The Spring 2017 Anime Preview Guide
My Hero Academia season 2
How would you rate episode 14 of
My Hero Academia (TV 2) ?
What is this?
How was the first episode?
First day of the season, two big sequel premieres, and I'm giving the same rating to both, albeit for substantially different reasons.
The Attack on Titan sequel earned this score from me primarily for visual excellence and throwing in a few interesting twists, but it didn't quite succeed in jacking up my enthusiasm for the new season. By comparison, My Hero Academia's sequel is nowhere near as pretty. The animation is still good, but the background art is far less sharp and the characters very ordinary in attractiveness. (But then, that was also the case with the first season.) Of course, the goal with this one is much more to capture a super hero comic book flair done in a shonen action style, and in service of that purpose the visuals do quite well. Pretty isn't always necessary when you're nailing your style.
What this new season does do, though, is capture the spirit which drove the original series, and in that it has Titan beat. Oh, sure, a lot of it boils down to classic shonen action high spirits, but I have always felt that Academia did a superb job of transcending that. This isn't just a case of striving to get stronger or be the best (although there is a definite component to that here); this is about being a hero. The stuff that All Might says in his bulked-up form would sound pretentious, perhaps even narcissistic, coming from anyone else, but when he says “it's all right now, because I am here” he projects the aura of a super-hero, of the kind of person who can be a Symbol of Peace for people to look up to in trying times. This series has always understood exactly how to use that, and seeing Izuku work his way towards growing into that still has enormous appeal, especially with him preparing to take the next big step: show off what he's got in the sports festival, which is as much a recruitment tool – where established super-heroes scout new talent as an actual school function.
For all the good I see in this, hearing that most or all of this season is going to focus on this sports festival fills me with trepidation, as shonen action series are rife with shows that get bogged down in these seemingly-endless cycles of contests. Getting a bit more background on Ochaco helps moderate those concerns for now, as does the generally light-hearted spirit of the episode and getting some interesting further insight into last season's final villain and an examination of why Izuku was able to control his use of All For One at one point in the battles last season when he hadn't before. Besides, the series may sometimes wallows in shonen action tropes, but it has never disappointed me for long.
Coming back on the same day as Attack on Titan isn't what I'd call good timing, but My Hero Academia might be good enough to survive that shared air date. As a viewer, watching these two shows on the same day might be exactly what I need; Academia's “you can be a hero” optimism could work as an emotional counterweight for Titan's “we're all gonna die” vibe. That upbeat charm carries over into this season's first episode as the upcoming sports festival gives our aspiring heroes a chance to cut loose.
The downside to this comeback is that My Hero Academia makes us wade through a very lengthy recap before it finally starts handing out new content. A quick reminder of where we are in the story is certainly useful, but this is just way too much. Part of this show's charm is the simple, earnest goal that drives Deku forward; he's not so complex a character that we need a refresher course on his motivations. The redundant discussions of past events are at least easy enough to watch, thanks in large part to the strong personalities of the core cast. I like All Might and Deku's classmates enough that I'm content to watch them sit around and talk for a few minutes.
Since the episode ends up with barely enough time to introduce the sports festival as a concept, there's not much to get excited about just yet. What little meaningful content there is comes in the form of Uraraka's backstory, and this at least makes for interesting viewing. In a class full of kids who want to go pro in order to fight for truth and justice, it's nice to see at least one protagonist with a less idealistic (and perhaps more human) ambition. If the series is able to use the sports festival to reveal more about the other students' backgrounds, we could be in for a very compelling season.
My Hero Academia remains easy on the eyes, with a visual style that matches up well with its narrative tone. I'm also glad that Funimation's dub is going up on the same day as the subtitled version. The dub ended up being my preferred way to watch the first season, thanks to some good casting choices and strong delivery. Having watched this episode with both audio tracks, I suspect that my preference will remain the same. Regardless of which version you prefer, however, My Hero Academia looks like it'll continue to be a fun series to watch once it gets the story back up and running.
Even with Studio Bones' excellent production work elevating this long-running shonen series above the visual standard we've come to expect from this kind of thing, My Hero Academia seems hell-bent on reminding me why I don't have the attention span for most Shonen Jump.
Great animation and art design aside, My Hero Academia's first season was definitely paced like your average molasses-speed Pierrot shonen outing. Then, in anticipation of season two, we got a recap episode last week that repeated all of season one's major beats. I thought for sure this meant that we'd dive right into the meat of U.A.'s much-anticipated Sports Festival Arc this week, but nope, the first full seven minutes of this episode are recap material that jumps from the show's basic premise to the League of Villains Arc, framed as a letter All Might is writing to an old friend we don't know (yet). And then the next four minutes are spent on characters discussing the emotional impact that The League of Villains attack had on them, which would be okay to start on if I wasn't already burned out on all the recap that came before. Dios mio, Hero Academia, I know this is basically kids' programming, but kids aren't goldfish or hamsters! WE REMEMBER, I PROMISE.
I went with a rating of 3/5 because I know that My Hero Academia will be tons of fun to watch if season two is anything like season one, but it's pretty generous in terms of judging this episode on its own merits, because it's fully 50% recap and 50% explaining what the Sports Festival is and why it matters, and that's about it. Okay, there's a little more going on. We get Ochako's backstory, implying that this arc will be of special importance for her specifically, and we also get some teatime with All Might and Deku, discussing how his control over his powers is evolving. That's important context for the story moving forward, but it's still basically twelve minutes of talking heads following twelve minutes of regurgitation, so I can only hope the action ramps up from here.
Funimation's on the same-day ball with their simuldub this season, although if you've seen MHA's first season dub, there's not much new to discuss, since they haven't introduced any new characters just yet. All I can say is that it continues to be snappy listening even by Funimation's notably consistent standards, with particularly excellent casting for the main roles of Deku and All Might. I would even say that Chris Sabat as All Might is one of the most perfect English dub casting choices I've seen in an anime period, and his fun rapport with Justin Briner as Deku just boosts both great performances.
My Hero Academia is back! After just one year away, Shonen Jump's exuberant take on western-style superheroes has returned, bringing with it the many engaging personalities of class 1-A. And on the heels of the villain attack that capstoned the first season, we're diving straight into an even greater conflict: the U.A. Sports Festival.
Don't worry if you're a little shaky on the events of the first season - the first third or so of this episode is basically all recap, reiterating not just the base tenets of My Hero Academia's world, but also Midoriya's own individual journey, as well as the last arc of the previous season. That pile of recaps is reflective of one of the My Hero Academia adaptation's general issues, one that doesn't seem to have disappeared: the generally slow, source material-conserving pacing.
But even if the pacing still isn't perfect, the underlying material here is quite strong. Most of this episode's new content involves the entirety of class 1-A talking amongst themselves about recent events and the upcoming festival, which lets the show's ensemble cast really shine. Characters that barely got a line in total during the first season, like invisible girl Toru and tail-bearing boy Mashirao, are here presented as established members of various social circles, and lively bits of character animation work hard to create a sense of camaraderie among the group. My Hero Academia's broad cast has always been one of its greatest assets, and the fact that even idle conversations can be this fun bodes well for the sports festival proper.
This episode also worked hard to center season two on one specific theme: parentage and succession. While the first season of My Hero Academia celebrated heroism in general, this episode specifically framed the idea of “becoming a hero” in the context of children succeeding their parents. From the directly inherited nature of Midoriya's quirk to Uraraka's motivation and even the villain Shigaraki's failings, the question of how we relate to those who raised us was paramount. Even the idea that the U.A. Sports Festival being the country's most popular sporting event seemed like a melancholy truth, implying the weight of hope placed on young heroes who haven't even grown up yet. As a fan of the original manga, I appreciated how thoroughly this episode honed in on the thematic fundamentals that make the upcoming arc such a thrill.
Overall, My Hero Academia's second season opened in more or less the way I'd expect: still exhibiting some of the issues of the first season, but still a very competent adaptation of an excellent manga. I am very ready for more.
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