Image source: 僕のヒーローアカデミア_アニメ公式 on Twitter

With the U.A. High School Sports Festival in full swing in My Hero Academia Season 2, we’ve seen our protagonist Izuku “Deku” Midoria overcome each challenge with cunning rather than brute force. That makes him one of the top competitors to win the Festival among the first year students.

The U.A. High School Sports Festival is a chance for students to show off their talents to professional hero agencies. Where most agencies go scout the graduating class, this year all eyes are on the first year students after their experience in the first season fighting real villains. Now Deku has to show his prowess despite having little control of his Quirk “One For All.” So, Deku turns his brain up to 11 to survive the cutthroat challenges of the Festival.

The “brains over brawn” approach isn’t often used in action oriented shonen anime series. Seeing it in My Hero Academia, though, actually isn’t all too surprising because Deku isn’t a character who has much muscular force. True, Deku’s Quirk “One For All” grants him immense power, but he has little control over it. This means in order to stand a chance against other characters who have a better understanding of their own Quirks, Deku has to rely on superior tactics rather than take a brute force approach.

We’ve seen this come to light a few times in My Hero Academia, but it’s far more prevalent in the second season. This is because the U.A. High School Sports Festival is essentially one giant tournament that pits the students and their Quirks against each other. But, where does this leave Deku—a character who doesn’t have full control of his?

At first glance it appears as though he’s at a severe disadvantage. However, this isn’t quite the case. Its been shown a handful of times throughout the series Deku not only studies everybody’s Quirk with an unparalleled zeal, but he has a propensity to analyze the situations he’s placed in.

The “Cavalry Battle” in episodes seventeen and eighteen are an excellent example of Deku’s brains over brawn approach to the Sports Festival. Where his classmates place an emphasis on showing off their own Quirks, particularly the “rider,” Deku took the opportunity to think through the best strategy to maintain his lead. And even when Deku’s initial plan didn’t come to fruition, he quickly assessed the situation and found the solution that best fit his needs and of his teammates.

Going forward into the last bit of the U.A. Sports Festival will also prove interesting for Deku as it’s a no holds barred fighting tournament. Eventually he will have to use “One For All” against his opponents. But what will the circumstances be? Judging by what we’ve seen from Deku in the series thus far, he will still utilize a tactics oriented method of overcoming his opponents and use his Quirk in a desperate situation.

If anything, though, the fighting tournament is a prime opportunity for Deku to really study his own Quirk to bring out its full potential without ruining his body. And, if we were to take it one step further, it should also sharpen his tactical mind and add to his understanding of how he and his classmates can overcome another attack by villains.

The U.A. High School Sports Festival story arc in My Hero Academia Season 2 is really fascinating to watch in regards to Deku’s growth as a character and for what it means for the shonen action genre. In terms of Deku’s development, while he’s still struggling to keep up with his classmate’s abilities, where he lacks in controlling his Quirk, his tactical mind more than covers for it.

And in regards to how this affects the genre, it shows future anime and manga writers that a brute force approach isn’t the only way to make the heroes interesting. By making them plan out their course of action, we get to see where they fall apart and where they succeed. That, in and of itself, is a way to keep the suspense and engagement rate high for viewers. So, I really hope we see more of the brains over brawn approach to action going forward in My Hero Academia.

My Hero Academia is currently streaming on FUNimation, Crunchyroll, and Hulu.

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