Anime, My Review Academia

My Review Academia S2 E1: Too Sweet, Too Cute

Oh boy, here we go!

Season one of My Hero Academia was met with above average praise. Everyone agreed that it was good, but there were plenty of issues that were holding it back. As such, the show didn’t get truly popular until the second season.

Which took the world by the biggest fucking storm you’ve ever seen!

Not counting Episode 13.5, as that one is just a recap of season one, the season starts off with a brief recap of Quirks and a friendly reminder that Deku will one day be the world’s greatest hero. While I find the recap incredibly annoying, I can give it a pass because of how great the flash forward scene is. We get to see Deku, bruised, battered and smiling, facing down an army of villains engulfed in shadows and flames. Though I am a bit disappointed that his costume doesn’t resemble the Shoot Style suit from season three, as that would’ve been a nice bit of foreshadowing to future events. Still, the season is off to a solid start.

We’re then treated to my absolute favorite opening the series has ever had: Peace Sign. I love everything about this OP. The song is a perfect fit, the animation is spectacular, and the attention to detail is breathtaking. I could honestly fit a whole thousand-word blog post just analyzing this opening alone. Hell, I may very well do that someday.

After that fantastic opening, we get another pair of recaps. The first is short, quick and to the point: a news report tells the public that the League of Villains attacked UA and tried to kill All Might. I honestly like this one, because it also establishes that the general public now has their eyes on the Class 1-A kids because of the attack. This setup is small and quick, but it’s very important to the rest of the arc.

The next is All Might explaining to Gran Torino via a letter how he met, was re-inspired by and trained Deku. It’s a little forced, but it’s a sweet little touch that shows just how much All Might truly respects his protegee, and shows just how far he thinks he’ll go. It also sets up Gran Torino, who would be a major player in the Stain arc as well as in the All-For-One fight in season three. Another recap that I actually like. Though having All Might explain to Gran Torino via a letter (a method of communication that could easily fall into the wrong hands if someone were to try and get a peek into All Might’s personal life in order to find a weakness and kill him) does feel forced.

Finally, after nearly six minutes of recap, the plot begins to move. The episode opens with a scene of the UA teachers discussing Shigurake and the threat he poses. Here, we learn how the heroes view him, that image being a man child with terrible power, and how that is more dangerous and threatening than you’d first think. They also punctuate his simple minded charisma perfectly with a shot of a crow rising out of an alleyway to join a murder (in case you didn’t know, a flock of crows is called a murder). It’s a subtle shot, but it gets the point across perfectly.

This scene also foreshadows two things: Shigurake’s growth and the presence of All For One. By labeling him as a man-child, the heroes conclude that, should someone cultivate his malice, he could become far more dangerous than they could anticipate. It’s another great bit of stage setting that has come into play with season three and will undoubtedly come into play for season four, when Shigurake will be on his own for the first time.

Then, after another brief recap of Deku reminding himself to master One For All, we finally rejoin Class 1-A. This little scene has more of what I love: cute little interactions between the class mates. For example, Tohru worries about having not stood out when she was on TV, which Shoji and Ojiro agree with for completely unknown reasons. Everyone gets a small interaction that feeds you information on their personality, be it how they lean on their desks while talking or how they react to Bakugo screaming at them. It’s cute, endearing, and I want an entire show that’s just this.

After even more adorable moments (Tsu catching Ashido as she leans too far back in her chair is fucking gold) we get to see a broken Aizawa, and we finally get the framework for the next arc: the UA Sports Festival! This is an excellent bit of world building, as Aizawa establishes that the Olympics are now a shell of their former selves due to the presence of Quirks, and the UA Sports Festival has taken it’s place.

We then cut to the lunch break, where we get even more wonderful interactions as everyone builds their excitement for the Sports Festival. There’s the obvious ‘Serious Uraraka’, which is probably the peak of the episode, but there are also plenty of other moments. Iida’s awkward ‘excitement dance’, Tsu slapping Mineta’s shit before he can finish whatever kinky thought he was having, and everyone’s awkward reaction to Uraraka are some of the best interactions the series ever has.

Continuing with the Uraraka love train, the show finally tells us what motivates everyone’s favorite carefree marshmallow (which is what I shall call her from now on): money. We learn about her family’s struggling construction company, how her parents pushed her to be a hero just as she dreamed, and how she aims to use that dream to make their lives easier. It’s simple, sweet, and perfectly fits her character.

It also sets up one of the most emotionally gut punching scenes in the entire series.

After I’ve washed away the overwhelming taste of sweet out of my mouth, the show brings it right back with one of the cutest gags in the series: maiden All Might. You know what I’m talking about.

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How can you say no to a face like that?

Speaking of lunch, we also get a little foreshadowing regarding Todoroki’s role in the Sports Festival. It’s small, but considering that he hasn’t really had much to do except freeze dudes, it’s good to see him hinted at relevance. Especially since he becomes such a prevalent character later in the story.

There’s no time to linger though, as the last stretch of the episode is focused entirely on building stress and tension. All Might confides in Izuku that his time is running out, and Deku needs to announce to the world “I AM HERE” with his performance at the Sports Festival. Between the dialogue, animation, background work and facial expressions, the show perfectly sells the stress and pressure on Deku right as the episode ends.

Taking us to the ED. Or as I like to call it: best girls doing best girl things. It’s not anything spectacular, no end credits sequence in anime is, but it’s cute and the song is really good. I find it hard to force myself to skip this one.

All in all, this episode is incredibly solid. Despite it only being a table setting and recap episode, it still has incredibly strong art and animation, great use of music, excellent pacing and wonderful character writing. It’s a strong setup to what may be the best arc of the show thus far.

God dammit, why do I have to wait another week before I can talk about it again?!

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