Boku no Hero Academia Season 2 – 22

Truth be told, this wasn’t the most exciting episode of Boku no Hero Academia.  If almost had the feel of anime-original material, though that’s only partially true – these individual student-teacher exam battles do (mostly) take place in the manga too.  But most of them are pretty quickly dealt with there, where they all occur simultaneously with the main focus on only a couple of them.  I admire the anime’s decision to give more of the cast a chance to shine in this scenario, but they’ve had to do a fair amount of padding out (with the timing of the season break in mind, no doubt) in order to do so.  And somehow, there seems to be a certain spark missing in the end product.

The first battle in the spotlight this week was fan favorites Tsuyu and Tokoyami taking on Ectoplasm-sensei.  This was one of the battles that was over in a blink in the manga, but there seems to be a general trend towards giving Tsuyu more focus in the anime (she’s insanely popular, especially in the West).  Recovery Girl’s note in observing this was that it’s better to have a power that’s compatible with everyone rather than one tailored towards a specific sidekick, and Tsuyu pretty much illustrates that here.  Tokoyami’s quirk is one of those that’s insanely strong when conditions are right but has definite weaknesses – he’s a specialist of the highest order, but Tsuyu is a generalist, and that’s what saves the pair here.

Next up is Iida and Ojiro against Power Loader, another contest that’s mostly anime-original.  It’s entertaining enough, but there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of raison d’etre behind it – it’s not as if any larger lessons are taught (even by Recovery Girl), or Ojiro makes any real contribution to the team’s win.  If anything I guess the point here is to show that Tenya-kun is starting to move past his trauma from the Stain incident and get back on-track towards behing a hero his brother (and more importantly, Tenya himself) can believe in.

The most important duel of the episode is the one that most resembles its original manga length and form, and I don’t think it’d a coincidence that it was the most compelling this week.  Yaoyarozu and Shouto taking on Aizawa-sensei – there are a lot of storylines to this one, and these are three very strong (in the narrative as well as combat sense) characters.   Momo is off her game since her rather passive (and ultimately unsuccessful) participation at the sports festival, and Shouto is not someone who needs to be pushed in order to push himself – he asserts control over strategy in an almost automatic manner, and Momo allows him to do so.

This is an interesting matchup in that it highlights all the elements this test is really about.  Aizawa is all about forcing the students to confront their weaknesses, and he’s paired Momo with a very forceful (though not arrogant in a Bakugo way) personality.  He’s also matched himself up against a student in Todoroki-kun who often doesn’t sweat strategy much, because he’s so powerful he doesn’t need to.  Since Aizawa knows his students (and their weak points) better than anyone and is a master strategist himself, he’s put Todoroki in a spot where he has to rely on Yaoyarozu-san – which it really nerve occurs to him to do until he has no choice.

This is an excellent battle, and Aizawa-sensei is a great, great character – one of those Horikoshi gems that’s constantly revealing new facets the more its observed.  But the inescapable reality here is that Aizawa, in his eagerness to help Momo regain her confidence, has basically let she and Shouto win.  And Momo is smart enough to realize it, even if he tries to explain it away as a mistake in judgment in the end.  Momo clearly likes and respects Shouto (and maybe more), and I think that’s mutual – and no question his acknowledgment of her in the end will do her a lot of good.  But she and Aizawa-sensei both know the truth, and in a sense he’s done something here which could be seen as disrespectful – look at all the praise Kacchan got for not holding back against Ochako.  Mightn’t it have done more good if Aizawa had acknowledged Momo’s clever plan, but defeated her anyway?

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9 comments

  1. h

    what I like about Horikoshi that he got a great insight about his character that they feel Alive

  2. Among the more mysterious aspects of this manga is Aizawa’s weapon of choice – that seems like a Quirk of its own, but hasn’t been properly explained. No, carbon nano fibers do not behave like that. I think it’s the symptom of a bigger “disease” (using the term playfully): In a series that often revolves around the superhuman, how are fragile human bodies without enhancing quirks going to fare?

    It takes all of one millisecond of disadvantageous combat or poor judgement to get injured permanently and be put out of commission. Though Horikoshi is handling it smartly, let us take Stain’s feats: His Quirk is conditional paralysis, but his physical feats are out of this world. I think the fact that this story is set in our world is empowering; but it does have the disadvantage of ambiguity on this front. A bit of nuance is lost there, I feel… especially when it comes to combat, where Horikoshi comes up with such creative insight (e.g nitinol alloy), as seen this episode, but the human body issue is left not tackled.

  3. Well, that’s the definition of “Required Secondary Powers”, basically, as TV Tropes puts it :D. I’d say it’s just part of a larger shounen convention, that train long enough and you’ll become basically superhuman. It applies to a lot of different manga – people have stopped asking how can people be so strong and ridiculously durable in One Piece long ago, but even in ‘smaller’ contexts there’s plenty of ridiculous physical abilities. Just consider any over-the-top enough sports manga… Eyeshield 21 had a high-schooler able to crunch steel and break concrete with his bare hands just for the sake of giving a team a threatening enough linebacker.

  4. Perfectly on-point, of course. But I’d add that for me, a sports shounen and something like BnHA (or One Piece, so help us) ought to be held up to a different standard. Unless it’s a sports series that wears its ludicrousness on its sleeve like Basquash or something, I generally can’t stand anything superpowered in a sports series. Which, sadly, seems to be a problem with the majority of the ones in WSJ over the years.

  5. Well, Eyeshield 21 is extremely comedic and over the top, so I’d give it a pass. I brought it up as an example because understandably One Piece might sound a bit too out-of-this-world, being fantasy and all, whereas BnHA is overall realistic in its setting. I couldn’t think of another well-known example which has the same blend of almost real-world setting and very specialised superpowers. Minor ones could include comedic stuff like Beelzebub and Bimbougami-ga!, where “being a school delinquent” is qualification enough to tank head-on stuff that would smash a block of concrete to pieces, if the need arises.

  6. I understand this. Although, where fantasy is concerned, there is a type of internal consistency witnessed in works like Hunter x Hunter that, to me, mostly puts to rest these worries; nothing is being glimpsed over, these feats are logically coherent with the world.

    I guess this could also apply to BNHA, but since everyone in this universe is biologically a human very much like us, except with a Quirk, humans without a superhuman Quirk achieving superhuman feats somehow rubs me the wrong way.

  7. Well, HXH is very different because it has a mechanism, Nen, that accounts for the increased toughness of fighters (though their base level is still superhuman). The thing is, with series featuring “specialised” powers like MHA, that inevitably ends up leaving everyone potentially weak to ALL types of damage not covered by their ability, and usually that’s a bit too much for an action story to work well with them.

  8. You’re absolutely right, Simone. There’s little that can be done about it. That said, it still irks me a little.

    One Piece’s status quo is achieving superhumanity through training, HxH’s through genetics… BnHA is set in our world, where basically neither can happen.

    Either way, BnHA overcompensates for that by far; there’s so much this series brings, especially in the field of creative reasoning.

  9. O

    “Mightn’t it have done more good if Aizawa had acknowledged Momo’s clever plan, but defeated her anyway?” I think it’s better the way it ended because his loss to her has a believable reasoning behind it and we can tell too by the way he was thinking during the fight. There were chances where he COULD have ended it but when it came to her plan she bested him and in the end it gives his student back the confidence in herself that she needed.

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