My Hero Academia
by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 104 of
My Hero Academia (TV 5) ?
One of the recurring problems MHA has had is that, while it has a huge cast of likable and endearing characters, it's often struggled to divvy up time for them all in a way that's satisfying to their fans. That's kind of a good problem to have – it shows that so many of the series' characters have the appeal and vibrancy to carry a show on their own – but it's definitely still a problem, and one that's especially effected the female cast members the worst. But that's also an issue that an adaptation can potentially fix, and MHA's anime has made some gestures towards it in the past, with anime-original episodes covering what other students are up to while Deku is busy with the main plot. I had actually hoped last season would do the same with Team Ryukyu during the Overhaul Arc, but fate conspired to do that this season instead.
Still, “Long time no see, Selkie!” gets off to a bit of a rough start. For one, while the contrast between Deku & The Boys' trial by fire with Endeavor and Team Ryukyu throwing a (re-)welcome party is funny, having your all-girl team start their dedicated episode with cake and tea is about as eye-rolling as you can get. That we shortly follow that up with a brief beach scene also feels like ticking boxes. Yeah yeah, the girls are cute and having a nice day out, but I don't buy Selkie's justification that they're having good times specifically to motivate the youngins when they face evil. There are at least a few fun details to be had, like Sirius and Tsuyu befriending a sea turtle just long enough to capture, cook, and eat it – the ocean is indeed a harsh world. But I was thankful once we got to the actual story of this episode.
Said story is actually detached from the ongoing mystery of the Meta Liberation Army and our established villains. Instead, it looks to be tying into the upcoming World Heroes' Mission movie, due out in Japan next month. It involves a group of smugglers trying to get out of the country with a cargo of illegal Quirk-boosting serum called “Trigger”, and when a solely seafaring chase comes up empty, Selkie does what any sensible person would do and calls in a cool lady who can turn into a dragon for help.
What follows is relatively low-stakes for MHA, since we know none of these nameless randos is going to be any real threat to our heroines. But the adventure itself pulls its weight by just throwing fun ideas out that we probably wouldn't get to see otherwise. Tsuyu riding tandem on Selkie's back underwater is cute as heck. Seeing Ryukyu pull out Wing Attack for a combo move with Nejire is great. But the crowning moment definitely goes to the Uravity Cannon. Between this and Bakugo ghost-riding the whip in the opener, this season's filler content has a thing for ridiculous dynamic entries, and I approve.
I also approve of getting to see some new moves from Uraraka. She seems to have taken inspiration from Deku's new abilities, and outfitted herself with some retractable cables so she can Spidergwen right alongside our protagonist some day. It's also good for catching and boarding a plane midflight, which she then has to pilot through a crash landing. It's a ridiculous movie plot, but also the exact kind of fun conflict I'd want out of what amounts to a side quest. It honestly makes me wish we'd trimmed the Joint Training arc down by an episode or two to get more stuff from the rest of the students. Give me an episode about Jiro and Shoji working alongside Gang Orca and this Sonic-looking dude. Let me see what Momo and Tokage are getting up to with this hippy wizard man. Let's see Bondo and his mentor create the ultimate arts & crafts project!
OK, yeah, that may be overkill. But I still enjoy when the anime can bring itself to broaden the scope of the story a little bit. One of the limitations of an ongoing weekly series is you often have to make a choice between progressing the larger story or fleshing out your extended cast with side narratives that can potentially take up months of publication. If the seasonal approach to MHA's anime allots for an episode or two to balance that scale a bit more, I'm all for it. Besides, next week we look to be back in the thick of the Todoroki family, and knowing how heavy those episodes can be, I'll relish a week of happy times while we've got it.
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