OP: 「ひたむき」 (Hitamuki) by (SUPER BEAVER)
「静かな始まり」 ( Shizukana hajimari )
“A Quiet Beginning”
And so the transition from series review posts to first impressions begins again. It’s always an interesting time for me as someone who writes about anime, requiring a rather jarring change of mindset that takes a while to really take hold. As well, for the sixth time we introduce a season of Boku no Hero Academia. This one comes hard on the heels of the most controversial and least-loved season for the TV anime, which was red meat for the always-negative BnHA fanbase to savage the series. But this is a new season, one which promises to be a radical departure from the last in ways both subtle and obvious…
A few eyebrows were raised when I called this season of HeroAca a sleeper in my season preview post. I admit, it’s the oddest sleeper I’ve named in a decade of doing previews. How can one of the five biggest anime/manga franchises in Japan and the world both be a sleeper? For the reasons stated above for starters – the struggles of the fifth season have dampened enthusiasm. Not only that, the headlines this season are dominated by flashy upstarts with monstrous hype – Chainsaw Man, Spy X Family – and even at Bones it’s Mob Psycho 100 Season 3 (which is atop my own hype list) attracting a lot of the buzz.
The stage is set, then, for Boku no Hero Academia to catch a lot people sleeping. There are no theatrical productions to leech talent away from it. It should, theoretically, have director Nagasaki Kenji back in a more active role. And it has a superb canvas on which to paint, the “Paranormal Liberation War” arc. This season will have no weak arcs eating up screen time, no reordered chapters messing with the narrative flow so as not to spoil a movie. It’s just one long, brilliant chunk of Horikoshi Kouhei writing – some of the best of the entire series, and that’s a high bar.
We begin, more or less, where the fifth season left off. A month after, to be precise, as Shigaraki is addressing the assembled masses of the new Paranormal Liberation Front, the rebranded superstructure of post-villainy, the blunt instrument with which he intends to reshape Japan in his (or more accurately All For One’s) own image. Re-Destro is still doing a lot of the mouthpiece work (indeed, it’s he and Hanabata Koku who will be the political wing of the movement if their plan to destabilize Japan works) but it’s Shigaraki who wields the real power.
The rest of the premiere relates the story of how we got to this point. The good guys have their eyes on the inside – Hawks spying on the Paranormal Front, and an unknown (though not to Endeavor) agent infiltrating the hospital where Garaki Kyuudai is molding Shigaraki into the weapon by which he intends to fulfill All For One’s ambitions. Hawks has the real thankless job here, but he’s dedicated. He makes use of the kindness of the feckless Twice – always the most likeable amongst the League of Villains – to get what he needs, and relies on Endeavor to understand what to do with that information.
A plan is hatched – a two-pronged simultaneous sweep on the mansion where the PLF’s regimental commanders are meeting and the hospital serving as a front for Garaki’s work on Shigaraki and the nomus (their first album was definitely their best). This is the post-All Might world of course, which means Endeavor is the point man – he leads the strike on Garaki. As has been increasingly been the case there simply isn’t enough manpower to go around on the hero side to keep up with the rapid spread of the opposition, so the Yuuei students are once more drafted – as “logistical support”, though you know what they say about the best-laid plans…
This is all very much preamble – ending with the #5 hero, Mirko (Kinoshita Sayaka) confronting Garaki in his lair after the main assault party has been distracted by his double (courtesy Twice). That’s as it should be – this season is set to run 26 uninterrupted episodes (I don’t believe BnHA has ever done a split cour), and “Paranormal Liberation War” should fit quite comfortably into that space. This is a big, action-packed, emotionally charged epic of a story – a certain amount of build-up is not just preferable, but essential. It’s going to be a thrilling ride – the only question is whether the pervading air of negativity that seems to surround this series will allow the majority of its fans to appreciate it.
ED: 「SKETCH」 by (Kiiro Akiyama)