's another character who's just...there. Hell, rather than figure out a smart or interesting thing to do with Yuna, they just bring back the skateboard clown again!

But of course, they have to complete the classic anime trio of E-Girl, Podcaster Boyfriend, and Drag Race Contestant.

A powerful polycule, no doubt about that.

A shame that, like you said, there's absolutely nothing for them to do. The most action comes when Koku and Izanami kidnap the king in order to save him from assassination, and that happens almost entirely off screen so we have to spend a full half an episode with Keith sitting on his ass in a tower.

Literally he's just sitting there, slowly dying. No plans, no mind palaces, just vibes.

Tangent, but so many scenes in this season take place in low lighting with dull colors, and while that's not particularly inspiring in the best of circumstances, Netflix's streaming compression makes it look like absolute dogshit every time.

Doesn't help that this season got a definite production downgrade. Whether that's bad scheduling, COVID interference, or just another sign that nobody knew what to do with this season, it lacks any of the oomph from its predecessor. So many scenes are flatly lit midshots of characters just standing around it almost feels like a joke.

Note: those are both meant to be dramatic shots from the season finale, if you can call it that.

It's pretty bad, yeah. I don't remember the first part looking amazing, mind you, but it definitely had more panache than this. The action scenes are especially anemic. It's not even a problem with the animation as much as it's flat storyboarding paired with a soundtrack with zero sense of urgency.

They also got rid of the wacky mind palace galaxy brains stuff for investigations. Now it's just on-screen text explaining the obvious to you like you're watching Blue's Clues.

Can't believe I'd yearn for more of this bullshit, but I'm starving. B, please be bad in a good way again.

Sorry, can't help ya. But did you want Bad in a Franchise Ruining way? Because Keith's got ya covered there!

Hahaha yessss, now this is what I'm talking about. This is very sickos.jpg to me.

Shoutout to the people maintaining the B: The Beginning wiki for putting front and center that this is his step-sister. Not that it changes much, but it helps this terrible reveal feel slightly less gross.

Just commit you cowards. And this time the incest is extra good because it also confirms that his sister ALSO had feelings for him. Or that's another one of his projections, because all of this is taking place inside of his rapidly deteriorating brain. Either way, it's terrible, but at least I can feel something now.

I also genuinely can't remember if this was ever broached in season 1, but if not, mad respect for them retconning incest of all things.

What's astonishing is that this serves no goddamn purpose. Keith's lingering sisterfucker tendencies don't inform anything else that's happening or his own actions! After he gets over this hallucination he never brings it up again! He doesn't even reach an epiphany, just snaps out of it after he remembers he has to get some bread next week.

That's the perfect garbage cherry on top. 10/10 useless tangent. This is the level of absurd inanity the rest of the season should have aspired to, instead of focusing so much on the king and his boring bald son.

Oh right, these fuckers. Can you believe they're technically the main characters of this season?

As in they're mainly the characters I would get rid of first, yes.

For real, His Majesty Sir Wrinkly and his Large Adult Son are the most active and important characters in this whole season. EVERYTHING that happens is part of their bizarre, nonsensical struggle for the throne!

The king is also singlehandedly responsible for the most nonsensical scene in the entire season (which is saying a lot!). I've spent 11 weeks straight now trying to make sense of everything going on in Wonder Egg Priority, but the thing that finally broke my brain was this:

Dude what the fuck are you even talking about?

Hell if I know. I think the point of that scene is that with enough experimentation they can make God Juice that'll make everyone immortal, but it's also completely forgotten about while we spend the next 3 episodes trying to find which ancient tower Keith's been left to die in. Also it turns out they were making super soldiers because the UN banned them from just making nukes???

And also, the incessant nonchalance of the mise en scène means this doesn't look remotely like an important conversation about the reason why this old guy tried to have Koku and all of his friends murdered. It looks and sounds like they're talking about baseball.

Well anyway, enough of that. Time for our heroes to race against the clock to save Keith! Except while they're doing this, Keith has already super genius'd up a way to escape himself by drawing a lot of math on a table. Ah, well, nevertheless.

To be fair, he doesn't get the math exactly right.

Still, he gets out of there on his own while our heroes all race to the wrong towers like their name was Super Mario. Well actually, only Koku makes it to a tower. Everyone else gets caught in traffic or can't figure out how to drive a boat.

And on the subject of pointless things, the whole coup plot also turns out to be null because the king was still behind everything anyway.

I gave up trying to make sense of this back during the incest fever dream, but I still have no god damn clue what the point of any of this was. Why stage multiple attacks on your own life, involving fighters you don't know or command, when you already know who's trying to assassinate you?

You see, Nick, he just had to teach his son the very important lesson that Better Things Just Aren't Possible

And what an appropriate message for this season!

Literally none of this season's plot makes any god damn sense. Our heroes spend 6 episodes on a wild goose chase that accomplishes nothing. Our villains don't gain or lose a single thing. Hell, this thing doesn't even end. It just stops in the middle of a fight between Koku and Kirisame where we STILL don't know why he's doing any of this shit.

After all that, the fucking GALL you need to end on this line of dialogue.

I genuinely don't know what anyone was trying to do with this season. It doesn't further any of the lore or mysteries of season 1. It doesn't develop any of the characters. It's not good to look at or even fun to laugh at. It's a filler arc for a show that already ended and I can't imagine anyone getting anything out of it.

Yeah, I was actually excited when they announced more B! I wanted more of that weird conspiratorial and edgy energy the first season languished in. But nope, we got a half-baked half-season with zero clue how to iterate on what makes the series work. Might as well have watched Keith drive a unicycle in circles for two straight hours instead.

I suspect any day now we'll get an announcement for what should have been the 2nd half of this season, but after this total wet fart I can't see why anyone should bother with it. Let this be E: The Ending please.

May B: The Beginning die as it lived: remembered almost exclusively for the skateboard clown.

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