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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Previous Reviews:


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

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Sailor Moon S Series Review

She’s defended the world, saved the future, and is ready to just get on with her life, but there are certainly new dangers afoot that will ensure things are not peaceful for long.

  • Season 1 review: here.
  • Season 2 review: here.

Review (Spoiler Warning):

Things are going to get tricky here because seasons 1 and 2 were the only ones playing on TV with their fun English dub when I was growing up. It wasn’t until much later that I was able to watch S, Super S and finally Stars and then I had to switch to subs so all the character names changed. One of those fun parts of my early anime journey in the 90’s really. That isn’t to say there wasn’t some benefit to this given a few of the characters weren’t quite as squeaky in Japanese, but some characters actually sounded even more over the top. And I’m not sure how, but Usagi/Serena crying certainly seems even more ear-splitting in the original soundtrack. For the sake of review consistency, I’m going to try to stick to the English names for characters.

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Sailor Moon S is kind of where Sailor Moon peaked for me. Outside of the first season, it was always my favourite and the reason for that lies squarely at the feet of the newly introduced Sailor Scouts and Rini’s new friend, Hotaru.

We’d previously met Pluto, but not like this, and Uranus and Neptune are a fantastic pair for so many reasons. Okay, we’ll overlook the fact that the pronunciation of some of the attacks is so poor that my friend and I had to look up what Uranus’ attack actually was because the version we managed to find didn’t put subs in for when they said English words and no matter how many times we listened to it we were convinced the word ‘chicken’ featured somewhere in there and that didn’t make a lot of sense. Turns out it is ‘world shaking’ and not ‘chicken’ and really that sounds like a much better attack, but all of that just added to our ongoing obsession with this show.

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It is odd that Uranus and Neptune work so well, given they are essentially taking on much the same role Tuxedo Mask had in season 1. They aren’t necessarily the scout’s allies, tell them that they are not and that they have their own agenda, and yet the almost never allow real harm to befall the scouts. Their actions are motivated by a goal they have to achieve but they don’t actually just tell the other scouts what it is. The parallel between their role and Tuxedo Mask in season 1 is further emphasises by Uranus’ not so subtle advances on Serena. Now, we kind of know she’s just teasing given Haruka (Uranus) is totally devoted to Michiru (Neptune). Which is where the English dub becomes a little dubious (I saw it much later when it was finally available on DVD), and realised that they changed these two into cousins. It seems kind of ludicrous given how close these two are and how important their relationship is to the entire narrative being constructed here, but I guess they really wanted to keep pretending that only kids were watching and that somehow seeing two female character in love would somehow be harmful. Because, watching them have their hearts ripped out apparently wasn’t.

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I will never understand censorship.

What I think makes Uranus and Neptune work so well in the role, as compared with Tuxedo Mask who became more of a running joke, is that you could actually believe that these two would burn Sailor Moon if they had to. They were cold enough and desperate enough that they might just have let her die. Whereas, there was never any doubt that Tuxedo Mask was a goody-two-shoes. Even when brainwashed he couldn’t bring himself to actually hurt Serena.

This kind of character, still technically a good guy, and yet ruthless in their devotion to their cause, was thrilling and added an edge to a show that might otherwise have just given us yet another iteration of the same old story.

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When we throw Hotaru’s character and plight in as well, we see that Sailor Moon S really was trying to step things up. This isn’t just monsters or fights or magical powers. This was a real human drama and an ongoing one. Previously characters with issues had been introduced, some magical menace would pray on them and Serena would zap it with her wand and all would be well. Hotaru’s loneliness and isolation was an ongoing theme and there was no magical and quick fix. Without spoiling the season finale, while there is an ultimately magical fix, it doesn’t exactly just make everything all better. There’s a lot of pain here and it is real human emotion that is being explored.

Which of course brings the conversation around to the villains of the piece, the Death Busters. And yes, they look every bit as ridiculous as Beryl and her minions and Prince Diamond and his. Actually, the fashion probably got worse. However, the viciousness of the monster of the week was certainly stepped up in this season. While the same sorts of patterns were followed, the stakes always felt higher and only one or two of the passing villains were so absurd that they drew out laughter rather than a desire to see them vanquished (the car one is memorably terrible).

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However, the Death Busters have a plan that seems a lot more together than either Beryl or Diamond and even though ultimately it amounts to once again destroying the world, these characters seem like they have so much more chance at success. Maybe it is because instead of living in some cave under the ice, or being a thousand years in the future, these characters are working in a laboratory and seem to be taking the whole evil plot thing far more seriously. Doesn’t assist their general poor sense of fashion or the fact that the professor’s glasses do that weird thing evil anime character glasses do where they glint in total darkness.

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If I was to throw any complaint at this season, it would be directed at Sailor Moon herself. Early on she fails against the villains and then for reasons she just gets a new compact and rod. Previously it made sense that Serenity had sent weapons back in time, but if there was a more powerful version of the basic tools, I have to wonder why she didn’t get them initially or why they weren’t ever mentioned. It is very much plot convenience, or a desire to sell new accessories. Plus, the heart rod always drove me crazy because if we thought Serena’s attacks took a long time to power up before, be prepared for the new dancing and spinning Sailor Moon. Also, Serena is such a klutz, I always wondered how she didn’t trip over her own pig-tails while powering it up.

But, I’m not just mocking the convenient power jump. The biggest issue is that Serena lost a lot of her bite in this season, and that is a trend that would continue to plague the next two seasons as well. She’s growing up, but that means she’s becoming less interesting. Less wailing and whining and ditching and more responsibility and wise, kind words of calm. It might make her a better person but it doesn’t make her as fun to watch in action. The other scouts also get seriously side lined and while they each get a story line devoted to them, ultimately they could have been ditched from this altogether and we could have just had Serena, Rini, and the new Sailor Scouts without much adjustment of the narrative.

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Still, this is definitely a solid season of Sailor Moon and for those working their way through the 90’s version of the series for the first time, this season is one to look forward to.

If you are still with me in reliving the classic Sailor Moon seasons, I’d love to know what you thought of this one so leave me a comment below.


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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Previous Reviews:


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.

Previous Reviews:


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

Visualist x 100!! – My Hero Academia Season Three: Episode 8

By far the best episode season 3 of My Hero Academia. Kapodaco and I compare our thoughts on the episode and disagree on whether there was anything wrong with the episode or not.

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Karandi

For an episode without a single fight, though there was definitely a punch thrown, episode 8 of My Hero Academia really managed to keep me engaged from start to finish. First we have the dramatic consequences and fall out of the previous trials on Midoriya. We knew he needed to stop breaking himself and this time around he did a fairly spectacular job of it. But the blunt way he is told that he may not be able to use his arms again if he does it even two or three more times is pretty sobering and hits the perfect amount of emotional impact.

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Following on from this we have the group of kids who have decided to go after Bakugou. They are walking a very fine line choosing to justify their actions by claiming they aren’t going to fight, but to infiltrate and recover. It is sophistry at best and deep down they know it, but they can’t sit still and wait. This continues to examine the issue of what makes a hero as they try to justify it. I’m kind of glad Iida and Yaoyorozu have decided to chaperone the expedition but I still think they are all about to get themselves into massive trouble.

Finally, we see the villains talking with Bakugou. Here is where My Hero Academia directly raises the question it’s been exploring since the beginning. What is a hero anyway? Bakugou is the perfect audience for this given his ambiguous nature. He’s someone who wants to be a hero so desperately but his personality seems incredibly ill-suited to it. However, his response to their speech was pretty fantastic and while I’m desperately worried for his well-being in future episodes after that, I have to admit I loved it.

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So that this isn’t just a rave of the episode, I’ll point out two things that stopped this episode from being truly amazing. The first is the narration by Midoriya. Normally I don’t mind this and it is a device that has been used since the beginning. However, mid-way through this episode when he feels the need to remind us that something big was starting, it just felt really clumsy and awkward and kind of broke the tension of the moment when we kind of already knew things were heading in a pretty big direction. The second is of course the kids playing dress up and that very brief comedic moment before the news kind of plunged them back into depression. It just wasn’t very well executed even though I do get what they were aiming for.

All and all though, I loved this episode.

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Kapodaco 

Okay, hold on, missy. That dress shopping scene was great. Here I complained that the show would be forever gloomy and serious from the results of last week’s episode and the writer says, “I got you, dude!” It’s silly and stupid, but we got to see a cute side of Yaoyorozu and co. It’s a reminder that they’re still just kids when all is said and done, and they’re interested in things like fashion and coming up with emotionally-charged plans of rescues and such. I had absolutely no problem with it—I was really pretty happy they did so.

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As per the rest, this episode is packed with things to digest. The stakes of Midoriya overdoing his ability. Iida going against his own development from last season and manipulating it to appease the wishes of his dear friends. The gathering of the top heroes in the world to go on what I presume to be a direct attack against the League of Villains. Bakugo showing his true intentions (for the moment). Society’s role in the dealings of heroes (“Is society just?”). U.A.’s status in society and the weight of their responsibility amidst repeated villainous incidents. And among all these little trinkets that one could glaze over without realizing it. The underlying intricacy to this episode is phenomenal, and if one doesn’t find it overbloated, they’d be hard-pressed not to find this episode thoroughly entertaining.

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I’ll go ahead and make a semi-bold statement: there was nothing wrong with this episode. I thought everything was handled exceptionally well and everything had the appropriate amount of impact behind the words being said by characters and the ideals being stated by both sides. There is so much to look forward to from this point that the series could take any number of branched paths and still be successful, even if they answered only one of the many things they’re trying to build up to. I’m excited for the consequences of Bakugo’s actions, I’m excited for Midoriya’s party’s plan, and I’m excited to see what the gathering of the top heroes will amount to in what will likely be the near future.

This isn’t just the best episode of season three, this is among the best episodes this series has ever had. Should I rate episodes individually, this would be an easy 10/10.

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Previous Reviews:


Thanks for reading and be sure to check out Kapodaco’s blog next week when we review episode 9.

Visualist x 100!! – My Hero Academia Season Three: Episode 6

And here it is. My Hero Academia as we remember it. Exciting, amusing, a little bit over-dramatic, but just fun to watch from start to finish. It took six episodes to get here, but season 3 seems to have finally launched. Kapodaco and I share our thoughts on Episode 6. Be sure to leave us a comment about the season so far and if you’ve missed any of our other episode reviews, check out the links below.

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Kapodaco

What can I say? It’s more of the same.

Not so much the same as this season has been putting forth, but the same quality of excitement as this series has historically been capable of in the past. Season three has finally taken a full grip of me, pulling me around an assortment of places I rarely get the pleasure of visiting. And because of this, there isn’t much to say about the episode in general that hasn’t been appreciated from seasons’ past. My Hero Academia’s third season has officially caught up.

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I will say this though: called it on Bakugo. They wish to bring him up on the side of villainry, possibly to disorient the side of the heroes by having them face a friendly foe. But now they even have Tokoyami for the moment. At one point, they took blood from Ochaco, so perhaps they have a cloning mechanism handy, as well? There’s a lot of character and a lot of future prospects on the table thanks to this episode. I for one am excited for the next episode already.

If I may predict the next episode in writing, I think the villains will succeed in capturing Bakugo, but Tokoyami may be freed by a last-ditch effort from the heroes to save them. Or hey, maybe it’ll be the opposite and Tokoyami will end up the one being captured. But really, Bakugo’s more important of a character than Tokoyami. Surprisingly little perspective from the heroes currently in the care of the retreat building and Aizawa/Kota, but otherwise a generally great episode.

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Karandi

I have to agree with Kapodaco here, season three has finally got me hooked. This episode did what My Hero Academia has always been best at and it did it well. There were quite a number of moments I genuinely appreciated this week and the whole package of this episode was just fun and dramatic from start to finish.

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One thing I loved was that when faced with the choice of help Tokoyami or allow Shoji to be a diversion so that he could go and help Bakugo, Midoriya once again demonstrated his ability to think outside the box. This was what was missing from his one on one fight with the muscle guy where he simply went for the ‘hit him harder’ approach. It also gave us one of those comically over the top moments with the boys running through the forest, pursued by Tokoyami’s Dark Shadow before they collided with the villain who was pinning down Todoroki and Bakugo.

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The other thing I loved is that all the characters continued to play true even in the face of a crisis. Bakugo is still uncooperative verbally when told he is going to be protected, but doesn’t actively fight his friends. Uraraka and Tsuyu demonstrate what they’ve learned and their generally cautious personalities. Even Yaoyorozu, who has been criminally underused as a character despite an awesome quirk, demonstrated that her exam last season with Todoroki helped her find some confidence to act in a crisis with what might be a fairly important plot device for later episodes.

Basically, this episode was a ride and it very much reminded me of season 2 where I was fully immersed in the story and the characters and finished each episode just happy to have watched it. Hopefully this means this season has found its feet and we’ll continue from here.

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Previous Reviews:


Thanks for reading and be sure to check out Kapodaco’s blog next week when we review episode 7.

Visualist x 100!! – My Hero Academia Season Three: Episode 4

While both Kapodaco and I found this episode a definite step forward in that at least we weren’t introducing characters or recapping this week, both of us are definitely feeling that some of the shine has come off this franchise as it returns for its third iteration. Did it peak in season 2? Or is it just taking a bit of time to get going? I guess we’ll find out as the season progresses, but for now, here we are discussing episode 4.

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Karandi:

Yay! We finally had an episode where they didn’t frantically try and re-introduce every single character in the class but instead it focused on the current events that were relevant. They cut back in time to show us what the students doing remedial classes were up to when the attack started and we get a little bit of the teacher interactions as well as catching up with a handful of the students who were doing the test of courage before the episode gets down to its focus, which is Midoriya saving Kota literally from a villain who is a mass of muscles and saving Kota from his own negative feelings about heroes because it really important that he buys into hero worship (for some reason).

Sarcasm aside, the focus certainly helped. While there are set-ups early on for the other classmates to have their fights with the villains in future episodes, this episode was very much about Midoriya and going beyond his limits. I was pretty sure he was told to stop breaking himself when he fought, though in fairness, I’m not sure what else he could have done given he genuinely couldn’t have run from the guy he was fighting even if he had wanted to.

The one real cause for complaint, and technically it is kind of expected from this show, is that it completely surrendered to the cliche of hero getting power up when needed in a fight. Previously, Midoriya had worked and trained for every power up he’d found. He never just suddenly pulled more power out of his back pocket mid-fight. And while My Hero Academia is pretty good at using all the standard shounen tropes, I was kind of happy that we hadn’t seen this one. I will admit I am disappointed that Midoriya didn’t think of some clever plan or using the power he had in a new way to get around the villain, but essentially just hit him harder.

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Kapodaco

Alright, I finally get to let this one out:

THE POWER OF EMOTIONS!!!

About eight minutes into this episode, I had a discouraging thought. This thought, continuing to fester in the back of my mind as the villains continued to make a mess of things, kept poking at my inner feelings by saying, “Is this really what you wanted with the third season? Aren’t you kinda bored?” And I had to admit, I was kind of bored. Despite the lack of recaps and the tensile situation, I still wasn’t very emotionally invested.

So, naturally, I went into a mental investigation mode. Why am I still bored? The things I once complained about are no more, so what’s the deal? A number of theories flowed into the critical analysis section of my brain, but if I had to point to a likely suspect without much substantial evidence, it would be my general aversion to the mood of the anime’s genre. For those who don’t know, Shounen is among my least favorite genres and a genre with very few well-rated shows from me, with My Hero Academia being a rare exception to the rule. I think part of that is, as Karandi mentioned before me, the anime’s tendency to steer clear of the genre’s common clichés. With this episode specifically, it felt very much like the good vs. evil setup with uninteresting villains testing the heroes (basically just Midoriya) and how far they can push their limits. Because clearly all villains should just be murderous killing machines who only enjoy killing for the sake of killing and name-calling. Okay, I can let some slide, but not all of them.

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Still, it was rather captivating to see Midoriya face off against the killer of my—I mean Kota’s parents, and part of that is thanks to the stellar animation that was attributed to that final scene. It boosted a little bit of energy to the episode that made me remember what I liked about the show in general, but is—and believe me, I tire of saying this, too—still a far cry from what the previous seasons made me feel in terms of excitement, immersion, and entertainment.

What I believed was the most intriguing part of this episode by far is the sudden declaration of who may be the target of the league of villains: Bakugo. I’m getting some PTSD from the days where I watched Naruto religiously as a young teenager. Bakugo, who despite being a hero, is very crass, violent, and fairly un-hero-like. Could the league be wanting him to join up with them to serve as an emotionally-challenging handicap for the heroes who know and love(?) him? Could Bakugo want to join them in the pursuit of his own goal to be the strongest hero on the planet? The possibilities present made what little was made of that comment all the more intriguing for future episodes.

Overall, still a pretty mild episode when compared to prior seasons, but likely the best the third season has to offer at this point. It’s building, but much more slowly and without that same energy as I felt the series had before this season. We could do with some more, I don’t know, characters probably? The personalities are severely lacking outside a select few. I can only hope they find some time for them.

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Previous Reviews:


Thanks for reading and be sure to check out Kapodaco’s blog next week when we review episode 5.

Visualist x 100!! – My Hero Academia Season Three: Episode 2

After a recap filled first episode, My Hero Academia now sends the kids to camp. How is this going to play out? Kapodaco and I share our thoughts on the episode. Be sure to share your thoughts on the episode in the comments. If you missed our first episode review, the link is at the end of the post.

Karandi:

A reasonably exciting episode for the super-powered teens as the long awaited Summer Training Camp finally begins with the usual UA twist of trying to kill off its students (only no one will really die, at most they will be maimed). I often wonder how the invisible girl is still alive given her quirk is incredibly ill-suited for most of the challenges they face, such as being in a landslide that sweeps them off a mountain.

However, if I felt the first episode lacked purpose, episode 2 steps things up quite a bit. The episode is book-ended by meetings between villains who are clearly plotting evil doings that will impact upon the main cast and hopefully this will be worth the build up. It would be terrible if this plot was a fizzler after all the build up it is getting. The kids themselves get time to interact as a class before being plunged into their first challenge of the camp where the main boys get to show off their moves, but then the rest of the class are given a chance to remind us that they also made it into Class A for a reason. A fun fight sequence in the forest followed by arriving at the camp facilities.

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If there was any downer on this episode it would be Mineta who essentially destroys the mood of the episode just by existing. Though angsty boy who hates heroes comes a close second this episode and unfortunately it looks like next episode is going to focus on him. Seriously, if the kid wants to hate heroes, let him and move on with the plot.

That said, best moment of the episode goes to the look on Bakugou’s face after seeing the results of him throwing the ball.

While episode 1 didn’t get me really hyped for this season, episode 2 certainly feels like a return to what I enjoy about this series.

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Thankfully, this week’s edition of superhero super-antics did not feature many flashbacks, but that doesn’t stop it from still feeling slightly like it’s trying to find a groove. A good portion of the first half of this episode continues a vibe of flashy non-substance through showing every hero’s quirk in action one by one, all against monsters that serve as dummies. In addition, Mineta’s pervy pursuits continue to find time to build a home in this season, serving as one of the most prominent running jokes after only two episodes. While I by no means think this series is “mature,” it at least tried to steer clear of the low-hanging fruit of the anime genre in sexual fan service.

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These aren’t enough to discredit it as a definitive improvement over the first episode, thankfully. They only serve as potential weeds to an otherwise very expressive and fun show that didn’t need to resort to pandering to make it mark. The ending left me excited for the next episode and this new character in “Kota” (Gets me every time) leaves some potential for an intriguing character plotline that the third season can build off of. Perhaps a further exploration of the negative aspects of being a hero, whereas the second season more elaborated on what it meant to be a hero. The perspective of the general public praising heroes for a “heroic death” is something that has great “oomph” for dialogue and development, especially when it clashes with the idea of parenthood or a similar label.

And of course, the characters still embodied the spirited personalities many have come to know and love, though it was deterred by more plot set-up. I still love Iida and his assertiveness. I’m looking forward to seeing more situations where these characters act as a team, as the action sequences in this episode were (minimally) satisfactory with how well many worked together as if it were natural. The random fluster between Midoriya and Ochaco near the beginning (again, a reminder) was the most substantial showing of character interaction. We are still in the intro stages, so my expectations haven’t been cooled by below-par episodes. It can only get better from here. Probably. Hopefully.

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Previous Reviews:

Haikyuu Season 3 Series Review

Overview:

After two seasons of this, you kind of already know this is an anime about the Karasuno volleyball team. Season 3 picks up immediately from season 2 and we see the final match to decide whether they get to go to nationals. I’ve previously reviewed season 1 + 2 of Haikyuu and I have also done episode reviews of seasons 1 + 2. I did not do individual episode reviews for season 3. If you want to find any of my other reviews for Haikyuu, click here.

Review:

Like my other reviews of Haikyuu and preface it by pointing out I don’t much like sport and it is only recently I started really trying sports anime. Having found a couple of them quite watchable I decided to start working my way through some of the more popular titles and of course ended up watching Haikyuu. On that note, I will point out that if the whole series had been done the way season 3 was, I would have dropped this series very early on. That isn’t actually saying season 3 is bad, but the entire season (all 10 episodes) follows one match of volleyball. Which means, we’re watching a very drawn out game between two teams. We get occasional flash backs, time out conversations, on court discussions, and the occasional commentary from the spectators, but essentially you are watching a volleyball game play out in almost real time and if that had been my introduction to the series I’d have been out.

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So why was I glued to the screen to the point where I didn’t even pause to write the episode reviews I’d intended?

The main reason is this is such a perfect culmination of everything from season 1 and 2. Karasuno have grown and developed as a team and built their skills. Previously we’ve had episodes focussing on individuals but with one exception season 3 focusses on the team as a whole and how they are operating. This is no longer the Hinata and Kageyama show with their weird combination that lucks out some points due to surprising the opponent. This is now very much a cohesive group working with each person’s strengths and the skills they learned through everything we’d watched previously employed for the best possible outcome. Of course, that isn’t to say that Hinata and Kageyama don’t get their moments. They certainly do make their presence in the team felt.

So while if this had been the format for the show back in season 1, when I didn’t know these characters or have a reason to care about that last synchronised attack they just pulled off, I would have been completely bored and disconnected, in season 3, this works brilliantly. You’ve sat through two seasons with these characters. Either you just like animated volleyball or you’ve formed some connections and this series capitalizes on that fact. It doesn’t retread old ground but still manages to highlight the significance of the bonds between characters.

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The one exception is Tsukishima. He’s been one of my favourite characters from early on (something about his common sense and sarcasm just really hit the mark) but in season 3 he really becomes a part of the team and he just shines. The coach isn’t lying at the end of the game when he says that Tsukishima is definitely the MVP. Whether it is strategizing, stepping up his own game, finally finding the determination to go all out, to the point where he even questions why he cares so much, everything about him during this game is just perfect and he really steals several moments in this season.

Despite being glued to the screen though, I do have some criticisms or at least some thoughts on things that weren’t quite so amazing. They didn’t take away how great it was to see the Karasuno players from playing this game but they do take some of the shine off the show after the fact when you sit back and reflect on it.

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The first of these is the opening theme. It works and the imagery is actually really well done and is on par with previous seasons visuals. So watching it is fine. The song itself though, while not in any way bad, doesn’t quite have the same impact that earlier openings have had and given how hyped up everything else in this show was, it felt just a little bit lacking at the start of each new episode.

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Another issue I had was with the opponent. The team from Shiratorizawa are probably the least interesting team we’ve met in this three season run of this show. Previous opponents have had the stand out characters and fun personalities or formed interesting rivalries with cast members. You’ve actually felt a bit bad for some of them when the plot inevitably turned on them so that Karasuno could continue on their way to being the protagonists of the sports show. You don’t get this from Shiratorizawa, although I get from some of the flash backs and things they are trying to help us care about this group. Really, other than the ace and the red head (and I don’t actually remember either name), I couldn’t actually recall any of the players from the opposition even the day after I finished viewing this. They had almost no impact. Sure, they were great at volleyball and some of the rallies and plays were cool to watch. But as characters they were just opponents. The next rock blocking the pathway for the team we actually care about.

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Nowhere was this more clearly highlighted than when we saw Oikawa in the stands. Here is an opponent we actually cared about and even as a bystander and occasional commentator, he is still more interesting than the other team on the court. Given how few episodes most opponents got in Haikyuu, it seems a little wrong that the team that had nearly ten episodes actually felt the least fleshed out. And maybe this was deliberate. The coaches were competing ideologically with brute strength vs flexibility so maybe the wooden personalities of the opponents (red head was an exception here) was an actual choice to highlight that difference, but it doesn’t make them any more interesting or memorable.

I’m glad I made it through to the end of this (though is that sequel bait going on at the end of did I just not get that). I enjoyed my time with these characters and had a few laughs and smiles along the way. It didn’t blow me away or become my new favourite anime and I think my emotional attachment to these characters is pretty fleeting, but I kind of get now why so many people enjoyed this anime. It is good fun and there are some really great moments along the way.

Okay, over to you. I’d love to know your thoughts on this anime.


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