Boku no Hero Academia – 02

Boku no Hero Academia - 02 -15 Boku no Hero Academia - 02 -20 Boku no Hero Academia - 02 -39

Boku no Hero Academia - 02 -1There’s going to be a tendency, I think, to say that this episode is more representative of Boku no Hero Academia than the first.  It’s a natural train of thought – the first ep is really the pre-introduction, if you will, and it’s with this one that we see the series take on a more action-driven and proactive style.  But I would argue that the premiere was every bit as accurate to the series’ essential nature, because self-doubt, setbacks and failure are very much part of the journey Izuku is on.  Yes, Boku no Hero is All Might – but it’s All Might’s true form as well.  You can’t have one without the other.

Boku no Hero Academia - 02 -2That said, there’s no denying that this second episode is more approachable than the first.  If one looks at BnHA as Deku’s origin story, everything that plays out makes perfect narrative sense.  And he has to taste failure and despair if he’s going to have a hope to rise above them.  It’s one thing to be told by his mother (her tears and apology speak louder than the actual words would have) that he’ll never be a hero.  But it’s quite another to be told that by All Might, the hero of heroes and Deku’s personal hero.  “You could always be a policeman” is meant kindly (and offered under temporal duress) but to poor Izuku it must have felt like a death sentence.

Boku no Hero Academia - 02 -3Horikoshi-sensei knows very well that All Might is a much more interesting hero if he has a few secrets of his own – the word “quirk” has multiple meanings with this series.  If the viewer is getting a sense that there’s more to what happens in Boku no Hero Academia than meets the eye, then the anime is doing its job – and I think it is.  The fact is, All Might is wrestling with the same things Deku is – weakness, fear of failure, doubt.  Without saying more for fear of spoiling, I think it should already be clear that quirks are not simply randomly assigned superpowers – they’s manifestations of the user’s essential nature.

Boku no Hero Academia - 02 -4We don’t know the details of  All Might’s quirk yet, of course – but we know he can only use it for three hours a day because of a terrible injury he suffered in a secret battle five years earlier.  The true form of the man is emaciated and haggard, yet he fights on as best he can, the public unaware of the sacrifices he’s already made and continues to make.  The true nature of heroism is obviously a big theme in BnHA, and as powerful as he was the hero we met in the premiere really wouldn’t have been all that interesting a character.  All Might is that hero – but he’s a lot more as well.

Boku no Hero Academia - 02 -5The limitations All Might works under become quite a problem when he drops the sludge beast’s soda bottle prison after Izuku glomps onto him.  That’s because Kacchan and his bully buddies unknowingly release the villain, and it’s Kacchan who takes the brunt of the sludge’s counterattack.  None of the heroes on-site are built to take it down (Mt. Lady might, but like an oversized delivery van she can’t fit into the narrow lanes of the shopping district).  Both the wizened All Might and Deku end up on the scene, and when Deku realizes who the child in the clutches of the sludge beast is, he reacts without thinking and charges in to help him.

Boku no Hero Academia - 02 -6I realize there’s a bit of a disconnect here between Deku’s behavior and the way Kacchan has always treated him.  But, well…  He’s Deku.  If he was super strong or if he and Kacchan were eternal bros, doing what he did would have been easy.  But he’s not and they aren’t, so what Deku did was really hard.  Being a hero in Boku no Hero isn’t about doing what’s easy or doing what one wants – it’s about doing what’s seemingly illogical and impossible because it’s what you have to do.  That’s a pretty old-school shounen theme, and I don’t think anyone is going to claim BnHA is blazing completely new trails here.  But it tackles that theme with a ton of freshness and energy, and takes it to places where one doesn’t necessarily expect it to go.  Both the first episode and the second are essential in defining what makes this series the stalwart that it is, and I’m glad Bones let them both speak loudly and clearly.

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11 comments

  1. C

    So far it’s really capturing the heart and soul of the manga. This adaptation just might rival the excellence of Shokugeki no Soma’s own anime.

  2. O

    Yup, that is the correct interpretation.

  3. G

    This episode pulled the emotions hard because it shows Deku coming out of his shell, and I find it a good choice to make All Might not as “mighty” as he seems because being a hero is mostly showing yourself for more than who you are, and concealing weaknesses.
    All Might’s texas smash reminded me of Saitama’s punch, though Saitama’s was animated on a more magnificent scale.

  4. T

    It’s probably the immature child in me, but I just love it whenever All Might curses in English!

    I agree. The first two episodes so far have captured the manga and is hitting all the right notes for me emotionally. I especially appreciate how they’re portraying Kacchan–meaning I love how they’re not softening him up but instead staying true to his insufferable manga self. (I adore Kacchan. He’s such a terrible adolescent and that’s what makes him so riveting for me.)

  5. Y

    You truly… enjoy Katsuki as a character? You enjoy watching this ungrateful, arrogant brat? Why would such a pissy bully be a “riveting” character for you? Not accusing, just asking. Because I honestly can’t fathom it. It might be because I myself have been bullied in the past and thus absolutely cannot stand Katsuki’s attitude, or because I’m too narrow-minded to see his “artistic value”, heck if I know; I just honestly cringe every time he opens his mouth. Don’t get me wrong, he has cool powers and stuff, and I do consider him to be realistically written (even if he may not always seem that way), but that doesn’t change the fact that his behaviour is abhorrent and does not endear him to me one bit. So I’m curious: what makes you like him?

  6. T

    I hear you, Yana! I could have qualified my comment more. First, I’m also following the manga, so my lens watching the anime is influenced. Second, I think even if I weren’t reading the manga, I’d still enjoy Kacchan. As a character in a story, I enjoy how unapologetically he’s being portrayed. It’s refreshing to me how his behavior isn’t being given any excuses and no effort so far has been made to make him sympathetic. (I hope I’m making sense.) What the anime is successful in doing is revealing Kacchan for the brat that he is and the audience knows he’s a brat. There’s always a point where his ranting isn’t taken seriously, even by the world of the anime.

    If Kacchan were real, I’d have issues with him and probably find him detestable. But as a character, yes, I do like him. He’s a strong foil for Deku and there’s never a boring moment when he’s there. I recognize he also has a lot of triggering qualities which might impact people negatively. This most likely doesn’t reflect well on my character, haha, but this is where I am right now. (I also loved Azula before her behavior was explained in The Last Airbender, so go figure.)

  7. N

    Bakugo is a popular character and also my favorite for a number of reasons. I have never had a problem with him to begin with but we all have different standards.

  8. Let’s be careful with spoilage on this one. We’re getting kind of close I think.

    As to my own views on Kacchan, while I agree with Taimis in the larger sense, it wouldn’t be accurate to say I “like” Kacchan, per se. But I do appreciate him as a literary device, and I do think he’s realistic – I knew plenty of guys like him in middle and high school. I like the way Horikoshi uses him in the plot, and the fact that he’s unapologetic about who and what he is. And yes, I was a little worried the anime would soften him up and I’m happy they aren’t.

    So far I’ve been very pleased with how materially and spiritually faithful the manga adaptations are this season.

  9. I admire the decision to make All Might’s true form so different, its very impactful to show something people admire at its lowest point.

    This series reminds me a lot more of One Piece than Hunter x Hunter actually. The frequent comedy, different quirks(in the character sense) and energetic tone is really similar; I don’t see much of the subversion and darkness that makes HxH so unique.

  10. r

    This show is reminding me of Baby Steps, only with superheroes instead of tennis. Must be all of Deku’s notebooks reminding me of Ei-chan.

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