Every year one of Shueisha’s Shounen Jump properties gets a special episode for Jump Festa. What is Jump Festa, you may ask? Well, if you want to know you could read the posts I’ve written about attending it, but in short it’s a winter event in Chiba focusing on all things Shounen Jump. I managed to make it a couple of times, the highlight being the Hunter X Hunter booth, and it’s generally a very fun (and always free) event. Whichever property gets the special is normally one of Shueisha’s most popular, usually but not always one that’a already gotten an anime.
Given that, it was no surprise that Boku no Hero Academia got the nod last year, given its important stature as a tentpole among WSJ’s “next gen” titles. Shueisha has treated BnHA with kid gloves, and it’s probably reasonable to expect that like Ansatsu Kyoushitsu, it will eventually receive a full adaptation despite modest disc sales. Big shounen titles are one of the rare exceptions to anime’s normal disc-driven financial model, and as long as Boku no Hero continues to be a sales powerhouse in manga form and draw good ratings in a premium time slot there will likely be an appetite among the production committee for more anime.
This episode, while clearly inserting itself in the series’ timeline just after the conclusion of the first season, is essentially a one-off (as most of these Jump Festa eps are). It sees the students of Class 1-A return to the USJ to complete their interrupted “Unforeseen Circumstances” training. One could argue that returning so quickly after a massive breach of security almost got two teachers killed is dubious logic, but this isn’t canon material and I don’t think it pays to think too hard. Basically, this is a pretext to put the kids through their paces and layer in some meta-humor at Kacchan’s expense.
I’d say everyone is more or less in-character here, but it’s a kind of 2-D version of their character – as you’d expect, the depth and richness of Horikoshi’s writing is sorely missed. This episode is fun, but distinctly lightweight – the twist ending isn’t too hard to spot, and there’s nothing I would call essential to the series canon coming out of it. I did like seeing Tokoyami get a chance to shine – always a rare thing (and a foreshadowing of the Sports Festival arc). I would expect the “Training of the Dead” episode due this summer to be weightier and pack more of a punch – it’s written by Horikoshi-sensei himself, and a full-on OVA as opposed to an event release.