There haven’t been many times when Boku no Hero Academia has been under the radar. But I think that applies to Season 6. Partly that’s because fall is loaded with hype-heavy series to say the least, but it’s also because S5 was the weakest so far. It was really hamstrung by the theatrical film – both in terms of staff and in terms of content, which it had to rejigger for the sake of the movie. As such S6 may sneak up on people, but I fully expect it to be a return to form – this is good manga material, and the demands on the staff should be somewhat more manageable.
In the meantime we have a couple of Season 5 ONAs to tide us over. These specials have been pretty hit and miss, not surprising as they’ve been all or partly original material. This was split up into two episodes and of the first – “Hero League Baseball” – well, the less said the better. To me this was by far the weakest animated material the franchise has put out – a complete waste of time, if I’m honest. And way too much Present Mic, who works much better in limited support of weightier content. And that was already more than I wanted to say.
The second episode, “Laugh! As if You Are in Hell”, was far, far better. Add a few more “fars” in there. I’d even go so far as to say it was quite a good HeroAca standalone story. Set during the Endeavor Agency arc, it finds the city being tormented by a tagger named Mister Smiley. He’s not just a graffiti artist but one with a rather powerful quirk – he can make anyone who sees his face laugh uncontrollably for two hours. This even applies to images of his face (which he can project) and and even works on robots. Endeavor is none too pleased to be asked to capture a petty criminal, but after Mister Smiley hits his house the #1 hero changes his tune.
This follows a pretty routine pattern, with Endeavor focused on using a blindfolded Bakugo to capture the tagger but Deku determined to try and win him over to the light. But seeing the quirk in action is rather fun (though Deku laughing maniacally with major head trauma is a bit disconcerting), and I quite liked Mister Smiley – and his street art – in the end. ONAs and OVAs are generally placeholders for series anime these days, and rarely tasked with doing anything more than being entertaining. The second of these two eps certainly cleared that bar, and since baseball is a theme, a .500 batting average isn’t so bad. Let’s bring on the third season, and see how BnHA does when it has to scrap for attention for the first time.