My Hero Academia
Episode 3

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 3 of
My Hero Academia ?

"Something that you receive because you are lucky and something you are given because you are recognized are different in essence. Take that to heart." This is what All Might tells an exhausted Midoriya partway through this episode. Recently, I've developed a sensitivity to the messages that Shonen Jump properties try to instill in their audience, especially to the many kids who are certainly watching. My Hero Academia is a show, like many others before it, that wants you to believe in yourself. Sometimes sincerity is a hard thing to pinpoint in a series mostly aimed at kids and teens, but MHA steps forward with so much blood, sweat, and tears (both in the show itself and my imagined version of how Kohei Horikoshi got this manga made) that I feel like it's worth listening to.

This episode begins with an illuminated version of what All Might was saying at the end of last week; after seeing Midoriya's courage in action, All Might has decided that he is worthy of passing his Quirk on to. Apparently his Quirk, 'All For One' is not just raw super strength, but rather a collection of strength passed on from user to user. There was a line of people who had this power before the All Might we know and love became next to carry the torch. Midoriya seems just as surprised by this as the audience, since at first it seems to suggest that even after everything that's happened, courage is still not enough for a hope-filled ambitious child without a Quirk. There were fans of the initial two episodes who were hoping that Midoriya would go the rest of the story Quirk-less, and that this series would stand as a message about hard work and courage beyond anything else. All Might's follow-up kind of takes the wind from underneath those wings.

That's where the above quote that I opened this review with comes in. MHA got dangerously close to turning its story of perseverance into a story about luck (as in, Midoriya is lucky to have had All Might discover him). That quote really turned things around. This scenario is still a little bit about luck, but it's much more importantly about our connections with other people. Even the most stubborn and determined individuals in the world won't get very far if others aren't in their lives to love and support them. The thing that Midoriya's courage in the last episode got him was All Might's empathy. 'Doing our best' isn't going to make us happy all on its own, but it will open doors. It will create new ways for us to engage with the people around us, which is where true strength comes from. I think that's by far one of the most compassionate angles you could possibly take on a 'never give up' story.

The bulk of this episode centers around the training regimen that All Might creates for Midoriya. The goal: to clean the town's beach, hauling heavy chunks of garbage to and fro. This simultaneously does a public service while also getting Midoriya's body in tip top shape, so he can withstand the pieces of All For One that he's going to be given in small doses. Within the span of a single episode, Midoriya goes from being a scrawny little nerd to the buff shounen hero that the story expects him to be.

The episode ends with what I believe is the beginning of the show's next story arc: the big exam that aspiring U.A. students must take, the one that Midoriya previously had no chance at passing. Since this series is Shonen Jump through and through, the U.A. feels the need to test its students through an overdramatic practical exam a la Naruto. This is also the debut of the show's token Cute Heroine™, Ochako Uraraka.

So far, MHA is constantly finding that balance between extremely traditional Shonen Jump property and something more. Whenever the characters stop emoting long enough for the plot to shine through, there's this breath of "Oh yeah, this is Shonen Jump. I almost forgot." But the intensity of the feelings being presented are so all-consuming and immersive that I do find myself forgetting how banal a lot of this story is at its bones.

I hope I don't become a broken record as this show goes on. So far, All Might and Midoriya's relationship is a strong highlight, and I can't wait to see more of Bakugo the school bully indignantly wrestling with his begrudging respect for our wimpy hero. There are definitely a ton of great relationships being developed in these early episodes, and I've got nothing but love for how deeply this series cares for its own cast.

Rating: B+

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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