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:
Story: 5/10 | Execution: 8/10 | Characters: 6/10 | Presentation: 8/10 | Enjoyment: 7/10