My Hero Academia
Episode 44

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 44 of
My Hero Academia (TV 3) ?

Tokoyami, the bird-headed boy of 1-A, is probably one of the more low-key students of the class despite his unusual appearance, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a surprisingly strong Quirk. In the chaos of battle, Tokoyami got angry at the sight of his classmate Shoji having one of his limbs cut off (though we know that's not such a bad thing because Shoji's limbs can regenerate) and his Dark Shadow is now going berserk. It doesn't help that his power is especially powerful and hard to control in the darkness of night.

Our heroes remain in roughly the same spot as last week: scattered throughout the forest and fending off the Vanguard Action Squad to the best of their abilities. Some positive movement does happen, starting with Midoriya's plan to lead Tokoyami to Bakugo and Todoroki's side of the fight where Dark Shadow can take out their villain and the two of them can pacify Dark Shadow with the brightness of their Quirks. Two birds, one stone, etc. We're slowly watching the split group of kids reform, and it all feels pretty organic.

What I took away from this episode more than anything is how fun these villains are. Moonfish is the scary one, Spinner's a Ninja Turtle, and Twice has a weird comedic magnetism that I don't know how to describe but my eyes are glued to him every second. There are clearly some more homages here to the 80s and 90s era of edgy American superheroes that will likely go over my head (appropriate for a team of Stain wannabes), but there's a freshness to them that makes them great antagonists. This is a very familiar type of shonen arc that I think is proving to be executed and structured fairly well, but it wouldn't be half as good without these villains.

The character of this group who ultimately stands out the most is Himiko Toga, the insane schoolgirl character with a thirst for blood. She's fighting Ochako and Tsuyu, so this gets to be the most female-centric action we've gotten in a while. Toga's motivations are a twisted labyrinth because despite her determination, she finds herself feeling enthusiastic about her opponents, thinking she's making new friends out of the whole ordeal. Is she killing these girls or inviting them to a slumber party to talk about boys? Her "I'm just crazy!" persona would feel a lot more shallow if she wasn't so electrifying to watch. Tsuyu also gets a knife cut on her tongue, which as about as spine-tingling as you get when it comes to bodily violence for me.

We're continuing to coast off the momentum of the past few episodes, so we're not quite reaching the same highs, but this week's episode is just as well-polished and enjoyable as what's come before. The villains are falling one-at-a-time, and those who remain on their feet are now retreating. I like how the arc looks poised to end on the villains' whimpered defeat, but then BAM, the 1-A kids dramatically land right in front of them with another baddie unconscious underfoot. The way all the different fights and subplots have been threaded between each other is pitch perfect, and we end the episode more curious about how the villains are going to get out of this than the heroes.

As usual, season three continues to impress. We're in the wake of the huge bombast that marks this show at its best, but it's still paced in a way that remains engaging and interesting. These villains are worth price of admission alone, and the way our heroes get such an intense upper hand on them is a nice twist on expectations. I'm familiar enough with what's coming to know some of these new faces are going to be sticking around for quite a while, so I know this isn't the end for Toga and the gang. That's great, because I think I like these guys.

Rating: B+

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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