“Bakugan” 2023 Season 1 – Part 2 Review – Darker Than Expected

New Bakugan anime Spin Master Netflix September 2023
Bakugan (Netflix) Season One (Image: CNW Group/Spin Master)

Bakugan (2023) Season 1 got a new batch of episodes over on Netflix. The narrative continued the previous storylines while offering some much-needed character development.

Bakugan Season 1 Part 2 consisted of 13 episodes (approximately 20 minutes long) with each episode containing two segments (with every segment having an approximately 10-minute runtime). Thus, bringing the first season of the latest iteration of the Bakugan animated series to 26 episodes long.

The closing moments of Bakugan Season 1 Part 1 had Dan and Dragonoid face off against Nillious and Kage. The story also revealed the reason behind the Bakugan appearing on Earth and the threat people felt due to the rampaging giant aliens. We were also introduced to a mysterious masked figure. Season 1 Part 2 built on the dangling story threads satisfactorily. A bunch of my questions were answered.

The debut episode of Part 2 amped up the stakes by having the government intervene and neutralize the bond between the Bakugan and their partner Brawlers, essentially preventing the aliens from growing larger and being able to fight. I liked how the writing team handled the situation. The kids, including our heroes, were helpless to do anything when faced with such odds. Adults do run the world. You could tell that the government wasn’t going to stop at a mere neutralization mandate. Things were going to get worse for Bakgugan and the Brawlers.

The desperation to reconnect with their Bakugan is what led to numerous Brawlers agreeing to the terms the mysterious masked figure, named V, presented them with. It was obvious that V was up to something sinister, but I couldn’t fault the Brawlers for accepting his offer. Such a premise allowed the writers to give viewers an underground battle tournament involving various Clans while also taking the time to reveal V’s true motives.

The thing that surprised me most about the tournament was how Dan wasn’t selected to represent the Misfit Clan. I don’t think I have ever watched an anime in which the main male lead gets benched. Even if such a character was initially pushed to the side, the narrative would always find a way to bring him back into the fold. That’s why I appreciated Dan not making the cut to represent the team and the writers not walking back such a decision a couple of episodes in.

It allowed the story to explore Dan’s character a bit differently. We already knew he and Draganoid were a powerful duo. What Dan needed was character development outside the confines of a battlefield and we got just that in Part 2.

I liked how Dan sulked at first (he’s a kid after all) but then he soon realized that as the leader of the Misfit Clan he should be present to support his teammates in another way. The latest batch of episodes had Dan understanding Mia better as a person and connecting with TC as a (kind of) surrogate bigger brother. With Dan lacking any kind of development in Part 1, kudos to the writers for allowing him to go on a journey in Part 2 in a way that’s unusual for male leads.

Mia continued to be best girl. I have enjoyed seeing the fandom positively welcome her and Ventri since their introduction. And I think the fandom will like how she was handled during Part 2 as well. A major part of Mia’s arc was her keeping her brawling a secret from her parents and becoming aware of her father’s involvement in researching Vistroian technology. Turns out, Mia’s father was responsible for developing the tech used to neutralize the Bakugan.

Along with learning how to become a better Brawler by believing in herself, Mia’s arc involved coming clean to her father. The scene where Mia’s father accepted her being a Brawler was handled well. He wanted Mia to be happy doing what she was passionate about. He even came through for the Misfit Clan when it was time to develop a vaccine to help the Bakugan during the finale.

TC’s story was connected to the villainous masked V. With TC losing his memories in Part 1, the latest episodes had TC slowly begin to remember things. I liked how the writers didn’t drag out V’s actual identity for the viewers while still managing to emotional gravitas of V and TC’s inevitable reunion near the finale.

Being a show targeted toward kids, I wasn’t expecting V’s backstory to be so dark. What V and TC went through when the Bakguan first crashed landed on Earth helped make V’s stance make sense. I didn’t agree with his methods, but you could see where he was coming from. It was refreshing to see a villain with an actual motive that didn’t revolve around being evil just for the sake of it.

As for V learning the error of his ways and facing certain consequences for his actions, well, here’s hoping he’s able to mend his relationship with TC down the line. The two still care about each other. And due to being a fleshed-out bad guy who was still capable of experiencing remorse, I think V deserved a second chance.

Along with the story showcasing how the arrival of Bakugan was destructive for some families, other serious themes that were touched upon were how giant corporations didn’t always care about their employees, the exploitation of brilliant scientists, the negative impact of commercialization, and more. The series didn’t dive too deep into said themes, but as an older viewer, I appreciated their presence.

Griffin and Juno didn’t get much to do character development-wise. So that was a bit disappointing. Having said that, the two did play a major role when it came to figuring out all of the tech-related stuff and creating the vaccine needed to win the final battle.

I enjoyed watching the new episodes. The comedy and action sequences were there, of course. We got some interesting changes to the gameplay. But the darker narrative involving V and TC really did it for me. I wasn’t expecting that at all. And for those wondering, yes, I binge-watched the entire thing in one sitting. It’s that good.

The closing seconds of the finale laid the stage for yet another threat. So here’s to hoping Bakugan gets to return for another round.

The latest batch of 13 episodes for Bakugan season one are currently streaming on Netflix.

What did you think of Bakugan Season 1 Part 2?

Let us know.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.


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