Karandi: Well, season three is now over and Kapodaco and I now have the chance to look back over the last six months of our lives viewing My Hero Academia and to think about how we feel about the series as a whole. That’s kind of a hard ask right now for me given I’m still kind of looking at that final episode and wondering what that was supposed to be, but I guess we’ll muddle through it. Kapodaco, what are you thinking?
Kapodaco: I was thinking about it at work today. It feels so perfectly succinct. I rated the first season a 7, the second a 7.5, and now I’m feeling a 6.5 for the third. On MAL, I have a 7 for all three of them, so if one isn’t looking to dig deeper, they’ll assume I saw them all the same. But that’s personal perks.
There’s a lot that the series does that got me just as excited as any other season, even more so on occasion. At the same time, there’s definitely some big befuddlement with the scope of the story and fighting off the temptation to introduce a thousand characters to keep the story spicy, but then having to keep up with said characters and make it harder to keep everything in focus. It detracts from the characters one actually cares about and wants to see more of. It happened a lot during the end of the season with other classmates simply noting their observations and little more, and I said very early on with this season that I was looking forward to seeing these classmates have more of a role—by the end, it was definitely underwhelming in that category. What say you, Karandi?
Karandi: I’m in agreement. One of the biggest issues season three has had is that it insists on trying to keep the whole class in each of its sequences and has all of these characters essentially standing around and doing very little. All of these students got into the hero course and class A and yet they so rarely get to do anything.
Then season three had the fight sequence against the villains where we saw a couple of characters we’d already met but it introduced the pro-heroes doing the training, the random kid that Midoriya had to convince that heroes weren’t all bad, and half a dozen villains. We moved into the exam arc with a whole bunch of schools and characters. Then right at the end we have the Big Three introduced. None of these characters had anywhere near enough screen time or development to make them anything more than their name flashing across the screen and maybe their quirk so I have zero attachment to them.
I will admit, that while I’ve been throwing a lot of rocks at season three of My Hero Academia, compared to the vast majority of seasonal anime that I’ve been watching, even season three is pretty solid entertainment. My biggest issue is that it isn’t as good as season two. Which might seem a little petty but at the moment it is still a disappointment.
Outside of the characters though, I felt the overall narrative structure this season let it down a little bit and I touched on this a couple of reviews ago. What did you think?
Kapodaco: I may have said a few times that the clichés had piled on a little more than with previous seasons. Even when they weren’t, I think a lot of the issues stems back to the fact that there are a thousand new characters introduced, such that the mangaka is biting off more than he can chew. He wants to make the scope huge so that it can feel like a giant world of all-encompassing heroism, much like how Capitalism is the entire world of my home country of the U.S.A. I can feel the mangaka wanting to do more with his script that perhaps anime isn’t accustomed to doing with a “mere” two-cour season.
When the season wanted to do more with the state of the world after the fall of All Might, it was fairly intriguing, because while the end result is fairly inevitable (villainy skyrockets), he tends to paint these villains as more than just “I’MMA BURN SHIT BECAUSE WHY NOT?!” These characters, who will inevitably have more of a point in the story at earlier junctions and with higher stakes, are better incorporated than the random heroes or one-off Big Three™ groups because their motivations are clear(-ish) and they have more to do than to let the pacing methods of introductory writing take the wheel.
In a phrase, he’s biting off more than he can chew. I may have said that before. And while I was writing that, I made the horrid realization that Mineta had more character-distinguishing moments than anyone else in the minor cast.
But let’s ignore that and focus a little on the positives, yeah? I think I know the answer to this, but what was the best part of the season for you?
Karandi: Tricky question (not). My favourite part hands down was All Might’s final battle. Not so much for the fight itself (though that was pretty cool and Midoriya helping Bakugo without actually getting into the fight was also kind of cool) but more because of the greater implications in the world. I really wish that we’d get more on this because every time they touch on it, we get a moment that actually feels like it has weight and gets me very interested. Even during the exam arc, as dull as I found that, when they were actually discussing specific changes to the exam format because of how they wanted a different type of hero in the future, heroes focused on team work rather than individual achievements, it just felt like the previous events with Stain, All Might’s arc, and everything else were coming together to have a real impact on the society within the story.
That remains one of the great strengths of My Hero Academia even though, as you have said, the writer may very well be biting off more than he can chew. Unlike so many other super hero stories, this one really feels like events are shaping the lives of everyone in the world and the structure of society rather than just being a cool fight and then life goes on unchanged. I really enjoy that aspect of it and I really hope it continues as that is what keeps drawing me back into the story. How about your favourite part of the season?
Kapodaco: I am in total agreement. All Might’s final fight was the high point of the series bar-none. I don’t recall exactly, but I think I mentioned that the episode itself, the one where everything becomes “resolved,” was an easy 10/10 episode. So it wasn’t just the best episode of this series for me, but one of the best episodes of any anime I’ve ever seen. I can and cannot be emotional dependent on the subject matter, but that aspect of All Might and the significance of his passing of the torch was something that got me really hyped. It made me a fan of All Might, ironically in the same way it made everyone within the universe of the show a fan of All Might. That sheer, unquestioned passion and charisma to do what’s right was something this series can do phenomenally well with the amount of attention to detail in building upon it.
Though I will also give credit to a point where we tend to overlook because it directly followed a long chain of “meh” episodes. I really liked the final two episodes concerning the U-A students being ambushed by the League of Villains. It properly gave me what I wanted in other characters getting the spotlight and it presented an interesting potential for Bakugo’s character (which ended somewhat dully, but there’s still time) that I thought was intriguing at the time. It showcased the power of the League of Villains and the experience needed for the young heroes before they could properly handle a full-scale villain attack. There was a lot going on in those episodes that I really appreciated. I may also simply like it because it followed a lot of dull episodes, so I was really just looking for something to cheer for.
Karandi: It is a good point that the power of the villains doesn’t get showcased very often and it is something that is somewhat lacking, particularly in the latter half of this season. We know there’s this threat sitting out there but we so rarely see them and that threat doesn’t feel overly connected to the main characters all that often, so this ambush was a really great moment in terms of seeing the students being at times overwhelmed by the villains and unprepared for dealing with the attack. It also gave them some great moments where we could see them working together and helping each other out in a fairly intense situation.
Alright, so which characters do you feel really shone in this season, if any?
Kapodaco: Well, the easy answer is Midoriya and Bakugo. Then again, they are the most important characters in this series, I think. All Might is definitely up there in importance, as well, but the moment he retired, it all fell to the younger generation, and Midoriya and Bakugo are two people who were totally inspired by All Might’s heroism. Their fight scene was a rare highlight in the second-part of the series, and they continue to be the only characters (okay, just Bakugo) that I see anyone I follow on Twitter care about. They were the shining spots of the season as an obvious answer.
If I had to give an answer concerning a minor character… It’s fairly difficult. A lot of the minor characters had some time to shine, specifically in the Provisional Exam Arc when they all had split up and what-not. I actually recall not minding the group consisting of Yaoyorozu, Asui, Jiro, and the masked dude with wings whose name I can never remember. Still, one episode—half an episode, really, doesn’t give them the credit of a “Shining spot” in the season. I guess if I had to pick a character among the minor cast… Aizawa. He may not have had any immensely notable scenes or important parts specifically to his character, but he’s the only character I’d consider minor who had an ever-present place on the season and provided enough input—whether serious or not—to give him a place in my memory banks. And hey, Aizawa’s cool. He should get a shout-out. What about you? Who do you like most rather than Wind Guy™?
Karandi: What is Wind Guy’s name? He must have one, but I just don’t care enough to look it up. I think you are right about Aizawa. He was a fairly constant presence this season in each arc and while I still feel the basic education system in this world leaves a lot to be desired, he genuinely does look out for his students even if he doesn’t insist they all get a lot of therapy. I particularly liked his role after the first arc where he and All Might were apologising to parents and then his observations during the exam arc were fairly well received.
That said, if I was going to give a shout out to a minor cast member I’d probably go with Kirishima. He doesn’t do a huge amount that has a major impact on the plot, but I feel his presence with Bakugo has really helped to moderate Bakugo’s more extreme moments this season and it is a friendship that has formed gradually since season one to the point where you aren’t sure when they actually started being friends but it feels right that they are. I especially liked that he was involved in Bakugo’s rescue but even in the provisional license exam he was in Bakugo’s group for the duration. Anyway, he’s a character I hadn’t paid a huge amount of attention to previously and this season just made me realise that he’s a fairly useful presence with the dynamic of the group.
As far as main characters go, I was a little disappointed with Todoroki and Uraraka this season, though they both had their moments I just felt like they were just rehashing the same moments we’d already seen from these two characters. Don’t get me wrong, Uraraka is still adorable as she stares out the window at Midoriya and her decision to put her feelings to the side to focus on becoming a hero are pretty logical, but she’s just so underused in the story at this point. And Todoroki’s moment was a definite step backwards. So, yeah, I’d have to say Midoriya and Bakugo got the best moments from the main cast this season as well.
Anything else you want to discuss before we wrap this up?
Kapodaco: Well, I would’ve suggested a worst moment of the season as a whole, though I guess we did sort of go on a spiel above about the series’ pacing and all. If I could say something about characters that disappointed me, I would agree with Todoroki, but would also like to throw in Iida. He had some good short moments here, but he was one of my favorite characters coming out of the first and second seasons, and here he’s basically a nagging mother to everyone and that’s kind of his shtick. Really would’ve liked to have seen more from him.
Karandi: I actually agree. Iida really has become a nagging mother and that’s his sole purpose at this point in the story. I’d really like to see him having a bit more personality next season, or they could just move him to the background rather than having him in scenes just to lecture.
Kapodaco: He’s not Mineta, though.
Karandi: True. And for the most part we’ve avoided mentioning Mineta. Though I wish the show would avoid mentioning Mineta. Or showing him. Or actually having him as a cast member. He gets more irritating every single episode. Or maybe I already hit my tolerance for his shtick and I wish they’d just drop it already.
Kapodaco: I regret bringing that up, because now we’re sort of just lingering before the finish line.
Karandi: Right, so final thoughts?
Kapodaco: It was a letdown, but not so much that I think it hurts the overall appeal of the show. A lot of good foundational things are still present in the form of the League of Villains growing stronger, Midoriya (and now Bakugo) having more motivation to get stronger, and All For One promises to still be around, and I think he’s infinitely more interesting than half the other characters introduced in this show since the beginning. I’ll reiterate again that I want some focus on other characters, but it’s definitely hard with so little time for such hard, time-consuming work as animation. I’m still fairly enticed to watch the fourth season. I was actually a little intrigued by the end of your analysis this week on the final episode. Will you continue the series?
Karandi: I think I’m realising now how viewing seasonally changes my views on shows. My Hero Academia has a rich world and some really interesting ideas but season three I found really challenging to watch week to week. Between deliberate cliff-hanger endings, arcs that didn’t feel rewarding to watch, and just low points, I will admit that this season was a bit of a struggle. And it is a challenge I didn’t face when I watched Bleach because seasonal viewing wasn’t a thing (and I’m comparing to Bleach because other than Hunter x Hunter (still unfinished), these are the only long running shounen anime I’ve attempted). But if I picked season five of Bleach (or really any season after season three) and tried to review it episode to episode in a weekly format, I can imagine I’d be every bit as frustrated. Looking at the whole, there’s still a lot to like about My Hero Academia.
That kind of leaves me wondering if I will do episode reviews of season four or just wait until it is done and binge it. I did just buy the second season on DVD as a cheer me up present to myself and I’m really looking forward to binge watching that, and I think it might be my preferred viewing method for this kind of show. So, am I continuing? I think I’ll start season four episodicially, but I might end up bailing and waiting until it is done airing.
However, if you wanted to review it together again, I’d probably really enjoy that. It has been really great working with you on this and I’ve enjoyed discussing the show each week even when I haven’t enjoyed the show so much.
Kapodaco: If you want to collaborate with me again for the fourth season, I’d be more than willing. I came to you with this collaboration, if you recall. And this was certainly an experience I won’t ever forget. It’s likely the most rewarding thing I’ve done in the ani-blogging community ever. Should we do this again, however, I want the exclamation mark quantity increased to four.
Karandi: I think it’s agreed then (although maybe not about the exclamation marks). So on that note, let’s finish this because I think we’ve gone on quite long enough. I’m thinking we need a ‘Plus Ultra!’ or something to finish with, but I’ve got nothing.
Kapodaco: Leave it to me.
Everyone! Look forward to Karandi and I’s next collaboration on the fourth season of My Hero Academia! Visualist x100!!!!™ Coming again to a blog in the near future!!!!!!!! Plus Ultra!!!!!!!
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed following along with us this season. Looking forward to the next one. Plus Ultra!