The second season of Netflix’s original anime adaptation of Kengan Ashura has returned after a four year break and has brought its signature flair along with all the blood, grit, and sweat the multitude of fighters have to offer. The first season ended with the series protagonist, Tokita Ohma, defeating the top contender for winning the Kengan Elimination Tournament, the strongest fighter of the Kure clan, Raian Kure, in a vicious battle. His win ensured the safety of Ohma’s manager, Kazuo Yamashita’s son, Kenzo, from the assault of the Kure clan as well.
On the other hand, Ohma’s mortal enemy, Kiryu, becomes furious at seeing him sparing Raian’s life and aims to face Ohma down the line one way or another. The second round of the Kengan Tournament has only just begun, and fighters are already marking the opponents they wish to test themselves against. Corporations are gearing up to have a shot at the title, which will grant them the absolute control of the Kengan association. The second season deals primarily with the brilliant matchups of the second round and presents the implementation of a conspiracy that had already been brewing since the last season, which leads to Ohma and Kazuo’s story taking a backseat for the time being.
Short-Lived Victory: How Is Ohma Holding Up?
Ohma celebrates his recent victory and qualification for the third round with his associates, Kaede and Kazuo. While they express concerns about Ohma’s health after the grueling, bloody fight, he doesn’t seem to care much about that. However, the celebration is hampered when Ohma collapses and eventually gets hospitalized, as fighter/doctor Hanafusa states that overexertion in battles is taking its toll on Ohma. By controlling his heartbeat, Ohma manages to turn his body’s thermal energy into kinetic energy, an almost impossible skill known as Life Advance, which makes the user nearly invulnerable, but in doing so, the user also undergoes severe physical trauma, which Ohma is going through right now. Kazuo gets really concerned about Ohma, whom he has started thinking of as his own son by now. On the other hand, watching over the empty Kengan ring, Kiryu starts fuming over the fact that the apparently changed moral stance of Ohma (not killing) is a far cry from his former self, whom he literally worshiped and wished to get slain by.
Nature vs. Nurture: Did Hayami’s Fighter Win?
The Kengan Tournament proceeds at its usual pace as the rest of the battles of the second round are about to commence. The competitors in the next battle of titans represent the contrasting aspects of nature and nurture. German strongman Julis Reinhold, a result of scientific experimentation, medical upgrade, and being touted as one of the world’s strongest persons, represents Katsumasa Hayami’s conglomerate, Toyo Electric Corp. On the other side, a genetic miracle who possesses strength of a superhuman level, Takeshi Wakatsuki represents Furumi Pharmacy. The duo clashes, and for the most part, the match turns out to be posited evenly for both sides, with Julius using his superior strength to make up for Wakatsuki’s efficiency in fighting skills. However, as the intensity of the battle grows, Wakatsuki feels cornered due to his injured ankle and is forced to use his secret technique of ‘Blast Core’—coiling up his strength into a smaller area to deal maximum impact. At the end, nature wins the battle as Julius is defeated, but Wakatsuki feels dissatisfied as he had to reveal the one ace up his sleeve so early in the tournament. With all his and his subsidiaries’ fighters out of the tournament, Hayami starts considering setting a sinister plan in motion.
Kengan Ultimate: Who Are The Fighters To Proceed To The Next Round?
Each of the ensuing fights turns out to be more spectacular and innovative than the previous one, and almost all of them are marked with surprising twists. Learning that multiple corporations are trying to buy out competitors to ensure the top spot, Togo Tomori, the owner of Iwami Heavy Industry, decides to make an alliance with Gen Shikano of Gandai Corporation, and they decide to choose the leadership of their alliance based on the winner of the upcoming battle between their fighters. Muteba Gizenga, the blind mercenary, also known as the strongest fighter of Africa, represents Tomori, while Sekibayashi Jun, the celebrated and fan favorite SJPW wrestler, fights for Gandai. Using his death battle gimmick, Seki dominates for the majority of the battle, making a memorable final stand as a proud wrestler before eventually losing by getting hit by a heart jab. Out of respect for his mettle, Muteba defeats him in true pro wrestling fashion, executing a slam and pinning him down to the count of three.
Legacy Lethwei champion from Myanmar, Saw Paing, needs to win his battle to protect his village of Dawn from the cunningness of Hayami, and in the process he clashes with the mysterious Lightning Spirit Style fighter, Rei Mikazuchi. Denizens of Saw’s birthplace were kicked out by corporate evil as well, and he does not want the same fate to befall his adoptive family at Village of Dawn, which is already in peril as Hayami has forcefully bargained Saw’s contendership from the village chief. But there is a gap between what we wish and what we get, which Saw realizes, as despite brilliantly countering Rei’s lightning-fast attacks and almost winning the battle, he falls short at the end. Saw’s spirit seems broken, as he can’t get motivated even after his friend and fellow fighter Kaolan tries to cheer him up.
Nogi Publication keeps its hopes alive as their fighter, Aikido champion and lethargic fighter Sen Hatsumi, shows exceptional skills to bring down the unkillable killer and 45-time death row convict, Yohei Bando. In possibly the most shocking battle of the second round, the undefeated Kengan legend and top championship contender, Kanoh Agito, the Fifth Fang of Metsudo, struggles against the Muay Thai boxing champion Kaolan Wongsawat, but eventually manages to win.
God in Retrospect: Why Kiryu Obsesses Over Ohma?
The seemingly deranged Setsuna Kiryu knows that the only way to face the person he considers to be his god, Ohma, is to win every single battle in the Kengan Tournament, and he gears up for his upcoming one with Kuroki Gensai. Using a mix of solitary shadow style taught by his former master Genzan Taira and Niko style, Kiryu manages to keep the veteran killer Kenpo master, the Devil Lance, at his toes, but eventually admits defeat after his heart gets stabbed by Gensai. However, more interesting than the battle itself is the reason why Kiryu’s mad obsession with Ohma started, as we see his tragic past in a flashback sequence.
Kiryu was doomed right from birth, as his sick, wealthy father had him created as a surrogate child with a prostitute, and the only purpose of his birth was to be harvested for organs. Kiryu was reared up like an animal, without clothes, without education, and tortured day and night, to such an extent that by age 11, he firmly started believing that the purpose of his life was eventual death. It is at this age that a feral adolescent, Ohma, arrived at the black market site where Kiryu was kept and killed all the operatives present there—as a form of vengeance, as they had tried to threaten him previously. Ohma didn’t take notice of Kiryu, but the latter considered him to be a heaven-sent god of fury who had arrived to rescue him from the miscreants. After gaining freedom, a young Kiryu took up prostitution for survival, climbed up the social ranks, exacted his vengeance against his pathetic father, and acquired his fortune, which he used to track down Ohma. But by now, Ohma was in the care of Tokita Niko, who adopted him as his own son, and the changed form of his god angered Kiryu immensely. Later, he went on to train rigorously under Genzen Taira and killed both him and Niko to gain Ohma’s undivided attention, dictated by his twisted, broken mindset. Coming to the present day, after losing the battle after receiving a deathblow, Kiryu walks off as if nothing had happened.
How Did Ohma Recover From His Injuries?
An unconscious, hospitalized Ohma sees memories of his younger days unfold as he remembers Tokita Niko appearing as his protector for the first time when they met and how he showed him kindness in a world that has been ruthless and unjust to him so far. The memories showcase Niko taking Ohma to an inhospitable location—Gakigahara Forest—to train in the higher discipline of Niko style. After weeks of relentless, brutal beating down, ending up with torn muscle, broken bones, and consuming centipedes to stay alive, Ohma finally became qualified to become trained in the principles of Niko. By making his body adapt to the pain and suffering, Ohma honed his senses to superhuman levels and beyond, which is his way to recover from the current injuries as well.
Meanwhile, a desperate Hayami tries to attempt a coup by letting his private army, the Guardians, lose in the Kengan Tournament at Ganryu Island, but Erio Kure foils his plan pretty easily by calling on the Kure clan to neutralize the threat. Ohma wakes up from his slumber and defends Kazuo by defeating a strong, life-advanced Guardian operative in a single strike, greatly surprising his manager. Kazuo erstwhile thought to retract Ohma’s contendership from the tournament due to his physical condition, but Ohma scoffs at that idea, as he knows he has to go through three more matches to win the tournament and find the answers he is looking for from Nogi Hideki. However, as he retires from the tournament arena, he secretly coughs up blood, signifying that even though he has the pain subdued, the battered body is worsening with every fight. It remains to be seen how much Ashura can take before reality catches up to him eventually.