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« Boku no Hero Academia – 37

Boku no Hero Academia – 38 (END)

「エンカウンター」 (Enkauntaa)
“Encounter”

The battle for society’s soul enters the next stage.

This episode masterfully combined light scenes of everyday life with tension that damn near squeezes the heart. A commenter mentioned last episode that spoiling the Izuku/Shigaraki meeting in the preview was a mistake, and I agree. But while that dulled the initial shock, it didn’t destroy the scene by any means. The tension was so palpable that I couldn’t properly enjoy Uraraka worrying about whether she likes Izuku when I was so focused on just wanting her to go back and save his life. Even if we all knew that Izuku wasn’t going to die there, it doesn’t mean he couldn’t get hurt, nor that bystanders couldn’t end up dead, and the primal fear of having a predator with his hand around your throat is enough to short circuit the logical mind and just make me afraid. It was a damn good scene, even with the spoiler.

The words that were exchanged is where the real meat was, though, for it exposed in clear terms what this story is really about. It isn’t a story of heroes vs villains, nor is it a story about Izuku becoming the next Symbol of Peace, at least not fully. At its root, it’s a battle between two groups with opposing visions for society. The heroes and villains both want the same thing: to dictate the future of society along the lines which they feel is best. For the heroes, typified by All Might and Izuku, this is a society of justice and peace, where heroes stand between criminals and the public at large. (The importance of heroes to their view of the future is important, because while some would probably take a hero-less world, they all believe that heroes are important.) For the villains, typified by Shigaraki, it’s to expose the hypocritical lie that is society, and prove how fragile the rules, laws, and mores of modernity really are. (Stain was another axis, but his ideals and convictions will be subsumed and defiled by Shigaraki’s—the Hero Killer should have killed him when he had the chance.) They both want the same thing, which pulls them into conflict, because only one (at max) can have their way.

That’s a beautiful addition to this series past the coming-of-age hero story it was originally billed as, because it adds another layer to the narrative, deepening it beyond the bildungsroman foundation. Then scenes like Izuku bravely enduring Shigaraki’s threat—which are impressive enough as is—take on a new dimension, for it’s not only about him saving lives. Their talk will have ramifications far beyond the 20-30 people Izuku saved, because though he did the right thing, he was forced to give Shigaraki something valuable: conviction. In making it clear why people were talking about Stain and ignoring Shigaraki—isn’t it just like a villain to hate people while wanting them to pay attention to him?—he made Shigaraki more dangerous. Humans abhor chaos, and they don’t understand the unfettered id, while strong will and conviction, even if twisted toward darkness, is perversely attractive. In opening the gate for Shigaraki’s conviction to blossom, the battle is on in earnest. Before he was dangerous, but he was naught more than a volitale thug. Now he’s a true villain.

My favorite characters of the episode are probably the women in Izuku’s life—Uraraka, for being epic-level adorable and for saving him in the end, and his mother for being such a mom. She might be the most “mom” mom in anime. I love it. She really makes clear that heroes like Izuku don’t come from nowhere, and it’s the environment in which they were raised that creates them. (As does Uraraka’s parents, as does Katsuki in the negative, as does Shouto despite his environment, etc.)

More thoughts in the final impressions below.

Random thoughts:

  • You don’t often hear these two seiyuu playing psychos, but I think Toga Himiko (Fukuen Misato) and Dabi (Shimono Hiro) are going to be excellent additions to the cast.
  • At least now Izuku knows how Shigaraki’s Decay works. Once all five fingers touch, it kicks in. That means he knows how to stop him: break, or tear off, his fingers.

Epilogue:

Final Impressions

Boku no Hero Academia is a series I didn’t expect to like as much as I did when the first season aired, which led to NO END TO THE HYPE when the second season aired. So, rather than relitigating why the series as a whole is good, let’s explore another question: How does the second season compare?

Quite well. I enjoyed the first season more, but much of that has to do with expectations, and the USJ attack was just phenomonal, plainly put. Keeping it up at that level would have been impossible, not the least because valleys are needed for the peaks to have impact (otherwise we would become numb to the tension if it was always life-or-death battles). What the second season did, though, is enrich and deepen the world in which Boku no Hero Academia takes place, and that’s necessary work to make the third season (and beyond!) even better than the first. And it was entertaining watching to boot.

I’m a big fan of tournament arcs, so it’s no surprise I enjoyed the Sports Festival. It definitely peaked at Izuku vs Shouto, but Katsuki vs Uraraka was great too, as were many of the ones before that (I loved the obstacle course). The Hero Killer arc wasn’t quite as white-knuckled as the USJ arc, but it had something that USJ only hinted at: theme. It’s at that point that the series really got to layering meaning into the heroes vs villains conflict, and though the practical exams arc doesn’t punch with the best, it continued that tradition.

I’m forced to conclude that everything that was done well in the first season was still done well, and they even added in some adroitly crafted anime original content that either added to the baseline story, or added a fun side story without feeling pointless. I enjoyed the crap out of this season, and I’m glad that Boku no Hero Academia has already been greenlit for a third season. Not that I had any doubt, but of all the series I’ve blogged, this is certainly one of the ones which I can wholeheartedly say this:

I could keep doing this forever. Plus Ultra!

My SECOND novel, Freelance Heroics, is available now! (Now in print!) (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Sign up for my email list for updates. At stephenwgee.com, I’ve begun blogging again! The latest post: Help Houston.

End Card

September 30, 2017 at 6:05 pm
22 comments »
  • September 30, 2017 at 7:42 pmair

    3rd yay!

  • September 30, 2017 at 8:32 pmExukvera

    THAT’s how shonen manga should be adapted. Breaks not too long to shoo away fans, but long enough to give some space for the manga to provide material enough for each season, so no filler crap. Hope that the guys at Bones manage to keep this up all the way to the end.

    • October 1, 2017 at 12:45 amStilts

      Agreed! I learned this from webcomics, but it applies here as well: I’d always whether wait a while for a more worthwhile update, as opposed to waiting less only to feel shorted. For webcomic fans, Order of the Stick has always been a great example of the former (often unreliable update speed, but each comic is thoroughly worth it), whereas for the latter . . . well, I won’t throw stones. But I know I appreciate OotS even despite the delays, and if I go without Boku no Hero Academia for a while but it comes back this strong, I’ll be fine with that as well.

  • September 30, 2017 at 8:39 pmanon234

    For anime-only viewers: if you liked the first season, especially the USJ attack, then you’ll absolutely love what should happen in the third season. Stilts pretty much nailed what the 2nd season brings to the story: theme and world-building. This was a pretty true adaption of the source material, and the few anime-only scenes (the internship episode and some of the final exams) added good content without feeling like filler.

    Also, I’m glad this episode brought back Midoriya’s mom. I have to admit, I’ve been watching anime for 20 years, and in the Shonen genre, BnHA was the first manga I’ve read and anime I’ve watched where the main character actually had a realistic parent. Most of the time, the protaganist’s parents are either dead, working overseas, or are criminally neglectful, in order to explain why/how a teenager can get involved in such dangerous activities. Here though, Izuku’s mom behaves the way a parent should behave: worrying about her child’s safety and well-being. For me at least, it’s refreshing to see a real parent in anime/manga worry about their child’s safety. I’m looking forward to see how the anime treats the manga scene where the teachers visit each family after the summer camp is over (especially Bakugo’s mom, lol).

    • October 1, 2017 at 12:41 amStilts

      Glad to hear about season three, and can’t wait! Also, so totally agree on Izuku’s mom. Absentee parents work occasionally, but it’s so overdone that it feels convenient. Having a setting where the characters can be young, get mixed up in serious business, but still have parents who care for and support them and worry about them is—well, it’s not done enough. And it’s appreciated when it is, so much so.

  • September 30, 2017 at 8:46 pmNex

    So glad there’s no question about season 3. Even without any details, at least we know it’s happening.

    This season has been a real treat, some of my favorite moments from the series adapted 100% perfectly. Looking forward to your take on the next season once it happens, Stilts!

    • October 2, 2017 at 1:45 pmLyfe

      I like shows that announce new seasons after the final episode credits have run. So many anime shows have “Awkward silence” -> “No news” -> “No news”.. sometime pass, “New season announced!”. Studios need to be more forthcoming with fans about their plans for further seasons rather than keep fans in the dark.

  • September 30, 2017 at 9:02 pmTFL

    I finshed caught up with the manga about about half way into season 2 thought that this seemed to be the perfect cut off point for the season. Now with season 3 in site, predicting that story beats and arc for that seem fairly straight forward as well.
    Show Spoiler ▼

    • September 30, 2017 at 10:17 pmBigFire

      Ok, recheck the chapter count, you are probably right, third season is likely to just do 3 story arc, the 8, 9 and 10: Show Spoiler ▼

      Due to its unprecedented length, the current story is by far the longest in the manga’s run and likely to just be one long season story arc.

      Season One Chapter 1-21
      Entrance Examine (episode 1-4)
      Quirk Apprehension Test (episode 5-6)
      Battle Trial (episode 6-8)
      Unforeseen Simulation Joint (episode 9-3)

      Season Two Chapter 22-69 (48 chapters)
      UA Sports Festival (episode 14-25)
      vs. Hero Killer (episode 26-33)
      Final Exam (34-38)

      Projected Season Three Chapter 70-114
      Show Spoiler ▼

      Show Spoiler ▼

      Show Spoiler ▼

      Projected Season Four Chapter 115- (we’re at chapter 154 right now)
      Show Spoiler ▼

  • October 1, 2017 at 12:35 amGlutton

    That extra scene of Shouto and his mum was nice.

  • October 1, 2017 at 1:11 amyoloalchemist

    I don’t know if this is explicitly confirmed yet, but I hope it is. Someone in a youtube video review of MHA commented that the director of this show confirmed that they were going to adapt the entire series into the anime, but that they were going to take year long breaks inbetween to make sure the episodes aren’t stretched out (read: need for more fillers) and also to make sure the manga can churn out more content for adaptation. Like I said, I hope this is true, because time and again, My Hero Academia has proven itself to be a story well worth anime-adapting to its very end.

  • October 1, 2017 at 9:17 amsealouse

    I’m surprised that it’s been 38 episodes and the series still feels fresh. As everyone else has said already I’m liking this release schedule with no filler and even if this show goes past 100+ eps I’m sure it will continue to be relevant.

  • October 1, 2017 at 9:23 amhaseo0408

    Wow! That was one nasty variation of the alone with psycho trope, don´t you think guys?.

  • October 1, 2017 at 10:19 amWorldwidedepp

    Well, lets see, in how they animate the 2nd season. I look forward to it

    • October 1, 2017 at 10:20 amWorldwidedepp

      typo: i mean 3rd of course

  • October 1, 2017 at 6:40 pmlunascha

    It feels like just a few weeks ago where Midoriya was still finding out what his powers were.. and now we’re getting close to the main boss. This last episode to the 2nd season was pretty nice to show the viewers what to expect in the next season. it was wrapped up the season with a nice anticipation. Can’t wait for the next season!

  • October 1, 2017 at 8:39 pmRedRocket

    Thanks for the reviews Stilts I always enjoy them.

    Although for me RE:creators had more mind meat enjoyment to fill me with its exploration of the creative process and how fans work this show was the pure pleasure of a well-crafted story for me that I did not have to think about as much. And this show did the best I have seen recently in filling the fixed number of episode problem with well-connected filler. I love it when little details that were not drawn in a manga or covered in depth in a book are used to fill in space so it does not feel like filler, and is not filler in a narrow meaning of the term.

    Villans are not really driving for a different form of society, they are just making up justifications for their base desires and probably would complain if someone else did to them what they want to do to others. After all there are inmate ‘legal” systems were inmates do establish a body of expected behavior.
    Now All-for One might just want to replace the current system with one he rules, the criminals just a tool to do so and once All-for-One gains power the more uncontrollable tools will be disposed of.

    • October 2, 2017 at 2:03 amStilts

      You misunderstand. It’s not that they’re consciously seeking to remake society in their image, in those explicit terms. (Except for All For One, as you note.) But that’s what their actions entail. It’s the same for the heroes, when what they actively consider themselves to be doing is saving people (or beating up villains, for Katsuki). What’s important is that they both want the same thing, albeit a dark reflection of each other’s desire. That’s what brings them into conflict.

  • October 2, 2017 at 8:20 amjhpace1

    http://randomc.net/image/Boku%20no%20Hero%20Academia/Boku%20no%20Hero%20Academia%20-%2038%20-%20Large%2022.jpg
    This is why superheroes have secret identities. See the last 40 years of Batman.

    http://randomc.net/image/Boku%20no%20Hero%20Academia/Boku%20no%20Hero%20Academia%20-%2038%20-%2037.jpg
    In this world, most superheroes work with the police. Which can bring politics and ego and social engineering into the fray, the reason why most superheroes in other worlds act extralegally. But the League of Villians is doing a Joker: striking at the younger generation in the name of idealism. Law and order already deals with most younger potential villains by the nature of law.

    • October 2, 2017 at 10:48 amBigFire

      And then there are the illegal heroes as depicted in the Vigilante spinoff. One of whom have zero Quirk and due to his own training (and some plot armor) managed to fight villains and heroes with actual quirk quite well with just Knuckledusters he wears.

  • October 2, 2017 at 1:42 pmLyfe

    The manga sales must be crazy good for them to announce a third season so soon.

  • October 7, 2017 at 9:11 amscampjot

    Now. We. Wait. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

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