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  • Genre:  Shounen, action, super powers
  • Episodes: 38
  • Studio: Bones

 

As they continue to train to become professional heroes, the students of UA must face increasingly difficult challenges. In order to prove themselves and learn what truly means to be a hero, they will have to make some difficult choices and accept some harsh realities. Is it worth it? Yes of course it is. Have you even watched season 1? All these kids are nuts and not a single one of them would ever hesitate to make the sacrifices asked of them. After all, they’re heroes.

I watched a show as it was airing and am now posting a review on a series that’s still relevant! You probably think you’ve stumbled on to the wrong blog. Are you a little disoriented? I know I am. It’s ok, we’ll make it through this together.

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Teamwork, right?

The visuals remain largely unchanged from season 1 and that’s a great thing. My Hero Academia is a beautiful show and always a pleasure to look at. I think I detected a slight improvement in the animation quality when it came to keeping everything nice and detailed during action sequences. The animators also experimented just a bit with illustration techniques, adding some scenes drawn in a coarser slightly messier style to add to the dramatic atmosphere. This season also had much better intros and outros.

I watched a very interesting youtube video about the symbolic use of scars as a narrative element this season (watch it here) and I largely agree with what is said in that clip. It’s a very smart way to bypass exposition and I was impressed with it. I did however want to bring up a few little details that were not mentioned in the clip. My Hero Academia is not a subtle show. It never was. And like most things, these scars aren’t subtle. They are all very obviously associated with the character’s quirk and(not or) a defining moment in their backstory. These scars only come from confrontations, never accidents or training (or sports festivals), despite seeing how brutal those can get. Also, and I’m not saying this means anything, it’s just something I happened to notice, only male characters have scars so far. It’s a little odd.

A more understated visual cue used throughout the season was the insistence on character hands. This plays double duty since Midoriya’s scars are on his hands… My Hero Academia focuses on character’s hands instead of their eyes to non verbally convey emotions. We see the camera focus on hands to symbolise their power or lack thereof. To show anger and despair. People stare at their hands in moments of doubt, clench their fists in determination. This not only serves to add to the narrative but underlines My Hero Academia’s primary emphasis on action.

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Don’t worry, it’s going to get better – very quickly in fact

Now, if you’ve been waiting for season 2 to finish so that you could binge through it, you may be a thinking that you should rewatch season 1 before. In case you forgot anything. Well I’ve got good news for you, season 2’s got your back. They’ve thoughtfully incorporated all of season 1 in the form of flashbacks. In fact they have flashbacks for season 2 as well. I was waiting for a flashback within a flashback for a flashbackseption. Honestly, without all the reused scenes this would have been a 12 episode season. I felt pretty cheated.

As for the new storyline, well Hero Hogwarts has moved into its Goblet of Fire phase. The season is divided into 3 separate mini arcs, each with their own tone and agenda.

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They have to get that dragon’s egg

The first is the Triwizard Sports Festival. All the students of the school compete against each other in a series of obstacle courses and physical challenges. The tournament is more important than one might think as it is televised and incredibly popular. UA uses it as pr and professional heroes come to scout potential talent. In many ways, this arc embraced a lot of classic sports anime tropes. However, the true message was of the compromises needed to become a hero. Not everybody can make it and at some point you have to face people you consider friends. Being a hero means making choices that aren’t always going to match your sensibilities. Super idealistic Midoriya comes to grips with this surprisingly quickly but although he is gaining in confidence every day and his determination remains steadfast, his ambition is still too timid.

These episodes highlighted the rivalry between the students of class A and the rest of the school. They introduced us to the idea of  quirk based discrimination  through Hitoshi and it began to build on the necessary competition in a world of for profit heroes. But what this arc really did, was give us a chance to get to know other characters a little better.

Uraraka was considerably fleshed out and actually given a decent role. She is growing into her own and can now stand by the boys as an equal and useful hero. Iida also started to establish himself as a bit more than a simple sidekick and comic relief although the bulk of his development happens later. Sadly Bakugo remains an unhinged maniac for the most part but the bit with All-Might trying to put a medal on him reminded me of trying to put a leash on my dog. I liked that. Of course, the lion’s share of the attention was given to Todoroki. It should be said that his detailed and heartbreaking backstory is pure audience manipulation. It worked on me like an absolute charm. Team Todoroki forever!

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It’s difficult to find spoiler free images

The second arc is the internships and in my opinion the strongest overall. The secondary character developments continues but take a backseat. Aside from Midoriya’s, we only see most student’s internships as brief comedic vignettes. Midoriya’s own internship was a throwback to his days training with All-Might in  season 1. Since we got to know Midoriya pretty well, it is very satisfying to watch him make any progress and he’s easy to cheer on. We were shown the more cynical side of professional heroes and some of those internships were decidedly unglamorous. The idealistic sheen is slowly falling off as the show matures.

These carefree days were enjoyable but got cut short with the return of Shigaraki and the introduction of s2’s new villain: Stain. Stain knows how to make an entrance and our first glimpse of him is downright vicious. The mood darkened considerably. With an actual threat present, the tension ratchet up and the climatic fight was invigorating. My Hero Academia really knows how to do action.

This arc was also the most emotionally resonant for me. Ingenium made me tear up. I was a little disappointed that the series shied away from ultimate consequences as it seemed to be going for a more uncompromising vibe. Midoriya’s choice of Deku as a hero name was also undeniably sweet.

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I know right

The last arc brings us back to the school and back to a more leisurely pace. The final exam arc was interesting in concept but a lot of episodes felt fillerish. We got back to  character development and explored some different relationships. I was pretty invested in everyone by then so it was pleasant but I missed the high octane episodes. Also, both Iia and Todo, having had cathartic moments in arc 2, simply go right back to how they use to be with no perceivable evolution.

One good and very appreciated element of this arc was that it finally showed us a more balanced Bakugo. He remains largely a mystery and very difficult to understand but at least he seems to be sane. In season 1, I thought he had the most potential for becoming an interesting/unusual character and I still think so, but the potential hasn’t been exploited yet.

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He showed a lot of restraint during his intership

Overall I found that the momentum of season 1 somewhat stalled this season. I do appreciated what they were trying to do. By spending all this time fleshing out a large cast of characters, they now have a lot of option for potential future storylines. Unfortunately this was done in a very blunt and inorganic way. Instead of moving forward from s1, we went straight back to the basics and just added extra foundations. It wasn’t a bad season but it felt like a first season.

The simplicity and naiveté of season 1 was charming, the ambition of season 2 is a little scattered. This said, the base is now very strong and I can’t wait for season 3.

Random thoughts: Young Eraserhead is so cute. Iida pulling a knife out of his arm with his teeth was bad**s. Endeavor walking on walls by melting the cement was cool.

Favorite character: Eraserhead – sorry Todo.

What this anime taught me: Deku is considerably taller than me

I don’t have a drinking problem, I have no problem with drinking

Suggested drink: Mighty G&T

  • Every time we see the old footage of All-Might – take a sip
  • Every time Aoyama sparkles – take a sip
  • Every time Midoriya mumbles – take a sip
  • Every time we hear gratuitous English –  take a sip
  • Every time we’re introduced to a new quirk – try to get the chips to float to you with your mind
  • Every time Hatsune mentions her babies – take a sip
  • Every time anyone says class A – take a sip
  • Every time Midnight says youthful – take a sip
  • Every time Todoroki refuses to use his left side – take a sip
  • Every time we see Todo’s mom – take a sip
  • Every time Midoriya injures himself – worry
    • if he’s told he can’t do it anymore – be releived
  • Every time Eijiro is mad at having a redundant quirk – take a sip
  • Every time Bakugo shakes with anger – have some water.

4 thoughts

  1. Great insight into how there’s a focus on hands (and action) throughout the series. Too bad that the last arc was less action-driven compared to the first two arcs overall, though.

    Thanks for a lovely post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It definitely feels like a lot of season 2 is set up as the plot kind of isn’t moving very far. Still, the show never lets you get bored as these kids are just fun to watch and the show is full of so much energy. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.

    Liked by 1 person

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