Boku no Hero Academia Season 2 – 11

Boku no Hero Academia 2 -11 - 01There’s an awful lot to unpack in this episode of Boku no Hero Academia.  On the surface it acts as a bridge between the two most anticipated battles of the series so far, but it’s at these moments when Horikoshi tends to sneak in the stuff that’s really important.  It’s not that he doesn’t employ legitimate breather chapters or even mini-arcs (though most of them are later) – he certainly does, because with a story this dense they’re absolutely needed.  But Boku no Hero is a series you want to be paying attention to all the time, because Horikoshi is very good at hiding pivotal developments in between the bursts of shock and awe.

Boku no Hero Academia 2 -11 - 02If last week’s ep was all about the intensity of the moment – the Midoriya-Todoroki showdown and all its subtext – this one is intense because so much different stuff is happening.  For my money none of it is more significant than the scene in Recovery Girl’s office, because it calls out some very harsh realities about Deku and All Might’s relationship.  I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now, but Boku no Hero Academia is a series that sweats the details.  At heart this is a reflection of a world where heroism is a business, not a character trait.  And as such, the use (and abuse) of powers has consequences both for the victim and the wielder (who aren’t always different people).

Boku no Hero Academia 2 -11 - 03Recovery Girl’s words here struck me immediately the first time I read them: “To push and light a fire under a child who would destroy his body this much for what he yearns for… I don’t like it.”  In fact, after telling Deku his arm will “never be the same” she announces that she’ll never heal these kinds of self-inflicted wounds again.  This is harsh medicine indeed, but she’s doing what she has to.  All Might has a huge heart, and he loves Izuku like a son.  Yet he’s allowed the boy to do this kind of damage to himself in pursuit of his dream, in the name of passing on One For All to him.

Boku no Hero Academia 2 -11 - 04I really think the problem here is that All Might and Deku are so much alike – yet that’s also the reason their bond is so powerful.  It goes beyond All Might having been quirkless – though it certainly impacts Deku when he learns that.  They’re both innocents, both fools for love – of their friends, their family, and humanity in general.  They think too little of their own welfare.  yet again contradictorily, that’s what makes them true heroes.  But All Might is the direct cause of Deku’s pain – the “gift” he gave him has allowed Deku to injure his body permanently, and that in a school-sanctioned exhibition.  Recovery Girl has drawn the line, because she’s not convinced Deku and All Might can be selfish enough to do the right thing themselves – this has to end.  Being a hero is dangerous enough as it is.

Boku no Hero Academia 2 -11 - 05Meanwhile, things move at a blazing pace for the rest of the principals.  Shouto is still wrestling with the reality of what happened in his match with Izuku, but it’s quite revealing that he tells Endeavor that the moment he was able to use his left side, it was because he “forgot” about him. That was the gift Deku gave him, but Shouto is still struggling to understand what it means.  The remaining matches are dealt with rather quickly – Iida and Tokoyami eventually join Todoroki and Bakugo in the semi-finals, but in truth these are not results which one feels are much in doubt.

Boku no Hero Academia 2 -11 - 06Once Deku has lost, there’s never any question of what the final will be.  For Tokoyami, it’s simply a question of a badly-matched battle of quirks – which wouldn’t matter so much if Kacchan wasn’t smart enough to have figured out his weakness.  Iida does manage one solid blow on Todoroki, but Shouto wins by reaching into his bag of tricks and clogging Iida’s muffler with ice.  That Shouto wins without using fire is significant – both in terms of his own psyche, and as a reflection of just how huge the gap between his power and everyone else’s is. For now, these two boys stand far above everyone else at Yuuei – and for Deku, who carries the weight of One For All and the expectations that come with it, that’s a harsh reminder of the challenge he faces.

Boku no Hero Academia 2 -11 - 07That’s a lot to take in – but you know, for all the shounen power on display here this is really just a game.  The “real” world of BnHA rolls on, and it’s a harsh and violent one.  Tenya’s beloved aniki Tensei (Kitada Masamichi) is the hero Ingenium, and he’s engaged in a fight for his life as Tenya focuses on the tournament.  We’ve seen the menace that lays Iida Tensei low once before, oh so briefly – but he’s out there, focused like a laser on All Might.  The “Hero Killer” Stain (Inoue Go) – this is the other face of this world of quirks, the harsh reality of Boku no Hero Academia.  As brutal as Yuuei Academy can seem at times (and Deku’s injuries are testament to that) it’s still a sheltered playground compared to what awaits its students once they complete their training.  And don’t think for a moment that their instructors forget that.

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14 comments

  1. Thank you Recovery Girl. Getting tired of the MC always getting his body destroyed. There must be some way for Deku to use his powers without getting his ass kicked every time he uses them.

  2. The hero killer gets just one line this episode but I have a feeling it has deeper implications.

    The argument is basically the classical Adam Smith position: that free markets utilize our sinful, avaricious impulses towards the public good. This hero killer seems to be chewing out exactly this aspect of commercialized hero-society – he says society’s attempt to put an heroic veneer on what is essentially vainglorious fame-seeking and profit-motive is hypocritical and shallow; the claim is that sin is sin – if the intention is theatrical(Mt. Lady) or competitve(Endeavor) then the act is not heroic; true heroism, as embodied by All Might, is independent of consequence or witness. As you can see, this is not a viewpoint that is easily swept away.
    However, the fact that the person saying this is a clear villain suggests the author doesnt buy it. Im kind of afraid that this thread, if it gains traction, is “resolved” in the quintessentially shonen way that is Midoriya shouting the author’s perspective while being all teary eyed and beat up.

  3. P.S. Thanks for the great post keep it up.

  4. You’re welcome. And don’t make too many assumptions about what Horikoshi’s perspectives are – that’s not an easy question to answer.

  5. Y

    Except, how is Stain’s prissy cynicism actually, genuinely helpful in any significant way to the society he claims he needs to “purify for its own good”? What he’s basically saying is that he wants to kill people whose job is to save lives because he doesn’t like their reasons for saving lives — and that’s it.

    He’s envisioning a world where each and every hero in existence is “pure good” (subjective much?), never does anything for personal reasons (potentially impossible?), and acts as an ideal embodiment of heroism as Stain sees it, and how is that not naive? Or even borderline ridiculous? He claims to see All Might as the grand exception to all this, as the figure every hero should strive to emulate, but how do you think All Might himself would react if he learned Stain uses his image to justify murder and condemn people he knows jack squat about (Iida’s brother is a selfish prick of a hero who deserves to be sliced up to near-death…? Since when?!!)? [deleted].

    I will be the first person to admit that Mt. Lady is annoying as hell and Endeavour is the literal scum of the Earth (and more despicable than any villain we’ve seen so far, in my view), and many of the heroes in this series choose to become heroes for reasons that are far from altruistic (Katsuki would be the most obvious example), and that the Hero Licensing Programme needs a serious revamp on several levels, but in the end, the fact of the matter is this: these people save lives for a living on a daily basis. And Stain is [deleted]. Would you say Ochako is a fake hero-wannabe just because her motivation for becoming a hero is to make money? Not for charity, not for the betterment of society, but just for herself and her parents, so they can live more comfortably? Would you say Shinsou is scum for wanting to become a hero just to shut up everyone who’s been telling him he’s villain material all his life, and prove he can be something else, something better? These are self-centered reasons for pursuing heroism, the good of society is on the backburner here, and they have close to nothing to do with All Might’s philosophies. So… the people who have these reasons deserve to die, because Stain says so and he’s right??

  6. M

    A bit of a precocious insight at this stage of the story, but insight nonetheless.
    I agree that Stain poked at a flaw in the hero system without the levelheadedness to think of a fix or a way to sustainably implement changes that work in the long-term. His methods are completely flawed, and [deleted]. And it’s true that, selfish or selfless motives aside, heroes are people that put their lives on the line to help others.
    [deleted].
    Stain is truly an unique character in the Boku no Hero cast, and I believe he’s fundamental to the story. It’s so intimidating that Horikoshi could create such a dangerous presence, [deleted]. Everyone has his own interpretation, and it’s up to the audience to make up their own answers and involve their personal beliefs in the story.
    Kudos for Horikoshi for creating such a deeply nuanced and open-to-interpretation story. It reminds me of the Chimera Ant Arc.

  7. Let’s be careful, because this Stain talk is bordering on spoilerish.

  8. M

    You’re right. I’m sorry

  9. Y

    Thank you for your reply.

    I was not trying to suggest that I believe Stain to be a useless or badly written character; quite the opposite, I think he’s used excellently within the story and [deleted]. I do not doubt Horikoshi’s skill to create and control nuanced characters — in fact, I consider him to be one of the best in shounen, in that particular regard.

    What I was ranting about was the way a lot of fans tend to misinterpret Stain’s great darkness as great depth, when darkness and depth (and their level of “greatness”) are in fact two different concepts. Not to say his character is shallow, because he’s not — but [deleted].

    Being morally grey is in no way inherently superior to being generally good, not just because these two concepts do not operate as polar opposites while they simultaneously manage to retain their stark distinctiveness, but also because they — again, as concepts — produce obviously different results with varying (and not always comparable) consequences. I just really dislike how “dark character” has come to equal “deep character” in the same bullheaded manner in which “grey character” has come to equal “better/best character”, or “inevitably right character”. [deleted]

  10. Everyone – I’m ending the Stain discussion now. It’s becoming clear to me that it can’t take place without spoiling stuff that hasn’t happened in the anime yet.

  11. M

    Is it just me, but I feel like Stain’s voice is way off? I feel that’s a bummer, because Stain deserves not a great, but a stellar voice.
    His current voice is simply deep; I’d imagine it to be more nuanced, sharp, cutthroat, raspy. Like with every word he speaks he’s questioning your sanity AND conviction.

  12. Z

    Deku and Ochaco with their matching gauze bumps cracked me up. Other than that, I can not speak, because I am full of spoilers and for some reason have a really hard time remembering what I only know from the manga and what has been shown in the anime with this series.

  13. Y

    Ah, the “I forgot about you…” line. I was waiting for it and I loved it. I would say “BURN”, but Endeavour’s already on fire so that’s probably moot.

  14. Well played.

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