“What Can I Do For Now?” and “Rage, You Damn Nerd!”
Deku has finally made it to UA but he and his class face a tough breaking in as they’re first assigned legendary hard-ass Shota Aizawa as their homeroom teacher, then have to battle each other under All Might’s direction.
After a relatively high-geared opening third, it’s only natural that My Hero Academia settles into a slightly more established pattern, particularly since we’ve now reached the titular school. It’s relatively easy to kick off an adventure series with a high-stakes conflict, but now we’ve gotten past that initial hurdle the real test of a long-form story is whether it can continue to entertain after everything new become routine. In that sense, Hero Academia shows both worrying and encouraging signs.
The worry really comes from the way the storytelling lumps up during these couple of episodes. It made sense for the show to be relatively internal and monologue heavy while it focused on Deku as its sole character, but now he’s one in a crowd you’d expect some more organic exposition and character development. Yet there’s still a lot of tortured internal dialogue that repeats itself ad infinitum, and while Deku’s struggle with control over his powers is a potent theme to tackle, it’s delivered so heavy-handedly as to be a little grating. This is particularly aggravating in episode 5, which has the disadvantage of being centred around a pretty basic premise whose ending you can see coming a mile off. We’ve previously praised the show for how it’s able to make its storytelling fresh despite the heavy use of cliched elements, but it doesn’t quite pull that off here. It’s probably because ‘secret test of character’ is one of the most predictable setups going, but also because it’s such a blatantly horrible move that it’s hard to feel any excitement as part of the process.
Fortunately, the good side of the show still outweighs the bad side considerably, and there’s a great deal to enjoy on the periphery of the main story throughout these two episodes. Undoubtedly the highlight is the introduction of the various classmates, and the test scenario is a great way to showcase their various powers and associated weaknesses. There’s perhaps a dab too much blatant exposition involved but it’s still great to see the kids flaunt their various quirks, both powers and personality. The two the show obviously wants to emphasise at this early stage are Iida and Ochaco and they’re interesting foils to Deku in different ways. Ochaco is obviously prime crush material for our adolescent hero, but her friendly, outgoing, free-for-all spirit is a great clash with Deku’s near constant nervous energy, and the two knit in a nice organic way. If they do want to start a romantic relationship between the two there’s certainly plenty of character fodder to work with. Iida meanwhile fills a dual role – he’s a chiseled slab of physical perfection who clearly represents the idealised hero student Deku so wants to be, but he’s also the naive straight-man whose slightly stuffy nature I can see being leveraged for both humour and drama. Interestingly, and unlike many versions of this character, he appears to be a decent sort out of the gate, rather than the school bully.
The issue of a lack of plot direction also looks to be one that’s swiftly resolved, as with the back half of episode 6 the show picks up the ‘Deku vs Bakugou’ thread again with a vengeance. We’ve wanted to see these two square off ever since the beginning of the series and it looks like it’s going to be in spectacularly physical style. Bakugou has done a superb job of being an incredible asshole up to this point, so I really hope they don’t soften him into a reluctant ally (as will inevitably happen) too soon, as he presents such a brilliantly hateable nemesis to Deku’s pure child mentality. I look forward to one of them being beaten to a pulp.
- Deku throws the ball exactly 0.1m further than Bakugou.
- Deku’s mother continues to stake her claim for the best anime mum award by making his delightfully low-rent costume. Bonus points for the show not falling into the easy trap of having his classmates mock it either.
- In fact, all of the costumes are super cool (with the possible exception of the girl whose entire outfit is just a boob window). Bakugou’s however stands out as one of the most inventive looks we’ve seen in quite some time.
- Super ditzy All Might continues to be a delight, what with his ultra hammy classroom entrance.