Review/discussion about: Boku no Hero Academia 2nd Season
While my parents are my greatest heroes, I wouldn’t be where I am today without a couple of other heroes in my life: my younger brother and my older sister.
My parents taught me how to be a good person and looked out for me as I grew up, but my siblings have been the ones that I could rely on and confide in indefinitely. My brother and I have shared the same interests, played the same games, and supported one another in our endeavors. As for my sister, she has been my role model my whole life, her hard work and her stalwart determination inspiring me to achieve my own dreams.
To me, they’re heroes, too. Heroes in their own way. And, much like its first season, Boku no Hero Academia 2nd Season would back me up in this claim once more.
Boku no Hero gets right back into the series after the conclusion of the craziness at USJ with the terror plot by the League of Villains. Deku, Ochako, Bakugo, Tsu, and the many other students of UA academy have zero chances to rest, however, for they find themselves embroiled in events once again.
Since the first season established the premise, the elements, and the direction of the anime, this second season targets beyond these foundational items. Boku no Hero now turns its attention towards building on its core, empowering it through three distinct arcs that each have a particular goal in mind: the Tournament Arc, the Hero-Killer-Internship Arc, and the Final-Exam Arc.
First up, the classic Tournament Arc requires the entire first half of the season, calling forth the teenagers to duke it out as close friends and worthwhile rivals. Therein, the anime showcases much of what makes the series a blast to begin with. Meaningful duels. Nice comedic segments for a lighthearted feel. An awesome display of the numerous Quirks both on their own and in unison.
This arc also serves a secondary function. Inherently, it forces most (if not all) of its side characters into the spotlight. Again, the first season was typically about the beginning of Deku’s journey, so it makes sense that the story would divvy up its focus by peering into the other people that surround him. What better way to do that than with a set of events designed to get everyone involved?
The second arc, the Hero-Killer-Internship Arc, is arguably the most interesting of the three. The students solidify their hero names, learn the ropes from on-site professionals, and some even square off against a high-profile villain for the first official time. Better yet, this arc places the most emphasis on the underlying plot when it highlights the aftermath of these events.
Normally, and especially with an anime like Boku no Hero, people understand that goodness creates goodness. That’s why All Might exists as the Symbol of Peace: to inspire others in the unending quest for what is right. However, the opposite direction also holds true. Evilness spawns evilness, and Stain’s influence (and by proxy the League of Villains) instill in the baddies a renewed vigor for hate. Forming this important parallel and exploring it in this fashion demonstrates strong writing chops on the show’s part both now and when these two sides ultimately clash.
Lastly, the Final-Exam Arc acts as a culmination of the first and the second seasons combined. It takes what Deku and his friends learned and experienced, applying their knowledge in the faux-villain battles with the professors they have come to know and love.
Where the first arc struts the show’s stuff and the second arc explores its ideas on good versus evil, this arc primes the series for its next iteration. Potential romance subplots surface, vital background information reveals itself, and the conclusion marks a definitive stopping point between the opening portion of this tale across almost forty episodes and what will appear in the seasons to come.
All the while, Boku no Hero improves its weaknesses or at least maintains its strengths. The dramatic sequences no longer encroach on out-of-place or over-the-top territory, Bakugou’s dialogue (while still incessant) now has a realistic foundation, and its vital message about what it means to be a hero doesn’t get lost among the many additions to this story. Combined with the purposeful arcs, the new ideas, and the higher execution overall, this sequel deserves a lot of praise.
ART & ANIMATION
Boku no Hero does not deviate much from the presentation of its previous visuals. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing.
Per usual, the anime doesn’t lose sight of its very nice character designs. Returning cast members sport the same looks and heroic outfits which still express their personalities and their capabilities. Moreover, the new designs rock, too. Stain, the other new villains, Mei the sidekick, and some new heroes each go about wearing their own distinct getups, fitting right alongside the veterans of the series. They’re all so creative and interesting and neat that it’s hard to not appreciate them in some form.
Unfortunately, the artistic direction also once again toes that average line. Lighting and background artistry still remain rather underwhelming throughout the show, but better cinematography and advanced (relative to the first season) fight choreography push back against these woes. Plus, the continued finesses with its expressive reactions and minor details (usually during comedic bits) demonstrate extra care in the visuals.
As for actual animation, Boku no Hero earns those high marks again. Deku, All Might, Todoroki, Iida, and everyone else constantly find themselves duking it out with somebody, and the movement from their different actions, powers, and strategies almost never lets up. Especially for some of its stand-out scenes at key points in their battles.
To be absolutely fair, however, the anime noticeably tries to avoid animation throughout the Tournament Arc. Specifically, it reuses many minutes’ worth of previous content and the same tiresome opening spiel at the beginning of each episode of this twelve-episode span. But, given that the tradeoff is several awesome instances in the animation both then and afterwards, it’s not too much of a price to pay.
On top of the fun RPG motif for the second ED’s visuals, the art and the animation within the show once again earn high marks for the majority of its presentation.
In this second season, Boku no Hero follows the logical next step. Where before it mostly focused on setting up its bigger players (e.g., Deku, All Might) it now turns its attention to its supporting cast. Not that the show ignores these three or anything like that, of course. Rather, it now aims to round out the experience by bringing everyone else along for this superpowered ride.
Much of this rounding affects fringe characters such as Mineta. Normally reserved for ecchi, comedic asides, he has his own time to shine when it counts. Or even Anima, who has basically not said a single word for almost forty episodes, likewise receives (however slight) some backstory all his own.
The anime goes a step further with some of its other side characters. Fan-favorite Ochako finally reveals her major motivation for enrolling as a hero, granting her more respect than just the cute girl of the group. Yaoyorozu finds herself conflicted over lowered confidence which then explores a different side to her seemingly perfect self. And Fumikage gives the audience better insight as to the strengths and weaknesses that every hero must contend with personally.
None of the supporting cast thus far explode forth with the strongest writing imaginable. Yet, again, even taking the time to build their foundation in this manner really goes a long way towards making Boku no Hero feel less like a Deku-and-random-people story and more like a Deku-and-friends story. Nowhere does this sentiment become apparent better than with the heavy exploration of two characters this season: Todoroki and Iida.
Todoroki wields flames and ice in a half-and-half manner, and those same emotions erupt within him. Before, his cold, distant behavior painted him as an angsty teenager rather than a troubled person. However, as the anime depicts, that’s certainly not the case. His controlled upbringing, his estrangement with his own mother, and his fierce determination force (or perhaps doesn’t force) his hand.
As for Iida, he has always been the straight-laced character, taking up the mantle as class representative and championing the righteous path. It makes his fall from grace of sorts this season that much more powerful. Having looked up to his older brother his entire life, he struggles upholding the ideals that have shaped him as a person as he succumbs to a vengeance that no hero would deem acceptable.
Thankfully, they have Deku nearby. Yes, it’s nice to finally see him make noticeable strides in commanding the ultimate Quirk (for his previous attempts, while important, were quite miniscule). But his greatest contribution has always been how he puts himself out there for his dear companions, and that does not stop in this season either.
In Todoroki’s case, Deku pushes the limits on his own body to their extreme to get this troubled guy to realize that he isn’t a product of genetic mutation but instead his very own self. In Iida’s case, he, alongside Todoroki, boost that heroic passion within him, standing as the very examples of the tenets he lost sight of momentarily.
Taking everyone in the cast together, they also happen to expand on Boku no Hero’s original theme. The first season asked the question, “What is a hero?” Within this second season, it gets more specific when it now asks the questions, “What is a hero to them?”
Ignoring apparent danger to save another person or fighting for a peaceful world certainly make these characters heroes. Yet, they are not all the same. Some wish to give their parents a better lifestyle. Some wish to prove their worth. Some wish to be the best. Some wish to put a smile on their face. No matter the circumstances, these characters have their goals, their hardships, and their characterizations that guide their own takes on what it truly means to be a hero. Progression on this theme demonstrates maturity in the writing and therefore a stronger direction for the anime overall.
Not everything goes smoothly for the characters this season. Shigaraki, the main villain of the series, is still not a very interesting adversary despite his importance within the story. Learning about All Might’s counterpart and that guy’s involvement in these proceedings, however, introduces an interesting twist that will benefit the evil side in the long run (just not any time soon).
Bakugou also receives the short end of the stick this season. His small improvements in the first season counted as big milestones for him as a person, but, over these twenty-five episodes, he doesn’t budge much from his charged, arrogant attitude. Granted, he wouldn’t be Bakugou if he didn’t yell about being number one all the time, but it seems as if Boku no Hero wastes many of its chances on him to start turning over a new leaf in favor of keeping as close to his status quo as possible.
One could also, maybe harp on the anime for forgetting about specific characters after their arrival. Hitoshi, the mind-controlling boy, and Grandtorino, Deku’s mentor during his internship, are the two names that come to mind who basically disappear after they do what they need to. But that would be overly nitpicky. The anime already does a very nice job of providing its non-main characters the attention they deserve, and it expands on its main theme in a notable manner. Two traits which bolster the series to a greater degree.
MUSIC & SOUND
Much like the visuals, Boku no Hero’s musical choices and audio direction carry over from its first season and into this second season. The voice-acting performances persist in their range, emotion, and strength. The different sound effects for the different abilities induce variety and intrigue. And the original soundtrack relies most on its triumphant, heroic tracks when otherwise it presents an okay set of songs.
The biggest change, of course, comes from the opening tracks and the ending tracks. In terms of execution, they’re unfortunately a small downgrade. However, they still bring the fun and the hype that the anime thrives on.
“Peace Sign”, the first OP, meanders along with competent guitar strings, a simple drum beat, and some clapping in the background, yet the nice vocal work keeps the track from falling behind. The second OP “Sora ni Utaeba” stands as the stronger of the two. The infrequent female singer contrasts with the passionate male vocalist with her peaceful delivery, and the piano keys throughout infuse melody into the piece itself.
The EDs are roughly the same. The first ED “Dakara, Hitori Janai” takes on a slightly more whimsical feel with its daintier instrumentation, multiple vocalists, calmer pace, and optimistic tone. And that last lyrical triplet before the piece concludes cannot be denied its catchiness. As for the second ED, titled “Datte Atashi no Hero.”, it ends up as the weakest of the four tracks, lagging in its song structure and general creativity.
Despite these OP-and-ED combos not living up to the first season’s, a couple of the individual tracks still have their own quality aspects. Furthermore, the VA performances, the sound-effects, and the OST make up for whatever small misgivings they may incur.
I must admit, the show has proved me wrong.
In my review of the first season, I wrote how the supporting cast weren’t the most interesting, that “I simply don’t see them as characters that I will be remembering once the series inevitably concludes.” After watching this season, I need take back some of my words.
I have always liked Ochako and Tsu, and that sentiment hasn’t changed, for the former’s kindness and the latter’s honesty usually gets me smiling. Yet a lot of the other cast members have started to win me over. Yaoyorozu is a cute, sincere girl who worries about her friends and holds a lot of pride. Iida is a respectable dude for his unending sense of justice. Todoroki is an interesting fella who now feels like one of the team. Mina is ecstatic, and Fumikage is a cool guy. Even Mei, the sidekick inventor extraordinaire, had me smiling at her passion and her love for her “babies.”
Returning favorite All Might is a blast to watch as well as he goes (mostly) all out during the last arc of the season. Moreover, the Mickey Mouse president finally reveals his genius-esque Quirk (while also going slightly insane as he gets caught up in the moment). I was also happy to see Deku stop maiming himself constantly, and the budding, romantic feelings Ochako shares for him got me as giddy as giddy could be.
Not to mention Midnight’s sexiness, the running joke between the granite-and-metal duo Kirishima and Tetsutetsu, and the crazy action scenes that occur with almost every single episode. To be fair, I now find Bakugou more annoying than ever (which I didn’t think was possible), and I cannot say that I have been swept up by the fervor that surrounds this anime quite yet.
Even so, color me impressed.
Boku no Hero Academia 2nd Season flies a tad farther than its predecessor. Worthwhile continuations to the narrative, continued success in its audiovisual direction, larger exploration of the supporting cast, and even more entertaining traits form a sequel whose popularity clearly does not go unwarranted. Indeed, the show is a heroic sibling all its own.
Story: Great, this second season carries the torch forward, bringing back the cool elements, expanding on the hero-versus-villain motif, and following through on what has and what has yet to come
Art & Animation: Good, while the core artistry still feels underwhelming, the creative designs, the awesome fight scenes, and the smaller details keep the presentation in high spirits
Characters: Good, Todoroki, Iida, and many other side characters earn a ton of focus to round out the experience, they investigate what a hero means to them, but Shigaraki and Bakugou feel like wasted opportunities at this point in time
Music & Sound: Good, the OPs and the EDs are a minimal downgrade from the first season, but the strong VA performances, the intriguing sound-effects, and the okay OST return without fault
Enjoyment: Good, it’s nice to be proven wrong now and again
Final Score: 8/10
Thanks for taking the time to read my review. If you want, take part in the discussion below! :3