Boku no Hero Academia – 11

Boku no Hero - 11 -1There’s been an interesting (and frankly, irritating) thread developing in the discussion around Boku no Hero Academia.  First off, declaring the anime a “failure” on mysterious grounds I can’t fathom, especially since the first volume hasn’t even gone on sale yet.  It’s projected to land somewhere between 3-4,000 units, which for a Weekly Shounen Jump series not a sports anime is certainly above the norm – never mind the fact that disc sales are a trivial part of the financial equation for WSJ titles, as witness the likes of Ansatsu Kyoushitsu and Hunter X Hunter.  The latest volume of the manga (a far more important metric to the production committee) sold 200K volumes in just three days, putting it on target to easily surpass earlier volumes, and all those earlier volumes re-appeared on the chart.  None of this is to mention the massive merchandising campaign surrounding the series – do people think money is spent on those for series that aren’t profitable?

Boku no Hero - 11 -2But it’s the reasoning behind why Boku no Hero supposedly failed (if it’s only one cour it must be a failure, the thinking seems to go) that I find especially interesting.  Supposedly, it’s because – we’re confidently told – the anime is “stalling” and there isn’t enough action.  If Bones had only avoided padding out the material and just done what the manga did everything would be fine.  Except by making that claim those that make it prove they’ve never read the manga, because the anime has been a religiously loyal adaptation (almost panel-for-panel).  Horikoshi paced the series this way because he wanted it paced that way – whether or not Bones may have cost themselves a few disc sales by not cutting out “slow” material (like character development) is another argument, but the fact that they didn’t – and in the process showed no inclination to rush through the material – shows that they have confidence in it both artistically and commercially.  I know I shouldn’t let inanity like that bother me – you still see Dragon Quest jokes and remarks about “Hunter X Hunter being popular because of Madhouse” on anime forums – but it makes me feel better to call it out.

Boku no Hero - 11 -3Setting that silliness aside, this episode provides material that should make even the peanut gallery happy – it’s almost wall-to-wall action, heroes and villains both in their element.  Fortunately Horikoshi-sensei and Bones both know that these climactic moments are much more impactful when they’re properly build-up to.  This one is especially important because it provides the first real lesson our budding heroes have received in what it means to be a hero – and a villain.  No classroom simulation or field exercise could have prepared them for this – which, if you ask me, is really the fundamental problem with a place like Yuuei Academy.  Not that I have a suggestion for anything better…

Boku no Hero - 11 -4The dream team of Midoriya, Tsuyu and Mineta have used their combined powers to overcome their immediate adversaries, but this leaves them with the dilemma of what to do next.  The logical thing would be to flee to safety – and indeed, that’s what their teachers would want them to do.  But Izuku understands that with only two lone teachers defending them, the eventual outcome of this war is certain.  And it’s becoming increasingly clear not just to the trio but to all the students that part of the villains’ strategy was to simply overwhelm with numbers – that a good many of the villains (especially those assigned to deal with the students) are zaku.  And Izuku being who he is, he decides that the next step must be to see if they can provide any assistance to Aizawa-sensei without getting in his way.

Boku no Hero - 11 -5One lesson emerging from all this, of course, is that Deku and the other students have no idea what they’re truly up against.  And indeed, for the powerhouse students like Kacchan, Todoroki and Yaoyorozu, this fight doesn’t seem so bad after all.  But Thirteen and Eraserhead are taking a bullet for them in a big way, taking on the villains who are more than just bulk enemies meant to clog the plumbing.  Each of them is willing to give the last full measure of their devotion to save the students, and it looks like they just might – Thirteen seemingly atomized by Kurogiri’s warp pulling against his black hole quirk, and Aizawa by the sheer number of enemies, culminating in the one they call Noumu.

Boku no Hero - 11 -6Just what is Noumu?  Shigaraki (AKA the hand guy) says he’s a bio-engineered “anti-Symbol of Peace”, and Aizawa concludes from the agonizing damage to his body even after Noumu’s quirk has been erased that he’s as strong as All Might.  He’s also clearly the reason why the villains came into this fight believing they could win even as they thought they’d be fighting All Might – though both Kurogiri and Shigaraki admit it’s probably “game over” after Iida (finally) flees to get help from the school.  Taking down two teachers not necessarily specialized in group combat and a bunch of still-green students is one thing – taking on a score of professional heroes quite another.  But before they go, Shigaraki decides he’s going to give All Might something to remember the occasion he missed by – and reveals that he’s known Izuku and his friends were watching in horror all along.

Boku no Hero - 11 -7When the moment comes, there’s never a doubt that Midoriya is going to act to save his friends and his teacher, even if the odds are impossible – he’s a hero to the bone.  And his “Get Your Hands off Her” Smash!! is definitely the best attack name we’ve heard so far.  But against Noumu is has no effect – did Midoriya control his quirk at last, or did Noumu simply absorb the attack so easily that it caused no damage to Midoriya?  That seems like a moot question (for the worst of reasons) until All Might himself arrives – alone.  This is a hero whose heroism is never been in doubt, and he gives hope to the Deku and the others just with his presence.  But the villains are just as happy to see him – this, after all, is what they wanted all along…

 

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18 comments

  1. Profits or whatnot aside, I do think this adaptation could be paced quicker, to the benefit of the series, without actually cutting any of the material (which I’m definitely not an advocate for). It’s not necessarily the action, it’s just that the beats from shot to shot (along with internal descriptive monologues and repeated flashbacks – for example, this episode we saw the last moment of Iida’s race to the door before Uraraka steps in twice, as if we’d forgotten where that particular conflict was when we cut away). While I understand why they’re doing it that way, I can’t help but wish the show would click along just a tad faster.

  2. s

    eh, ive seen way worse (one piece, naruto, dbz…but those are extreme examples). The way some people complain about it, it’s almost as the show does not progress anywhere from ep to ep. Im not going to say that the show is paced perfectly because it isnt, but it accomplishes enough to get where it needs to be every ep with its story and its characters. Either a character gets fleshed out or a story point gets highlighted; pretty much the ep is utilized well enough to progress the narrative. If it was truly moving slow, there would nothing significantly noteworthy to point out in terms of story advancement. Since the show has started, deku has learned that he has what it takes to be a hero, has trained his body to be fit, has passed the entrance exam, has proven that he can think on his feet to utilize his quirk in a way that can prevent him from being a one shot wonder, has stood up to his childhood bully, and is now going up against villains for the first time. And if we take into consideration what has transpired for the rest of the cast, the show has been moving at the clip it needs to be. I mentioned this before but ill say it again; when an adaptation moves quickly, people complain. When it moves really slow, people complain. Here we have an adaptation that is moving at a moderate pace (not perfect tho) and we still have people complaining. People are never satisfied it seems

  3. “when an adaptation moves quickly, people complain. When it moves really slow, people complain. Here we have an adaptation that is moving at a moderate pace (not perfect tho) and we still have people complaining. People are never satisfied it seems”

    It’s just that “people” as a collective noun is a very general subject. Some people will complain of one thing, others will complain of the opposite, but the resulting sensation is just this random background noise of ranting if you don’t focus on any specific voice.

  4. C

    What a shame that the discourse arund BNHA has such a negative streak, though perhaps it’s due to a desire to see the show do well rather than, say, trolls who want to ruin everything. Either way, it does dampen the fun a bit. But Bones has been doing great, and the casting and characterization stands out more and more with each episode! Actually I’m curious as to what you think of Kaji Yuuki’s performance so far, Enzo, especially since Todoroki had a a significantly larger amount of lines this week. I’m not nuts about the casting choice and would have liked a younger sound, but Kaji seems to be making deliberate efforts to keep his voice low and calm, which… is different from his usual style, I guess.

  5. He’s basically doing his Hermes voice with less psychopath. It’s not his worst, and not so bad it makes his scenes unwatchable. But the guy has almost no range and do I think he can carry the scenes when Todoroki really becomes a key player (assuming the anime gets that far)? No, not really.

  6. Enzo – thanks for calling out the incomprehensible issue people have with the pacing! If anything, I’d like to see it further drawn out – these events extended over 2 cours, simply because of how much I would have loved to spend more time with each of the characters (there being so many of them). Seeing more closely how the actual setting functions, their world being so similar and different to ours, and getting to know the characters better in “peacetime,” to strike a better contrast to how they act in a crisis. Mineta, pervy as he is, seems like a stereotype, as do most of the characters. And even the battles! They’re so enjoyable, and yet, knowing how skilled Horikoshi is at creating dynamic strategy, I could have watched an episode each of these battles, again, to spend time with the characters.

    If anything, the pacing is too quick! The episodes all fly by, and the fact that it’s over in two episodes is gloomy, despite knowing a second season can’t be too far behind.

  7. K

    Ahh, the world of instant gratification shows its fangs again…..same with GoT, same with Walking Dead and any good show out there….Can’t please them all but i am sure that there are more positives out there and negatives so i would just ignore the nay sayers…..Bloody good episode this one and i think its paced just fine. I am curious to see how All Might is going to fair as we know he has only a few minutes before reverting. Now i have to wait a whole week!

  8. Glad I haven’t stumbled across those discussions myself. (Apart from a few negative comments here and there.) It would be quite frustrating to read them.

    I personally don’t find HeroAca slow at all. Every single episode has been interesting and driven the plot forward. (It might have something to do with the fact that I generally find character dynamics much more interesting than action sequences – but still, why would someone consider this anime slow? If you ask me it’s the other way around: many action-packed shows are boring because despite all the action the story itself progresses slowly if at all.)

  9. “Except by making that claim those that make it prove they’ve never read the manga, because the anime has been a religiously loyal adaptation (almost panel-for-panel).”

    Just to clarify since I brought up the topic on AnimeSuki (which is where I suppose you picked it up) – I don’t have quite as many problems with the pacing as others seem to (I’ve seen harsher comments about it by Bobduh and Flawfinder to mention two). I don’t read the manga and never claimed to. The pacing seems reasonable for your average 2-chapters-per-episode shounen manga adaptation, but that is not the only way to do things; 2.5 or even 3 chapters per episode are a thing too, and they often are done equally faithfully, just by executing the same exact things at a brisker pace. The reason why that wasn’t done here clearly is that they only had one cour and doing 3 chapters per episode would have lead them exactly in the middle of the next arc from what I understand, and that’s not a sensible place to stop a series. But when people comments “pacing” by looking at the anime only… they’re looking at the anime only, on its own merits. Comparison with the source material makes sense and can explain some things, but it doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t be able to judge something without referring to the source. You have done the same yourself for Ushio and Tora, where instead manga readers would accuse it to be too fast and you found it just right. Knowing the manga probably lets you appreciate more the flow and notice the missing details (which is why manga readers were frustrated with U&T and are happy with BnHA) but watching the show in a vacuum means you probably only go with its own flow, and the way anime flows is different from the way manga does (and thus anime-only watchers are happy with U&T and feel BnHA is slow). After all, I could read two manga chapters back-to-back in ten minutes. An anime episode still runs for more than twice that time.

  10. I don’t think the problem is with viewers like yourself stating their opinion. I think it’s more (and you certainly see this at ASF and elsewhere) the people authoritatively stating that the anime has slowed things down from the manga and inserted a bunch of “padding” or filler or whatever term they use. Which it demonstrably has not – which means these people have not read the manga and are blowing smoke out of their ass. I honestly (and this is my opinion) think it’s further evidence of the corrosive impact LNs are having on anime fandom’s attention span for exposition and character development.

    Maybe the worst has passed in that respect – I’m only counting three LN adaptations on the new schedule. But I need more evidence before I say it’s not just a cold snap in the face of global warming.

  11. I was the only one who mentioned the topic on ASF though – everyone else was saying the pacing was fine – and I did mention “padding” but not meaning substantial scenes, but rather all the little things that are used to control the speed and flow of an anime – especially battle shonens, where these are basically codified tropes at this point. How long you linger on reaction shots, how long you build up an action moment, these kind of things. And what I meant was exactly that these little things, accumulating through the episode, make the difference between, say, 2 and 2.5 chapters, and that’s what the people at Bones were aiming at due to their schedule. Had this series been two cours it would have probably been paced differently, without necessarily losing in faithfulness.

    To mention an example on the other extreme of the spectrum… right now Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Diamond is Unbreakable is proceeding at the breakneck pace of 4, even 5 chapters per episode, which even accounting for the chapters being possibly shorter and less dense is quite remarkable, and I’ve heard no complaint of lack of faithfulness from manga readers. But that’s David Production working confidently on their beloved Jojo, with three cours or more at their disposal and absolute commercial safety. This show looks very much like an exercise in commercial prudence. Even Shokugeki got two cours on its first season, and they probably should have done the same here too, but someone either chickened out or thought it’d be better to stop after this arc and then save up the better stuff for later, after building a suitable amount of hype.

  12. (and I can assure I am no lover of Light Novel adapted shows, though there are some I enjoyed. Moreso, if anything swift pacing is definitely NOT their strong suit a lot of the time! I am watching Re:Zero right now and the pacing is awkward as fuck, one of the worst flaws of the show; BnHA is obviously miles above it in that regard. My comments were comparing it to the standards of good shonen, not bad LN shows)

  13. You may want to re-read that thread! The pacing was complained about by multiple people.

  14. s

    but there’s difference between stating that there’s slight padding and that the show is moving slow, just like how there’s a difference between something moving at a moderate pace vs a slow, deary pace. After evaluating the source material, i think there was more to lose by making it a two cour right off the bat than taking this approach.

  15. What kind of Dragon Quest jokes are you talking about Enzo?

  16. It’s a common joke that Togashi likes Dragon Quest games and thus that he doesn’t write more HunterXHunter because he’s too busy playing whatever DQ game happened to come out at the time. Rather than, y’know, being in pain because of his back problems and stuff.

  17. Ahh got it, thanks for clarifying it.

  18. First I enjoyed the episode.

    About the rumors floating around the shows supposed failure. There are some younger / new fans that are abusive troublemakers on the forums. There may be seasoned viewers 5-10 years or less that may be in this group the lack of respect is just disgusting

    Now I kow there are alot of Funimation haters on the rival streaming service wihch is sad . Tan along with Funimation laid a lot of the groundwork they should be thanking them. Are they upset because some of their big hit shows are flops. I am sorry to bring this up but it’s another reason jealous

    Now I have been watching since Pokemon used to be on Sat mornings . Old Adult swim The Original TAN on Demand / then Funimation On Demand long before I even used the Funimation website.

    Back in the older days of anime most shows were 24 episodes or more .It was only once a week and most were on Thursday or Friday ( On-Demand ) or Sat You were lucky to see 4 or 5 shows at most . Now it’s 24 / 7 and almost all shows can be seen.

    Mow if fans are upset about this new trend of 12 episodes dont take it out on the show . It’s the Japanese TV networks studios / The owner of the material who licenses it. We in the US / overseas have little say in the matter.

    Personally I hate the 12 EP trend . Yes some anime fit in with no problem .Even then with so many anime you are just getting used to the show by Ep 9 / 10 when you have to say goodbye.For Myself the Winter to Spring changeover had only a couple ongoing or a second cour return. Even the Spring to summer there is only 4 or 5 leftovers, Thank goodness there are a couple of favorites returning.

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