My Hero Academia season 2 and the Importance of Character Development

Sketch I did a while ago

Spoiler alert!

Generally, I think the first season of My Hero Academia is a pretty good show. Even if the last two thirds of the show are rather bad at times, especially at the end, the beginning of the show is kind of amazing. I won’t go into it too much, you’ll have to read my review to understand why I think that, but the way everything is set up is kind of masterfully done.
But even then, I was scared that I wouldn’t enjoy the second season as much. I knew it was going to be good, especially the first arc, but something felt weird.
But at one point I felt I needed to watch it again, and thank god I did!

The second season of the massively popular “My Hero Academia” continues its story after the “League of Villains” attack from the last season, where we see the cast of character in the yearly sports festival, where the students get to show their talents to professional heroes.
And that was easily the best part of the show. While it had some really well-animated fights and some cool fight choreography (mainly in the smaller scale fights, surprisingly), it was one thing that made the arc such a memorable one. And that was the character development.
I have always found character development to be one of anime’s worst quality. While there are some really good characters in anime, I don’t want to generalize an entire medium, I can’t say a majority of anime uses character development to its potential.
Since a lot of anime have a big cast of characters, many of them feel too underdeveloped. This is a problem I had with the first season of this show. While it had some great characters, like Deku, Bakugo and All Might, I found a majority of them to be very undeveloped. They were fun to watch, but that was it. It’s a 12 episode season, so I wasn’t expecting the most developed characters ever. But it was a problem I had.
And that problem was completely annihilated after this season.
I was completely amazed by how well this season developed the characters. It was fucking amazing. First, we have Hitoshi who is probably one of the best characters in the show from just one fight. Then we get Momo who has the best character arc in the entire series and Lida who shows how not all heroes are perfect and that even he can get corrupted by anger. Even Mineta shows a change in character in the last few episodes. It was completely astounding how so many boring and bland characters from last season were made into amazing ones in this season. And even though it was mostly the tournament arc that did this, the entire season had characters that would change and grow as people. They weren’t characters anymore, but actual people.
And aside from the main cast of characters, this show was able to make an actually good antagonist.
When I think of good antagonist in works of fiction, most of them aren’t from anime. I find them way too one-sided most of the time and aren’t very memorable, even the good ones. But Stain, he breaks this theme completely. He has a motivation that we can understand, and even sympathize with. It is understandable that someone would be angry that heroes have become so “unheroic”. How they have become the opposite of what they should be.
But we also root against him since he judges himself who’s a hero and who isn’t, which no one should. Cause being a hero isn’t something you can mathematically be. Someone can be a hero in someone’s eyes, and the villains in another’s. It all has to do with perspective. But he decided that he himself should be able to tell if someone is a good or bad guy. Humans are too multi-sided to really call good or bad. And I found that very interesting. You can see how the manga writer explored the character while writing him. Who is this person? That’s the question every writer should ask while writing a character to really get an answer.

Visually, I think the show has improved. While the series doesn’t have nearly as much visual comedy except for one joke that is used a little too much, you can tell the animation is more fluid when it needs to be, even outside from the many fights in the series. You can tell that there are more frames for every movement. And while I still don’t think the fights in it of itself are very exciting to watch (meaning that the animation makes it exciting, but the fight itself isn’t), they have improved significantly. I feel many of the fights that are important story-wise are pretty stale. But if we look at other smaller ones, you can tell that the art department has a lot of creativity. A few examples would be the Hitoshi fight which is very interesting even outside the writing, Bakugo vs Todoroki and the Stain fight (which is probably the best larger-scale fight of the season).

Another thing that made the show so memorable is how it is structured. While I had my problems with the beginning being a little too fast, the simple structure fits the show so well. It has three main arcs, those being the tournament arc, the Stain arc, and the exams arc. And having these three story arcs keeps the show from feeling bloated. A lot of shows pack in as much as they can in their 24 episode rundown, but none of it is memorable since they don’t take the time to make those arcs interesting. It’s something even the third season of this series struggles with (From what I remember). But since the show is so simple, it manages to not do that.
The show isn’t perfectly written of course. The dialogue is often very on-the-nose and Present Mic frequently tells the audience what someones quirk is which at times breaks the immersion while also feeling very lazy when you can do the same with subtle dialogue and visuals. But the way the characters are developed and how everything is structured makes the show very hard to stop watching. And that’s also one of the main reason why I think that it is such a good show. Cause you’re really invested in what happens, so you don’t want to stop watching. I know I said that the character development was the best part, but I think that plays a part in my investment. Cause I think a good show should be an enjoyable one. If a show has “deep” characters and a really complicated story but is hard to enjoy and stay invested in, then I don’t think that it’s a great show even if it has all the ingredients of one. And thankfully, MHA season 2 has both the ingredients of a great show while also being enjoyable as fuck. It isn’t the most unique story ever, but it’s hard not love how well it executed all the tropes we are used to seeing in these shounen shows.

Thank you for reading!

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