My Hero Academia
Episode 5

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 5 of
My Hero Academia ?

The catch to My Hero Academia so far has been an undeniably strong heart with an unproven exterior. This is suspiciously analogous to its main character, Midoriya, so now I'm starting to wonder if the overall quality of the series isn't in line with that very nature. The way this show seems to address potential concerns of mine in ways that synchronize perfectly with the plight of our hero is frankly astounding. Sometimes all I can do is be impressed.

The concern being addressed in this episode is the supporting cast. On paper, a Naruto/Harry Potter-esque world with a superhero skin is not that appealing by itself, but now it's our first day of school, and we have no choice but to step forward into that classroom and discover if there's any chance at all that our new peers will like us. (Or, if you were a judgmental loner like me in high school, if there's a chance that we will like any of them.)

The short answer to both those questions is: Yes! Right up front, Ochako, the nice girl, and Tenya Iida, the high ranking glasses dude, are in Midoriya's class along with Bakugo. Iida in particular is quick to apologize to Midoriya for doubting him last week during the entrance exam. Despite being one of the more promising students who likely has a bright future ahead of him no matter what, Iida seems to have a core appreciation for true heroism and has no problem letting humility take control.

This is when the class's teacher, one emo-looking Shouta Aizawa, appears slumped on the ground in a sleeping bag, as if that's not strange at all. Of course, the ratio of deadpan serious face to blatant quirkiness means that he's one tough dude who is not to be messed with. He's an undercover hero not too far down the totem pole from All Might, and he seems to have some strong opinions about what it takes to be a hero. Immediately, he's taking the students outside for a field exam, deciding for himself that the entrance exam the kids took to enroll was unreasonable, and that the herd needs to be thinned out further.

This new test is specifically designed to measure the capabilities of the students' Quirks, which kills several birds with one stone, story-wise. A) It gives Midoriya a very specific challenge to overcome (he still can't control his Quirk well enough to forgo destroying his body.) And B) it gives us a delightful rundown of what kinds of powers and personalities the other kids have. It's a montage of basic track-and-field tests, but there isn't a second here that isn't an absolute pleasure.

The really impressive thing about this episode is all the unique ways different powers get interpreted, like seeing Ochako use her zero-gravity powers to lighten the weight of her clothes and shave a few milliseconds off of her 50-meter dash. It doesn't really make her much faster than a normal human, but there seem to be no wrong answers as long as it's creative and fun to think about for the audience.

Each of the students gets a cool little title card as we power through the montage, giving us their name and their Quirk. We've got explosions, engines, zero-gravity, a naval laser and so on. The amount of creative energy going on in this sequence is really applause-worthy on behalf of Kohei Horikoshi and Studio Bones themselves. The energy is contagious, a word I keep using for the highlights of this show, and now we've got a scene that deserves it even without the help of Midoriya or All Might.

I don't think there's a single second of this episode that I don't like. Everything that happens, in and out of the classroom, got a smile or a laugh of some kind out of me. Even before we dive headfirst into all the crazy students, there's more Midoriya and All Might at the beach to enjoy, as their general rapport continues to be as charming as can be.

The final beat of the episode hinges on Midoriya being capable of doing something to keep himself afloat under the strict glare of Aizawa, who has little faith in his self-injurious Quirk. All Might watches from the sidelines, worried about his disciple's future in the class, but despite underwhelming in the majority of the tests, Midoriya figures out an alternative to One For All's recoil and focuses his final baseball throw into the tip of his finger, allowing the super strength to send it flying beyond expectations.

The image of his shattered finger toward the end of the episode evokes a sense of brutality, but also safety. Midoriya is still learning to withstand his power, but he has now shown a growing sense of responsibility when using it. All Might's beaming pride and astonishment sums it up as much as anything. It's another big emotional feel-good moment for My Hero Academia, and the show continues to walk the fine line between earning it or not. There's the occasional risk of the show feeling too optimistic for its own good, but characters like Aizawa ground that risk appropriately.

Otherwise, this show continues to amaze me with just how delightful it is. I was already locked in thanks to the big moments, but I was really floored to be having such a great time with the side characters. More than ever, I'm growing nervous to see the eventual end of this season, because I really don't want My Hero Academia to stop if it plans to keep building on itself and surprising me this much.

Rating: A

My Hero Academia is currently streaming on Funimation.

Sam Leach writes about One Piece for The One Piece Podcast and you can find him on Twitter @luckychainsaw


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