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Boku no Hero Academia Season 7 – 01

OP: “Ta ga Tame (誰我為)” by TK from Ling tosite sigure (TK from 凛として時雨)

To call Boku no Hero Academia an old friend at this point would be an understatement. Six seasons, six appearances on the LiA Top 10 list – no other franchise can match that. A premiere of a new season of BnHA (I’m not going to count those recap episodes) is always an event. The manga has actually seen sales increase over the last several volumes, which is almost unheard of for a shounen of this age. Another theatrical film is due this summer, and the previous three have all earned big money. The number of animanga properties that can match HeroAca’s worldwide penetration could probably be counted on one hand.

As always with this series, though, it’s complicated. We don’t know the episode count, and we’ve seen both one and two-cour seasons before. Presumably it will be two at 20-22 eps, since a one “cour” season would only be 8 or 9. One or two, it won’t be the final season with close to 100 chapters unadapted and no official end date announced for the manga (though it seems to be close). But looming over us is the spectre of Shueshia’s recent inclination to “finish” their kaijuu series (like Haikyuu) in movie form. And speaking of movies, in the past when production on them has overlapped with production on the TV series – as is the case with this season – the series’ production values have suffered.

Nakayama Naomi has been brought in to support Nagasaki Kenji as director this time – she’s worked on several prior seasons, though not in the director role – and has a good resume behind her. That should help. The elephant in the room is the material itself, and it’s fair to say that’s a bit of a wild card. The fact that what’s coming has been highly controversial among manga readers might seem inconsistent with those strong volume sales, but when you consider that Boku no Hero Academia’s Japanese fanbase is unrelentingly negative even by battle shounen kaijuu standards, it’s not really a surprise.

We pick up the action more or less where it was left off. That is, Deku is taking some R & R at Yuuei whether he wants to or not. He absolutely needs it, and his friends are justifiably taking the decision out of his hands. All Might is, as we know, a spent force as a combat figure at this point. Japan is reeling from the fruits of All For One’s subversive campaign, its top heroes battered and exhausted. Toshinari puts in a call to his American disciple, the U.S.A.’s top hero Star and Stripe. And despite the hesitation of the U.S. military which she theoretically answers to, Star and Stripe is not about to leave a plea from her master unanswered.

Shigaraki is the focal point of the war in the field, but his consciousness is still being subverted by All For One. All For One tells Spinner – who’s emerged as a new symbol of the revolution the Paranormal Liberation Front was trying to achieve – that winning this war and stealing One For All once and for all is the “mid-game” of his strategy. If there’s anything essentially true about All For One, it’s his name – everything he does is ultimately about him. That’s something everyone who works for him finds out sooner or later.

Star and Stripe and her stealth bomber squad head for Japan in defiance of orders, and Shigaraki is there to meet them. They’ve had some warning about what to expect with him, and he knows something of her quirk as she’s made little attempt to hide it. But this is really our first look at “New Order“. It’s a hell of a thing, too – sometimes heroes (or villains) in this mythology rise to the top based more on their will and smarts than their quirk, but her quirk is a whopper. She can manipulate two things, living or inanimate, to her will. Only two at once, and one is always herself. That still leaves her a lot to work with, and the attacks she launches against Shigaraki would certainly be enough to destroy most villains.

Shigaraki is, of course, not most villains. And not for the first time his identity disorders work to his benefit here, as one of the limits of Star and Stripe’s quirk (and there are always limits) is that she must touch and say the name of whatever she manipulates if it’s a living being. No such limits exist as far as the inanimate of course, and that’s the direction Star and Stripe goes when she realizes that she can’t use what she thinks is Shigaraki’s name to control him. She has one more ace in the hole, too – a supersonic missile called Tiamat, courtesy of Uncle Sam.

While there’s no question HeroAca can be a frustrating series at times, I’m always glad to have it back. It remains, for me, the best of the younger generation of WSJ behemoths – the most thoughtful, the most nuanced, the smartest in the way it deconstructs both the American superhero mythology and modern Japanese society. Horikoshi Kouhei never plays it safe, and sometimes in pursuing big ideas he stumbles. But in a landscape littered with bland shounen kaijuu with limited artistic ambition, I’ll take that trade-off any day of the week.

ED: “Tsubomi (蕾)” by Omoinotake

The post Boku no Hero Academia Season 7 – 01 appeared first on Lost in Anime.

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