My Hero Academia Season 2 – Mid Series Anime Review
Synopsis: In a world where eighty percent of the population has some kind of super-powered “quirk,” Izuku was unlucky enough to be born completely normal. But that won’t stop him from enrolling in a prestigious hero academy. Now, the promising freshman class is making its debut at the world-renowned U.A. Sports Festival! It’s Quirk versus Quirk as our young heroes face off in the ultimate showdown. (Official Funimation Synopsis.)
Mid Series (12 Episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: My Hero Academia’s Second Season can, so far, be summed by its animation: wonderfully captivating with a few unfortunate flaws. Speaking solely about the animation for a moment it’s only major hindrance is the frequent ‘dimming’ one will come across in nearly every episode. It’s as if a cloud materializes above the anime’s light source and dims the action heavy sequences just enough to be annoying before flittering anyway as instantly as it appeared. This is, of course, Japanese censorship at its finest, desperately ensuring the infamous Porygon incident never happens again. It’s a bit frustrating as it can pull you out of what is otherwise some awesome and gripping shonen action.
Linny: The story has been all about the school tournament that the students have to participate in, which has been making for an interesting watch as we get to observe various quirks beyond those of our hero class students and see how they stack up to or face off against each other. Seeing the kids utilize their quirks or make smart decisions about how to exploit theirs or others’ abilities makes for good entertainment. Not only that, the season has been a good mix of comedy, action and drama and while some of the drama can be a bit ham fisted, overall it’s a good balance of classic shonen elements that explain why this series is one of the more beloved ones amoungst newer shonen titles.
Tom: Indeed we’re about half way through Academia’s second season and we’ve only just concluded the series tournament arc, a classic staple of near every shonen battle manga. Despite the half season focus, Academia’s tournament isn’t nearly as tiring as Food Wars! second season’s cook off, providing enough variety with its pre-tournament content, and even the match ups themselves, that the whole thing feels quite well paced, addressing a concern some had that Academia’s first season dragged.
Linny: The one on one battles are some of the most over the top displays of combat amongst the students, helping to really sell the scale of potential and power that resides in these emerging heroes and they make for a mental and visual delight. The tournament arc ends on/transitions to an ominous note as the more light hearted vibe of the award ceremony is immediately followed by the establishment of a deadly new threat to the world and safety of heroes.
Tom: Peppered between what is a very faithful adaptation of Academia’s manga, are plenty of smaller moments that have been fleshed out by the anime team, taking one or two panel fights and expanding them into larger affairs. None of these additions feel unwelcome and they help to flesh out the manga’s work, giving added reason for manga readers to perhaps give the anime a look in, even if they’ve read it all before.
Linny: This means that we got to see more of the personalities of the student characters and in some cases such as Urarake, Iida and Todoroki, we get an intimate look into their motivations and even past life that helps to make them more sympathetic to the viewers. We learn about the various reasons the students want to win the competition and how they handle the stress of it all, providing sources of drama and conflict. This season also gets some props for introducing and utilizing new characters from other classes that we didn’t even know existed until this arc without making it feel like too much at too quick a pace.
Tom: But this is where Academia falters a tad, and is even a fair criticism of the manga: Outside of Uraraka, Midoriya, Todoroki and Bakugo, most other characters get little true development here. Indeed Academia’s impressively sizeable cast largely remains surface level. What’s offered for immediately obvious growth doesn’t extend beyond the four I mentioned. This can make certain match ups feel somewhat pointless, as we’re introduced to numerous new characters who fade back into the background as soon as their moment to shine is over. How badly this hinders your enjoyment is largely dependent on how much your entertainment rides on a need to provide instant gratification. But that’s something I’ll talk about in a moment.
Linny: It’s unfortunately true that the show seems to completely abandon and forget these new students, making it really doubtful if they will ever even reappear in the story again to a significant level, given that the series struggles to really explore and highlight all the kids in the hero class alone already. It’s a shame because this arc does have some interesting students from other classes such as the gadget and self marketing obsessed Mei Hatsume, the calm and calculating Neito Monoma and the frustrated but determined Hitoshi Shinsou to name a few, and they really added some extra charm to the story.
Tom: Academia is naturally slow. Even the manga moves at what can feel like a snail’s pace. This is evident simply in how long it takes Midoriya to get a handle on his power, falling far and behind other runt type shonen leads who gradually grow into power houses. It’s not to say that’s an actual flaw, as its largely part of the manga’s appeal in how methodical it can be in its approach to growing its characters. But this means Academia lacks instant gratification, using this tournament arc to set up ideas that continue to be touched upon even in the manga’s most recent chapters. But for fans of shonen, who are used to more obvious and immediate results, Academia can feel lacking, perfectly happy to merely hint and set up ideas that’ll come into play much later on in the stories’ life.
Linny: This season also puts a lot of focus on Shoto Todoroki, someone who had been relegated to a supporting role in the previous season and this new focus is where I felt a lot of the hamfisted drama came from. His back story reveals such twisted tragedies that might work for some but is likely going to make others feel like the mangaka is trying too hard to paint him as a semi tragic character.
Tom: Hitting the halfway point with the second season it’s now clear that we won’t reach the manga’s single biggest moment just yet. It’s likely this portion of the adaptation will either end with the next immediate arc or the arc after. Either way the anime might find it difficult to provide a strong stopping point. If it chooses to stretch this next arc out, with one of the series most impactful villains, the second half of Academia’s 2nd run could feel exceedingly slow and pained. Academia could then include the following arc, but it’s climax doesn’t really feel like a strong stopping point, lacking a climatic battle to go out on. If the anime was searching for its strongest stopping point that would be plowing through a third arc with its remaining 13 episodes. And for a series currently adapting at 1.76 chapters per episode, that would be rushing through content at a blinding 3 chapters an episodes instead. Whatever direction it chooses to go, it’ll be interesting to see how the manga materializes to the anime world and, if the anime can do as good a job as it did with these first twelve episodes, Academia is likely to remain as one of the strongest anime this summer.
Linny: For viewers who felt that last season was a slow burner, the good news is that the tournament arc packs in so much action that it feels a lot more energetic and engaging. However, like Tom pointed out, the bad news is that things might slow down again now that this arc is over. Thanks to pretty decent animation and the entertaining nature of the tournament arc itself, so far My Hero Academia’s second season feels like a solid follow up to it’s last and one I would urge any fan of the series to pick up.