My Hero Academia
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 36 of
My Hero Academia (TV 2) ?
The students' Final Exams continue as we knock out the remaining challenges in the lead-up to Midoriya and Bakugo's match against All Might. I've got my eye on that fight, expecting it to be the highlight of the arc, but for now the show is surprising me once again with the engaging drama of its supporting cast. MHA is remarkably good at picking up its own slack that way, pulling out all the stops just when I think it doesn't quite have a grip on itself.
It's the fights involving the more memorable teachers that stand out the most, since the chemistry between the students and the teachers they must fight is what pulls the most weight. Of course Present Mic is the one fighting Jiro, the headphone jack girl. Mina and Kaminari are the slackers who don't test well? Pit them against our hyper intelligent mouse man principal! It's here that we start to see how many great character dynamics have been cooking this whole time, just waiting for their opportunity to surface. And as always, I appreciate the deftness that the show demonstrates when helping us get to know some background faces like Koda, whose name and personality I'm going to remember from this point forward thanks to this episode.
It's a win-win situation for an author to have such a large cast of characters that you're free to flesh out only when the story calls for it. There are still 1-A students I know nothing about, but I like the ones I do know enough not to feel like we need more characters. If Horikoshi gets around to teaching us all about tail-guy or arms-guy, he'll probably do a knock out job. If they stay background characters forever, that's okay too.
Surprisingly, the best exam/fight of the episode probably belongs to Mineta, as he competes with Midnight's seductive charm. Mineta's become a pretty intense punching bag on social media, which is no surprise. A sexual harassment joke character is both a tired cliché in anime and something that feels all the more sinister in an otherwise feel-good show. However, he's a joke character all the same, so I don't expect the story to challenge his perverted behavior much, and what the show does try to say about him as a person is bizarrely relatable. He's the kind of guy who wants to be a hero to look cool (for girls). Is there sincerity in that? The show offers a comforting pat-on-the-back in response—and thankfully he wins his fight by showing courage that has nothing to do with his hormones—which I think is a message for more than just the perverts of the world. It's also a poignant question that's bolstered by the high school setting, where these kids are eventually going to have to say "What now?" after they've graduated and become heroes.
The episode wraps up leaving us hanging, just as Midoriya and Bakugo's team-up is about to begin. There's no question in my mind that the show wants to hit me in the feels with whatever's coming, as their conflict has been my favorite part of MHA ever since season one. This was a very entertaining episode, and I'm ready to see what season two is looking to finish out with.
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