The acting, music, and Stain’s introduction save a less thrilling “My Hero Academia”

“Fight on, Iida!” My Hero Academia Season 2 Episode 24
An adaptation of Issues 40 to 42 of the manga, available from Viz
Anime available on CrunchyRoll and Funimation

I told you things would get less interesting after Todoroki defeated Izuku–and I’m happy to be proven mostly wrong.

As I had said, following a climax, the descending action has to be less emotionally exciting in order to arrive at resolution. With yet another episode opting for a recap of the previous episode, rather than the traditional cold opening (and to save minutes for new content), we have our resolution: Izuku realizes there are ways to be heroic rather than just victory in combat, and Todoroki is on his way to recognizing he is not fated to be like his parents. The rest is falling into place, and it’s kind of boring: members of Class 1A are in the semi-finals, we don’t get to see much more of Class 1B, it’s all male combatants in the last round, and since the protagonist Izuku is not one of them, attention on how that Sports Festival wraps up is less interesting. Even the animated battles presented that eliminate Mina, Ibara, Tokoyami, and Iida are shorter and hence less visually impressive just on the basis of time, characters, and budget.

What I neglected to emphasize is that often the resolution is tied to closure–and boy, did All Might’s revelation bring closure and hit an emotional target that, if not exciting, with the acting in the English dub by Justin Briner and Christopher Sabat, and accompanied by the musical score, was cathartic. Add to this episode the continued work to make Bakugo more complex, the introduction of Stain to set up the next arc, and the witnessing of Stain’s brutality and how it will put titular character Iida into the spotlight, and My Hero Academia continues to surprise.

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In its Season 2 climax, “My Hero Academia” is on fire

“Shoto Todoroki: Origin.” My Hero Academia Episode 23 (Season 2, Episode 10)

There is a lot to cover to cover in this episode, from how it deconstructs the “stuffed in the fridge” trope and the brooding superhero’s tragic backstory, as well as adding more to the analysis by others of animator Yutaka Nakamura, Studio BONES, and yutapon cubes.

While the animation is what will bring new viewers to this series, as with any story, its success depends first on plot, then characters, before its production–in this case, animation, acting, and music–can be appreciated. Without this plot, in which Izuku and Todoroki are both motivated to be heroes by All Might, there would be no episode.

And, unfortunately, as we have given Izuku and Todoroki their resolution, like after any climax, things are going to get a bit less interesting.

Tagging for spoilers, as well as trigger warnings about spousal abuse, rape, violence against children, scolding, and me cursing out Mark Millar.

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Ochaco shows badasses wear blush stickers in “My Hero Academia”

“Bakugo vs. Uraraka.” My Hero Academia Episode 22

This is a challenging review, as I want to be more self-reflexive about what I am getting wrong about My Hero Academia–and then can’t come to a solution to those problems. I’m trying to get a better grasp on what this episode does with Ochaco and Bakugo, yet I feel like I so bound up in my thinking as a man that I am missing something–because I won’t shut up and just listen.

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“My Hero Academia” puts the spotlight on side characters with original content in newest episode

“Battle On, Challengers!” My Hero Academia Episode 21

The storyboards for the previous two episodes of My Hero Academia have departed widely from the original manga’s panels. Some departures have been successful, such as the different framing on Todoroki’s hand against Izuku’s face, and some have been disappointing, such as the loss of the image of Izuku standing over the defeated Shinso. Overall, these departures have helped prepared viewers for this episode, which is probably the first one in My Hero Academia to have original content–ignoring the OVA (itself written by series creator Kohei Horikoshi).

This episode was necessary. With such a large cast, and such a lengthy battle arc, the pace can slow down, look at characters other than the main five (although one duel focuses on Iida), and function more as a series of animated shorts, tied together with Ochaco’s internal struggle and Izuku’s analysis.

This is the first episode this season that is an adaptation of only one chapter of the manga–which makes sense: with so many duels taking place, the episode would waste the opportunity to take more time putting these battles in action. The manga benefits from wrapping up the battles in just a few panels–not too long to bore readers with endless issues of one-on-one battles, and because each panel can contain within it so much information, while animation depends on tracking the movements. Studio BONES does not skimp on the animation in this episode: there are few frozen images to just hint at what took place–we actually see the battles occurring. Most impressive, however, is how this episode lends some character development to Ochacho and Mina, as well as setting up Momo’s future stories, however disappointed I am with how Momo has been handled.

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