My Hero Academia Season 2 Series Review: Shining the Light on Heroes and Villains

Overview:

There’s no denying that season 1 of this show made me sit up and take notice when I picked it up mid-season after reading many positive reviews. The second season continues Midoriya’s journey (as well as the rest of the students’ journies) to becoming a hero.

Earlier I covered some of the ideas in this series in Friday’s Feature: Not a Character, an Idea.

Review:

With the exception of Bleach (which even I’ll admit isn’t all that great when you break down the story) I’ve never been much for straight shonen action shows. I can’t stand the shouting, the long drawn out fight, the pointless arcs where a villain is built up to be beaten down, the random hero power ups, and all the other silliness that tends to infect those kinds of shows. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good action story, I just prefer something a little less aimed at teenage males. Surprisingly, My Hero Academia kind of has all of the qualities of a shonen story that usually annoy me and yet, much like Bleach before it, instead of turning me away it kind of manages to draw me in a little bit more with every ridiculous fight sequence.

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The first season was utterly charming and just plain fun to watch, and season 2, despite launching into firstly a tournament arc, and then a training/power up sequence, before going into an exam sequence (all of which should have killed any fun or momentum for me) managed to not alone maintain that sense of fun, it also fleshed out a very real and meaningful dialogue around the nature of heroes and villains. All of this while characters continued to grow and develop and come to a greater understanding of themselves.

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Now, there is nothing new to be found in My Hero Academia. We have seen each of these characters before and asking the question of what makes a hero is pretty much story-telling from cave-man days. So it isn’t the novel content that is keeping me fixated. It is all about the delivery.

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This world and these characters are bright and larger than life. Their actions, their ideals, their emotions, everything is heightened unapologetically and then dropped into a world is becoming more and more real with every point we learn about it. While we don’t have Quirks in the real world (or at least not that I’ve noticed), there is something extremely relatable about this social media, popularity focused society that has taken a noble calling (being a hero) and made it a vocation. One that is highly sought due to monetary rewards and social recognition. All of this makes for a very grand and highly energetic narrative even when not a lot is actually happening with the main characters. I’m pretty sure these students could make catching a bus entertaining at this point.

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Part of this is because of the sheer number of characters and their diverse personalities. While some of the less important classmates are still pretty one-note, a lot of these characters have had their moment in the spot light and have started to become far more interesting as the series has progressed. My Hero Academia is very big on giving characters clear motivations for their behaviours and attitudes and ensuring the audience understands these. That way, when a character begins to change or grow, or even just acts out of character, it is immediately apparent and the impact is even greater because we’ve understood why that trait was significant in the first place.

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It also helps that the characters are just fun to spend time with. Even Bakugo, the overly angry and shouty one, is always great fun on the screen. If he could learn to focus some of that rage he could be a truly awesome asset in the future, though at the moment he’s more of comic relief and occasional bringer of tension to an otherwise fairly happy group of kids.

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This season saw Todoroki and Uraraka both gain ground as characters. Each had a number of moments to shine throughout the series and learned from their own actions and the actions of others to progress toward their goals. Seeing the these two characters finding their way and seeing how that changed their relationships with other characters in the story, felt very rewarding. Both kind of gained ground in terms of being my favourite characters from this show by mid-season.

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However, the real spot-light this season needs to go on All Might and Midoriya’s relationship. If growth along a journey was the theme for the season, Midoriya truly personified this as he fought hard to gain control of his ability and also really considered why he wanted to become a hero. Early in the season he loses a fight in the tournament to Todoroki, not necessarily because he couldn’t win (although arguably at the time he couldn’t) but because he needed to help Todoroki. Midoriya chose a tournament loss to ensure a greater victory, helping a friend. And that more or less defined who he was. But, there are greater dangers coming and All Might is trying to prepare Midoriya for those. We see the greatest change in Midoriya, spurred on by Bakugo, when he actually strikes All Might during the exam. Season 1 Midoriya couldn’t have even tried to strike All Might. This transition from idolising All Might, to working to surpass him as a symbol of justice, is just another step on the road for Midoriya though for the audience, there’s the added tension of kind of suspecting All Might’s time is more limited than Midoriya knows. All Might is definitely holding back from telling Midoriya everything so that is one puzzle piece we’ll all be waiting for in the next season.

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Turning our attention to the villains, we see the Hero Killer rise up during this season and his impact on both the narrative and the characters is enormous. Even other villains are launched into renewed vigour because of the Hero Killer’s actions. For me, this part of the season was by far the strongest and most interesting. Mostly because the rest of the season focused on the growth of the future heroes but didn’t really give them a real world challenge to face. Though, the final episode this season leaves little doubt as to where the story is going.

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To begin bringing things to a close, I wasn’t overly thrilled with the openings this season. They worked and they definitely grew on me after several episodes, but initially I was kind of underwhelmed by them. Also, some of the fights in both the tournament and the exam arcs just felt like they were there for the sake of completion rather than for adding anything into the story. But these are minor complaints when considering the season as a whole.

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Season 2 gave me more of what I loved about season 1, and continued to grow both the world and characters in an  immensely satisfying manner. While I would have liked a little bit more from the narrative as we seem to be moving very slowly forward, this is a minor nit-pick to what is a fun series to get into.

I’d love to know your thoughts on My Hero Academia so be sure to leave me a comment below.


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My Hero Academia Episode 38: Setting The Stage

Review:

It is odd where I don’t mind a final episode that so clearly is nothing but set up for future engagements, but with a future series already announced and knowing it is very likely to actually be delivered I found myself pretty hooked by this story. So far, the visible leader of the villains has been individually unimpressive and his taking steps this week to find some conviction really does up the tension a notch in the series.

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Midoriya’s face after he realises he may have just insulted someone who can disintigrate him.

Once again this story questions the idea of heroes, villains, morals and justice and it does it in a fairly non-preachy manner that seems to just make this universe far richer and more believable. However, the episode itself doesn’t really deliver anything. It is a transition with the students finishing their first semester at UA (all of this and we’re only one semester along) and preparing for the training camp. But with the villain recruitment underway by the end of the episode it certainly suggests big things are coming.

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I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this season of My Hero Academia and I’ll be doing a full review soon.


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My Hero Academia Episode 37: Those Two Have Got To Work On Their Issues

Review:

I know they put Midoriya and Bakugo together because their communication was dreadful, but that just seemed needlessly unfair. Midoriya was trying, kind of, to work with Bakugo and he is an absolute jerk. I still can’t believe we’re actually supposed to see him as a future hero and not a villain. Though in a world where Endeavor is technically a hero (the number 2 hero) even though he’s also a jerk I guess we’ll just have to accept that hostility and violence are apparently not disqualifying characteristics.

This fight was as explosive as you would suspect with Bakugo in the mix, but I think All Might was the surprise this episode. He really plays the role of a villain well (even if he did provide multiple openings for the students – it wouldn’t really be a test if they couldn’t have done anything). He’s actually pretty scary when you realise that once he doesn’t care whether the city gets destroyed his power is even more dangerous.

And in the midst of getting crushed, Bakugo and Midoriya kind of come to an understanding even if they still don’t like each other and still can’t really work as a team.

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Still, I will exhibit no surprise is Bakugo ever becomes evil. Might be a little judgemental, but the kid is dangerous.

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Overall, a pretty good conclusion to the exam but nothing overly unexpected except perhaps how good All Might is at being a fake villain. Then of course we got the preview for the next episode and it seems we’ll end the season with the return of the villains so something to look forward to.


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My Hero Academia Episode 34: Prepare for the Fight Scene

Review:

Here we go into exams. My Hero Academia never lets the audience forget for long that this is technically a school based anime and while they put their own unique spin on the various school events they march us through each of them in turn. Of course that isn’t to say this was a bad episode and My Hero Academia has always been fairly generic in both setting and story and excels only in its delivery so this seems to continue that trend. What it did give some time to are Midoriya’s lesser known classmates as they cram for the written tests.

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Still, as much as that was a thing, Midoriya and Bakugo’s awful relationship gets a lot of discussion if not so much screen time. Bakugo’s behaviour once again makes me wonder how is he not aiming to be a villain at this point.

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Still, at least their teacher is honest about why he paired them up. If he’d actually tried to justify it in any other terms it would have been eye-roll worthy.

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While we did see the first pair of students take on a teacher in the practical part of these exams, mostly this was a set up episode so not a lot going on. Enjoyable enough but hardly going to stand out amongst some of the episodes this season has delivered.


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My Hero Academia Episode 33: All Might’s Hesitation

Review:

This episode certainly continued with the idea of social media and looking at how Stain’s influence is spreading in the world of heroes, at least those ideas were running around in the background and permeating the set up for what is apparently to come. I’m glad I spent some time on this idea in my last Feature and I’ll hopefully revisit the idea later particularly if it remains a prominent theme here.

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However, My Hero Academia doesn’t like to dwell or hold its narrative hostage to its themes and as a direct result while this idea is still sitting there and bubbling away just waiting to explode onto the centre stage again, our hero students are back in class and training. All Might is also ready to reveal more about the past to Midoriya but this is where things took an unexpected turn.

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Not in the story itself. That was pretty stock standard villain and hero origin material to be honest, though like most of the generic points in this anime it managed to be very enthusiastic and dramatic in the delivery. No, the surprising part was that All Might blinked. That’s the best way to put it. He realised Midoriya still didn’t understand something fairly critical and yet hesitated and then chose not to explain it.

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It will be interesting to see if that omission comes back to bite them in later episodes. So, you can probably gather that I am still very much enjoying this show and hopefully it can continue strongly.


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My Hero Academia Episodes 31 + 32: Ideas Really Are Bullet Proof

Review Episode 31:

I”m going to have to write a feature for later in the week on this one because there’s a lot coming through in this episode. It’s called “The Aftermath of Hero Killer Stain” and that’s exactly what it gives us. There’s no simple he went to jail the end scenario here. What he did, what he stood for, how he was captured, all of it has taken on a life of its own fuelled primarily through main stream and social media and now it’s almost become a movement in its own right and that is going to be pretty hard to stop.

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The easier part of this episode deals with the three boys, Midoriya, Iida and Todoroki, as they recover from their fight and also get a lecture about actually following the rules and realise there are consequences. Some of these are direct in that they won’t be recognised for their efforts because they’d also have to be punished so they are just going to pretend Endeavor took down Stain (isn’t that culture exactly what Stain was fighting against). Some are less direct as their mentors are facing pay cuts and other penalties for not properly supervising them. Iida is also now facing the possibility of long term damage to his arm due to injuries sustained, though they had a very shōnen way of dealing with that trauma so he’s kind of taking it on as a reminder of what a hero should be (that issue also needs its own post but I’ll probably never get around to writing it).

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But it isn’t all doom and gloom. We get an impossibly cute phone moment between Uraraka and Midoriya which will leave you smiling forever even as everything else in this story seems to be taking a turn for the darker. Gran Torino telling All Might he needs to come clean with Midoriya certainly got my attention. Unfortunately, it looks like next week is going to plunge us into some silliness and side stories as we see how the rest of the kids did on their internships. I hate to say it but I have zero interest right now and would really like the main plot to progress.

Review Episode 32:

I was kind of right about the zero interest. The story presented here was actually a really good story but because it had nothing to do with the actual plot I just couldn’t stay invested in it. First we bounced around and checked in on most of the other students of note and their internships. And can I point out, that the only female hero who has interns that we see is not doing anything vaguely heroic. It would have been nice for at least one actual female hero to be doing something heroic (though at least some of the female students are).

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However the majority of this episode is spent with Tsuyu and her internship.

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As I said, it is a pretty good stand alone story of a student learning the daily grind of a hero before getting a call to action. It has everything it needs, but what it really does is breaks the flow of the story that I actually want to see. I get the impression if I owned this series on DVD, this would be one of the perpetually skipped episodes that I’d come back to at the end to watch as a stand alone.

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Looking forward to the next episode.


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My Hero Academia Episodes 29 + 30: The Boys Are Back Together

Review Episode 29:

I remember back when the tournament arc started the reason I was disappointed with that was because tournament arcs just can’t do high stakes for real. The worst that will happen is they’ll lose (although My Hero Academia managed to put its own spin on that with Midoriya doing some permanent damage to his hand). Well, the internship is definitely making up for that. I wanted real danger and stakes, here they are, and watching Iida, then Midoriya, and then Midoriya backed by Todoroki facing the real world Hero Killer is truly spectacular and everything I could ever want from this show.

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Midoriya and Todoroki have both come so far to who they were back in the tournament arc, and Iida is having his moment now where he can choose whether he’s going to grow as a hero or really just fail as a hero. I’m hoping he steps up because this is a generation of kids who really could change their world once they got over their own baggage. Loved this episode and looking forward to the next.

Review Episode 30:

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Once again, My Hero Academia has left me completely speechless and just sitting as the credits play staring at the screen in silence. This episode was go, go, go with the exception of one fairly necessary flashback sequence for Iida.

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We finally got to see Endeavor actually act like a hero and it makes a pleasant change given our only previous encounters with him made me really question this world’s definition of hero. We also got to see the conclusion of the fight between the Hero Killer, Todoroki, Iida and Midoriya and that was a fantastic experience. Yet, even when the show delves into the darker side of this world, the watching experience remains one of fun and entertainment. This is a show that balances itself well and always remembers what it wants to give its audience. Fantastic episode, looking forward to what comes next.


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My Hero Academia Episodes 27 + 28: Time For a Power Up

Review Episode 27:

No surprise that most of this episode focusses on Midoriya’s meeting with Gran Torino and learning a little bit more about his power. The other kids get a look in as we see the start of their internships and they realise reality is quite different from their dreams. That said, I have to wonder why Gran Torino just had to be the cliché mentor character. Small, acts crazy, and gives obscure advice rather than actually clearly explaining a process. I get there is some joy in seeing Midoriya figure it out for himself, but surely that is time that could have been spent on something better.

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Compared to some of the episodes that have come before it, this one is neither particularly good or bad, but it does progress the story and the new opening is kind of interesting (I’ll see if it grows on me after a few more episodes).

Review Episode 28:

Please tell me that they aren’t really going to kill Iida. It seems a little dark but crazier things have happened I guess.

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Anyway, Midoriya continues training and he’s on a train to Tokyo when a villain and a hero crash into the side of the train leading to Gran Torino launching himself into the fight. Midoriya is still on the train though so I wonder if he’s going to jump into the fray or watch from the sidelines.

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The other kids are mostly being tortured by their mentors, in the usual way that interns are tortured as their ideals are crushed and ground into dust by the reality of the day to day job.

Overall, this was a pretty intense episode by the end and while I’m not sure what the villains are up to with this attack as it just seems like unplanned chaos, the hero killer has been pretty entertaining and seeing Midoriya figure out his quirk a little bit more has been great. I love how they are leaving it fully open for him to continue evolving so we can’t really criticise later power ups as a plot cheat.


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My Hero Academia Episode 26

Review:

This was a much more low-key episode than what we’ve been watching but it was quite effective as we see the students all hyped up after the tournament and moving into an internship and we also finally get to see the full impact on Iida of his brother’s attack.

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While we saw the attack and saw Iida visit his brother previously, that was kind of background to the tournament. This episode, it takes a far more central role and is certainly the major point of drama given the silliness going on in the classroom with the name choosing (silliness here is not synonymous with nonsense – it was a really good way to re-establish the personalities of some of the lesser known students and to see where our main characters were sitting emotionally).

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We also got a blast from the past with the mumbling Midoriya returning to the scene showing once and for all that for all of his growth, Midoriya will remain who he is.

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If I had to pick a fault with this episode it would be the moment where Iida heads off to his internship and Midoriya’s exposition heavy voice over. I get that this kind of works for the genre and given how light the episode was it did add some tension as it foreshadowed darker events, but it was just so unnecessary. We already knew that Midoriya was worried about Iida (as is their teacher) and we already knew that Iida was about to bite off more than he could chew. Putting it out there in such an obvious way just felt really clunky and like they didn’t trust the way they’d portrayed the characters to convey the idea and so they just had Midoriya say it straight out.

Okay, I’m an episode behind now but hopefully I’ll catch up at some point along the way. Still really enjoying this season of My Hero Academia.

My Hero Academia is available on Crunchyroll.


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Tuesday’s Top 5: My Hero Academia Tournament Matches

So as I said last week, this post topic was suggested to me by Kendra Ressler as one of my patrons and I’m going to thank her for the very awesome topic to write about. If you’ve been following season 2 of My Hero Academia, you already know it has been running a tournament between its year 1 students as part of their sports festival and this has led to some incredible character match ups and intense fights. I’m going to say this is my absolute favourite tournament arc ever given I usually find them pretty dull. There is no possible way to describe the events in this tournament as dull.

Anyway, I’d love to know which were your favourite matches on the tournament so please leave your comments below.

Please Note – There will be My Hero Academia season 2 spoilers below so if you haven’t started watching it you may want to pass.

Honourable mentions this week:

  • Shiozaki vs Kaminari
  • Mina vs Aoyama
  • Yaoyorozu vs Tokoyami
  • Tetsutetsu vs Kirishima
  • Iida vs Shiozaki
  • Ashido vs Tokoyami
  • Kirishima vs Bakugo
  • Iida vs Todoroki
  • Bakugo vs Tokoyami
  • Any of the fights I may have forgotten.

Number 5: Mei vs Iida

 

If you read my episode review featuring this match, you will know I found this whole sequence pretty hysterical. Essentially Mei tricks Iida into helping her sell her support devices. Runs him around in circles while pointing out the various features and once she’s finished her sales pitch she calmly steps out of bounds. While I’m not a major fan of comedy, this was really well handled and is one of the more unique fights in this tournament.

Number 4: Midoriya vs Shino

 

This first fight of the tournament between Midoriya and the seemingly weaker general course student was intense, or at least as in tense as a fight can be where one character simply asks the other to step out of bounds and then waits for it to happen. Shino probably should have specified speed on that one. Despite that, this fight was excellent at making the point clear that just because you aren’t in the hero course does not mean that your quirk is useless or that you can’t be a hero. If Midoriya’s quirk had been anything else and he hadn’t been the protagonist, Shino would have won this particular fight.

Number 3: Izuku vs Todoroki

 

For a fight as amazing as this one to be number 3 just kind of goes to show what it was up against. Seriously, my post of this episode was incredibly hard to write because I was just kind of blown away by how intense things got. Keep in mind though, we’ve got broken bones a plenty in this episode, not to mention a near double wipe out explosion. Todoroki seriously let loose at the end there. Absolutely amazing to watch.

Number 2: Uraraka vs Bakugo

 

When Kendra first suggested this list I thought for sure this fight would be number 1. However, like my top females in shonen list, it appears that Uraraka is always destined to be number 2. That shouldn’t deceive you though. This is a fight you need to watch and rewatch and then watch it again. Going in to this match up I felt for sure Uraraka would make a brave showing and then be swept under the rug but instead she really brought the fight to Bakugo. What was even better is that by the end of the fight he respected her for her strength. Also, this episode brings up a lot of the issues with the world and format of the school so you can deconstruct that as well, or you can just enjoy a seriously amazing fight.

Number 1: Bakugo vs Todoroki

 

It might be a bit obvious to pick the final as my number 1 choice, but really, this was an absolutely amazing match up and one that deserves respect. Without stretching out the time, inserting random flashbacks to rapidly build a reason for the audience to care about the characters, unnecessary lengthy dialogue about motive or tactics, Bones delivered one fantastic fight sequence and they did it in less than ten minutes of screen time. This was a truly awesome clash between two characters that in season one were well and truly overshadowed by Midoriya but have now been given a bit of free reign to shine.

Alright, over to you. Which was your favourite match and why? Once again, thanks to Kendra for suggesting the list.


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