Hey everyone, it’s Kern here. I recently did a review for My Hero Academia Season 1. As promised, I’ll be slowly reviewing all of the seasons in order. Today I’m moving onto talking about season 2.
As a reminder, the first season of My Hero Academia, also known as Boku no Hīrō Akademia, features the next several steps of Deku and his hero’s journey. The introduction to this series was a strong one. Season 1 introduced us to a strong cast of compelling characters, gave us amazing fights, and deeply intertwined character struggles. There wasn’t much that you could complain about.
Aside from small nitpicks or just a general dislike of the genre itself, it would be difficult to just dislike the show. So, enter in season 2, another strong entry in the series and marked improvement to the My Hero Academia universe.
I personally find that season 2 was actually much better than season 1, raising the bar higher than I thought it would back in 2017. To look at why, we should probably begin with the surface level production.
The image above, even though it is completely mundane showcases the worst of the baseline standard. As you can see, it’s far from an insult.
Production-wise, My Hero Academia is a masterpiece of production and planning in season 2. Studio Bones comes back stronger than ever in this iteration. Fluid animation and mindful sound design holds up even at its weakest points. There’s nothing to complain about at its absolute worst.
However, at its best you’re going to get some amazing attention to detail. The series is packed with beautifully bombastic fights, and a fair amount of atmospheric drama. All of that is skillfully wrapped in a fresh coat of hero colored paint. This is a bright and airy series, right up until it isn’t.
The animation follows these dynamic shifts as it needs to, aiding and uplifting the key moments that makes the series stand strong. My Hero Academia lends itself to a certain level of emotional maturity, characters have to work hard and be assets to their society. The imagery and sound design adequately represents these struggles perhaps better than season 1 ever could.
Like its predecessor before it, the pacing in this season is noteworthy and very well done. While it is certainly action packed, it isn’t stifling or overbearing either. Important cast members receive fulfilling character development. The moments are wonderfully conceptualized for the screen, and continue to be entertaining even during a re-watch.
Story and Progression
Overall, the villains and plot moving forward has a steady pace, giving us an actual significant improvement to discuss…. characters, motivations, ego and trauma are the driving factors in this season.
The first half focuses upon the U.A. Sports Festival, which features some of the strongest characterization we’ve seen so far. This section is one of my favorites because it is so dynamically diverse. You’d expect this to be an all hero match-up, battle of the greatest… but nope… we don’t just get that… we get a taste of school life in this quirk filled universe.
The sports festival introduces several new U.A. High students. Many of these characters either couldn’t make it into the prestigious (also in a way pretentious) “Class 1-A”. Others just have different professional pursuits that “Class 1-A” wouldn’t have met the need for.
This is a world that relies heavily upon doing what a person is most suited for. Society in the series focuses heavily upon overall utility, rather than just pure ambition. What a person dreams to become isn’t always as important as they can reasonably accomplish… but here we see the serviceable balance between those two extremes.
Ambition becomes a spark to pure gasoline as characters strive to showcase their talents. What would typically be thought of as a dystopian world works so wonderfully here because the characters intuitively understand their places within it.
Even the weakest among them understand their skills have an intrinsic value to aid in that society… even if they’re still figuring out those limitations, that is a journey they’re willing to undertake.
Todoroki’s characterization and development in this season is probably even stronger than Deku’s overall. His backstory underpins the core ethos of the show. As the son of the #2 hero, he needs to make firm and definitive choices about his place in the wider world… and that means coming to terms with his trauma. He needs to learn to live beside his struggles, and to accept himself as he is.
Truly, that is the centralized ethos in this season, self acceptance, and the acceptance of others in the face of adversity.
This particular arc gives us a deep dive into the personal struggles that our favorite heroes-in-training face down on a daily basis. The Sports Festival arc also calls back to key issues briefly touched upon in the first season, and brings new ones to light.
The rest of season 2 is filled with internships, studying, and exams. It gives us a much deeper in-universe study of how professional heroes maintain a workspace and how they function with the wider society. The world building here is astronomical, and hard to find fault with… only, I wish there had been more.
The teachers are actually skilled in the series, and so are the professional heroes. That’s an important metric, and it’s one that many series often overlook. My Hero Academia takes the time to truly show us how inept these students really are, and just how much more they need to learn. The power and skill barrier isn’t lip service, it’s stone cold fact.
Deku and his buddies aren’t ready for the struggles of the real world just yet, and season 2 drives that point home unflinchingly.
As amazing as these characters seem to us… they’re just small fish in an ocean at the end of the day… it was nice to see all of them knocked down a few pegs. Since the series gave us a chance to see their betters in action in the workspace, we know what the wider world truly expect of them now… and it isn’t a simple thing.
Themes of personal identity, gumption and pride come blazing in, front and center from all around. These moments offer a different kind of conflict. We get deep and private introspection among several of the characters. It truly is a breath of fresh air.
This is ultimately Deku’s story and it focuses upon him. That said, this season “feels” like an ensemble story encompassing the wider classroom and Deku’s peers. In a way, I’d say it feels a little like Assassination Classroom. Some of the strongest spotlight moments come from other students, and it doesn’t feel out of place in the slightest. Actually, that’s what I think makes season 2 so much more enjoyable.
That isn’t to say Deku doesn’t get plenty of his own spotlight and personal growth. He receives a fair bit, to be honest. As Deku learns to handle the taxing ramifications of his “One For All” quirk, he also begins to conceptualize himself as a hero-in-training realistically. This isn’t always easy for him. However, it is interesting for viewers to watch.
Deku maintains a chord of shyness and humility that we saw encapsulated within season 1. He continues the trend in this season. Frequently, Deku puts his own welfare on the line, for better and for worse. These attempts are often selfless on the surface, but they’re also in a way self-serving to him.
Deku knows what it means to be a hero… and maintaining those key traits are important to him. His personal conscience is so enthralling when you consider just how easily it comes to him. Yet, we as viewers know these values must come easily, or he’ll be little more than a failed byproduct of what he truly wishes to aspire to.
There’s almost a hint of the fourth wall breaking between Deku and the attentive viewer to a point. In his attempt to help his friends work through their own struggles, he also must work through a few of his own. For a shounen series, we get some stunningly emotional and memorable moments both for Deku and a few of the others.
Todoroki, Iida and Uraraka stand out this season, and they’re not the only ones. I do have to give a call out to the episode “Shoto Todoroki: Origin” as I do think that’s perhaps one of my favorite ones in this particular season. As I mentioned above, his story so fully encapsulates the themes of this season in a way even Deku doesn’t quite reach, and I firmly believe that was entirely intentional.
New cast members give us a different bone to chew on as well. You’ve got a little bit of everything in this mixed bag, and each of them are nice additions. The non-hero students in the event are great for world building and context.
Then you have Gran Torino who is batty-as-hell. This old dude is All Might’s mentor. He offers comic relief as well as backstory into All Might and the quirk known as “One for All”. I loved every moment this senile old fart was on screen. Honestly, he’s a great addition to the cast.
On top of that, Hero Killer: Stain is the kind of big baddie we want out of a high stakes, action packed series. He’s ruthless and maliciously motivated towards violent crime. As his name suggests, he’s willing to kill for his beliefs. His implications are much more interesting than what he actually pulls off, but that’s kind of the point with this guy.
Fans know what to expect here. He’s going to be a mainstay, and this is early characterization for massive plot elements later. To that point, the big baddie of season 1, Shigaraki is still around. For season 1, he provided a reasonable threat and a good early start, but now we know what a real threat is. Honestly, Stain is the villain dial cranked to eleven, and no one pulls punches on this guy.
Personally, I have only praise for the second season of My Hero Academia. My complaints reduce down to what I wanted more of, and that wasn’t because anything was lacking. It was just that good. The slower moments never drag on too long, the faster ones don’t outstay their welcome.
Less is more in this particular instance.
Season 2 maintains a strong balance between its larger cast of characters, the wider story, and its core themes. There’s a lot to unpack, and to enjoy. I spoke briefly on Todoroki, because he is such a stand-out character this season. However, Iida and Uraraka stand out to me as well.
I just wanted more, plain and simple. When season 2 was over, I felt like I wasn’t done yet. The times the show feels lesser, it doesn’t feel as though I’ve been cheated out of something great.
This is a solid continuation of the series, no question about that. In some ways, it’s much better than before. No wonder why it was so popular, My Hero Academia easily earns its acclaim as one of the best shows of 2017 because it is so incredibly dynamic.
I just can’t think of how they could have done it better, at least not without sacrificing something else. There’s just too many great moments in this season to do that.
This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.
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