My Hero Academia
Episode 6

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 6 of
My Hero Academia ?

So Aizawa may not be such a tough cookie after all. When all is said and done, his promise to expel the lowest ranked student turns out to have been a lie. Despite his impressive showing of One For All, Midoriya only managed mediocre scores on all but one of the physical tests, so this is relieving news. Our little hero-to-be still has a lot to learn if he wants to use his skills in a productive way.

So much of this show is spent managing a balancing act. We have yet another trick-question type exam, so our expectations of the stakes are is in constant fluctuation. A side conversation between All Might and Aizawa reveals that just the year prior, Aizawa had expelled an entire first-year class on a whim, so that's not an impossibility within the academy. “His potential was not zero,” Aizawa confirms about Midoriya while trying not to look like a softie. “That's all it was.”

Another balancing act is demonstrated with the school's nurse, an old woman who has the ability to heal people with a kiss. We saw this during the entrance exam when she came in and fixed everybody's wounds. Since Midoriya's Quirk so far has been all about demolishing his own body and even breaking bones, we know there's a finite amount that he can use it without significant time to heal afterward. The nurse (whose superhero alias is "Recovery Girl") serves as a cheat to this, but she makes it clear that her power simply speeds up the body's natural healing process, which will sap the recipient's stamina. If Midoriya needs to be healed too much and too frequently, the sudden loss of stamina could potentially kill him.

My Hero Academia is intensely aware of its own potential pitfalls. From a very basic Storytelling 101 point of view, there's an acknowledgement that stakes, conflict, and being able to relate to the characters are important functions of a story, but anybody with experience in trying to craft their own narrative knows that those things don't always come naturally, especially if you're trying to write from your heart like the author of MHA clearly does. The show is so softhearted that it defaults to certain things being easy for the main character. Every test is a trick question that lets him pass despite failing, there's a nurse who can heal all his wounds whenever he uses his Quirk, many of his classmates have warmed to him very quickly, etc.

Of course, all those easy rides come with an appropriate "however." However, his teacher is still pessimistic about him. However, if he gets healed too much he'll die. However, despite Ochako and Iida seeing the best in him right out of the gate, there's still Bakugo to worry about. The story knows when it's in danger of feeling stakes-less and quickly hurries to add those howevers in for balance. I think the mushy feel-good stuff is where this show's heart and soul is at, but I also believe it's probably got something up its sleeve once it's time to pull the rug from underneath us.

Continuing with the plot stuff, now it's time for All Might's portion of the curriculum. First order of business is suiting all the students up with their superhero costumes. Apparently, when you apply to the U.A., you submit a desired design for your costume and a contracted business whips them up for the school. Everybody gets suited up with their big, flashy costumes, but since Midoriya's enrollment process got kind of awkward, he's going with a costume his mom made for him instead. Now, Midoriya's mom is great and precious and the most important thing in the world, but the rabbit-eared mask looks really dumb to me. It doesn't look like it'll stick around for very long though, so I guess I can forgive it.

This whole sequence gives me mixed feelings. I was never in love with the superhero aesthetic to begin with, and this is the scene that really dives all-in as a celebration of superheroes and their fans. It's the side of the My Hero Academia world that just scratches no itches for me. Bakugo gets by far the coolest costume, and Ochako pretty much looks cute no matter what, but the rest I could take or leave.

Speaking of Bakugo, he's probably the most important character in this episode. Once the whole cast is given their costumes, they're split up into hero and villain groups for some practice runs. Think "shirts vs. skins" in basketball training. Midoriya and Ochako get paired up as a hero team against Bakugo and Iida as the villains. Obviously, Bakugo has some bones to pick with Midoriya. The two of them have always had a strange mixture of almost-friendship combined with a classic bully-victim dynamic, though that's mostly because Midoriya is such a forgiving soul. Bakugo screams "antihero" to me, meaning I expect to see plenty of good in him one day, but when the practice fight starts at the end of this episode, it's clear that he's still got a lot of genuine anger to take out on our protagonist.

As far as bully characters go, I think Bakugo is electric. He's by far one of the most passionate characters in the show, and his voice actor has such a great gravel to his cadence that he ends up being a real show-stealer. His showdown with Midoriya, where our protagonist gets to demonstrate his strength training and years of hero analysis, elevates this episode from being just another day at school. Bakugo is beyond frustrated to see his view of Midoriya being challenged. He's so frustrated that you can't help but wonder what problems of his own he's dealing with. It's a character like this that goes a long way to making My Hero Academia feel a little bigger than just Midoriya's story.

Rating: B+

My Hero Academia is currently streaming on Funimation.

Sam Leach writes about One Piece for The One Piece Podcast and you can find him on Twitter @luckychainsaw

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