My Hero Academia
Episode 53

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 53 of
My Hero Academia (TV 3) ?

And thus we begin the Provisional License Exams. To set these exams apart from the million other exam arcs we've faced throughout this show, we're being introduced to a new swath of characters. We've spent so much time with U.A. that it's easy to forget that other hero schools exist as well, and the most prominent one we learn about this week is Shiketsu High from western Japan. Most notably, Shiketsu is the home of Inasa Yaorashi, a first year student who took the U.A. entrance exam, got top scores, and then turned down the acceptance for an unknown reason. This is to imply that he's possibly more powerful than Todoroki, U.A.'s most impressive student. There's always a moment like this in these shows, where the audience is forced to realize that the world is bigger than the bubble they've gotten used to, even amongst prodigious teen heroes.

Also joining the cast for this arc is Ms. Joke, a teacher from a visiting school who's good pals with Aizawa. And by "good pals", I mean she barrages him with marriage proposals so she can get repeatedly shot down by the cold-hearted Eraserhead. We have a couple of lovestruck ladies in this episode, and the show's panache for endearingly energetic characters sells them great. Ochako's been bitten by the love bug as well, and it's getting more and more difficult to bury her feelings for Deku. There's a part of me that feels like this is a shallow grab at a clichéd will-they-won't-they thing to string the viewers along for years to come, but I can't lie; Ochako's flustered ramblings are some of the most stupidly cute stuff I've ever seen. I'm rooting for you, Uravity!

This is one of those frustrating times where the arc is just too young to properly critique. Am I as instantly on board with these new characters and scenarios as I was at the beginning of the Forest Training arc? Not really, but how much does that matter? The usual format of these exams gives me an idea of what we're in for, and unless things go absolutely bananas by the time the battle ends, it's not giving me much to work with beyond plot description. My expectations are some interesting action tactics, at least one really cool flashy set piece, an ending with a few surprise winners and losers, and then the show will get back to the actual story and we'll all forget these exams even happened.

The big hook here is that with numerous schools competing to be in the small percentile of winners, the non-U.A. teams actually have the advantage by virtue of not being famous. Their Quirks will remain a surprise until combat begins. The exam is a giant game of tag where each competitor must keep three targets visible on their body, as well as carry six orange balls used to light up said targets any way possible. The episode ends with U.A. going on the defensive immediately, with the other schools sharing prey.

I remain at my base enthusiasm for this show. MHA is always a delight, but compared to the stuff that goes on before and after arcs like this, it's hard to be quite as hyped. Best case scenario, we're building to something really cool, but beyond the intrinsic charm of this series, there isn't much that has me excited about this next batch of episodes yet. I'm most curious about this Inasa kid and the rest of his class, but that's about it for now.

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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