So here’s something a little bit different. I know I’m late to the party with My Hero Academia but the second season has been extremely good that I just want to write about it. I’m streamlining things a bit since I can’t feasibly write about the whole season episode by episode. This post is covering Episodes 1 through 12 of Season 2 which comprises the Sports Festival Arc.
There were some telling signs that My Hero Academia Season 2 would start on a strong note. The first season of the show is really good and tournament arcs (a staple in the shounen genre) often have the potential of being a ton of watch to watch. The show tricked me a bit by having a very low-key premiere (it’s more or less the characters taking a breather after the villains’ ambush in S1) but once the tournament actually started, watching HeroAca felt like pure adrenaline.
Part of what makes the Sports Festival Arc so enjoyable is that it simply screams “cool”. Not only do we see students from other U.A. courses show off their skills, we get to see several Quirks pitted against each other. It also helps that the visuals have improved from the first season. Moments like Deku’s victory in the obstacle course or the final battle between him and Shouto are stunningly animated. Bones is generally one of the good anime studios but they’re really pulling their A-game this time around.
But more impressive than the action and powers is how much farther this arc pushes the characterization. Deku was a solid protagonist in Season 1 and that still is the case in the first cour of Season 2. I really like how for Deku, the Sports Festival is less a test of his power but rather, a test of his wits and selflessness. His body is still not used to One for All so he’s forced to play his cards very carefully and really think outside the box. It’s especially the case in the Obstacle Course, where he doesn’t use his Quirk at all and instead uses the minefield to his advantage. It’s really at his most selfless does Deku resort to using his Quirk. He almost destroyed his entire body for exhausting One for All against Shouto and truth be told, beating Shouto was ultimately secondary to helping him come to terms with his heritage and Quirk.
This arc also shed some light on the other characters. Since Season 1 has already established Deku as the protagonist, this season is free to focus on the rest of the cast. This arc also made me look at Ochako and Bakugo differently. Ochako’s fight against Bakugo made me realize something: if given the opportunity, Ochako can be a serious badass. If Bakugo didn’t see it something, Ochako’s strategy against him would’ve worked. I did think her goal of becoming a Hero to support her family was silly at first but when I really thought about it, it’s a pretty realistic outlook on the job. As for Bakugo, I originally saw him as a bully with serious anger management issues in Season 1. And I still feel that way about his character but it has become quite clear that Bakugo is way more perceptive than he lets on. He’s analyzes Quirks almost as well as Deku and he even acknowledged Ochako’s prowess after their fight.
I never would’ve guessed that Shouto would emerge as a major character. In my defense, you could make Tokoyami as a lead and it’d be plausible. But to my surprise, Shouto proved to be a very solid foil to Deku. Shouto practically has the makings of a shounen protagonist — powerful abilities, a destiny of sorts, a troubled past, and all sorts of daddy issues. That’s a huge contrast to Deku who is born Quirkless and is aiming to become a Hero by chance and selflessness. And being the child of the #2 Hero, Endeavor, makes Shouto perfect rivalry material since Deku is the successor of All Might (the #1 Hero). It’s ultimately fitting that Shouto and Deku fought against each other throughout this arc and it’s all the more satisfying that Deku was able to help Shouto accept himself more and that Shouto comes to view Deku as a friend.
As for the new characters, I particularly like Hatsume and Shinso. It’s hard to deny Hatsume’s technical expertise but it was so funny seeing her present her gadgets as sale pitches. I especially lost it when she abused Tenya’s trust and made him show off her gadgets in their own fight against each other. Shinso was interesting in that he has a rather malicious Quirk but he still wants to use it for heroic deeds. While I’m glad that Deku beat him in the Battle Tournament, I grew to feel sympathetic to Shinso for wanting to prove that someone stuck in General Studies can be a Hero.
None of the victories in the Sports Festival came across to me as unjust. Knowing Deku, Shouto, and Bakugo, it’s fitting that they each win the Obstacle Course, Cavalry Battle, and Battle Tournament respectively. The Battle Tournament sure was full of a lot of “what if” moments though. If Deku wasn’t the selfless person he was, he probably could’ve beaten Shouto with One for All. Bakugo winning was an even grayer victory. As funny as his tantrum was, I can’t blame him for feeling frustrated that Shouto didn’t use his Fire side against him (when he did for Deku). It honestly suggests that Deku was just that much more persuasive to Shouto and that Shouto saw Deku as a bigger threat than Bakugo. Bakugo might be the winner of the Sports Festival but it sure feels as though Deku accomplished something more important.
And thus, the Sports Festival has come to a close. I was a little sad when it finally ended because it was a thrill ride from beginning to end. But then I started the Field Training arc and…oh boy, was I wrong to think the show would calm down.
OP 1: “Peace Sign” by Kenshi Yonezu
ED 1: “Dakara, Hitori ja nai” by Little Glee Monster
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