My Hero Academia
Episode 21

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 21 of
My Hero Academia (TV 2) ?

I'm really happy that the supporting cast of My Hero Academia has grown on me. I was so sure they were the weak link of the series for a while, but I was very wrong. We're at a moment in the sports festival where things have just started to get emotional and interesting with Midoriya and Todoroki's respective fights, so this episode stands as the interim before Ochako and Bakugo's fight, which is where I expect things to get raw again. There are a lot of characters in this one-on-one tournament who are just important enough that it would make sense to give them more focus, but we're breezing through their round one fights to keep the story tight, so it's a lot of brisk hijinks over anything that would tug at the heartstrings.

This isn't a bad thing because I'm starting to really like these kids, and the show has been putting in a fantastic effort to make sure its large cast is easy to keep track of, which wasn't necessarily the case in season one. Even the kids who are barely in the story's peripheral vision like Mina and Aoyama have a pretty comfortable place in the antics this week. Mei Hatsume, the tech-based support girl, continues to be one of the most fun characters of the arc, and I can't decide on my preferred performance between her different yet equally delightful English and Japanese actresses. She's fighting against Iida, whose Quirk should put him at an obvious advantage, but the episode finds a humorous way to show off her personality and gadgets before she steps herself out of the ring, satisfied with her public showing.

It's just pow, pow, pow, one match after another, getting a lot of the tournament's first round out of the way so that it doesn't outstay its welcome. This hasn't been the speediest season for MHA, but the natural structure of the source material means that it never stays in one place for too long. Most of these fights (even the dramatic ones) are meant to be pretty quick, so I'd say the anime isn't missing a beat when it comes to fleshing them out just the right amount. By next week, we should be done with round one of the tournament, and these eight kids will be down to four.

Paired with the swift back-to-back fights is Ochako's anticipation of her upcoming fight with Bakugo, which the other kids have been aptly calling the scariest match-up of the bunch. Ochako's a tough girl with a useful Quirk, but Bakugo is no ordinary opponent, and there's no reason to believe he'd go easy on her just because she's a girl. What kind of fight could happen between those two remains to be seen, but the show is building it up quite a bit. There's a moment where Midoriya offers his notes and ideas for strategy, but even through her nervousness, Ochako has to turn him down now that she's seen so many of their friends put on their rival faces when it comes to Midoriya. She's gotta have some pride too, and she worries as much as everybody else that her friendliness may have come from a need for a safety net.

This isn't a heart-pounding, exciting episode, but it continues the show's fun elaborations on the B-tier characters to a really effective degree. There definitely appears to be a pattern of emotional, then fun, then emotional, then fun again when it comes to this sports festival. If this were a worse episode, I might complain that we're putting the really dramatic stuff on pause again, but it makes sense for the story at hand.

Rating: B

My Hero Academia is currently streaming on Funimation and Crunchyroll.

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

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