I would say “you don’t know how much you miss a show like Boku no Hero Academia until it’s gone”, but that’s not totally true. I’m fully aware of how good this series is even as I’m watching (or reading) it. But that said, its absence last weekend did leave a rather substantial gap – I’ve become very used to Deku & Co. as a part of my routine. And it was a stark reminder that we’ll be missing BnHA in a few weeks (for about 6-9 months, I would guess). Season 3 can’t come too soon.
In the meanwhile, S2 will very likely conclude with the “Final Exam” mini-arc – which means the larger one being teased, the Training Camp Arc, wouldn’t even begin till a Season 3 (all the more evidence it is coming soon). The stakes here are fairly high, in that any kid who fails the exams doesn’t get to attend the camp. As with all Yuuei exams there are of course two parts – the written and practical. Understandably given that the latter is so much more telegenic, the written is dealt with relatively quickly – though it is rather interesting to see how everyone ranked on the midterms (a few surprises here, I would say). And we learn just how loaded (top-ranked) Yaoyorozu’s fam is – and how desperately eager she is to invite friends into her sterile home life.
It is indeed the practical exam that will consume the bulk of focus over the next few episodes, for reasons that are easy to understand once its form becomes clear. The 1-A grommets think they’ve gotten the inside track thanks to some valuable intel from a helpful 1-B sempai, but the teachers have the last laugh here. Rather than have the students fight robots, they’ll be taking on teachers – an effort to make the “practical” exam thank much more practical (a concession to the harsh realities that have lately intruded on the Yuuei student experience).
In addition to making good television, the format for this test gives Eraserhead and the rest of the faculty a chance to force the kids to confront their weaknesses – both in the way the students are paired for 2-on-1 contests against a teacher, and which teacher they’ll be forced to battle. Of ongoing concern to everyone, of course, is the enmity (to be fair, almost entirely one way) between Deku and Kacchan. As Aizawa-sensei notes, it does indeed seem to be getting worse – the superbrat Bakugo digging in his heels as Deku’s development threatens his ego that much more. I would love to say more about Kacchan here, but I think I’d better not.
Given that, it’s a given that Aizawa will pair those two up – and narrative reality demands they fight All Might (and the placement of that match in the final timeslot). The rules are pretty simple – the students must either escape, or “capture” the teacher by placing handcuffs on them. So to begin with, the students must decide which strategy they’ll employ – though there’s an interesting bit of decision-making that precedes even that. Should the students huddle with their partner to discuss strategy, or should they take the opportunity to watch the matches that precede theirs? For some (like Deku and Ochako) the decision is dictated by who their partner is, but everyone else seems to choose strategizing over observing.
It’s pretty easy to see what the thought process behind all this is, at least in-part – to act as a reminder to the students of just how far they still have to go. Even with the handicap of wearing weights the equivalent of half their body weight, the teachers are still at a considerable advantage (as the first face-off shows). A big part of this, no doubt, is testing the students’ ability to decide when to fight and when to run – a necessity highlighted starkly by the Hero Killer incident. Who will choose fight, and who flight – and what will the ultimate pairing decide to do against the ultimate hero? It’s on Horikoshi-sensei to (as usual) take what in lesser hands might be predictable and make it surprising…