The rundown for the best shows of the Summer season continues. As I said before, I’ll take in consideration shows that started on a previous season but ended in the next one. Seems fair for shows with two-cours because many of them decay during the last episodes (Talking to you Re:Creators). Today we will be talking about the second season of a show that by all means could be your run-of-the-mill shounen shit but it has something on its advantage: Being a really good Western superhero story. Let’s go beyond particularities and talk about Boku no Hero Academia season two.
About the show
Boku no Hero Academia (僕のヒーローアカデミア) is the second season of an adaptation of an ongoing manga. The second season consisted of twenty five episodes (almost the double of the first one), 22 minutes each.
On an Earth-like world where people with superpowers known as “Quirks” are the norm, Izuku Midoriya is a regular middle school student who has dreams of one day becoming a Hero despite being bullied by his classmates for not having a Quirk. After being the only one to try and save his childhood bully Katsuki from a Villain, the world’s greatest Hero All Might bestows upon him his own quirk “One For All”. The story follows Izuku’s entrance into U.A. High School, a school that cultivates the next generation of Super Heroes.
The second season continues the saga from the first, where young Midoriya has to participate in the most prestigious event: The School Sports Festival. A combat between classmates that will prove their worth to themselves and the world watching them.
I did not have the opportunity to talk about the first season of Boku no Hero Academia because, well, the blog did not exist. The experience during the season when it aired was mostly positive. Although, even then, I did not gave enough credit to this show. The experience was mostly a fun adventure with superheroes and rooting for the underdog. Previous to this review, I rewatched the first season and now I got a lot of topics that went under the radar that had a payoff in the new season. The biggest difference between the seasons is now there is enough time to flesh out all the characters in the show and even include new ones who will be essential to the next story arcs. Twenty-five episodes were enough to cover four arcs and most of them did not felt rushed, an accomplishment for any shonen out there.
Boku no Hero Academia is probably one of the best “inspired” Western comic superhero works in the present. As I mentioned on the Heroman review, there is just too much of superhero movies and television shows right now that is overwhelming. But many of them lack the basic foundations that made the genre what it is. Superhero stories are corny, cheesy and most of them are a power fantasy where we reach a status beyond the limitations of our humanity to fight evil and achieve justice. This is not to say superhero stories cannot diverge from these and enter other territories like grim dark drama or satire, but recently there seems an active avoidance of those tropes. Boku no Hero Academia does not shun them but embrace them fully in a classic shonen setting. You get extended fights with the craziest superpowers and long monologues about friendship and defending the things you love. There are gray areas, not all villains are mustache twirling ones, but it is clear who is on the side of justice and those who try to undermine the hero world.
The best arc of this show was the Hero-Killer arc. Although one of the shortest, here our characters are confronted by someone who by all accounts is a villain: Slaying heroes indiscriminately and leaving them crippled for life. But this is one of the points where the show goes into the gray area of ideology over purity. The Hero Killer has done a lot of damage but he does not think about his actions as terrible or revolting. He is merely cleaning the perverse and false society heroes have built upon their complacency, everybody is just a fake hero who only look for themselves. When Midoriya sacrifices for his friend, the Hero Killer acknowledges him as a true hero whereas in the previous episode he injured and insult Iida (Midoriya’s friend) because his motives were impure (revenge). I’m not going to give all the spoilers about this arc, but this is a great example of the quality in writing and direction the show has, it goes to darker territories but without feeling edgy or forcing a shift of tone. When the arc ends, we go back to the school shenanigans because at the end of the day, this is about the students growing up and confronting the rising difficulties of being a hero.
Boku no Hero Academia has a lot of different characters, all them are featured more than once during this season and it’s wonderful. While it is a difficult task for a show to be able to handle this number of side characters, the story allows it with its setup. By confronting each other during the sports festival we see their weaknesses, fears and goals they want to achieve. During the internship, we see them outside of the school setting and how they could function after leaving U.A. You got to admire when a show presents more than a dozen characters and almost all are well written, they are not walking tropes and you can empathize with them. I like Froppy because she is cute but above all she is smart and knows what’s happening around her. I root for Ochako to achieve her dream of helping her parents. I want Deku to be the next All Might and fight for justice and peace. This is what a hero show should have, interesting and likable characters which you want them to succeed in the face of adversity.
Heroes are not perfect just like this show. I have one exception when it comes to likable and interesting characters and that is Bakugo. During the first season of the show he was my least favorite and while I understood his role and personality, I still did not like him. I thought that during this new season where almost all other students got to grow and learn something, Bakugo would be the same. But he did not. He is the same annoying piece of shit he was during the first season, no redeeming qualities whatsoever and only works as dire comparative between him and Midoriya. I have an idea where the author wants to go with his character but so far I cannot buy it and all the scenes with him were probably the worst ones. Although we are going to get a third season, the last arc of this show felt rushed, it was not a satisfactory conclusion to the events we lived during the past twenty-five episodes. My hope is that the third season will pick up the pace but as it stands now, not my favorite ending.
At this point, if you have not watched the first season of Boku no Hero Academia you are missing out a great show. Even if superhero stories are not your thing, I think you will enjoy it. And after you finish the first season, watch the second one. A show that simply works and it works well within its genre. Anime is available where anime is.