My Hero Academia
Episode 13

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 13 of
My Hero Academia ?

Bon voyage, My Hero Academia. The better episodes of this series have been among some of my all time favorite reviews to write, so I'll definitely await your upcoming second season. The Midoriya vs. Bakugo episode alone will likely go down as one of my favorite individual episodes in all of anime.

The finale opens with the remaining villains staring All Might down, hesitating to continue the fight. We know that All Might is near the end of his rope, and his internal monologue tells us that if he takes even a single step forward, he'll deflate back into his secret weak form. Nonetheless, he stands with his trademarked grin and puffs out his chest, not willing to balk on his bluff. After his incredible beat-down of Nomu in the last episode, it's not crazy to count on the rest of the baddies to be shaking in their boots.

This is the final episode of the USJ arc, so the drama isn't here to stay for very long. The lead villain, Shigaraki, does make an attempt on All Might's head, but Midoriya makes a last ditch effort to interrupt the attack by using One For All to boost himself forward at a super fast speed, naturally at the cost of his own legs. Midoriya knows the importance of protecting All Might's image as an all-powerful hero, so he's making whatever reckless bid he can to do his part. Really, all he needed to do was buy some time, because the moment he's about to bite the dust as a result of his distraction attempt, Iida and all the pro heroes of U.A. arrive to turn the tides. A humongous crowd of heroes shows up, and they all begin to demonstrate their powers as they rush in to save the day together. The lower level grunts of the villain organization don't hold up any better against the teachers than they did the kids, and Shigaraki and his warp shadow friend escape. The bad guys have officially lost.

If a second season hadn't already been confirmed, then I'd say this is a pretty disappointing way to end an otherwise exceptional series. We know that there's more story to come, so it's acceptable that the USJ arc is only just okay, but beyond the fantastic All Might vs. Nomu fight, that's really where it stands. The setting wasn't very interesting, nor was the resolution. There isn't a fist-pumping burst of pride when all the heroes show up to save the day, even if the direction might imply that there should be.

I think the biggest problem is that the story steers away from relationships in favor of world building. The USJ arc's ultimate goal seems to be in setting up the bad guys, specifically Shigaraki and the mysterious man he answers to. The interrupted fight creates an 'unfinished business' type of conflict between the heroes and villains. Shigaraki seems to have developed a beef with Midoriya for interrupting his attack on All Might, which is all well and good, but we still know so little about these guys and their motivations. There's so much limited emotional investment to be found in this last batch of episodes.

I'm starting to worry that I just don't like the world of My Hero Academia that much. I love the characters, the relationships, the execution, the themes, and all that fun stuff, but if I'm valuing this series by the kinds of things I tend to look for in the long-running shonen epics, that's a big one. I can always find a sense of place and texture to the environment in One Piece or Naruto. MHA is a little too squeaky clean and sterile on that front, though it's hard to knock it on that when it has so much else to offer.

My Hero Academia is a marvel of a series sometimes. The big sweeping emotional moments are a real wonder, the kind of stuff other shows should be jealous of, and the characters continue to be extremely evocative in just about every way. You just want to pinch their cheeks and talk about how cute they are, even the gangly walking corpse version of All Might. I do still find the suggestion that this series is subversive to be odd since, as of the finale, it continues to be as straight-laced as a Shonen Jump property can be. It's just lucky that it has such an interesting foundation to leap from.

Rating: B-

My Hero Academia is currently streaming on Funimation.

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

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