The Spring 2018 Anime Preview Guide My Hero Academia season 3
How would you rate episode 39 of
My Hero Academia (TV 3) ?
What is this?
How was the first episode?
Given that My Hero Acedemia is more popular now than ever, it makes sense to start the third season off with a story that can ease new viewers into the quirky world of professional heroes and aspiring young students. Making this premiere a literal clip-show recap strikes me as playing things a little too safe though. I can see how using a laid back slice-of-life premise to reintroduce the cast and establish their relationships and powers is a good idea on paper, but this episode is just so prescriptive and didactic in doling out information.
Instead of just having Deku and friends organically display their Quirks while hanging out together at the U.A. High School pool, we have Eraser Head literally giving a bullet-point rundown of character names and abilities, as if this portion of the script were just copied from the show's Wiki. Even Kurogiri has a needless scene where his inner monologue recaps Deku's origins, which feels less like catching new audience members up and more like scrambling to fill time. The animation is also on the low end of what MHA usually produces, which makes sense given that the new material here only exists to funnel out exposition and backstory.
The pool party storyline itself is fine, when it isn't being interrupted by flashbacks and clunky expository dialogue. These kids are well developed and likable enough now that it's fun to spend time with them in almost any context, though it usually helps when the stakes are a little higher. If the episode had devoted less time to flashbacks and more time with the present-day plot, the same information could have been communicated while telling a more involving story in the meantime. The swimming contest between the boys was an alright distraction, but not much else.
Outside of that, there isn't much to say about this premiere; it's a clip show. If you have never seen MHA, you'd be better off starting from the beginning, but if you're just catching up after a long hiatus, this episode provides the barest minimum of context needed to get you up to speed. Otherwise, longtime fans are better off waiting for the story to properly begin in the coming weeks.
As much as I like My Hero Academia, I'd like it more if it didn't start each new season with a recap episode. It hasn't been very long since the series' previous installment aired, so the story should be fresh enough in viewers' minds that such a thorough refresher course is unnecessary. Villains bad, heroes good, big training camp coming up. See? That didn't take long at all.
In this episode's defense, it's smart enough to pace out the tedium by alternating between old and new content. Having Deku and his classmates horse around at the school swimming pool works well as a framework for the flashbacks. It allows characters to indulge in relevant flashbacks as they run into one another, and the new content is frivolous enough that the interruptions aren't that big of a deal. Some it still feels a little forced (“Remember all those things that happened to us in chronological order?”), but I'll gladly take it over a narrated clip show.
It also helps that the dynamics between the main characters remain as strong as ever. Even though the previous story arcs are old news at this point, there's some merit in having the characters acknowledge the significance of those moments. There's also some decent comedy here, especially in the ways pretty much everyone except Deku tries to win the swimming contest without actually swimming. As disposable storylines go, this one is pretty amusing.
Given the option, I'd much rather see My Hero Academia charge straight into its next story arc as quickly as possible. Taking a safe, bland route isn't the worst thing ever, but it's out of character for a series that's gotten increasingly comfortable with swinging for the fences. Still, the series is in a good position at the moment, with plenty of good conflicts simmering under the surface. Even with this underwhelming start, this should be another strong season.
It's My Hero Academia! This superpower-focused shonen property has risen from respectable but fairly by-the-numbers roots to become a smash hit, offering compelling characters, thrilling fight scenes, an intriguing world, and inspiring thoughts on the nature of heroism. Its adaptation's second season represented a major step up from the first, confidently standing as one of the best action shows of the past few years. And right on schedule, we today arrive at its third season, eager to embark on whatever new adventures await.
Unfortunately, it turns out those adventures will have to wait another week. The bad news is, this “first episode” is actually more of a recap episode, and not really a meaningful premiere. Though it's conveyed through the framing device of “Midoriya and his friends check out the school pool before training camp,” it's mostly just structured as an excuse to review all of the powers of Midoriya's classmates, as well as the key events of the last few seasons. There is a whole bunch of reused footage, and nothing that happens here seems consequential in any way. If “brief pool episode plus recap” doesn't sound thrilling, it seems like you could skip this episode altogether.
As for this episode's new content, it's all pretty goofy, lightweight stuff. The episode's opening focus on Mineta had me scared this would be a fully dedicated “Mineta creeps on the girls in swimsuits” episode, but fortunately, he basically disappears once he gets his initial dose of lechery in. The fanservice actually ends up being pretty minimal, and instead, most of the focus is on the boys in class having a silly race, a sequence that both refreshes us on the variability of their powers and also emphasizes the bonds they've established. There's not too much fluid animation or other visual creativity, but frankly, I wouldn't actually want this show to squander meaningful resources on an episode that's basically just an elevated recap.
All in all, I'd say returning fans can either watch or skip this one, depending on how familiar they are with the story and how much “the 1-A students goof off at a pool” sounds appealing. This is a mix of recap and filler, meaning it's not the most exciting episode, but it still performs its job. I guess I'll just have to bottle my excitement for next week.
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