I don’t remember most of the details pertaining to the first season of BBB. I just remember a general vibe– crazy super power antics in a New York that’s been taken over by monsters from the Other Side. I remember it all being presented in a very matter-of-fact, casual manner. This is how things are, roll with it. I almost think that’s the intention of the entire show– to show the extreme and the supernatural in such a way that it almost becomes everyday life.
Or maybe that’s just how I’m remembering it after watching the first episode of the new season, because that’s totally the vibe I’m getting from this particular episode.
There’s a UFO catcher thing shooting across the sky, sucking up people left and right. Every now and then someone pauses to look, but for the most part everyone just goes about their business. Said people get tossed back to the ground with cylinders attached to their heads. When the cylinders break, the tiny monster inside starts to grow and eats people. A bored monster housewife(?) looks for a second while she cleans a rug. A dude getting eaten in her lawn is no big whup. The city starts to get flooded with these monsters. The heroes casually stop the threat with elaborate power moves executed with both bravado and nonchalant shrugs. What would be an episode-ending catastrophe– maybe even a season-ending final battle– isn’t even what I’d call a proper cold open or pre-credit tease, because it’s pulled off with an air of “whatever.” This is life in New York/Hellsalem Lot. The horrific and cosmic is banal.
The rest of the episode deals with a politician from the human side of the United States literally losing his head, with said head becoming the target of numerous crazed street gangs, mobsters, and robe-toting cults who want to cash in on a head-hunting YouTube celebrity holding said head’s body hostage. It’s an episode-long chase scene, but it has the gravitas and heft of a Road Runner short– deliberately so. The outcome is predetermined– the Road Runner will outwit Wiley and these BBB&B dudes will casually take out the bad guy when the timing is right. That’s just what happens here.
And yeah, this flippant attitude towards wild speculative genre trappings has to be the point of it all. It’s slice of life in a world where life is everything we think it isn’t. If all of our crazy daydreams came true, we’d be just as bored as BBB&B is with itself.
Like I said, though, this could just be me. Maybe this is just an easy way to reintroduce us to the characters after a couple of years away. My memory of the original is hazy. I didn’t even recognize the fish dude at first. Kuronekosama and his brief cameo seemed more relevant to me in the moment than the parade of returning characters who all seem awesome but had me thinking about them in terms of their move sets– like they were fighting game characters more than anime characters. I don’t care about these characters, and I don’t care that I don’t care. They may be the stars, but they’re just a bunch of other faces in this city where none of this is supposed to be exciting.
BBB&B is pure tone poem craziness. Whatever form and function and narrative is at work here is nonsense in the face of its pure vibe. It’s animated jazz– the appearance of spontaneity and improvisation when it’s actually totally in control and playing off of experience. That’s how we should be discussing this thing. It’s an instrumental in picture form.
That’s not where I meant to go with this, but I’ll roll with it the way Hellsalem Lot rolls.