Deku and Bakugou resolve their battle…sort of. Following that, we’ve got an election for class rep, then the students head off for a training exercise which goes horribly wrong thanks to the intervention of some honest-to-god villains.
Firstly, my apologies for the lengthy absence of this feature – unfortunately various real life stuff has gotten in the way over the past few weeks. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep things ticking to the end now.
It’s been an interesting couple of episodes for the show, ones that have showcased all the the abundant strengths and rather glaring weaknesses of this adaptation. Let’s start with the wrapup of the mini-arc between Deku and Bakugou, since that’s what we left off on, and it’s arguably the biggest misstep that the series has yet made.
What I remain baffled about is the show’s continued insistence on trying to portray Bakugou as a somewhat sympathetic figure. The vast majority of episode 7 is dedicated to flashbacks that seem dedicated to exploring the relationship between the two boys and their attachment to each other. Except what they really show is that basically Bakugou has been a bully and an asshole for almsot all of their lives together, and the net result is i kind of hate him more now than I did before. The ending sequence with All Might and Deku is a little more justified, and I can see what they’re trying to do here – set him up as the brooding bad boy who does things his own way and gets results. Problem is, that character archetype is so profoundly adolescent that even in a show that’s literally about adolescence I don’t really have time for it. Honestly, I think the best story to be told here is Deku realising how profoundly weird and unhealthy his Stockholm Syndrome-esque relationship with Bakugou is and kicking him to the curb in a character-building moment. After all, it’s not like he hasn’t already made some decent actual friends. Putting this little character drama on the backburner for now is a wise decision, and we’ll have to see where it goes, but I’m not super optimistic.
The other major problem that’s come to the forefront in these episodes is the show’s slow pacing. I’ve actually been enjoying the relatively relaxed way the story has unfolded up to this point but as we settle into the meat and potatoes school stuff it’s clear that there are some points where this adaptation is just dragging its heels too much. I don’t think there’d be much argument that you could have crammed episode 8 and episode 9 together into a single, much snappier 22 minutes and cut a lot of dead weight. In addition, there’s an excessive amount of ‘as you know’ exposition and a LOT of flashback and recap footage intruding, and it’s really upsetting the flow of the story. I recognise that there’s an issue with the amount of material available and that a lot of this is probably trying to line up the end of the show with the logical end of a story arc, but it’s still frustrating and makes watching the show much more of a trial than it should be.
So am I still enjoying My Hero Academia? Well, yes, absolutely. Though these issues are frustrating they do undermine the fundamental strengths of the show – delightful characters and a light playful touch with its basic material. Deku continues to be one of the most charming anime protagonists ever put on screen, his adorable social awkwardness balanced well with his more determined and inspired moments. What this series of episodes really benefits from is more focus on Deku’s classmates and the expanding staff of UA. Ochaco and Tsui get some decent screentime but the star is undoubtedly Iida, who firmly cements his place as an ensemble darkhorse with his inspired brand of stiff-necked comedy and earnestness. When you’ve got likable characters then generating entertaining stories is just a matter of putting them together in interesting ways and episode 10’s odd trio of Deku, Tsui and Mineta already shows promise on this front. The introduction of, you know, actual bad guys is also a huge step forward as we get an actual conflict to pit our heroes against, and it’s cool to see the teachers in action as well. Killing All Might is just about the most generic motive you could have gone with but that’s fine for an initial threat and at least we’ve got a cool cocktail of villains to get beaten up.
My Hero Academia continues to be a fun, fresh take on the shonen adventure staples, and though it’s a little frayed at the edges it’s delivering what I want from a show liek this – cool fights and some solid character work. As we move into what seems to be the closing stages of this season, let’s see if they can pull out the stops for a deserving finale.
- ‘Evil Iida’ is maybe the funniest thing in the whole show so far
- All Might is a terrible, terrible teacher who should probably have a much better idea of when to stop his students maybe killing each other
- Mineta’s ‘I am the pervy one!’ schtick is already lame and gross jsut a few episodes in.
- Deku’s variant outfit in his gym tracksuit is way better than his actual costume, primarily because the UA tracksuit is kind of rad anyway.
- The Principal’s introductory monologue is incredible and i can’t wait til it’s revealed he has some sort of unimaginable power.
- I really like that the show goes out of its way to point out Eraser Head’s power doesn’t work on people whose Quirks are inherently part of their physical make up. It’s a small but nerdy touch that comic geeks like me will adore.