WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the Season 2 premiere of One-Punch Man, available now on Hulu.
The eagerly anticipated Season 2 premiere of One-Punch Man, "Return of a Hero," doesn't waste any time getting right back to its signature monster-fighting action. No fewer than three monster attacks occur over the course of the episode, with the reptilian Tongue Stretcher, the robotic G4 and a large avian monster each striking terror before being summarily dispatched by the superheroes of the anime series.
This noticeable increase in monster activity may be directly related to the Earthdoom Prophecy revealed during the premiere, with one character taking special interest in the apocalyptic prediction of the future. Sometime before the events of the episode, an old seer experiences a vision that, within six months, the heroes of Earth will be gradually overwhelmed by an increasing wave of monsters, resulting in the eradication of humanity.
Desperate to the avert this extinction level event, the Hero Association gathers the city's criminals in a bid to join forces and repel the coming wave of monsters together. The villains are mostly incredulous at the prophecy, with some walking out of the meeting, however one key figure not only believes in the possibility of the coming apocalypse but seems to look forward to it.
The episode's post-credits scene depicts a silver-haired, wild-eyed man reading the prophecy in the room where all the villains have been assembled, remarking that the ultimate defeat of Earth's heroes would be "sweet." This figure is Season 2's expected principal antagonist, Garou, ending the episode on an ominous cliffhanger. And if the anime incarnation of the character is true to the source material, he will be the greatest threat Saitama has ever faced.
A human that was once the greatest student of the Hero Association's martial arts master and S-Class Hero Bang, Garou has long sympathized with the monsters for being brutally put down by superheroes for years. On top of his extensive martial-arts training and tactical genius, Garou also possesses a degree of superhuman ability, including strength, speed, endurance and enhanced senses.
While Garou's larger role in the anime is unknown, promotional clips have shown the fallen hero taking on the cybernetic Genos and clearly outmatching his opponent. That suggests the villain will follow the same path as his manga counterpart in hunting down the heroes to ensure the Earthdoom Prophecy does indeed come to pass, bringing about a world conquered by monsters.
And, as a superhero hunter targeting the Hero Association's most powerful members, this inevitably places Garou on a collision course with Saitam, with the fate of the planet at stake this time. Whether the new villain will finally be the foe to withstand more than a single blow from the series' ridiculously overpowered protagonist has yet to be seen but, in addition to his keen strategic mind and superhuman abilities, Garou has more tricks up his sleeve, including his own Dragon Ball-style fearsome transformation that will unleash his true, destructive potential against Saitama, Genos and the rest of the Hero Association.
One Punch Man is produced by J.C. Staff. New episodes debut each Tuesday on Hulu.