Man has grown arrogant and cruel. The gods feel that it’s time to put them in their place once and for all. They vote to destroy mankind. But a Valkyrie that sees mankind’s potential speaks up for them. She challenges the gods to a tournament with mankind’s existence on the line. To even the odds, the Valkyries will fight alongside mankind’s greatest champions as their weapons. There are two bouts for the second season: Hercules versus Jack the Ripper and Shiva versus Raiden.
It’s a good series, but the second season is much better than the first. Although the writers do change the mythology up quite a bit, there is a lot more story this time around. Besides adding more depth, it also serves to dramatize some incredible action sequences and helps to reveal many layers to some very likable, complex characters that are sure to get viewers emotionally invested.
Hercules is a very likable character. His strength is only surpassed by his compassion for humanity and his desire for justice. He seems more like a superhero than a god. And though they tweak his mythology, they nail the essence of his character in the Greek mythos.
Jack the Ripper is evil incarnate. And he has the type of childhood that one would imagine a sadistic madman would have—at least in this anime. This viewer hesitates to say that it makes him a sympathetic figure. But, good grief, it’s dark. The irony is that Brunhilde chooses him to fight for humanity. It is sure to make viewers question who to root for.
Shiva, the god of destruction, in this anime, seems like a happy-go-lucky guy. He just wants to dance. But he has this tremendous responsibility thrust in his lap. He has so many expectations and hopes riding on him. He never rejects them. Instead, he uses them as fuel to propel him forward. His character defies expectations. That’s always a pleasant surprise.
Raiden, the greatest Sumo wrestler in history is a very interesting character in this anime. He’s the type of guy that doesn’t like strength for strength’s sake. That’s a refreshing twist for a character like him. But it makes sense with the setup the writers give him. His strength is a double-edged sword. So he doesn’t look at strength the same way that a weak person would. He doesn’t covet it. And he only uses it as a means to an end. That’s the exact reason he’s selected to fight in the tournament to begin with.
Brunhilda is a likable and complex character. She loves mankind. She’s willing to do anything to save it, including sacrificing her own family members—those she holds the most dear. At times she seems harsh. But deep down the decisions she makes are heartbreaking. She struggles to hide her emotions. But they still shine through despite her best efforts.
Everything about the animation is stunning, from the breathtaking action scenes to the incredible amount of detail given to the characters. It’s easy to see that a lot of thought is put into the designs for the gods and the human champions alike.
With highly dramatized action sequences, tons of compelling story and breathtaking animation, Record of Ragnorak is definitely trending upward. The ending to the second season has this viewer on the edge of his seat for the third.