My Hero Academia
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 52 of
My Hero Academia (TV 3) ?
Just as My Hero Academia's story was beginning to explode with beautiful fireworks, we're reminded that this show tends to alternate between edge-of-your-seat big picture storytelling and more isolated adventures that inch our baby children further along in their hero course. It makes sense, the show has to earn the "Academia" in its name somehow, but the school stuff is routinely my least favorite part of the series, so the momentum always feels like it stops dead in its tracks around these times.
The name of the game now is finishing moves. It's up to each student to develop and name a final attack that suits their Quirk, both for the practicality of combat and the general showmanship of heroism. It's the kind of thing you don't find yourself thinking about in shonen: when do these characters come up with names for their attacks and why? MHA isn't being tongue-in-cheek enough to be lampshading, but there's always something amusing when a show can commodify its tropes like this. Were there comic books in this world in the days before Quirks, thus influencing the cultural aesthetics of superheroes? Or did things develop this way by pure coincidence?
Finding a fighting style that suits your personality and needs is the key theme this week. Midoriya's struggling to develop a finishing punch with One For All, since the recoil is too much strain on his arms. All Might nudges him in the right direction, and eventually Midoriya realizes that it's perfectly viable to base his finishing blow around kicking instead. I like that the conflict in this episode was a product of Midoriya trying too hard to emulate All Might by focusing on punches. Not only does it emphasize developing your own specialized way of doing things, but it's a lesson that effortlessly applies to all sorts of things. When learning a new skill, it's easy to take for granted how many of our struggles are because we just assume there's only one way to tackle a problem. Also, between the kicks and the floppy ears on his hood, is Midoriya adopting a rabbit theme?
The past few episodes of My Hero Academia have been taking it pretty easy, but this was the first episode in a while where the straightforward direction started to bring me down. Visually, the anime has always had so much chemistry with its source material that even at its worst, it remains in another league from what you'd see from Toei or Pierrot, but even this show can feel flat and workmanlike at times. This issue is compounded by the newest opening, 'Make my story' by Lenny code fiction, which is by far the most forgettable opening in the series yet. I'll probably skip it moving forward.
This is a bottle episode with some fun antics and a heartwarming ending, but it's not oozing with charm the way the best episodes of this series do. Mei Hatsume returns to steal the show with her wild personality, and I like the pontificating that comes with Midoriya's struggles to develop his finishing move (as well as All Might's attempts at being the firm but gentle teacher he needs to be), so it definitely has its strengths even if it's not going to set the world on fire. I'm still not a fan of the class-themed episodes in general, but then again I was always the kind of teenager who read Shonen Jump to get away from school, so there's that.
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