My Hero Academia is adapted from Kóhei Horikoshi’s Shonen Jump manga of the same name and is set in a world where 80% of the population are born with super powers (known in the show as “quirks”), leading to a culture where heroes and villains are commonplace, and therefore the training of new heroes is a must to keep the rest of the population safe. The originally born quirkless Izuku “Deku” Midoriya and his friends are training to be heroes at the U.A. High School, with one of their teachers being the #1 ranked hero All Might, who is responsible for giving Midoriya his powers.
This set picks up right where the previous one left off with the aftermath of the U.A. Sports Festival, which led to several injuries and emotional baggage being on display. When the kids return to school they get to officially pick their hero names in a funny series of scenes, then are sent off for a few weeks of internship under the guidance of professional heroes. While everyone pairs off with known heroes (I want to specifically mention arrogant and hot-headed student Katsuki Bakugo ending up with a hero known as “Best Jeanist” to be particularly funny!) Deku ends up training under an unknown called Gran Torino, the man who trained All Might himself. Short, old and with a body straight out of the Mega Man series of games (for some reason), Torino is an amusing character, and fills that old shonen role of “harmless old guy who is actually really powerful” rather nicely.
While all this fun and excitement is going on, fellow student Iida is dealing with his older brother and hero icon Tensei very nearly being the next victim of the “Hero Killer” known only as Stain. While he won’t die, he’ll never be a pro hero again, leading to Iida to drop his ideals about justice and think only of revenge. This all builds together masterfully, leading to a confrontation with Stain by Iida, as well as Midoriya and their fellow student Todoroki. I won’t go into any further detail than that, but it is among some of the best shonen anime scenes I’ve seen, with great action and character development, including a seemingly straightforward and dull villain actually having an interesting, layered personality.
Despite how fun that arc is, and I remember last year legitimately looking forward to the next episode airing each week, it actually ends with Episode 18 (or 31 if we’re not splitting the anime into seasonal episode counts), meaning it only lasts a few episodes. This is to its benefit, I might add. Another example of doing yearly seasons rather than weekly episodes being a good thing! After a super-rare filler episode based around what some of the other characters were doing with their internships (specifically frog-based girl Tsuyu) we get to the next mini-arc based around the students having their final exams for the school year. Of course, this being U.A. school, the final exams are pairing off students in teams and having them face a Pro Hero and either capture them or escape the designated area.
This leads to some more great fight scenes and character development, the very pleasing combination that My Hero Academia does so well. Specifically Midoriya and Bakugo, two old school… well, sort of friends/bully-bullied relationship that has become a heated rivalry thanks to the hot-headed latter being unable to accept that the previously weak former is on his level. They’re paired together to try and teach them about cooperation, and they have to prove this in a battle with All Might himself!
It probably goes without saying (or rather I have sort of said it on and off already) but Studio BONES’ animation is top-notch and the soundtrack by Yuki Hayashi compliments the action perfectly. From what I heard of the dub it still retains a good level of quality, while the original Japanese cast certainly continue to nail their roles.
“Peace Sign” by Kenshi Yonezu is still your opening theme… for the first episode of the set, then it switches over to “Sora ni Utaeba” (“If I Sing in the Sky”) performed by amazarashi, which may not have won our best opening award like its predecessor, but it’s still really good and catchy. Much like the opening, “Dakara, Hitori ja nai” (“Therefore, I am Not Alone”) by Little Glee Monster is still your ending for the first episode on the set, then it switches to “Datte Atashi no Hero” (“Still My Hero”) by LiSA for the remainder. Extras are a 10 minute IGN interview with English voice actors Chris Sabat (All Might) and Justin Briner (Midoriya) from the San Diego Comic Con, a whole bunch of “Inside the episodes” mini features, along with the obligatory clean openings, endings (yes both, despite the first opening and ending only appearing once on this set!) and trailers.
I’m sure if you read my previous two My Hero Academia reviews followed by this one I’d sound like a broken record, but I honestly can’t praise this series enough. I’ve read and watched a lot of shonen series and it’s been a long time since a show has had both a fresh take on the genre while also hitting all the action, humour and emotional beats that normally come with it. This chunk of the season may have one or two slower bits compared to the first half, but it’s still not to be missed by anyone who has even a slight interest in shonen anime or even superheroes in general.