Reaper's Reviews: 'My Hero Academia S2'
Original title: Boku no Hero Academia S2
Format/Length: TV series; 25 episodes + 1 OVA
Release: April 1, 2017 - September 30, 2017
Review Release: April 25th, 2018
There are many, many unlucky anime adaptations that either get the shaft after a short 12-episode teaser that stops just when the series became interesting, or receive an all-original ending that attempts to tie-in any last loose ends in a pretty little bow and walk off whistling.
My Hero Academia is neither; after a solid first season by studio Bones, the series became a quick hit and work on a second season started almost immediately. And it's by no means surprising, as despite its short running time, Season 1 presented us with a rich world filled with intriguing fellas.
With another season finished and a third one is currently airing, it can be safely said that Bones is going strong and with no brakes. But one question remains... Does this second season of My Hero Academia deliver? Or is it an utter disappointment that crumbles at its precursor's foundations?
Thankfully... it's the former.
Story & Characters
I’m not going to bother with rehashing the synopsis and premise of HeroAca as I’ve already covered it in my review for the first season, which you are free to read or ignore as you like. But before truly crashing in, let me just warn you that my review will assume that you have watched S1 and are familiar with the story thus far.
HeroAca S2 continues where the first series left off, with Deku and his classmates continuing their training to become pro-heroes. On a whole, not a lot has changed since last season, and if you’ve liked what its prequel had to offer, then you’ll enjoy HeroAca S2 as well, perhaps even more so than the opening season.
If the first season of HeroAca laid down the foundations of the premise and the story, the second season goes into overdrive and never really stops. With an established setting and double the length of its predecessor, HeroAca S2 can finally focus on the real meat of the show: the story and the characters.
HeroAca S2’s strongest asset is without a doubt its stronger emphasis on character development; while season 1 focused more on Midoriya, this time around the show gives many of his classmates the chance to shine; both Ochako and Iida, after their introduction in the previous season, get significant amounts of development as their motivations and life goals are brought to light.
Alongside them, we have Shoto Todoroki, one of the show’s most popular characters and for a good reason for being such a complex and conflicted personality whose development thanks to Midoriya is one of the highlights of the season’s early stages. And as the season continue, we get more context and meat for many of the other members of the cast as they go through their own struggles and ambitions.
Granted, not every kid gets an equal amount of screen time, but… this time around the vast majority of them gets a lot more time to be fleshed out properly, and I can safely say that each of them feels like a whole new world awaiting to be discovered just like we got to discover Midoriya.
As for out main leads Deku and Bakugo, the former has grown considerably into a more confident and powerful boy while the latter begins showing more hidden sides to him; on a personal level, Bakugo himself leads to what is - in my opinion - one of the most heartbreaking moments in the entire series thus far, where we get to see how far he’s willing to go to achieve success.
The story itself has finally taken to full swing and after a fantastic tournament arc that puts to shame so many others of its kind our young heroes get a taste of true fear: Stain. Stain, dubbed the “Hero Killer”, is one of the most interesting and complex antagonists I’ve seen in a while; disgusted with how sold out and hypocritical the hero society has become, he’s began a crusade to cleanse by himself, killing and injuring numerous heroes in the process.
It’s through his character that we see an uglier side to the world we’ve been so invested thus far, how the idea of being a hero has devolved into a profession dominated by media coverage and popularity, and how heroes themselves are sometimes a little more than just celebrities who care more about fame than actual heroism. Stain’s actions serve to fix that issue, and if it wasn’t for his rather questionable deeds, he might have been an outstanding anti-hero. But even then, he’s down right amazing.
Now, my only actual issue with the story so fr is that, just like the previous season, HeroAca S2’s villains are somewhat left in the dust. We’ve already established their desire to eliminate All Might last season, but beyond that we only get some glimpses and cameos rather than anything truly substantial. Granted, both Stain’s “Hero Killer” arc and the final episodes expand the so-called League of Villains’ goals and individuals… But it still leaves much to be desired.
That aside… I can’t think of any more negative things to say. This season is supreme improvement of its predecessor's solid skeleton, with excellent, rounded and relatable characters and an intriguing narrative that tackles questions at the genres it belongs to.
Animation & Art
As with Season 1, Bones is one again the animation studio behind HeroAca S2, but this time around, I’d say that their work is far more consistent than what it was in Season 1, with even some of the smaller fights and action scenes here make the first season pale in comparison.
The visuals are vivid and kinetic, with very little dip in the quality throughout the season’s 25 episodes and an amazing level of fluidity to it that Bones are known for in their more action-y titles. From Todoroki’s flashy ice and fire techniques to Tenya’s speed attacks, to Deku’s mastery over his Quirk, HeroAca S2 is one hell of a gorgeous series.
In my eyes it really bring Bones back to the A-class team of anime studios after several disappointing and mostly forgettable shows that plagued the studio for several years.
Stain’s design is also freaking awesome.
Audio & Sound
Now this is the part where I mourn the loss of “The Day” as HeroAca’s opening theme. While “Peace Sign” is a pretty good opening and “Sora ni Utaeba” is tolerable, I personally feel like they don’t fit HeroAca as well as “The Day” was. Now obviously that’s probably an excellent way to start some idiotic fan war on the internet, so I’ll just leave it at that.
Personally, none of the ending themes did it to me, although I do love the aesthetics of the second ending, “Because He is My Hero.” by LiSA.
As for the soundtrack, it’s still just as good as it was in Season 1, with energetic tunes and heroic beats, although “Jet Set Run” - a follow-up theme to “You Say Run”, is a lot less memorable than its precursor. My favorite track, overall, is a lyrical version of “My Hero Academia” dubbed as “Just Another Hero.”
It’s sang in English and serves as a sort of semi-official theme to the character of Endeavor, the second highest-rated Pro-Hero and the father of Todoroki. While Endeavor’s character may not be the most likable fella in the show - and for good reasons - this theme song gives hints to hidden aspects of his personality and actually made me interested seeing how he’ll evolve in future seasons.
As for the voice acting, it’s still as good - if not better- as the first season. Justin Briner and Christopher Sabat still do wonderful job as Deku and All Might, but it’s really the other members of the cast that steal the spotlight; Luci Christian and JM Tatum finally get their chance to shine as Ochako and Ilida in some of the more emotional scenes of the series, and that’s without getting to Clifford Chapin’s phenomenal work as Bakugo, and David Matranga’s superb performance as Todoroki.
And of course, let us not forget Robert McCollum’s terrifying portrayal as Stain, which is downright chilly and intimidating.
Back when I first watched My Hero Academia’s first season, I was rather pleasantly surprised by the quality of the writing and the likability of the characters, but its short running meant the lack in growth for the majority of its cast, as well as very little furthering in the larger narrative.
HeroAca S2 has all the strengths of its predecessor (and more,) and nearly none of its weaknesses. The longer running time allows for significant developments in its broader cast that subsequently gives much needed depth to some of the more well-known students, while also showing that every single one of those characters has the chance to be just as interesting and complex as Deku, Bakugo or Todoroki.
A far more consistent animation and some truly creative and thought-provoking plotlines only enhance it. While the larger-scale narrative is still only given hints, strong character drama and clever study of the superhero genre more than make up for it.
It has its flaws, but those are few and far between. HeroAca S2 is a brilliant show that blows its first season out the water. It is a more confident, more polished project that merges well-worn tropes with fresh ideas, and has more heart to it in one episode than most shounen anime have through 50. If you love character-driven stories, few can hold a candle to My Hero Academia.
- Still has all the heart of the first season, and more
- Rich characterization and relatable motives given to the much broader cast
- Bold plotlines that don't shy away from criticizing their own premise and genre
- The main conflict has been barely touched on
- Villains are still in the dark (not including Stain)
- Less of an actual criticism, but I am sad "The Day" is no longer the opening
& The Ugly:
As for alt. recommendations...
- Hunter x Hunter 2011 for being another well-made, well-written and well-executed shounen anime that deconstructs, reconstructs and plays with various tropes and concepts of the genre.
- Tiger & Bunny which I haven't watched myself yet, but I've heard many good things for its characters, visuals and handling of the "commercialized" superhero premise.