My Hero Academia
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 51 of
My Hero Academia (TV 3) ?
My Hero Academia has always been great, but I don't think it's ever quite fired on all cylinders like it has in the past few weeks. The action, theming, and sentimentality have all been at a 10/10, but now we're diving right back into silly goofing off as the students of 1-A nestle into their new dormitory. I like this set-up because not only does it keep these kids in close proximity moving forward—they'll all be within arm's reach even outside of class—but it continues to perpetuate that deepening sense of change that's been happening as a consequence of the story. Moving into a new place can be a big deal for a young kid, but MHA is deciding to focus on the fun, exciting aspects instead.
The whole cast feels super-engaged this week, especially the girls. Mina and Toru in particular really leap out of the screen with infectious enthusiasm as they force their way into their classmates' rooms to judge their decoration skills. The majority of this episode is an elongated joke about how much each kid's rooms meets or defies expectations, but the joke never outstays its welcome. I found myself just as curious to know what surprises lurked behind each door, and you can really put yourself in the characters' shoes with how eager they are to call this new place home. Some of my favorite rooms include:
- Izuku Midoriya - Like we saw back at his house, Midoriya's room is a fanboy shrine to All Might, which is silly because he's already his hero's pupil! It's a little embarrassing, but then again who doesn't love All Might?
- Shoto Todoroki - First of all it's a surprise that he put any effort into interior decorating at all, but it's even more of a surprise that he put in so much effort that he somehow rebuilt the entire structure of the room to adhere to a more traditional Japanese style. "How did you remodel it in a day?!" "I worked hard."
- Kyoka Jiro - Full of musical instruments so she can keep living out that rockstar life.
- Momo Yaoyorozu - Since she's a rich girl who's used to living in a mansion, she completely overestimated the size of her dorm and now it's too cramped because of how big her furniture is.
The hijinks of this episode make for some unabashedly feel-good material. The comedic timing is great, but overall it's just pleasant and charming. After some heavy emotional episodes, this is a perfectly timed breath of fresh air. Even at its most uneventful, MHA has a pulse that keeps it moving and season three continues to knock my socks off with quality content. These kids are so much fun to be around.
However, I don't know if this would have been a total 'A' if it was just hijinks. The cherry on top at the end of the episode sees the class confronting a crying Tsuyu, finally breaking from the stress and worry of the past few days. This sudden tug at the heartstrings could easily come across as saccharine, but I love how it has me thinking about Tsuyu differently as a character. She's always had that "I always say what's on my mind" bluntness to her, and now we get to see how she feels when her straight talk—in this case, when she warned Midoriya and the others not to get in trouble over Bakugo—is ineffectual.
There are a surprising number of layers to this scene. Empathizing with Tsuyu reveals that A) she's always been curt partly to be practical and useful to others, like when she tried to stop the rescue mission, B) that bluntness is also a factor when she's sad, so it's not like she could have held her feelings in any longer, and C) these children have more people to keep in mind when they're being reckless than just their parents. Last week's episode got the audience to worry about Midoriya's mom, and now this week is about the rest of his class. They're all in this together, and if any of them get themselves hurt, the others are going to worry. This is a shockingly effective scene.
Even Bakugo shows a moment of maturity this week. He gives money to Kirishima to pay him back for the money spent on disguises. The obvious handwave that Bakugo could make over this gesture is that he doesn't want to feel owed, but you can tell that he cares about having inconvenienced his one friend at this school.
This episode is kind of a marvel. The marriage of boisterous hijinks and softhearted thoughtfulness brings a lot to the table. It's not just a smorgasbord of different tones; each scene is reactive to the one before it and there's an unmistakable chemistry between the cast that lights up in a way we've yet to see. My Hero Academia has it all. In the wake of the transcendent All For One fight, this show is radiating with a freshness and a knack for entertainment that's unusually strong. We're in "how the hell does a show this good exist?" territory.
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