My Hero Academia
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 34 of
My Hero Academia (TV 2) ?
The school year barrels forward as the students of 1-A face their most tremendous foe yet: exams! Their final exams, to be specific, as we spend a good chunk of the episode catching up on where all the students previously ranked on their midterms, just to get a good idea of their current standing moving forward.
While watching this episode, it's easy to envision how it must have played out in the manga, with each scene happening in comfortable succession, but it really starts to drag in anime form. These interview/classroom/cafeteria sequences with the characters just hanging out and goofing off are plagued by interesting character details and world-building that just melts into the droning antics of the scene. There's the illusion of rapid fire info-spewing, but it takes just long enough to get through that it feels exhausting. I would really prefer we spend as little time in this classroom as possible.
The final exams turn out to be a series of 2v1 battles: students vs. teachers. It's a decision made between a rock and a hard place, considering the faculty believes the students' training needs to up its game, but the previously used robots used to be the public-friendly version that society was more comfortable seeing thrown at children. The adults fighting their own students is a bad look, but they may be running out of time to properly whip these kids into shape with the current villain uprising on the horizon.
The development that has my interest most is Aizawa's choice to pair Midoriya and Bakugo together against All Might, in recognition of their damaged relationship. It's interesting that the strongest and friendliest hero gets to be their opponent, but more importantly it'll be a chance to see how Kohei Horikoshi feels about these kids in relation to each other. Midoriya and Bakugo's tenuous acquaintanceship has always been one of the most familiar and relatable dynamics in the series. I know loads of people who connect deeply with both ends of their bully-victim deal, and it's not like they're in a position to just ignore each other.
For now, the show is letting us stew in anticipation for their exam, opting to focus on the other students. Again, I can't imagine the side characters were getting this much attention in the manga, so something like Tsuyu and Tokoyami's battle ending on a cliffhanger doesn't feel right. It's presented in a very dramatic fashion for something that comes across like an extended montage. Ultimately, this episode feels very stretched.
The show continues to look fantastic, and I'm looking forward to the exams teased in the coming weeks. If you like these characters and want to see them hanging out more—there's some especially cute stuff with Momo and a group study session at her mansion—this episode has you covered, but I don't think its content necessarily wants to be twenty minutes long.
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