'Juuni Taisen' Season 2 Release Date: 'Zodiac War' Anime Sequel Based On 'Juni Taisen Tai Juni Taisen' Novel?

Patrick Frye

Juuni Taisen Season 2 has become a real possibility now that the release date for the light novel sequel to the anime Juuni Taisen: Zodiac War (also spelled as Juni Taisen: Zodiac War) has been officially confirmed. Written by author NisiOisin and illustrated by artist Hikaru Nakamura, the new book is entitled Juni Taisen Tai Juni Taisen (Zodiac War Versus Zodiac War).

According to Comic Natalie, the Japanese release date for the second Juuni Taisen novel is scheduled for December 12, 2018. The English translation of Juuni Taisen is being handled by Viz Media and the first hardcover book was released in October of 2017. There has not been any official announcement about the English translation of Zodiac War Versus Zodiac War.

The title of the novel sequel seems to suggest that the system behind the Juuni Taisen tournament could be challenged. However, the artwork released so far shows that 12 warriors of the Chinese zodiac will be going up against 12 criminals representing the western astrological zodiac. It also appears that the 12 warriors of the first anime will be revived for this team death battle.

本日12月12日、『十二大戦対十二大戦』全国発売日です! 待ち受ける驚愕の展開の数々に、初めて原稿を読み終えたとき、しばらく放心状態になりました……リサイズ版『十二大戦』と並べてみました。2冊ともこの機会によろしくお願いいたします! pic.twitter.com/jE0DeDFD6N

— JUMP j BOOKS編集部 (@JUMP_j_BOOKS) December 12, 2017

The tournament's name Juuni Taisen (or Juni Taisen) itself translates to "12 Wars," which makes sense since the tournament is a proxy war where nations and people are nothing more than gambling chips in the hands of the ultra-elite. There's no greater purpose to this death game since it's all for the amusement of the rich, who bet on the winners. Many of the characters started off relatively normal, but became cold-hearted and unlikeable after being emotionally scarred by the system of war the world's leaders have wrought. But will this new story be adapted into Juuni Taisen: Zodiac War Season 2?

The interesting thing about the anime series is that it's apparently better than the source material based on online reviews of the light novel. Many anime fans assume that a light novel would provide more backstory for the characters, but in this case, anime studio Graphinica's scriptwriter Sadayuki Mirai actually expanded on the short character profiles written by NisiOisin. Much of the novel's narrative can be described as repetitive "filler" whereas the anime version took a single sentence about Boar's sister and showed in detail how she was tricked out of the Zodiac War.

Regardless of the source material's merit, or lack thereof, the fact that a novel sequel is being written gives weight to the idea that Juuni Taisen Season 2 could be produced. The next question is whether anime fans will want to continue the bumpy ride after watching the ending of Episode 12.

So, what is going on here? The story is actually pretty predictable once you realize what the author intended. The death game being fought is based on on a story where the various animals of the Chinese zodiac were invited to a banquet. The meal was a contest since the first to arrive received greater prestige. Although the Ox was favored to win the race, the Rat tricked everyone and came in first by riding on the OX. That's why the Rat is the first animal of the zodiac.

In order, the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac are the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat (Sheep), Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig (Boar). The characters of the Zodiac War are dying in the reverse order of the Chinese zodiac, except for Snake because he was decapitated before the tournament began and then his zombie corpse was destroyed in that reverse order.

Warning: The following contains potential spoilers for the Juuni Taisen anime.

Knowing this Chinese myth in advance, it was easy to predict that Juuni Taisen Episode 12 would end with Nezumi the Rat being the winner. Studio Graphinica provided an anime original ending by expanding on the book, but the winner stayed the same. Unfortunately, the anime writer did not create an interesting backstory for Usagi the Rabbit since the light novel literally provides zero background information on this quirky fan favorite, not even his real name.

To summarize the ending of the novel, Rabbit purposefully turned himself into a zombie in a last-ditch effort to "win" and his corpse is able to stab Tiger. Ox is pinned by the zombie of Monkey's corpse and he tells Nezumi the Rat to use explosives to destroy the zombies. Ox sacrifices himself in order to prevent Rabbit's zombie army from winning the tournament, leaving Rat the only man left standing.

That's pretty crazy considering Rat spent most of his time sitting down and sleeping. For some anime fans, the ending may be considered unsatisfying once they realize how overpowered Rat really is despite his outwardly sluggish demeanor.

It turns out Nezumi's ability allow him to experience a hundred different parallel universes. The Rat lives through all of these timelines, even when some paths end in his death, and then chooses the path he wishes to live in the main reality. During these 100 attempts at surviving the Juuni Taisen tournament he's even tried teaming up with Rabbit, but he died in all 99 of the paths except for the one he chose.

It could be argued that his ability is not too overpowered since there was a chance that he would not survive any of the 100 lives he tried. The power also drains him physically and that's why he's sleeping so much.

While some fans will be satisfied with that explanation, what still may be slightly infuriating is Rat's lack of drive or motivation for being in a death tournament in the first place. The English translation of the novel ends with Rat not wishing to "seek any deep meaning from this battle" and he could not even decide on the single wish granted by winning.

"The next day, the boy went to the school that was just another battlefield to him. There, as he lived one hundred lives, he thought of the one wish he really wanted to come true—and the ninety-nine others he didn't so much," says the last paragraph of the novel.

Thankfully, there's more to the story. Author NisiOisin actually published a one-off manga about the unmotivated warrior before he ever wrote the Juuni Taisen novel. The anime adaptation provided an ending that gave a sense of final resolution for Nezumi by exploring the motives of all the characters, although it did not give audiences any hints about the second season by connecting to the new premise.

Back in March of 2017, one of the early flyers blatantly teased that a second season was being planned for the Juuni Taisen anime. According to Anime News Network, the flyer stated that 2017 was the anime's "first 12-episode season." While only an indirect confirmation of Zodiac War Season 2, the flyer hinted at the second season months before the book sequel was announced.

Considering that the light novel sequel is being published about a year after the ending of the first anime, the second season is unlikely to enter production any time soon. Besides the lack of source material, the underlying reason is that the anime industry is operating at peak capacity and most studios are booked out until 2020. Therefore, anime fans are advised to join Rat and take a good nap while waiting for the action to start up again. Stay tuned!

[Update December 21, 2017] Updated the article to reflect the events of Episode 12. Added spoilers for Juuni Taisen Season 2.