Visualist x 100!! – My Hero Academia Season Three: Episode 18

My Hero Academia - Episode 56 - Kaminari

Part of me wonders this week if maybe Kapodaco and I are both just really cynical people given the team pulling together and happy endings aren’t really working for either one of us here. Then again, maybe we’ve just been spoilt by previous arcs in My Hero Academia and now we’re wanting more. Either way, this is what we thought of episode 18. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

My Hero Academia Episode 56 - Bakugou

Kapodaco:

About two months ago, the first major trailer for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate proudly proclaimed, “Everyone is Here!” My Hero Academia decided that sounded awesome, so they made everyone pass this latest test. In short, it didn’t have quite the impact the former announcement had.

I honestly think this is a missed opportunity. Why does everyone need to pass? Now I’m convinced that everyone will pass regardless. All the characters we’ve come to love (Iida) and loathe (Mineta) will all pass because plot armor, probably. There’s still one more test(?) to go, so maybe not everyone will pass, but I think it’s likelier than not.

Why not have everyone pass? I think it could go for good writing material. While not unique or new, those who don’t could use it as growing material. Let’s say Iida decided to sacrifice himself for the rest of the class. How would he react to being put behind? How would he deal with being on the sidelines while watching everyone else advance? Would he be okay with it knowing of his sacrifice, or would it eat at him inside? And what of those on the other side? Would they try and fight harder in Iida’s honor? Would they take advantage of his kindness and rub him the wrong way? The potential storylines are plentiful. Instead everyone wins and all is good and happy. It feels a little… childish, I think.

My Hero Academia Episode 56 - Pigeon attack

What’s done is done. Everyone has passed, as well as some important(?) characters shown before and during the first test. In terms of the episode’s content, there were some nice moments to them. Bakugo acknowledging Midoriya’s worth was a nice moment. Everyone beginning to get together and celebrating was nice. Mr. Naval Laser has a very rare humane scene. People do feel important here. As for the rest, it’s kind of like last episode, except the fight scene is shorter and the rest is baiting emotions by wiggling the possibility of not everyone passing. Speaking of that fight scene, there was too much “This is how it was done!” talking, like last episode. Filler dialogue. Ick.

I’d say this is better than last episode, but only barely. It’s still around the zip code of “Fine” and nothing more. With the potential of not everyone passing being used as a threat, only to have everyone pass anyway, it felt a little anticlimactic. But the small moments of character interaction were enough for me to remain interested even when what was happening onscreen was very… talkative. Bring on the rescue squads.

My Hero Academia Episode 56 - Celebrations

Karandi:

I’m with Kapodaco here in that everyone passing just doesn’t have much impact. While there was at least the possibility of failure being wiggled about in the previous episodes, by the midway point of this episode it was more or less a foregone conclusion that they weren’t going to let anyone from UA actually fail and then it was just a matter of waiting for it to happen. From a plot point of view it is a lost opportunity and worse, the execution has done little to elevate what is a pretty standard arc to anything particularly memorable.

However, this episode was better than last week. Kaminari, a character I usually don’t think much about, gets a fairly decent moment in this episode as does Aoyama (though there are some interesting implications from his behaviour that I hope get followed up on).

I’ll even give Uraraka and Sero some credit for that great plan to catch the others that they came up with more or less without Midoriya’s input. But like with other character moments that have come out of this test, this one builds on something we saw during the previous tournament where Uraraka refused Midoriya’s plan to come up with one on her own. While it is great for cohesion that we see this idea continue to play a role in her character development, when there is nothing else on offer it doesn’t feel like the most satisfying payoff from an episode.

My Hero Academia Episode 56

Then we have the brief but fairly important interaction between Midoriya and Bakugou. A moment of acknowledgement as well as a moment where Bakugou shows us once again he does think and put things together and coupling this scene with his previous moments when All Might essentially passed the torch, even if it hasn’t been explicitly said I think we can conclude that Bakugou has figured everything out. That said, did we need the flash back to Midoriya slipping up earlier when talking to Bakugou? Scenes like that make me feel like the writers don’t trust the audience at all and it really broke the flow of the moment. If they absolutely had to include a flash back it should have been sandwiched in at the start of the episode with all the other recap stuff to remind us this was a thing and then we could have just enjoyed the scene for what it was without intrusion.

Despite all of that, the episode was a slight improvement on last week and I am kind of interested in the rescue test because to be honest that seems like the more common work a hero should be doing. Helping people rather than beating them up.

My Hero Academia Episode 56 - Midoriya

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Thanks for reading and be sure to check out Kapodaco’s blog next week when we review episode 19.

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Friday’s Feature: Baiting the Hook

There’s been a lot already said about the proliferation of anime, seasonal watchers, and the general idea that there’s just too much content so I’m really not going to get into that. However, in that sea of content, creators know they have to get the attention of their very fickle audience and then they have to catch us and reel us in. Mostly because seasonal watchers tend to demonstrate a number of common traits: a short attention span and limited tolerance for ‘filler’.

While previously shows have had episodes to build a world and characters, now many viewers make snap judgements with some cutting episodes before the first scene is done. Where the three episode rule used to hold true, and current narratives seem to be well aware of such a rule with more and more shows either moving a mini-climax to episode two or making episode 3 a two-parter to draw their episode back (How Not To Summon A Demon Lord), less viewers seem to actually hold to this rule these days. To be honest, they just don’t want to sink an hour of their lives into something they are ultimately going to drop.

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As such we are getting more and more first episodes and more and more characters with quite distinct traits designed to draw the audience in with the hope that then the rest of the story will hook the in for the season. While sometimes this works beautifully as the audience is dragged along on a wondrous adventure before being cut loose to go and bite some other line, other times it leaves the audience feeling like they got reeled in and left high and dry.

This isn’t exactly new. Entertainment has always been competitive and most shows have always realised they needed something to distinguish themselves from other titles. Yet in the age of streaming and simulcasts this has become more important than ever and it is starting to show in the way first arcs are feeling more and more compacted and rushed and mid-seasons are feeling a little bit empty before we escalate toward a climax.

Now, there are some obvious baiting moves. If we look at Darling in the Franxx, well we already know how they baited their hook, the glorious Zero-Two. She was such an energetic enigma of a character in the first episode. Throw in some nudity, a bit of danger, and a sense of her rebellious nature, and you have the perfect bait for a community to go crazy on social media. And so they did. I also really loved Zero-Two’s initial characterisation particularly the way they built up the idea of her being a partner killer. However, this was definitely a case of bait and switch as little came of the partner killer idea beyond the first arc and Zero-Two became a progressively less interesting character as the season continued.

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Clearly the writers knew how to grab the audience’s attention but then they didn’t know what to do with it. They’d created this perfectly researched, tantalising character, but had no message, point, or even solid arc for her to travel on. By the time she literally became a hollow shell before turning to stone while staring at the sky a lot of the love for Zero-Two had worn down and many viewers realised that they’d been hooked onto a show that ultimately didn’t suit them and what they wanted from an anime.

Other obvious baiting moves include the flash forward or flash back to some kind of massive conflict that may or may not become relevant later. The issue with this is it has been done to death and when done poorly, it mostly just eats up screen time with characters no one knows running around or shouting and there’s little reason to care what is going on (Lord of Vermilion – looking at you right now). However, this can be highly effective bait.

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Look at the opening sequence to season one of Attack on Titan. The birds slowly flying over the city to the wall where we suddenly see the titan emerging. The close ups on the character’s eyes as they widen in fear and horror. This sequence is brief enough that it doesn’t feel like wasted time and yet sensational enough to have an impact. The audience wants to know. When is this going to happen? What happens next? And fortunately, Attack on Titan knew what to do after baiting the hook. It delivered the titan by the end of the episode. No waiting an entire season just to get back to the original bait. For all that Attack on Titan might be criticised for some of its narrative choices, it knew exactly how to capture an audience and that really explains why its popularity exploded the way it did, even if the longevity of that massive fan-base wasn’t so set in stone.

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However, bait isn’t limited to first episodes. Supporting characters introduced later in their series need bait as well otherwise they get crowded out or forgotten. There are many shows where viewers would struggle to name any of the support characters even a month after the show finished its run. Yet a memorable support cast can really elevate a viewing experience.

That word memorable might be a bit of a double edge sword though with some shows simply giving characters insane designs or making them needlessly crazy but forgetting to actually characterise them in any meaningful way. The Musicians from Caligula would fit this bill. They were definitely visually distinct and yet their characters rang very hollow and ultimately I couldn’t tell you anything about any of them, except one of the guys had some complex about another guy being prettier than him. That isn’t exactly leaving an impression.

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My Hero Academia excels at building its support cast and baiting their individual story-lines so that when the main narrative turns its attention to one of these characters it doesn’t feel like filler but rather like a much anticipated story thread. Who didn’t want to know the story behind Todoroki’s scarred face? Who isn’t curious about Tokoyami’s dark shadow? And let’s be honest, if Twitter is anything to go by, Tsuyu is a character who has captured all the fan’s attention and the filler episode of season 2 was entirely a show about everyone’s beloved Froppy. These characters each have something about them that makes the audience want to know more and feel satisfied when they finally get it. They are talked about almost as much as the protagonist’s, and they are an intrinsic part of what makes the show feel like more than what the basic narrative of Midoriya becoming a hero really should warrant.

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When a show does baiting right the audience feels satisfied and happy with the experience. When the baiting is just that and there’s no substance to back it up, then the audience feels cheated. When the baiting is poorly done the audience looks at the hook and then turns away looking for something better.

Of course, that does leave us all with the question of whether or not this is going to have a positive impact on how stories are told? While grabbing a reader’s attention has always been an important goal for a story, usually there was more time to do this. As we get increasingly more gimmicky, more violent, more zany and more over the top premises clamouring for our attention (and longer and longer titles on light novels) you have to wonder where it is all going and whether we’ve already gone too far. Has narrative integrity been abandoned for a series of point in time sensational moments that will be shared on social media?

The more cynical would say yes, but that is ignoring some fairly fantastic stories that have come out in recent times. However, there is definitely a shift occurring in the way stories are presented and as always it is the audience driving this shift, whether we’re doing it intentionally or not.

Over to the readers then: What is the worst bait an anime has used to hook its audience?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Friday’s Feature: Appreciating the Transformative Journey of All Might’s Character

I’ve been wanting to write a bit more about My Hero Academia for awhile now but have been tossing up how to approach it. The last time I explored this issue I looked at the idea’s characters such as All Might and Stain represented within the context of My Hero Academia in Friday’s Feature: Not a Character, an Idea.

And after much contemplation I’ve returned to All Might, because as of episode 15 in season 3, the main theme that continues to capture my attention in My Hero Academia is this idea of what happens when a society is built around a single pillar and that pillar cracks or falls.

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In my previous post I looked at the fact that All Might’s deteriorating condition was ultimately worse than if he took a fatal hit. While dying in the line of duty would be tragic for All Might and those close to him, for the world it would leave a lasting symbol that could not be tarnished by reality. However, season three chooses to push further with the idea of revealing to the world the very human weakness of All Might and his final moments as a hero are put on display in the most public of ways.

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This serves multiple purposes outside of just being another plot point on the road to Midoriya rising as a hero.

Firstly, the audience is already aware of All Might’s condition the consequences of him using his power the way he does in the fight with All For one. The audience, and Midoriya, have been in on this secret for two and half seasons and finally all of the characters inside the My Hero Academia world are in on it too. And their reactions are interesting.

For the police and law enforcement it immediately becomes a crisis of how to keep things standing when the central pillar has been removed. We see the awareness that they now have that the way their society was structured, around a single individual held up as a larger than life symbol, was inherently flawed. Something that should have been obvious from the beginning given even All Might had admitted he couldn’t save everyone because he couldn’t get to everyone, and yet the basic premise of this society is that All Might’s mere existence kept villains in check.

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The reaction of the public initially was more positive than anticipated, mostly because of the feat All Might had just pulled off and the fact that the public weren’t yet aware that All Might wouldn’t be fighting again. However, the ongoing reaction to this change in the world has yet to be seen, though if My Hero Academia’s history can be counted on, I’m certain that we’ll eventually see this idea explored further.

For the students with their ambitions to be heroes it brought home the reality they were entering into. While Midoriya was already aware of All Might’s secret, the sheer weight that fell on his shoulders in All Might’s final moments was phenomenal and while the other characters in the series may not be fully aware of the implications of All Might’s ambiguous message, Midoriya certainly was.

My Hero Academia - Your Turn 2

My Hero Academia - Your Turn

And let’s consider that message. All Might wasn’t just talking to Midoriya, even though his message to Midoriya was clear. For his whole life, All Might has lived as a symbol, and even at the end he passed the torch of preserving the peace not just to Midoriya, but to everyone who was watching and everyone who had ever been inspired by him. He made a call to action to uphold the justice he had protected for so long and he made it in one of the most dramatic ways possible on the battlefield with the dust barely settled.

Now, All Might’s survival at this point contradicts the basic idea of passing the torch and the like in that as a mentor you would think his role was pretty much done and in most shonen or fantasy stories it would be. He had found his successor who had that one quality he was seeking. He had set that student on their path. While the student wasn’t yet ready, All Might’s death would definitely have stirred Midoriya to greater heights and levels of determination and it would have been a nice clean break.

We should have known My Hero Academia would take the general mentor archetype and push it that little bit further. Because what do you do with a living legend who has outlived their use as a symbol? What do you do with someone who was once the greatest who is now essentially without a quirk and weak?

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In the follow up episodes to All Might’s chilling victory, we see that he himself is working to find a new place in the world for himself. He isn’t just passing a torch to Midoriya and checking out. He is aware of how far the road still is for the young student and he is determined to help him all the way. And it isn’t just Midoriya. Again we see that All Might really does have a wide view of people and it is all of the students that All Might has turned his attention to, even while he does still work to see Midoriya master his quirk.

One of the very nice touches amidst training episodes was when All Might visited the training centre and spoke with each student. He didn’t give direct answers but used his vast experience as a hero to guide each student in small ways to an answer. This by itself was a great moment as it showed us exactly what All Might does have still to offer in this world: knowledge of what it is like to be a hero. However, once again My Hero Academia didn’t leave this moment at just this, it then showed us through Aizawa that All Might had a book in his back pocket about teaching.

It is a small detail and a very small scene in a much larger narrative and yet it speaks volumes. All Might himself is at a loss after a lifetime of being a hero. He knows what he wants to do now and that is to prepare these kids for a future that is looking bleaker by the minute, but it is a different skill set to the one he is used to using. But All Might isn’t afraid to look at his own weaknesses and work to overcome them. While he may now be physically weak (and I’m still guessing that at some point he is going to pass on) his mental fortitude and resilience are top notch. He’s finding other ways to contribute and to meet his goals.

Despite that, very soon after Bakugo unleashes an attack that sends a rock hurtling toward All Might. While he is defended by Midoriya, the reality that he is now someone who people feel the need to protect hits home. We see a very small All Might standing alone as this realisation really sinks in. While he doesn’t see himself as weak, he realises that this is how he is now viewed and while he doesn’t resent being rescued, it is a hard mental shift to make.

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All Might’s fate is something that I’m watching very closely because I really am curious to see how this world will react to their fallen symbol in the long-term. I’m curious as to whether All Might can maintain his optimism and continue to focus on the future without succumbing to bitterness at what he has lost. I’m curious as to how his colleagues will react to him as he is a living reminder of their own human frailty.

All Might’s character journey has so far been one of the truly stand out things about My Hero Academia. While a shallow glance at this character might make him seem like a Superman rip-off there’s some complexities to his character that make him truly interesting. However the best thing about All Might is that even when he was the symbol of peace, the audience was always in on his hidden secret and that made him always seem very human. And it is the human aspect of his character, rather than the heroic ones, that make him memorable as he continues on his journey however long or brief that journey may be (no spoilers if you’ve read the source).

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What do you think of All Might’s journey as a character over the two and a half seasons of My Hero Academia?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime School Uniforms

I’m thinking most of you have never had the misfortune of going to a school in Queensland and wearing what are arguably some of the worst school uniforms in existence. Mostly because most schools go for cheap and affordable with easy substitutions and rather than actually looking in any way respectable, most uniforms end up looking like everyone just decided to throw the same black or maroon shorts on and a polo shirt and off they went (yes there are some schools, particularly private ones, that do in fact have decent uniforms, but they are not the majority). Which probably explains why I became fascinated by school uniforms in anime because they always look totally adorable and like something I would have loved to wear day in day out (maybe if I’d actually been asked to I’d feel differently).

So the end of this long preamble is that here is my list of top 5 anime school uniforms that I would personally have wanted to wear. With that said, I’d love to know which uniforms have caught your eye in anime.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Honourable mention: Another

Number 5: Sword Art Online

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Seriously, look at how cute those uniforms are. Firstly there’s the colour scheme with the fairly dark and plain colour with white accents and gold buttons and emblem. It is fantastic. Not too flashy, but quite flattering to most people. I also love the blue cross pattern on the collar giving it just that little bit extra and the red ties/bows just finish off the look. I know you can’t see it in the image, but Asuna pairs hers with white stockings and black shoes and to be honest looks fabulous. I would have loved this kind of uniform at school.

Number 4: My Hero Academia

My Hero Academia - Uniforms.jpg

Once again I like the reasonably plain grey colour with the green trims and gold buttons. It has the look of a uniform without being too plain and the colour is reasonably suitable for most people. The red tie again makes a nice contrast and I like that Uraraka gets to wear a tie as well and not a bow or ribbon as many female uniforms do. My Hero Academia looks pretty classy with this uniform, but we tend to spend more time watching the kids in their sports uniforms rather than this one.

Number 3: Code Geass

Code Geass - Uniforms.jpg

Okay, if I’m practical and brutally honest, I probably wouldn’t wear this uniform given the short skirt length for the girls, but still, look at how adorable that is. The yellow and green contrast really nicely, the belt gives it some great shaping, and all and all it just looks really adorable. The male uniform is definitely the nicer of the two, though that’s probably just my preference for both the colour and the fact that they are wearing long pants.

Number 2: Vampire Knight – Day Class

Vampire Knight - Uniforms.jpg

Super, super, super cute. While I didn’t love Vampire Knight as a show (certainly enjoyed it and enjoy making fun of it), the uniforms at Cross Academy are to die for (or at least the day class is). The super cute black blazer with white accents, the red bow, the knee socks, everything about this uniform is adorable and there are so many little details to it. A friend of mine cosplayed as Yuki at one point and ordered a costume and the sheer amount of detail on that uniform is just crazy. Absolutely love it and would love it to be a real uniform.

Number 1: Inu X Boku SS

Inu x Boku - Uniform.jpg

While I know for an absolute fact I could never wear this uniform, both because of the short skirt and because I just lack the shape to really pull it off, I totally fell in love with this look when watching the anime. I really relate to Ririchiyo’s character and this uniform is kind of superb. It’s like if there was a fantasy version of me going to a fantasy school, this would be the uniform I’d want that version of me to get to wear. The colour scheme, those shoes, the style, it is absolutely divine and I love it.

Okay, now that I’ve admitted I have no actual taste, what uniforms out there have you fallen in love with?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Visualist x 100!! – My Hero Academia Season Three: Episode 16

The higher they rise the harder the fall I guess. In the grand scheme of things I’m guessing this episode wasn’t actually that bad and yet as both Kapodaco and I will lament, it doesn’t have any of the spark that made My Hero Academia appealing in the first place.

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Kapodaco:

Last week there was some disagreement between Karandi and I about the importance of stakes within the episode that either perturbed or held stable our confidence with the events moving forward. This week I have a feeling that our mindsets will be a little more in sync.

To start with the point, this episode was rather weak. Do you see what I did there? I got to the point very quickly. This episode did not. While the stakes were visibly set by the tone of the episode, on a more practical level, not much really happened in this episode. The first three minutes consisted of the OP and a recap of the last episode. The next four minutes consisted of a lot of talking and introduction of new characters from other schools. Then for the rest of the episode, it inconsistently displayed actual plot and random flashbacks. If one were to dissect this episode specifically for new content integral to the pursuit of progressing the events that are occuring, one would end up with only a little.

The heroes of U.A. are now separated, save Midoriya, Ochaco, and that tape dude, whose name escapes me. Midoriya has had one hit to his “weak points,” meaning he only has two left before he’s knocked out. (Calling it now: he’ll get hit again next episode and will live life on the edge until the exam ends.) Todoroki’s solo act may come back to haunt him. That one crazy dude who pounded his head into the dirt eliminated 120 people to pass the exam. That’s all that really happens in twenty minutes. How is this so? Because this episode sure loves to TALK.

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This ended up being one of the rare times when I began to realize I was watching Shounen. For those unaware, Shounen is one of my least favorite anime genres usually, due to the overused tropes attributed to the genre that wear thin on me very quickly. One of those tropes consist of filler dialogue, which only serves to delay progress and further ruminate the bad (and occasionally good) situations the character(s) is currently facing. This is the red flag for this episode: there is a lot of filler dialogue. Midoriya overthinking every action and explaining the stakes with each movement, characters from other schools saying the same thing over and over again/stating the obvious, the exam announcer continually telling people to hurry up (it’s always funnier the fifth time), and so on. And as if the writer is mocking us, it’s announced later on that 54 of the 100 people who are allowed to pass have already passed! We have seen one instance of a character passing! Can we, y’know, see more of that, please?

There’s even some sexual tension in this episode provided by a new character whom tape dude refers to as “The molester.” A female student from another school who revels in physical contact and intimate speech (for whatever reason) who’s responsible for Midoriya’s first “strike” or what-have-you. She also falls victim to filler dialogue (“I really wanted to talk to you more~ <3” ), as well as providing sexual fan service because… why not, I guess? Give credit to where it’s due, though: Midoriya could’ve reacted with a blushing face and an adolescent freak-out, but he held firm knowing the danger of her actions. Kudos. Even so, it felt a little out of place and self-indulgent. We’ll have to see if it has any significance in the future.

So when My Hero Academia, which has been pretty good about steering clear of tired Shounen tropes for a long while, begins to incorporate tired Shounen tropes into its episodes, color me concerned. All I can hope for now is that they’ll make the pacing a little better by, uh, doing something more in twenty minutes that could be done in five. Karandi was correct to be concerned last week, though perhaps not for this very reason.

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Karandi:

I hate it that I was right. This is more or less what I thought the sports tournament was going to turn into and it is the kind of thing I hate most about the shounen genre. As Kapodaco pointed out, we could more or less eliminate all but maybe five minutes of this episode in the future and it wouldn’t appreciably change anything. We literally learned nothing new about the main cast, the introductions to other characters aren’t going to stick even if they are by some miracle relevant in later arcs, and the fights themselves were not spectacular enough to make up for the deficit in character and plot.

By the half-way point of this episode I was feeling just a little bit bored, and that boredom turned a little into annoyance by the commentator. I don’t know if the writer actually thought it was funny to have the commentator bored by the action. However, when I’m already bored and a character who is in the show is watching the action and is pointing out that they just want it all over and done with, all that does is make me wonder why they didn’t just skip over something that is clearly dull to be a part of.

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Realistically we could have just skipped this sequence. Had the opening confrontation and then skip to the announcement of those who passed the test. I mean, there is a tiny possibility that they’ll pull some actual character growth out of this but it is going to have to be something pretty special to make me feel that this was anything other than fluff to fill pages and an excuse to introduce all new super powers.

For me this episode is probably the low point of this series so far and I’m really hoping it isn’t a sign of the direction this franchise is going. My Hero Academia won me over back in season one despite the fact that I was pretty determined not to like it but now here we are and I’m watching an episode that is devoid of any of the thematic or character moments that would make me sit up and take notice.

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Thanks for reading and be sure to check out Kapodaco’s blog next week when we review episode 17.

Visualist x 100!! – My Hero Academia Season Three: Episode 14

Season 3 may not have started with a bang but it took us where we needed to go and All Might is now officially retired. So as we move into the second cour with a new opening and a new direction, what does My Hero Academia have to offer us in episode 14? Kapodaco and I share our thoughts on this latest instalment.

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Karandi:

This is an episode that starts out feeling like a lot of exposition and talking heads, but by the end brings itself together in a meaningful enough way that it works. Once again though, this is an episode that will work much better in a marathon viewing session rather than as an individual episode as there’s a lot of standing around and talking and the kids once again working on their powers.

What does sell the episode, is Midoriya. All Might calls him out on the blatant imitation we’ve seen from him so far and gets him thinking about alternatives. Admittedly, for someone who has seemed to be as observant and cluey as Midoriya it takes him a long time to actually get the hint and it actually comes from an outside source before he finally figures it out, but it is an important character moment for him (much like when he did his internship and finally learnt ‘full cowling’.

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It is also good to see Iida, Midoriya, and Uraraka back together as it has been awhile since the three friends have actually just been able to be in the same sequence together without the rest of the group. It hadn’t actually really sunk in until this episode, but despite how close these three became in season one and some of the moments shared in season two, this season has had little of this grouping at all as the focus of the show has been elsewhere.

We do also get to see All Might moving firmly into the role of mentor and teacher now that his hero days are done. The transition is a little awkward for him, as you would expect, but small details like the book in his pocket, make it all kind of endearing.

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I definitely liked this episode more than the last one, I think it was an important transition point for the series and the characters and where they are going (I didn’t even mention that Bakugou is now more effective at blowing things up), but at the same time I still feel this anime is better when the stakes are real and it deals with real world consequences and this episode was kind of devoid of both so while there was fun to be had I still kind of feel like this is an intermission while I wait for things to get going again.

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Kapodaco:

I feel like I’m back in 2017, ‘cause this episode gave me serious season one vibes. Kids training on ultimate moves (something I feel should’ve been done earlier), kooky antics with Iida, Ochaco, and Midoriya, and Bakugo blowing stuff up! Again! Even the tone of the episode felt that way; not too serious, but enough to feel as though hero progress is being made from a number of students.

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But am I the only one who literally thought, first thing after Midoriya said “My arms are kind of ticking time-bombs right now,” “Why not just use your legs?” They try and make it into some big reveal at the end that Midoriya had never considered that alters his fighting style towards a different direction—which I get for the sake of distinguishing himself from All Might—but it’s so stupid. Why would you not immediately think “Can’t use my arms much. Let’s use my legs!” Midoriya saying “It was so simple I never considered it” is not an excuse. It’s really dumb.

That is, however, my biggest complaint of the episode, which seems pretty trivial to other criticisms I’ve had of this season’s run. I enjoyed the focus back to genuine development of powers, and there were certain things that were shown that would be interesting to see in future combat. Such as Tokoyami’s new ability to surround himself with his shadow for close-range combat. That’s pretty neat! Wonder if he could use that at night considering what occurred to him in the first six episodes. And of course, Bakugo’s already thought up seven-hundred ways to blow things up.

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For me, the highlight of this episode was Hatsume, despite the fact that the jokes attributed to her appearance (ahhhh, boobs and fondling) weren’t funny at all. I was actually kind of fascinated with her in the second season when she was “fighting” with Iida, so it’s exciting to know that we may see more of just what the hell is wrong with her. People don’t just get that self-absorbed and oblivious by nature (Right?). I wanna see some chance of development for her. That, and it’d be really cool to see if she could adequately improve the efficiency and sleekness of the heroes’ quirks/uniforms.

A solid episode, though not riveting. It was more a blast from the past, as it felt like these kids hadn’t been involved in a training session in forever. While still technically a downtime episode, it did introduce a number of things to look forward to for me. We’ll see how it goes going forward.

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Thanks for reading and be sure to check out Kapodaco’s blog next week when we review episode 15.

My Hero Academia Series Review

This is a re-post. All reviews from the 2nd of July until the 7th of July will be reruns. New episode and series reviews will resume on the 8th of July.

Overview:

In a world where almost everyone has a quirk (superpower), Midoriya finds he is the exception. That doesn’t stop him from dreaming big and working toward his goal of being a hero. Along the way, he meets his idol (All Might) and through demonstrating heroic spirit convinces All Might to assist him in achieving his goal and is ‘given’ a quirk. From there we transfer to a school for heroes and meet a cast of interesting characters with interesting quirks and begin the journey forward.


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Review:

My Hero Academia is as cliché as they come and yet proves, once again, you don’t need to be original to be interesting. Rather than worrying about amazing plot twists or unconventional story-telling, My Hero Academia works to its strengths. The first few episodes deal with Midoriya working toward his goals and how he gains a quirk (as well as his relationship with Bakugou which is clearly going to be an ongoing thing) and then we shift to the school.

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The thing about moving into a high school setting is that the story for a while feels even more contained than it was. We meet the strict teacher and get the threat of expulsion if you don’t score well, and the usual rivalries between students, and it all seems pretty safe because as if the teachers are going to let it go too far. The third act however, brings in an outside threat and really ramps up the action for the series end.


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All and all, this show kind of understands pacing and realises that most of us don’t have all that much of an attention span so points are introduced, developed over an episode or two, and then we move to the next set piece. It isn’t deep story telling by any means but it keeps it fun. And the movement forward is always logical. We don’t have a whip-lash effect as we jump all over the place but rather we progress to what might logically happen next to a wannabe hero.

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I’m not going into an in-depth analysis of this. I started it late because I’m not that in to superhero stories and thought I’d hate this. Instead, I’ve smiled and pleasantly enjoyed episode after episode, but I haven’t really thought about it or tried to analyse it. I’ve just watched (something that future seasons of the show would address as I started to get more and more drawn into this world and realised how carefully crafted the setting really has been).

So the strengths and weaknesses are the same. It is an old story but it’s told well. We have an interesting cast, but few of them get enough time to really develop in any meaningful capacity. We have some great action, with more or less predictable results. There are some super cool powers in this show, but again with such a large cast very few of these ever get a chance to really be explored (with the exception of All Might and Midoriya).

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It’s bright and colourful and the music works.  If you are generally into super-heroes or kids with powers or just like action sequences, you will probably enjoy this. If you are in the mood for something fun and pleasant that you don’t have to think too hard about, you will probably enjoy it. If you’re over the good guys are good for the sake of it or are wanting a bit more of a commentary on the hero genre, this one is probably not for you.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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And Now… The Results of the Worst of Spring Reader’s Poll Are Here!

If you missed it, the best of the Spring 2018 season reader poll results can be found here.

For those who are new to my end of season awards, I’ll just remind you that worst of the season is a slightly misleading term given I ask people to vote for a show they didn’t drop but was the worst thing they actually watched. That means there are plenty of anime out there that never get voted for that are significantly worse because people have simply dropped them without completing them.

First up, my choices for worst of the season.

Worst Story – Tokyo Ghoul: Re

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It seemed mean to give it to Record of Grancrest War considering it already won this ‘honour’ at the end of the Winter season, and Tokyo Ghoul Re has it coming. No explanations, no attempt to link the previous anime season to this, and just abandoning the anime fans to muddle their way through was a really poor move. Worse, even when you look up all the things you need to look up, we essentially spend 12 episodes gaining very little ground and it is hard to see much point to most of this. There’s the ongoing issue of Haise finding his memories but that’s about three episodes worth of content stretched out and then there’s a bunch of stuff with side characters I was never made to care about. Basically, this one was a bit of a mess but if you just want some ghoul fight sequences, it might deliver that for you.

Worst Visuals – Devils’ Line

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There was never any question on this category. Devils’ Line is ugly to watch whether it is the weird filter they put over scenes, the terrible effect used to make the vampires seem faster or whatever, or just the drab looking everything, it is hideous. While I appreciate not every vampire needs to be an Adonis existing only to draw the female eye, this show is just bad to look at.

Worst Opening – My Hero Academia Season 3

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Yes, I hear your complaints and yet I’m standing by this choice. After some truly thrilling OP’s, My Hero Academia has delivered one that neither gets me fired up, nor visually interests me, outside of the final image of Midoriya standing with All Might. Basically I’ve taken to skipping the OP and am hoping for a mid-season change.

Worst Character – The Cast of Caligula

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This was probably a cheap call, and yet I knew my least favourite characters existed in this series and yet when looking at each one I can barely remember their names let alone distinguish one from the other in terms of which was a more poorly introduced, fleshed out or developed character. This cast is way oversized and not one of the characters pictured above does a single thing of consequence in the entire series (watch it, remove each of these characters, note how that makes no difference to the plot at all). So yeah, it is an entire cast but this is my choice for worst character this season (they even beat some of the choices I had from Grancrest).

And now…

Worst Anime of the Spring 2018 Season – Doreiku The Animation

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I was really torn on this one. Caligula was a great contender for worst of the season as was Devils’ Line. But ultimately both of those had some redeeming qualities hiding deeply beneath layers of poor choices whereas Doreiku is just a concept thrown out there and then used by someone who doesn’t have a clue what to do with it. The first episode presents what could be a rich world of exploration about human desire and morality and ultimately the story barely manages to remain coherent and certainly doesn’t explore anything. It routinely shows us that the characters are horrible but that isn’t really exploration so much as just piling more mud onto what is already a mess. So despite having what arguably could have been one of the more interesting concepts this season, Doreiku has managed to be the anime I really wish I hadn’t stuck with.

Finally, Reader’s Choice

There was some tight competition for worst anime of the season that people actually watched and we ended up with a tie for third place. See the results for yourself.

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And so, with 9 votes, Darling in the Franxx won worst anime that people actually watched this season. I think the show’s popularity worked against it here because as bad as some of the other shows were, more people were watching Franxx. Still, you have to admit it became quite a mess as the series progressed.

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Devils’ Line therefore took a comfortable second place as worst anime closely followed by SAOA: GGO and Doreiku the animation in third place.

It seems like it has been a long season but now we are about to move into the Summer Anime season and begin it all again. Let’s cross our fingers and hope for some amazing stories, and for those anime that disappoint us, there’s always the chance to vote for it in the worst of Summer poll.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Visualist x 100!! – My Hero Academia Season Three: Episode 12

Seems episode 12 has divided us on our opinion. After the emotional punch that was episode 11, episode 12 was always going to be a bit of a lull as My Hero Academia began transitioning into the next phase of the story. Below, Kapodaco and I share our thoughts on episode 12.

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Kapodaco:

It seems My Hero Academia will continue with its streak of “Laying down prospects to look forward to in the future” with this latest episode. The students of U.A. living together in a dorm? Sounds perfect for further development of relationships and personalities.

Other than that, I felt this was a fairly weak episode. Not as weak as the first six episodes of this season, but the first episode since the season started to skyrocket in quality where I found myself rolling my eyes at some of the dialogue present. Intriguing as it was to see a few parents of the student heroes and assume the make-up of their personalities by their behavior, much of the time was spent with Midoriya’s mother and how shaken she was with all that her son has faced. That’s fine and all, but it was clear as fucking day she would accept it eventually for the sake of moving the plot along, so the whole process of her being against the dorm idea at first just to proceed with super-emotional and moving dialogue that eventually changes her mind feels really stiff. There was one moment where she was going “I… I… I…” and all I could think was “JUST SAY IT AND MOVE ON!”

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I feel this episode could’ve been shortened to just half an episode’s length, with the other half dedicated to showcasing more from the villain’s perspective. We’re only teased with All For One’s ominous reasoning for intentionally(?) allowing himself to be detained. I’m more interested to see the fallout of this from the villains’ perspective, to see if Shigaraki has gone insane from his latest setback. All that had been shown here could’ve been wrapped up quicker than it was, feeling more like filler than anything else. And in the bigger picture, not much really happens in this episode. The last episode had an excuse for the foundation of All Might’s ending reign as the Symbol of Peace, but the biggest issue faced here was one parent being opposed to a dorm project, and everyone knew she’d come around. That’s all.

So about that dorm prospect…

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Karandi:

Well, I kind of find myself disagreeing with Kapodaco. Actually, I’ll amend that, half disagreeing. The first eight minutes of this episode were exactly what I wanted. The real weight of building up a single symbol of peace who has finally fallen being discussed and felt. The ripples of last week’s fight spreading through the community, who on reflection, realise the folly of the entire system where one man stands as a pillar holding it all up. While the scenes themselves were all pretty ordinary with meetings between the police, meetings between the teachers and All Might and Midoriya meeting on the beach once again, it did what it needed to do and because thematically this is what I love about this anime, I was really invested in this section of the episode.

I also found the very short segment where Todoroki looked in on Endeavor, who has now become the number one hero in a way he never wanted, to be quite well done.

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The second half with the dorm project and the parent visits, well that part I could probably see being cut down significantly as it really didn’t add much. About the only thing we really learned was that Midoriya’s mother is sensibly concerned about her child. So this part probably could have been cut down significantly and then we would have had more time to spend with the villains and that probably would have elevated this episode from a reasonable transitional episode to something pretty special in its own right.

Still, overall I liked this episode. I’m not so sure I care for the idea of the kids all living together and I just started thinking about the concept of putting all your eggs in one basket and if I was a villain I’d probably crush the basket, but I guess we’ll find out what happens next. I can almost guarantee though that we’re going to get a Mineta moment that everyone is just going to hate.

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Thanks for reading and be sure to check out Kapodaco’s blog next week when we review episode 13.

Visualist x 100!! – My Hero Academia Season Three: Episode 10

Is this the end of All Might? Whether it is or not, My Hero Academia certainly wants us to wonder about it for the next week leaving us hanging at the end of episode 10 on a cliffhanger that actually has some bite to it. While we wait for our answer, Kapodaco and I share our thoughts on this week’s episode.

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Kapodaco:

Another cliffhanger for another tensile episode. The identity of All for One has been revealed in the form of a name and a face full of All Might’s fist. The latter’s power is starting to wane and All for One’s laughing in his face. A commenter on my blog for the last episode noted that they expected All Might to die as a result of this battle. It certainly isn’t looking good right now.

At least they got Bakugo back.

Some jargon about heroism, about being confined by the things they have to protect, and the pride of being unlike villains in their recklessness made for a more creative execution of the kids’ successful attempt at saving Bakugo. What I found most interesting is that they chose Kirishima to serve as the bait to get Bakugo to act and not Midoriya, which says a lot of things about what I had perceived of their relationship and what it might actually be. Is Bakugo really just so prideful that he sees Midoriya as competition, unwilling to take his hand as a sign of defeat? I still do think there’s a deeper connection, but the choice to use Kirishima is both a safe and a smart choice. And convenient that he was there.

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I also found it kind of funny that Gran Torino, whose quirk is that he’s absurdly fast, is saying that All Might is too fast. I understand that All Might’s the number one hero, but Gran Torino has a quirk specifically dedicated to being super fast. Nice that he shows up at the battlefield right when he needs to, instead of when he’d realistically show up (unless, of course, he stayed behind until an opening came through). And Mt. Lady, too; she aids in just the right moment because reasons, then doesn’t say another word outside of a one-liner. Yaoyorozu should’ve crafted a bomb or something to use in case of villain interference.

A sure sign of a good time is when I look down at the episode runtime and see that ten minutes have passed without me realizing. The absorbing quality of My Hero Academia continues to run amok and I for one am waiting patiently for each new coat of adhesive. The ride began a few episodes ago and doesn’t seem to be stopping for anyone, not even All Might.

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Karandi:

Previously I wrote a feature regarding All Might and how he was more than just a character, but an idea held up by the world of My Hero Academia. Season three is taking a very long hard look at the ideals that underpin this world and while it might just seem like there’s a lot of building destruction going on, this fight more or less brings this theme out in the open rather than being something underpinning the dialogue and actions of the characters as it has been previously. I’m definitely going to have to do another feature of this anime soon, but I’m just waiting to see how this arc resolves as that is going to change how I view the situation.

Meanwhile, this episode was one of those that I had to watch twice because at the end of the first viewing I had exactly zero notes and zero screen captures. Usually I have something, even if it is just the markers for where to go back and get the screen captures. But no, nothing. There was not one moment while watching the first time where I could have looked away or paused. Even on the second viewing it was very easy to get absorbed by the characters and their current situation.

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Just looking at the episode individually is a little deceptive because really it was just a fight from start to finish. But it is a fight that builds on all the character moments, all the conflicts, all the ideas and themes that this show has painstakingly constructed and it is in how it brings all these elements together that make this episode really brilliant to watch. Without the buy in of these elements, you still get a flashy smack down between super-powered characters, but you lose a lot of what sets this apart from so many other fight sequences.

The favourite moments of course go to the kids. Midoriya using his brain to come up with a desperate plan and rallying the others. Cooly evaluating their strengths and even Bakugou’s personality and how that will effect the outcome. Seeing the other kids respond to his plan and respecting his ability to bring about unlikely victories. The entire sequence was well played and speaks well for where these characters will go in the future.

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Okay, watching All Might punch Gran Torino in the face may also have been pretty funny even if it was not a time to laugh during the episode.

In case it wasn’t obvious, I kind of loved watching this episode.

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Thanks for reading and be sure to check out Kapodaco’s blog next week when we review episode 11.