My Hero Academia
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 60 of
My Hero Academia (TV 3) ?
At last, the Provisional License Exams come to an end, which means that our baby bird heroes can slowly begin to leave the nest. Those who passed the test may exercise the authority of a pro hero in emergency situations, meaning most of our main characters shouldn't have to worry about jumping through legal hoops like Midoriya and company did in the fallout of the Stain fight. I say "most of" our main cast because a few choice figures didn't make the cut. Todoroki and Inasa failed because of their fight, and Bakugo flunked because he's Bakugo. Basically, the kids who'd normally be a shoe-in on talent alone are finally facing a wall, and their inability to be team players is putting them behind the rest. These past couple of episodes have done a fantastic job making it crystal clear what these exams have really been about in regards to the big picture.
All Might's retirement has emboldened these transitional exposition episodes considerably. This is world-building in a much more literal sense, where the future is so uncertain that how the heroes and villains develop from here will shape society as we know it, and so each successive piece of information becomes pivotal. It turns out that weirdo girl Camie was actually Toga from the League of Villains in disguise (perhaps I should have seen this coming) and All Might has a frank conversation with an imprisoned All For One. They're two men operating on the extreme opposite ends of the hero-villain spectrum, both having to leave their ideals in the hands of successors. Even with All For One defeated and locked up, his actions with continue to eat away at All Might, who feels powerless and helpless in retirement. Though, All Might's declaration to not succumb to Shigaraki is still completely badass.
The final piece of this episode sets up a rematch between Midoriya and Bakugo, at the site of their last fight from season one. This episode plays into the attitude problems developed by the top students, and Bakugo contrasts nicely with Todoroki and Inasa, who were ultimately humbled by their failure. It's hard to imagine that Bakugo could ever demonstrate that humility, even if there's clearly a voice in the back of his head being drowned out by the profound insecurity. This is the kind of character work that I love; Bakugo isn't being as outwardly aggressive as you might expect. He's turned quiet as he shifts his anger back at Midoriya. It doesn't feel like a lack of self-control this time, but genuine malice.
Something that really sets My Hero Academia apart from a lot of battle shonen is that the protagonists' good qualities aren't just a means towards making them likeable for the audience. Their end-game is to be heroes and public servants, and so being a good person matters quite a bit. These recent episodes go a long way towards highlighting how few people are truly able to be the total package that All Might was. All Might was not only strong, but caring and free of ego. You get a sense that some of these kids can learn and grow, either by getting stronger or learning to care and empathize with others more, but Bakugo's strength is so much a product of his arrogance and personal identity. We've already ruled him out as a villain, but can he truly be at home with the heroes? The kid's got issues, and he's fascinating to watch.
MHA's post-arc transitions are getting better each time around. Good and evil are competing for the future of civilization, and both sides seem ready to collapse in on themselves at any moment. This episode is filled to the brim with material to get you thinking. In the end I really appreciate how these exam arcs serve as measuring sticks for our heroes' development, because it's becoming increasingly important that they're doing their best at all times. There's a sober realization after spending the early parts of the Provisional License Exams begging for it to get big and exciting instead of genial and by-the-numbers, and then for it to to finally do so and remind us that the exciting characters are Problems™ in this line of work. I'm really impressed.
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