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