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.

Hero25h

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.

Hero29b

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.

Hero34b

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.

Hero36a

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.

Hero25f

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.

Hero25i

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.

Hero19c

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.

Hero30b

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.

Hero37b

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.

Hero28a

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.


Thanks for reading.

If you enjoyed this post and like the blog, consider becoming a patron to support further growth and future content.

Patreon2

Thanks,

Karandi James.

avatar

Advertisements

Knight’s & Magic Episode 12: Are We Sure Ernesti Isn’t a Villain?

Review:

I had a lot of time for thinking while watching this episode, mostly because other than super dramatic music and various bits of magic zipping across the screen not a lot was going on in the first half. The fights may look visually impressive for the first two or so passes, but as Ernesti circles the ‘Drake’ and we get the same animation of its lightning defense etc, it all just starts looking a bit samey and I kind of tuned out what was going on until Ernesti hit the ground. Points for the ‘villains’ for finally knocking him out of the sky.

Knights12a

What I started thinking about was Ernesti’s character and how he pretty much exhibits every characteristic you would expect of a B Grade villain. He chuckles gleefully when he destroys his enemy or creates a new machine designed to kill. He has no qualms about stealing his comrades machines if it is convenient to him. He has no loyalty to the actual rulers of his country and really would sell his loyalty to whoever would give him the access he wants to innovate with his robots, and don’t threaten the future of that robot design or he’ll take it very personally.

Knights12c

That made it much harder for me to actually care about the villains and their actions given I don’t know enough about them to care personally, and their actual fighting style has been practical and not as underhanded as Ernesti’s.

Anyway, there’s one more episode of this and it is another show I’ll be glad to see off my watch list. The narrator of this show is getting my vote for most annoying character of the season.


Thanks for reading.

If you enjoyed this post and like the blog, consider becoming a patron to support further growth and future content.

Patreon2

Thanks,

Karandi James.

avatar

My Hero Academia Episode 36: And So They Fought

Review:

If this wasn’t the second last episode of the season, you would swear it was a filler episode. We get the match ups of most of the characters we don’t really care about (Uraraka is the exception here but her match is over and done in almost an instant). While there’s certainly merit to seeing some of these classmates in a fight, and some of the teachers that previously had been been in the background, there’s no plot progression and the main characters are sidelined quite literally, taking the role of commentators rather than participants.

Hero36b

That isn’t to say the episode wasn’t fun or that there weren’t some cool moments to be found here. However, from a strictly plot point of view this episode gives us very little. Nother is really revealed about the characters that couldn’t have been surmised prior and none of this is leading to anything except Midoriya and Bakugou’s fight against All Might which of course doesn’t start until the final minute of the episode (almost as if the writers were worried we would suddenly stop watching without that bit of a cliff-hanger).

Hero36c

All and all, as part of the overall feeling of My Hero Academia, this episode works, but it is hardly one of the better showings we’ve had from this second season and I think most of the tournament episodes earlier in the season were stronger than this.


Thanks for reading.

If you enjoyed this post and like the blog, consider becoming a patron to support further growth and future content.

Patreon2

Thanks,

Karandi James.

avatar

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.

Hero33b

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.

Hero33c

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.

Hero33d

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.


Thanks for reading.

If you enjoyed this post and like the blog, consider becoming a patron to support further growth and future content.

Patreon2

Thanks,

Karandi James.

avatar

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.

Hero31

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).

Hero31c

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).

Hero32a

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

Hero32b

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.

Hero32c

Looking forward to the next episode.


Thanks for reading.

If you enjoyed this post and like the blog, consider becoming a patron to support further growth and future content.

Patreon2

Thanks,

Karandi James.

avatar

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.

Hero29b

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:

Hero30b.JPG

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.

Hero30a

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.


Thanks for reading.

If you enjoyed this post and like the blog, consider becoming a patron to support further growth and future content.

Patreon2

Thanks,

Karandi James.

avatar

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.

Hero27a

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.

Hero28b.JPG

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.

Hero28a

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.


Thanks for reading.

If you enjoyed this post and like the blog, consider becoming a patron to support further growth and future content.

Patreon2

Thanks,

Karandi James.

avatar