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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Episode 15
- Episode 14
- Episode 13
- Episode 12
- Episode 11
- Episode 10
- Episode 9
- Episode 8
- Episode 7
- Episode 6
- Episode 5
- Episode 4
- Episode 3
- Episode 2
- Episode 1
Thanks for reading and be sure to check out Kapodaco’s blog next week when we review episode 17.