My Hero Academia
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 35 of
My Hero Academia (TV 2) ?
When your cast is as big as My Hero Academia's, you've always got to strike a balance with how much to flesh out the supporting characters. I don't need to know a whole lot about the guy with the tail, but beyond the most familiar faces, there's someone like Momo Yaoyorozu, who's right in the sweet spot of not exactly qualifying as a main character while still warranting a story of her own.
We continue the students' final exams, knocking out another handful of rounds in the beginning of this episode, but the primary focus is on Momo and Todoroki's team-up against Aizawa. This is a great match-up, pitting a teacher with great screen presence like Aizawa, who hasn't seen much action since season one, with two of the more capable students of 1-A. We've been with Todoroki enough to see him grow more comfortable with the fire-half with his Quirk, and now seeing him work with a fellow classmate and give her a boost of self-confidence is a strong dynamic that reflects well on both of them.
There's a fantastic balance between how serious and playful this encounter can be, turning a battle into a game of hide-and-seek where both parties must use their Quirks and their enemy's limitations to their advantage. Nobody intends to harm anyone, but Aizawa is just smart and powerful enough to give them a sincere challenge; since they're preparing the students for more Stain-level enemies, he isn't likely to hold back. Gamifying super powers like this is an incredibly shonen thing to do, and if the story makes it feel enough like a puzzle asking the audience to try and figure out what's next, I'm down. Momo's creation Quirk, where she's able to manifest different kinds of objects and materials from her body, also adds a ton of creative possibilities.
This episode's strength lies in the feel-good quality of its empowerment. Momo's arc is as simple as “I don't believe in myself!” then Todoroki says “Believe in yourself!” and victory is had, but it's metered out into enough story beats that it remains engaging. Courage means Momo can save Todoroki in a pinch, but only then can the real fight begin as they conjure up a new plan, with only hope on their side as they execute it. Once all is said and done, there's a hint that Aizawa may have let them win, but the victory feels sweet all the same.
It's also nice to see this fight taking place in a daytime suburb. We're looking at a real place that these heroes could potentially be operating in one day, but mostly it's a nice refresh from school or the murky city alleyways of the Stain arc. Aizawa's also one of those characters who's got a great look emanating from his posture and body language. He can lazily slouch on top of somebody's roof or even on phone cables and still look badass. If he wasn't a teacher, he'd be a pretty scary ninja.
Elsewhere in the other exams, we've got Tsuyu/Tokoyami and Iida/tail-guy team ups, but there are clear stars of the show this week. Aizawa is the coolest teacher behind All Might, and obviously Todoroki has earned his place as one of the most popular characters in the show, leaving just enough room for Momo to feel important in an episode all her own. It makes me wonder when or if some of the other classmates will get this kind of focus, but for now, I'm satisfied.
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