At UA Academy, not even a violent attack can disrupt their most prestigious event: the school sports festival. Renowned across Japan, this festival is an opportunity for aspiring heroes to showcase their abilities, both to the public and potential recruiters.
However, the path to glory is never easy, especially for Izuku Midoriya—whose quirk possesses great raw power but is also cripplingly inefficient. Pitted against his talented classmates, such as the fire and ice wielding Shouto Todoroki, Izuku must utilize his sharp wits and master his surroundings to achieve victory and prove to the world his worth.
After watching the first season of Boku Hero no Academia (My Hero Academia), I can’t help but feel wanting for more of this series. The first season consisted of only 13 episodes. It adapted the general premise of the story and had its character roster in set. However, it missed the opportunity to expand more and build on those elements. Have no fear. Season 2 is here and it’s set to fill the gaps for you diehard fans of this classic shounen adventure.
One major part of the sequel is that the length is almost twice the duration of the first season. It consists of 25
episodes (including an anime original) as part of its storytelling. Therefore, expect almost twice as much as details. As an avid fan of the manga, I’m also rather impressed by the faithfulness of its adaptation standards. Expecting this show to hit a lot of its marks is no easy task and I had some doubts at first. Still, the sequel does a splendid job at crafting the essence of its story. At its core, the show is about heroes in a fictional world. Protagonist Izuku Midoriya (nicknamed Deku) tries to make a difference in his world by trying to become a hero.
Something that I often found appealing about Boku Hero no Academia is how stylish it establishes itself. It’s a typical shounen series yet is able to spread its themes and knows how to do so. The second season asks a question: what really makes a hero? From the first half, we get a tournament (U.A. Sports Festival Arc) that pits the best of the best between classes. While this may seem like a generic battle tournament you can find in many shounen series, Boku Hero no Academia sets itself to establish characters within its tournament. Prominent characters such as Deku, Ochako, Bakugo, and Todoroki gives the audience their insight on their reasoning for fighting. While some of their principles can be disputed, they sent a clear message that becoming a hero is no easy path. At least for these characters, being a hero is more than just about saving others. The Sports Festival arc also examines the background story of Todoroki, a character that we knew little about from the previous season. It invites moments of sympathy as we see how tragic his past has influenced his character in the present.
Meanwhile, the show still maintains its presence of antagonists. Perhaps the most prominent of these is Hero Killer Stain, a new villain with his own objectives and morals. Again, his character ties with the question of “what makes a hero”. In his mind, there are certain rules that establishes what a “true hero” is from the “fake ones”. Season 2 has psychology that makes antagonists such as Stain feel meaningful as a character. It motivates other heroes to realize what they are and what to fight for. Don’t believe me? Just ask Tenya.
As I watched more and more of season 2, I can’t help but realize that the sequel serves as a way to prepare for the characters/heroes for what’s really ahead. What I mean is that while the second season is rich in content, it still leaves some gaps to fill. Mainly, prominent villains such as Tomura Shigaraki and his right-hand man Kurogiri play very minor roles despite establishing themselves as a dangerous threat from the first season. All Might also plays a lesser role in this season despite still being the main hero. Although his role is still important for Deku’s development, it feels that his character dynamics with the boy is less. As a show loaded with characters, don’t expect everyone to get the same development as the main cast. While most characters gets some time to shine, others are left with less memorable moments or comic relief. (yes, I’m looking at you, Mineta) Finally, season 2’s storytelling can occasionally feel stale at times with the academy setting and themes. Luckily, the comedy gives the fans its entertainment value that’s deceptively fun to watch.
Bones studio (known for their adaptation of other super power and hero theme shows) returns with their animation quality. I must admit, season 2 sets the bar for is stylish animation. Battle scenes from the Festival Arc particular stand out that is simply mesmerizing. The fight between Deku and Todoroki is especially noticeable that captures the stellar choreography as I’d expect from this studio. Camera angles feel smooth with vibrant colors and body movements. However, there are a few scenes that feel stagnant especially during the fight with Stain. Perhaps some of those can be fixed later in BD/DVDs but it’s nothing too distracting. Character designs in this sequel also remains memorable for characters ranging from the barbaric design of the Hero Killer, pro heroes, and our main cast.
When listening to the soundtrack, I can’t help but feel that everything is on point. From character voice mannerisms to the battle OST, it succeeds far more than it fails. I can honestly say that the voice mannerism of the characters really brings out the personalities of the cast. Characters such as Stain, All Might, Bakugo, and Todoroki especially stand out this season whenever they speak with dynamism and purpose. The theme songs offers a classic hero-like tune that’s hard to miss.
If you’re going to watch this second season, just know that it will be a thoughtful experience beyond the colorful battles. Everything has a reason ranging from the story, themes, morals, and even character names. I can’t say this enough but season 2 really bought out what I had expected as an adaptation. It’s faithful on most parts and leaves me hunger for more each episode. That being said, season 2 is still far from resolving the end story. It actually feels more like building up for more as certain characters are foreshadowed and more threats looms in the horizon for the main characters. However, I came into this show with high expectations and left with awe. With season 3 announced, this sequel is nothing short of been a classic.
*Minimum Spoiler Plus Ultra Review*
If you did not watch BNHA S1 then go watch that ASAP.
TL;DR: Hype Hype, Finally a Shounen Anime worth watching Plus Ultra Hype! BNHA S2 is basically Naruto and DBZ's illegitimate child, Hunter X Hunter's bastard child raised by the all mighty Bones STUDIO that has stayed true to the manga and doing the show justice it really deserves! Definitely Binge-Worthy!
[Story: 8/10 , Characters: 9/10, Art: 9/10, Sound: 8/10, Enjoyment: 10/10]
"So many to kill, so little time. None of you are worthy. None of you are All Might" - Stain
If there is one genre that can always hype people
up time after time, it's the classic shounen genre in anime. It's like scrambled eggs. The recipe is very simple yet the execution to get it consistently right day after day is difficult. Luckily, fans of one of the most acclaimed manga, BNHA, can rejoice that studio Bones have done yet another great job in beautifully adapting it their own way without deviating away from the manga to give the viewers total indulgence over a shounen anime people will remember for years to come. If you thought season 1 was good, well this season they just went PLUS ULTRA!
The story is great. The anime being 25 episodes long is able to cover 3 different arcs from the manga. In season 1 we mostly focused on the character development of Deku. However, most of the supporting characters this season underwent major character development, especially characters like Todoroki, Iida and even Bakugo. That being said, the overaching development of Deku is ever present feeding off from the development of others. Really embodying the "All for One" motif as the show goes on. Aside from the characters, the art and animation is bold and vibrant. Nothing short from studio Bones standard. Even the OST and the OP & ED songs are just outright catchy and worth listening to over and over again. It's really hard to find flaw in such a good anime when even the two filler episodes are done so well that it catered to the fans long-time needs & curiosity! With that being said, let's dive deeper into the anime to really get a good grasp of what all the hype surrounding the anime is. Keep in mind, some spoilers might be revealed!
*Minimum Spoilers Zone Begins*
"If you wanna stop this, then stand up! Because I've just got one thing to say to you! Never forget who you want to become!" - Todoroki
There is no point revisiting the premise of the show. It hasn't changed since season 1. We know the end goal is Deku learning how to fully use All for One. The real plot is the whole journey to get there. This season had three different arcs. First we have the ever cliche shounen tournament arc; where all of the UA students battle it out from team battles to finally 1v1 battles. Surprisingly, the tournament arc actually ends with someone actually being declared a winner. No major interruptions or surprise villain gank happens. Now that's a surprise. This arc also features one of the fan favourite episode: Todoroki: The Origin. Next, we have the Stain arc, where Stain, a new villain or anti-villain, that has taken it upon himself to purge the world of fake heroes. It's a really dark arc and one of fan favourite arcs to be adapted. Lastly, we have the much rushed UA Final Hero Examination Arc, where UA students must fight against their teachers (Heroes) to pass their final exam. It also features the second fan favourite episode: Bakugo the Origin. In between these three arcs we are revealed more about the power of All for One and it's origins as well as League of Villains intentions and who is really pulling the puppet strings. Needless to say, Bones, with the help of Yoshihiko Umakoshi (Tournament Arc) and Takahiro Komori (Stain Arc + Exam Arc), did a great job adapting them in anime format. The only major issue was how different each directors take on how they adapted the arcs. Viewers will notice significant difference in battle sequences and camera angles from one director to the other.
"Needless to say... I'll be a hero that even surpasses you (All Might)" - Bakugo
Aside from the plot, the major highlight of this season is the character development. Besides Deku, other characters like Todoroki, Bakugo, Iida, Uraraka and even All Might goes through great lengths of character developments. Just as the two major side characters, Todoroki and Bakugo acts as great foils for Deku, actually all three personify the different attributes of All Might that establishes him as the best superhero of all time that not only saves lives but inspired the next generation to be the hero the nation deserves. Deku wants to save people with a smile. Todoroki wants to be his own person and not a prisoner of his blood. Bakugo wants to be the strongest and win with overwhelming force. This just goes to show you why Endeavor could never be the number one hero. It's never been about how many villains you beat or how strong you are. To be the number one hero means you have to be the beacon of hope and inspiration for all of Japan. The show's main running theme of quirk strength vs physical & mental strength is again revisited through this. The reason pros are good is because of their skills and judgment not because of their quirks. Besides the heroes, the most interesting character of the season has to be the villain or anti-villain, Stain. His motives are good because he wants to restore the title of Hero to something more respectable and pure. However, the method he uses to achieve this is similar to of a villain. Because of this, he starts a chain reaction of inspiring villains similar to how All Might inspiring heroes. All the parallels and juxtaposed characters in this series really adds to the depth and complexity of the show.
*Minimum Spoiler Zone Ends*
"Meddling when you don't need to is the essence of being a hero" - All Might
Beside the linear plot and dynamic characters, the technical aspects of this show really makes it stand out from other shounen animes. The animation quality from studio Bones is just Plus Ultra. The characters, the fight sequences, the background cinematography are all beautifully hand-drawn. The vibrant colour palette gives it a rich warm tone that resonates throughout the anime. If that wasn't enough, the background OST coupled with the epic OP/ED songs slowly grows on you the more you listen to it. Out of the two OP songs, I think Peace sign is still my favourite. Lastly, the seiyuus of this show does a phenomenal job. There isn't a single character who did not benefit from having a star-studded seiyuu cast in BNHA. Kudos to them. Everything as a whole, really sets the mood and the hype each episode brings to the table.
Overall, BNHA S2 is probably one of the best shounen animes we've been blessed with in the last decade. The shounen anime recipe have been replicated numerous times however it hasn't been executed to this degree in quite a while. The last great shounen anime of this calibre was FMAB. Oddly enough, it was actually studio Bones who also adapted it. They know that staying true to the manga is the ultimate rewarding experience for both new viewers and manga viewers. Nevertheless, I personally really enjoyed this anime and I can see myself easily binging this show again with my friends. It's just that type of show. Also Season 3 has been confirmed. Anyways, I recommend this show to all shounen anime fans and new fans wanting to venture into the shounen anime genre. Check it out let me know later how you like it as well as share with me your favourite quote from the anime! Plus Ultra!!!
P.S. Thank you for reading. I hope you found this short and supaishi review helpful!
This is a two-part review where I'll be weighing in the positives and negatives of this show.
Starting with what I thought it did right:
Despite Boku no Hero Academia’s rather familiar and simplistic premise, its thematic consistency and high production value made it possible for this title to gain recognition and significant following among the anime community. Season 1 managed to deliver in an impressive note and thankfully, that didn’t waiver at all in its continuing season. Much like its predecessor, Boku no Hero Academia 2 looks and sounds just as good—if not, even better. While it still didn’t take any risks, it did capitalize
on the tried and tested formula in battle shounen that never failed to appeal to this genre’s fans and took the liberty to put its own creative spin to it—which I daresay has been pretty successful: Solidly executed action-packed superhero show with a competitive school life and comedy on the side. The tone shifts felt natural and it didn’t fall into the trap of forcefully incorporating dark, tragic themes nor did it get too hung up on its more serious tone just to make it look deep or mature. This anime is fortunately devoid of any of that pretentiousness and instead, it embraced its simplicity, which resulted to a cohesive storytelling. It’s a show that knows what it wants to do and doesn’t go beyond its limitations. At least, not yet anyway.
Although Boku no Hero Academia also happens to lump in almost every character archetype in shounen, it was at least able to turn them into a colorful bunch with just the right amount of exposure. More importantly, there has been better characterization amongst its main cast, which I guess is to be expected since this season delved further into the actual plot where it opened more room for character growth. Our protagonist grew from a cry-heavy (it's not really a word, I know) underdog to an impressive hero in-training who now has more control over his power. His progress felt smooth and his worth as All Might’s successor was constantly tested and proven in all of the arcs covered. Todoroki also had a more significant role, wherein we also learned about his backstory, motivations, and we saw the shift in his dynamics. As did Ida, who was a key player in the second arc that involved the Hero-Killer, Stain. All Might is just as majestic and his power display against Deku and Bakugo in the exam arc was nothing short of spectacular. Their fight was awesome and arguably the best in this season.
Bakugo is still a mixed bag to be honest. He was still quite obnoxious with few redeemable moments, who also couldn’t seem rid himself off of the insecurity and hostility that he had always felt towards Deku. But on another note, he was absolutely hilarious and entertaining this season and I find it hard not to enjoy his chemistry with other characters, especially when he becomes the object of their mockery. His rage reactions are comedy gold and I wouldn’t be surprised if people actually consider him a walking meme at this point. There were also subtle hints of his development thrown here and there to keep us at the edge of our seats whenever he's on screen. The rest of the supporting cast, most especially the class A students, also had their fair share of the spotlight. Though some may complain about how little exposure the rest of the class A students had in the sports festival, I'd argue that it worked out for the story given that the focus of the arc were meant to be Deku and Todoroki in the first place.
I also want to commend how superb the sound, visuals, and animation were in this anime. This was mostly displayed in the Sports Festival arc, which in my opinion, is also this season’s highlight. Hats off to the voice actors as well, who did a phenomenal job conveying the characters' emotions in the most intense moments. They truly didn’t hold back in making this season a spectacle, contributing further to the anime’s general appeal.
My issues with this show:
First that comes to mind is the underwhelming antagonists, given that there seems to be a tad few legitimate threats whose characters also managed to be interesting – Stain (granted that we haven’t seen the last of him) and a couple of new villains introduced by the tail end of the season might draw some intrigue back. In contrast to them, Tomura Shigaraki and his other minions in the League of Villains, ever since their introduction up to the most part of this season, are honestly just really—for the lack of better word—bleh. Second, it’s still lacking in world-building. I was hoping to see even just a glimpse of how the rest of the world fairs in this storyline, but I guess it’s too early for that. Note that those I mentioned above are just very minor issues that I have with this season, hence, I'm not going to elaborate on it further. I’m aware that this is one of those overarching series that would take a little more time to explore its full potential; and that is fine, so I'll just leave it at that and that I’m not docking off points because of that. I will still keep these in mind as I tread further into the series, however.
Having all that said, my actual gripe with it is that it feels too comfortable. While Boku no Hero Academia is certainly one of the better battle shounen anime out there today, its generic or rather ordinary nature is also why I can’t consider it to be great. Besides its very impressive technical presentation and solid delivery, the story simply lacks the ingenuity or in other words, the “wow” factor that makes anime like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood or Hunter x Hunter, in my honest opinion, the pinnacle of the genre. Don’t misunderstand though—I don’t intend to draw comparisons just to glorify those aforementioned titles nor to put BnHA down. I’m also not necessarily implying that it’s automatically mediocre just because it doesn't have complex themes or isn’t unique. I simply want to make a distinction that justifies my score for this given that I also use the rating scale differently. While I believe that storytelling and execution are what separates the good shows from the bad, I also believe that a compelling narrative with equally compelling characters are what separates good shows from the elite. BnHA is simply lacking in that department.
As mentioned beforehand and despite its stylish, cartoon-esque style and my initial praise for its well-delivered plot and colorful characters, it doesn’t have any trait that makes it truly stand out and incomparable to others. As such became more apparent this season as we continue to witness yet again some very familiar and overdone concepts in shounen: the underdog protagonist who continues to work hard and also tries to seek acknowledgment from the rival who hates his guts; the good ol’ tournament that actually serves as a stage for the protagonist to inspire and subsequently “soften” another rival who has parental issues; a chance encounter with the murderous villain with misunderstood intentions to help a friend who was in a quest for revenge; the mysterious big bad lurking in the shadows; etc. That's not a fault in itself considering that it's normal to have shared themes or tropes in this genre. It does what shounen anime do after all. That said, such idea unfortunately doesn't save it from being predictable, run-of-the mill story wherein we can only look forward to how the creators will put their own spin to these tropes. And since it took inspiration from other well-known titles, it also suffers from the inevitable comparison due to it having very similar concepts that have already been done and outdone (arguably) by some of its predecessors.
It is still a good show for those who appreciate simple, solid, and well-animated shows though. I generally like action anime, so I was consistently invested. But for those who are not a fan of this genre or have seen almost everything it has to offer, it takes more than what BnHA presented to keep them genuinely impressed—which I really couldn’t blame them for.
To wrap it up:
I still think that Boku no Hero Academia 2 is a fun-filled, easy to watch show with so much potential and it seems to tread in the right direction. Whatever it may lack in story, setting, or characters, it still kind of makes it up with its consistency and entertainment value. Not to mention, its excellent animation and sound. It’s an eye candy that’s still worth the watch.
* To anyone who's interested, this is the actual breakdown of my score:
It's easy to point the finger at Boku No Hero Academia and label is as just one in the same with any other shounen that populates the medium. To make broad statements like the characters themselves are just repackaged personalities with only a fresh coat of paint and appearance to their name. Or something to the effect of its story being recycled. And if you were to choose that stance, defendants would be hard-pressed to argue against it. But if you did choose that stance, that then calls into question the very essence of critiquing a shounen in such restrictive terms, to begin with.
a shounen isn't allowed to be about the fundamental fight between good and evil with said fights being carried out through the proxy of colorfully decorated personalities, then at what point does it cease to make sense for it even to be made at all? Or better yet, why bother to scrutinize it for doing what that genre has been predicated on since its inception? At what point does valid criticism capsize towards the side of pointless nitpicking? You won't always discredit comedies for having situational humor nor will you shame an action movie for delivering on its promise of cool fights and chase scenes. So why then is that benefit not allotted to shounens for being just that; a shounen? What I’m trying to say in more words or less is if a shounen isn't allowed to be a shounen without being reprimanded, what purpose does it even serve to critique it?
With all that being said, couldn't a shounen that operates within the realm of its genre commonalities be allowed to revel in it, even if it may air on the side of self-indulgence at times? I say it should. Not every shounen could escape its role to become Fullmetal Alchemist nor should it be required to. In the same way, not every action movie is expected to be a seminal time marker in the way The Matrix did for bullet-time effects and stylized violence or Inception for its audiovisual craftmanship and technical proficiency. Sometimes, being the byproduct to ride the wave of other tentpole entries is just fine. And in that regard, Boku No Hero Academia has proven to be a steady entry in the ever-expanding superhero/shounen canon, and I see no reason to ostracize it because it isn't overly ambitious.
What can and will be critiqued, however, is the eternal mechanics of its universe and the functionality of all the moving parts — characters and their purpose notwithstanding. No matter the demographic or genre it services, poor writing isn't autonomous to critique, and in my opinion, that’s the space where a reviewer is needed to occupy. The utilization of literary devices is something all storytelling media shares, and it’s in this truth that we can properly gauge quality-control in a fair manner. We don’t need critics to tell us that “SPOILER ALERT, shounens have very simple themes.” Anyone with a modicum of common sense could do that on their own. But what’s usually beyond the general knowledge of the viewing audience is the inner-workings that drive the content they consume. Basically, how well does the title in question use the tools at its disposal? And with that in mind, Boku no Hero Academia has some kinks it needs to iron out before it occupies any shelf-space alongside the genre’s cherished entries. Thankfully, this 2nd season shows promise of that possibly coming to fruition if they handle the content right moving forward.
But before we open that can of worms, let’s get everyone up to speed.
Coming off season one's finale, our group of young heroes finds themselves becoming in-house celebrities on their school's campus, and for good reason. They fought against real-world villains, a situation that's already rare enough for students but made all the more alarming given that the face-off took place on school grounds. This places everyone on high alert as they move forward with the calendar year. And as new challenges emerge to face them, this period of their lives will serve as their first jumping off point into finding out what it truly means to be a hero.
These set of challenges first starts off with a genre staple, the tournament arc. And let's just be honest here, this 1st arc is only paying lip service to having a plot while the true intent is allowing physical alterations to happen, and that’s fine. Of course, the writers conjure up a reason to justify this event, and wisely, they made sure their pretext reflected in the show’s in-world rationalizing as well, taking the edge off for anyone that may have noticed it for what it was. Since being a superhero is its own profession, many agencies choose this event to scout new talent, which also doubles up as a national sporting competition for regular civilians to enjoy. Which I must add is far better of an excuse for this setup than most people would give it credit. And while this arc came with all the bells and whistles that make any shounen tournament fun, it was also the weakest portion of the 2nd season for the reason that’s pivotal to making the whole thing work.
The thing that plagues this portion of the show’s run was something I praised the 1st installment of getting right the first time around. And no, it has nothing to do with the self-evident cliché of the arc’s existence. As I mentioned earlier, a shounen doing “shounen shit” is not my concern here. You don’t need me telling you how overused tournament arcs are, that point will already be reiterated to death by every pseudo-critic that will see this as an opportunity to attack “low-hanging fruit.” Instead, what I plan to address is the functionality of the show’s premise in this arc. And to address that, what needs to be called into question is something that’s perhaps the easiest for everyday viewers to comprehend. And that something is proper buildup and payoff.
The idea is simple, throughout the course of the show, the creators will attempt to build up several things — whether it be story or character-centric — and then proceed to pay off their efforts through the natural metamorphosis of the narrative. That “payoff” can either be the main climax of the story or just the resolution of a subplot within it.
To get a sense of this idea in action, let’s take a look at the following scenario:
Let's say there's a superhero introduced who is explicitly stated to have the power to spawn water cannons from his arms. With that character introduction and explanation given to his power, it’s reasonable to expect that the buildup will probably revolve around that power or the resolve of the character being tested. Whether against someone in specific or an event that calls for his specific ability, as long as that hero accomplishes or fails whatever the writers pit him against, it will serve as the payoff for his prominent introduction and highlighted ability.
This doesn't always mean there needs to be a payoff right away, but if the story dedicates time away from its central focus to build up something or someone else, it's usually meant to foreshadow a future event later down the line where that knowledge the audience is given will be reincorporated. Pretty self-explanatory, right? Now, let's look at an example of that being done correctly in the 1st season of Boku no Hero, most notably with our protagonist Midoriya.
He's shown as an astute kid that studies the anatomy and abilities of other heroes. This has become so synonymous to what defines him as a character that it’s even caught the attention of those around him. The buildup established has continuously been paid off with every physical altercation Midoriya finds himself in as he’s constantly shown strategizing ways to use his opponent’s strengths to his advantage, while also working with the limitations of his own power.
The buildup: his excessive studying. The payoff: his tactical prowess on the battlefield.
Now this is where the problem rears its ugly head in this season, throughout the entirety of the tournament arc, almost every buildup that doesn’t revolve around Midoriya or Todoroki, major or otherwise, was poorly delivered upon, and in some cases, completely abandoned altogether.
To help you spot this on your own, I will highlight a minor event in season 2 episode 3. Obviously, if you haven’t seen up to this point, there will be light spoilers ahead. Skip these two merged paragraphs if you want to avoid them.
In episode 3 at around the 4-minute mark, characters Kirishima and Tetsutetsu are shown crushed under a gigantic robot, something that both characters walks away from unscathed thanks to their quirks. One could harden like a rock while the other hardens like steel, a quirk that makes them the ultimate armor against things that would usually cause harm, or in some cases kill any other student that found themselves in the same predicament. What’s important here is that the show took time to pause during the tournament arc to specifically highlight this, subconsciously signaling to the audience that it will come into play later.
Not even a full 7-minutes later into the same episode at around the 11-minute mark, the show introduces an obstacle for the students to get through. This obstacle is a minefield covered with non-lethal explosive charges, a fact the announcer reinforces. It can harm the students but not to the point of endangering their lives. Now, this is very important to note, because like we already establish 7-minutes prior, two students survived what would in any other case be life-threatening injuries to other students without a quirk designed specifically to counteract it. So it stands to reason, this obstacle would be perfect for two students who can literally become armor, right? Wrong, because as far as the show is concerned, the only characters that matter at this point is the three main ones. And even without zeroing in on those two characters, everyone else, from the likes of Uraraka who’ve been shown to defy gravity to Hatsume who had gadgets made specifically for courses like this are all left not using their advantages to overcome the obstacle.
And this kind of logic occurs throughout the entire runtime of the tournament arc. Where the 1st season paid extra attention to its characters quirks and how they can be utilized in combat, in this arc these secondary characters are now used as dick-measuring extras to place the main ones on a pedestal. What I just highlighted was just one of several times this occurred.
With that kind of logic, it would be like if the example I gave about the water cannon superhero ends up finding himself in front of a burning building but instead of using his water cannons to put out the fire, he just stands there looking at it instead. If framed in the mindset that Boku no Hero does with its supporting cast, he would literally be doing nothing while the building catches ablaze, not out of negligence but because the writers simply didn’t pay off what they built up from the beginning.
Thankfully, the 2nd half of this season balances the power mechanics again. Something that’s complimented further with the far more interesting scenario they’re placed in.
What gives intrigue to the 2nd arc of Academia is how it chooses to challenge the notion of justice in a world overpopulated by quirk users. If 80% of the world have quirks, how can there be any stability in the superhero job sector? Well as it turns out, the answer to that question has already been written into the show, but it’s only now that the idealism of the classroom environment has been traded out for the reality of the world they live in that we get the answer. Just because someone could run doesn’t automatically qualify them to be an Olympic athlete. In the same way, their quirks, the one thing they thought made them special, doesn’t matter all that much if its usefulness becomes pigeonholed to limited uses. So beyond the students being challenged to use their skills in inventive ways in season one during all their physical exams, what the school environment was prepping them for was adapting in a world that doesn’t always play to their strengths. And this kind of thing can lead to compromise, and sometimes that’s not for the best.
This realization for those with an advantage could breed vanity, while others may grow in resentment to those at the top. So in that sense, justice in a world full of superheroes like this one could just amount to a rat race to profit and self-benefit. The idea of standing for what’s right is lost in a world where the bottom dollar might be all that matters for some. A diluted cesspool of what it means to be a “hero” has effectively worked itself into the mix. And in a system where the good guys can become no more distinguishable from a business person thinking with a capitalist mindset, radical ideas of reform can begin to emerge. Ideas that may be voiced by a fanatic but may still contain some truth behind it. This is something that seems to be the interwoven into the subtext of this 2nd arc while all the hero shenanigans happen on the surface. And perhaps a glimpse of future storylines to come. Either way, what’s important is seeing all the students hone their skills while realizing there’s much more to becoming a hero than what presumptions they may have had prior.
And yeah, a lot of this is based on conjecture, but going off the clues that the show keeps hinting towards, I won’t be surprised if the future installment of this series finds itself tackling the same sociopolitical dilemma that other superhero stories like Concrete Revolutio and Samurai Flamenco attempted to highlight. Either way, the future is looking bright for Academia if it manages to pull this off.
Of course, I don’t have to tell you that the art and animation look good; it’s Bones, good art and animation are in their wheelhouse. If you liked the comic book apparel of the 1st season, this season just doubles down on that. I could go on and on about how much fun the fights were or how catchy the soundtrack is but honestly, you don’t need me to tell you that, the work speaks for itself. But what I do want to get across is that this season seems to show the efforts of its prior storylines finally starting to pay off. Where the 1st installment helped set up the world and characters that live in it, here, all that establishment is finally being used to craft something far more interesting than the sum of its parts.
So no, I don’t think Academia is quite at that level to be celebrated just yet, but the groundwork has certainly been laid for future installments to come in and shake things up. But until that time comes, let’s just enjoy a shounen that’s comfortable in just being itself.