At UA Academy, not even a violent attack can disrupt their most prestigious event: the school sports festival. Renowned across Japan, this festival is an opportunity for aspiring heroes to showcase their abilities, both to the public and potential recruiters.
However, the path to glory is never easy, especially for Izuku Midoriya—whose quirk possesses great raw power but is also cripplingly inefficient. Pitted against his talented classmates, such as the fire and ice wielding Shouto Todoroki, Izuku must utilize his sharp wits and master his surroundings to achieve victory and prove to the world his worth.
I’m blitzing through this series right now and finding myself loving it even more than I did when I first watched it. Season 2 of MHA picks up not long after S1 ends. With the events of the attack on the U.S.J still looming over the school and class 1-A, a lot of great stuff happens this season. Tournaments, training arcs, big reveals, and it all ultimately asks, what does it mean to be a hero? Also, I’ll be talking about the one episode ova in this. And this review will not be spoiler free.
U.A Sports Festival
I don’t know where this tournament arc ranks among the pantheon of all-time great anime tournament arcs. It’s hard to really put my finger on it. The UA sports festival was a great way to kick off season 2. A distraction for the students and masses alike after the events of last season. A show off and scouting opportunity for the young heroes.
I love seeing other classes interact with 1-A. I know more of that is to come, but I really like the other classes in this season and understand 1-B’s in particular little brother syndrome. All the spotlight has been on 1-A because of what they’ve gone through, and because they have All Might as a teacher. So this festival was an opportunity for other classes to show up and show out and let the world know that they go to U.A too. Tetsu Tetsu, Hatsume, and Shinso were my favorites from that bunch. Shinso’s fight with Midoriya in particular was great and highlighted an interesting issue in a society where quirks exist with good and evil. And that’s prejudice. Some quirks just seem more fit for villainous deeds and that label can really stick, so I thought their fight was very powerful for what it was and showing that despite the preconceived notion of his quirk, he is very much still looking to be a hero.
As a whole though, I loved the exhibition of everyone’s powers and abilities. I love how this arc makes it a point that quirks being unrevealed is one of the biggest advantages in battle. Every show needs to take notes about that (I’m looking at you Bleach). We start to see some friend groups form among class 1-A and it’s just nice to have a fleshed out cast.
The highlight of this arc is Midoriya vs Todoroki. The fight that makes it so hard to rank this tournament arc among the greats cause while everything outside of this is pretty good. This fight rights here is all-time great. From Todoroki declaring Midoriya a rival and the man to beat from the jump to seeing the parallels between Todoroki and Endeavor vs Midoriya and All Might. Todoroki’s backstory is tragic, it hits, it works wonders for his character and his ambitions. And once again, the real hero in Midoriya shines. The climax of this fight is awe-inspiring. Midoriya helping Todoroki realize that his fire is his. It’s not his fathers (also him standing up to endeavor was awesome). And Todoroki, coming to understand that and using his full power as they both go all out, was amazing. And it also foreshadows a revelation that Deku goes through later this season and next. Just an amazing fight.
Bakugo vs Todorki was another pivotal fight character wise. Even though he won, Bakugo’s pride was once again bruised hard. I can fully understand why after seeing Todoroki go all out vs someone who Bakugo desperately wants to see as below him then not even try against Bakugo. Each arc he’s getting burned more and more and I can’t wait to see his character shift.
All in all, I loved this arc. It’s one of the peaks of the show. I didn’t even touch on some of the stuff like All might retiring soon or how great the opening and ending are, but yeah, U.A sports festival was amazing.
This season continued being great with the very next arc. The Hero Killer Stain has so many ramifications on the story as a whole it’s crazy. During the sports festival we see him make his appearance and severely wound Iida’s brother. The shift in Iida’s demeanor is tragic. For most of this arc, he was a man on a mission. He wasn’t operating with a hero’s mindset of justice, but with a craving for revenge. But before I get to the confrontation with Stain, I gotta say I love how each character went to an agency that taught them what they needed. Whether it was Bakugo needing to be more tame and hero like, or Todoroki learning from his father. The best example of this is Deku learning from All Might’s former master Gran Torino. And their training coming full circle.
Finding out All Might was also quirkless is crazy considering what he would later become, but also very inspiring for Deku. Up until this point, Deku had just been calling on his power. And the show has made a point since early in season 1 that quirks are like an extension of a person’s body. It’s just like any body part to control. So it makes sense for someone that was quirkless for most of his life to not get it. So I love when it clicked to Deku that he isn’t All Might. He can’t imitate him. He has his power, but he’s not him and also he has to think of all for one as part of his body. So the creation of full cowl was cool as hell.
Now Stain. Stain is such a great villain. His backstory draws back to U.A festival and quirks having stereotypes. His quirk of paralysis via blood ingestion feels like a villain’s quirk. In a society that worships heroes and puts them on a pedestal as these shining beacons of hope. In a society where people strive to be heroes for fame, or financial gain. To Stain what hero society has become, or to him devolved, into is there are no true heroes, except two people he deems worthy. All-Might and Midoriya. Because to him, they embody what is to be a hero. Stain speaks to a world of people, especially villains, who have grown accustomed to heroes under provisions being framed as higher powers and idolized while not having what he deems as pure intentions. His message is so powerful in and out of universe because it can apply to not only heroes in MHA but real life celebrities and politicians. It’s one that really resonates and that’s why, for such a relatively brief appearance, he is an all-time great villain to me. He is a man that single-handedly shook the foundation of the world, and I love that.
It’s really great too that three of the pro heroes that get a lot of screen time somewhat fall somewhere in Stain’s ideology. We know of Iida’s brother through his eyes, but from that, he was a true hero. We know little of Gran Torino except that he’s retired and trained All-Might, but should a hero ever stop being a hero? And then of course we know all about the cruelty and darkness of Endeavor in his attempts to seize the spotlight over All-Might. I really like the dichotomy and on a side note, while he’s an asshole, Endeavor is so cool. I haven’t really touched on how, while quirks are out there, they still have at least a base in science and I love how when his flames burn hotter they turn blue and also his flame creation ability. He’s #2 for a reason.
Rewinding a bit, hero names are another thing I enjoyed about this arc. A lot of them were funny/made sense for the characters. But I love Deku turning a name that’s used to make fun of him and call him weak and useless to his Hero name on his journey to become #1. Then also Iida not feeling like he’s great enough to take on his brother’s mantle, was heart breaking.
All in all, to this point, this is easily the best arc in the series through two seasons. Stain was an amazing villain. Seeing snippets of the other students in Class 1-A during their internships and what they learned was a nice treat. The trio of Midoriya, Iida, and Todoroki was really great. And these students are sustaining real injuries. First Midoriya, now Iida. Shoto is amazing and funny. While Stain was defeated, his voice has shook the world of MHA and that can only benefit Shiguraki. I’m excited to see it.
This arc starts off with a lot of exposition that I love. All for One and One for All are such great concepts and I love that one sprouted from the other. The idea of someone who can at will steal, store, and give (even forceably) people quirks being a villain is so insidious. Especially as he decided to work in the shadows. I love the fact that no matter what the reason was for him giving his sickly brother powers, whether it be cause he felt pity or because he wanted to enforce his will over him, he unknowingly started something that would one day rival his own power. I really love the fact that his brother knew that he wouldn’t be the one to stop him. It would take generations of passing down One for All until it was strong enough to finally defeat All for One. And All-Might telling Midoriya and us this story gives the best foreshadowing to some future events cause the symbol of peace is not long for this world and since he couldn’t defeat All for One, it’s Midoriya’s turn.
For the last arc of the season, the final exam was fun. I love when shows like this purposefully pit characters vs one another with clear disadvantages and/or learning opportunities. Bakugo and Midoriya vs All-Might was the obvious stand out. Bakugo’s pride and what seems like underlying jealousy for Midoriya is crazy. We got more backstory as to how it all started really. It’s clear, like All-Might, like Stain, like a lot of other people, Bakugo sees the true hero within Midoriya. He was one of the first people to see it. But having a cool quirk and being worshipped and held up so high from a young age, then having to be saved by someone you see as weaker, inferior, has permanently bruised his ego. Now the Midoriya is as strong as he is and only getting stronger. That disdain is growing and growing. While I always hated the bullying in season one, I still really appreciate his character and where it’s going.
The last episode of the season was amazing. I love Shiguraki. He’s such a child. We’ve seen him throw so many fits of anger over losing when he feels like he should’ve won. So the intense interaction between him and Midoriya was so so sweet. I love how he uses people’s panic against him or the fact that by the time someone came to stop him, he could kill so many people in the mall. It’s that whole you can’t save everybody thing. I love how he realizes the difference between him and Stain. Stain believes in true heros. He believed that the false ones needed to be culled to improve hero society as a whole. Shiguraki, despises heros and everything they stand for. Stain wanted to burn the rot away to once again reveal the beauty of heros. Shiguraki wants to burn everything to ash indiscriminately. I love it. You could tell he grew some insight from this conversation and I can’t wait to see him progress as character and with his plans moving forward. Also, All for One looks so eerie and menacing. Can’t wait for more of him.
Training of the Dead
This was a cool little ova. An okay zombie episode. I wish it focused on Tsu and her friendship more like it seemed to advertise. I love Tsu. She’s one of my favorite characters and from what she’s said and what was shown early in this episode, she has an interesting and somewhat stressful life that would’ve been cool to explore outside of the intro of the episode. Instead, it’s some generic kinda boring zombie thing. It was funny when All Might powered down and the zombies thought he was one of their kind. Gave me a little laugh. Overall, very skipable episode.
So yeah, My Hero Academia Season 2 was better than season one, which was already top tier. I loved all three arcs. The story and characters are progressing nicely. I know I have a lot of great content coming up in season 3 and season 4 and I really can’t wait to watch those.
My Hero Academia S2 – 10/10
My Hero Academia Training of the Dead – 5/10