Boku no Hero Academia isn’t tempted to rush its plot or feel the need to even get you to love the characters right from the get-go and it feels like a lot of anime have to do something along those lines. Otherwise, it’s just gonna get dropped. My Hero Academia plays its cards patiently and lets the plot and characters unfold with more breathing room that it doesn’t feel like you’re watching a Scooby-Doo chasing through doors scene. However, as time flies and you’re binge-watching both seasons with your dirty dorito hands greasing up your keyboard; you tend to realize that it’s significantly less about the plot than it is about the characters.
In my experience, I’ve learned that studios tend to use a specific formula when it comes to these
high-tension building, plot-related story lines..? (…What? This last part of the sentence has no bearing. Just ignore it.)The first 2 seasons are world and character building. The plot does follow along with villains in the background foreshadowing their ultimate plan to force society to crumble beneath their edgy boots! Par to the course, you’ll find our heroes in smaller skirmishes of combat to build up the massive roster of characters and ensure the audience that there’s someone or something they’ll have to fight.
Season 1 initiated our story and told us a lot about the world. Soon after, it engaged us with a rather brutal skirmish between main villains and our teenage heroes. If this battle didn’t take place we’d be stuck with interesting designs rather than partially fleshed out characters. Because of it we have a condensed understanding of class A-1’s abilities and personalities. In addition, since this is a shounen after all, we can parse through their strengths and weaknesses and gauge how they rank relative to each other. It isn’t happenstance that you, the viewer, had a predetermined understanding of how season 2’s tournament arc would play out. Despite all that, it isn’t unusual for them to flip the script on us and give us an entertaining ,but within the realms of possibilities, twist that’d further capture our delight. More on that specific part later.
Season 2 comes around and, based off season 1, we have a good idea of who the characters are and understand how the world works in regards to how society was built around the unique quirk of said series. In this example being Academia‘s heroes and how they’ve incorporated an education system based on controlling and teaching their students the specific quirks they use as well as given us a perspective on how society itself views heroes. Now, it’s all about fleshing out the characters and close the opening chapters for the final but most exciting part of this entire formula: season 3. Of course, I can’t talk about that yet as it’s not out. However, I predict it’ll be an emotionally investing and exciting climax!
Anyways, tournament arcs! Yeah, let’s talk about that. It was about what I expected. Before the actual tournament takes place we’d have these supplementary competitions and I’d hope not as many other studios continue with this time-padding B.S. Don’t get me wrong, I think they did it specifically to give other characters an area in which their abilities garner attention where a straight-up brawl wouldn’t. For that reason, it was time well spent. Regardless, I think there’s a scenario where they could’ve done the same without the unnecessary split between the actual tournament and contests that feel like they originated from kids roleplaying in the park.
fast-forwarding to the fights, we can talk about what each one meant relative to the characters. Midoriya vs Shinsou was one of the more lackluster fights. But it wasn’t awful. There’s a consistent give-and-take when it comes to very specific characters and ideas the show wants to invest in. This battle, for example, is not a very flashy one. Even in writing, it is a bit contrived actually. They did a good job building up to this fight; having Monkey Boy become brainwashed by Shinsou and Monkey Boy explaining the functionality of his quirk to Midoriya. Knowing the full extent of Shinsou’s quirk it no longer feels like Midoriya is in a major disadvantage. That immediately gets thrown out the window for the simple reasoning that we need to show that the protagonist is “emotional”. Yeah, he gets so emotional because Shinsou softly insults Monkey Boy, a guy who Midoriya has barely even conversed with in the past season and a half. That’s like what? 9 months in anime terms? You guys must’ve built a deep connection very telling by the amount of screentime Monkey Boy has had. I even remember his name! Monkey Boy! Everyone loves that guy!
So, Midoriya gets emotional over trivialities, therefore, he opens his mouth; the one thing Monkey Boy told him not to do under any circumstances and he does it. He gets brainwashed and bla bla it’s stupid. But we did get a very detailed background and development on Shinsou, a character I hope to see more of. We also got more information on how the One-For-All quirk works which was desperately needed. It is, after all, a very common superpower used in literature. Super strength. The identity of One-For-All is to subvert the idea that super strength can only be used to ‘overpower’ its enemies. That’s the entire character of Izuku Midoriya. I’d even go as far to say that Academia Boku no has made it its mission to bury all misconception that pure, raw strength is the only way to determine which characters would come out on top in a head-to-head battle. A point so beautifully captured by Boku’s most excellent fight and fight of the year, might I add, between Uraraka and Bakugou.
Both competitors have become influenced by Midoriya whose nicknamed ‘Deku’. In a previous bout between Bakugou and Midoriya; Midoriya showed Bakugou the error in telegraphing his brutish fighting style. Even if Bakugou doesn’t want to admit this- it has forced him to reconsider and rebuild how he combats his enemies. He did this using 3 simple steps:
- Understanding the function of other quirks instead of arrogantly believing he’ll blow through any walls put in front of him.
- Gaining a good understanding of how his opponents see him, thus, being able to plan ahead of them.
- And above all else, respecting his opponent’s win condition. All factors prevalent in why Bakugou was victorious.
We’ll talk about each one as we proceed to analyze it scene by scene:
Uraraka rushes head-first into Bakugou because she knows he can’t do anything while floating except bomb around until he eventually runs out of steam and floats out-of-bounds. Bakugou teases his signature right-hook; Uraraka ducks to dodge it but Bakugou, understanding that she has a predetermined idea of what he’ll do, switches it up by shooting out a short-ranged explosion to push her back. But Uraraka adapts quickly and uses the smoke to float her jacket to distract Bakugou and runs to the back in the hopes he can’t respond in time. Normally, Bakugou would’ve lost here. However, he’s learned to be more efficient with his movements. In fact, he’s focused less on power and more on moving with purpose. Like here, he knows there’s only one way to get out of this predicament. He drags his hand that is already on the floor behind him and slightly upwards where he predicts Uraraka will be and, in turn, the explosion caused by that blew her away from him despite not hitting her directly. Uraraka runs at him again and he delivers a wide-shot. She runs at him again and he puts his explosion in the ground to contain it within his hand so that it’ll extend further in range when he shoots it out. This blasts Uraraka even further back. This repeats again and again with Bakugou being unable to make a proactive move. With each explosion creates more debris. Uraraka made sure to collect enough of that debris in the air to drop all over Bakugou. Uraraka’s plan is to give Bakugou 2 choices. #1: Blow away the debris. If he did this he would’ve lost because Uraraka would’ve had enough time to get him to float. #2: Blow away Uraraka. He would’ve lost because all the debris would’ve fucking killed him!
I mean, Uraraka is just bloodthirsty, holy shit! But it didn’t turn up either way. Why? Because Bakugou learned. In this instance, it was ‘timing’! He charged up his hardest hitting explosion, aimed up at the sky and waited for Uraraka to get close enough that she’ll be blown away by the explosion.
It’s amazing how much thought was put into a battle of this caliber. We went in thinking that Bakugou was much stronger than Uraraka. This proves that it was never about strength. Bakugou won entirely because he learned from past mistakes and is fueled by his desire to stand at the top. No words were even really needed. That’s character development, my dudes. And on both sides, as well. Uraraka more than proved herself as a competitor and hero. This will teach her that she’s not the only one learning. On top of that, you have to admire her story. She isn’t a tragic character. She’s a real one. She does everything in the hopes of helping her family financially. A respectable cause instead of an over-the-top traumatic event. We don’t have enough of that.
Now, for the next big-time battle; the one that immediately out-shone the actual best fight of all time as if this was a re-run of the war between Legend of Dragoon and Final Fantasy 7. But just like Final Fantasy 7, Deku vs Todoroki was less impactful but more flashy. It was still amazing. It’s damn brilliant. I’m just saying, one is better than the other. *cough Legend of Dragoon cough*
There’s so much more than just choreography. but each character is meant to look memorable in some aspect. The way they move, the way they look; every one of them has these unique things about them that represents a level of individuality that a lot of anime is missing nowadays. As you can tell, I am gushing on the series a little bit. However, we’ve established the basic formula. Season 1 starts us off by depicting the world and, more or less, how it works. Season 2 does build upon that by its second half and gives us an amazing villain in the form of Stain who, by the way, was awesome not because he was the only villain that has committed to an actual fight to the death but was partially understandable in his views. A lot of villains tend to not make sense; he fucking did. He also had a unique aesthetic and ability. He wasn’t a “villain”. He was, for lack of a better term, the gear-breaker of society. He’s seen the cracks form and his appearance sent a message. But that’s a tangent I’ll avoid.
Take my word on this: The response to that message along with many more exciting happenings will occur during the most climactic point of this formula. Season 3. Was this entire video just to hype you up for it? Yes, yes it was.