My Hero Academia
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 43 of
My Hero Academia (TV 3) ?
We've gotten a big fight out of our systems with Midoriya trying to protect Kota from the villain Muscular, but the Vanguard Action Squad's attack is far from over. Last week was about as much as I could ask for from Midoriya, so the fact that he's still running around and trying to help his friends given his injuries really adds a sense of urgency to the remaining fights. Aizawa mentions that Midoriya's now fueled entirely on adrenaline, and the second he stops moving he'll be a sitting duck. His job now is mostly to convey information from group to group, but even then that feeling of his exhaustion competing with the barreling momentum of the story is exactly my jam.
This is as traditional Shonen Jump as My Hero Academia gets, where you've got the big cast sprawled throughout the scene and organically crossing paths with villains while each group strategizes on how best to deal with their circumstances, using their powers as practically as possible. Midoriya's gunning for Mandalay, who can send messages telepathically to the whole class, and the hot shots Bakugo and Todoroki are teaming up, but they have to be careful about their Quirks setting fire to the wooded area surrounding them. Muscular mentioned last week that he was looking for Bakugo, and he seems to be the League of Villains' primary target, so everybody has to be super careful about that (not to mention the implications of the League thinking they might have something in common with our ratty little anti-hero).
This is yet another case of MHA doing some pretty basic stuff for its genre, but doing it shockingly well. My attitude when it comes to the lesser-known side characters is that I'm not actively looking for them to impress me—I'd much rather just let the surprises happen over demanding that every character be fully fleshed-out—but the efficiency and confidence with which this show manages to do exactly that astounds me. Between the Class 1-B students who get a moment to shine, the swarm of memorable villains, and ending on a cliffhanger involving kids like Shoji and Tokoyami, this episode continues to make balancing this large cast look so damn easy.
At this point I'm just waiting for the day that season three delivers an episode that's simply decent, but so far it's still going as strong as the best-executed swath of long-running shonen series I think I've ever seen. We've got world-building, intrigue, small character moments, big action scenes, an ebb and flow that coherently links all the thematic elements together, and so on. I'm impressed at how much I'm enjoying a show that I already loved. If I had just read a plot synopsis of this Forest Training arc, it would probably have seemed pretty rote, but I'm head over heels for every second of the ride.
For a sprawling battle episode, you don't really get better than this. The variety in characters and fighting styles is pitch perfect, and while it isn't going for the emotional highs or bombastic animation of last week's episode, you feel the consequences of the Muscular fight all the same. Everything feels like a reaction to everything else, and Bones is doing such a fantastic job capturing the flow of the story that it doesn't leave me with much to say beyond "it's really frickin' good."
So it's really frickin' good.
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