My Hero Academia
Episode 40

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 40 of
My Hero Academia (TV 3) ?

With the expected recap episode out of the way, it's time to begin season three of My Hero Academia for real this time. With Class 1-A's first semester at U.A. over, we're thrust into summer vacation. However, wannabe pro-heroes can't afford to rest, especially not in these villain-abundant times, so the class is instead sent to a training camp in the woods to burn off some steam and get even stronger with their Quirks. Thankfully, all the kids seem to be immediately on board with the idea, more than happy to dedicate their summer to working hard and hanging out together.

MHA's always been an exceptionally strong production, but I wouldn't be surprised if season three ends up being the most impressive one yet based off of these first couple episodes. We still haven't seen what the big flashy show-stoppers are going to look like, but even the more conventional stuff with characters just goofing off gives the impression that the show is slowly but surely continuing to up its game. For such a low-key episode, there's something surprisingly lavish going on this week, indulging in a profusion of little character acting details without going overboard.

Perhaps distance makes the heart grow fonder, since returning to this show after months away from it is making me appreciate the execution so much more. I thoroughly enjoyed this episode, as it does a fantastic job of covering a lot of story, ranging from fluffy comedy to bathhouse fanservice to thoughtful drama, all while managing to stay cohesive. The story is that the class arrives near their destined camping site, but with the help of the hero team called the Wild, Wild Pussycats, they're being thrown into an action-packed mission fighting artificially created monsters. So many birds get killed with this one stone, since Pixie-Bob of the Pussycats is an absolute riot of a personality and we get to see the kids in action again. Midoriya's just getting the hang of his Full Cowling, so it's cool to see him using it in small, practical ways as it gradually becomes a regular part of his fighting style.

But the heart of this episode belongs to Kota, the child who hangs out with the Pussycats. Kota's an introverted yet crass little kid who doesn't respect the students' hero ambitions, and as a result he can only apathetically assist them in their training. However, we see glimpses of him being a genuine person, like when he's stopping Mineta from aggressively peeping on the girls in the bath. ("Before learning to be a hero, you need to learn about being a human," is such a perfectly brutal yet heartfelt dunk.) By the end of the episode, Midoriya learns that Kota's parents were heroes who died on the job, and he never reconciled the respect the world gave their sacrifice with the abandonment he felt after their deaths. There's a great emotional conflict here, as the series chooses not to present heroic deeds as universally good acts that help everybody. Of course, heroism appears to be an overall positive force for the world with little room for a devil's advocate, so I love the way the show draws a parallel between Kota's feelings and Shigaraki's from season two. Heroes being unable to save everybody isn't what damns the endeavor, it's that people's feelings of unhappiness and dissatisfaction are now directly related to something that the world celebrates in a positive light.

Season three is off to a strong, strong start. At first I wasn't sure how warmly I'd feel about such a basic introduction episode, but I can't think of any way you could start the new arc off better. Everything from the animation to the story is as promising as My Hero Academia has ever been. It's a marvel how well this episode juggles its varying elements, giving you a little bit of everything and packing a punch long before it's even gotten to the actual punching. It carries just enough soul to feel special in my opinion, and considering that this new batch of MHA is just beginning, I can only look forward to what comes next.

Rating: A

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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