My Hero Academia
by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 83 of
My Hero Academia (TV 4) ?
In some ways, this School Festival arc is a fascinating look into what MHA could have been if it had started life as a Saturday morning cartoon (OK, it airs on Saturday mornings but you know what I mean). Seeing a story about a group of would-be superhero students trying to put on a festival while the nefarious villains try to crash the party to prank them conjures up fantasies of an entire syndicated series of episodic kid-friendly hero adventures. Maybe All For One runs the villainous school with his protege Shigaraki leading the League of Delinquents. Bakugo always has detention.
The stakes for the actual show are a little more serious, of course. An aside with Principal Nezu tells us that a lot of folks weren't too keen on the school festival happening at all, since it's essentially bait for any jumped up supervillains looking to cause a scene. Nezu reiterates what the UA students have already taken to heart – that the looming uncertainty of the future is exactly why they need to savor as many moments of fun and normalcy as they can. Deku and Mirio touring little Eri around the various classes reinforces this, as we finally see her peeking through the cracks of her shell, if only for an instant. The festival itself may be a risk, but it's a hero's job to take risks if it will benefit others.
That said, this episode is again mostly set-up shenanigans, giving us a look into what all the other classes of UA are doing. 1-B is performing the beautifully titled “Romeo and Juliet and The Prisoner of Azkaban: The Return of the King” and they seem very proud of it. Here's hoping for their sake the superhero version of Warner Bros. isn't litigious. Meanwhile Kendo and Nejire have entered the school beauty pageant, and everyone's favorite gearhead Hatsume is building power armor. At this rate her graduation project will just be putting Deku in a Gundam. These short segments each offer some funny gags and are helpful in showing how much heart is being put in the festival from everyone, but they do go on a bit longer than necessary. Maybe it's just because we've hit 3 episodes of just setting up for the festival, but MHA could stand to tap the accelerator instead of cruising.
Thankfully we have Gentle and La Brava, who once again steal the show as they concoct their master plan of breaking into a high school. The tidbit we get about how they met– La Brava seeing Gentle's earliest video and cyberstalking him to find his address – paints a surprisingly complex picture of their relationship. A clout-chasing YouTuber and his scarily dedicated fan could be rife for a story of manipulation and abuse, but everything we've seen so far suggests they genuinely care about each other. Tiny character beats, like La Brava helping the tech-deficient Gentle unlock a file on his computer, help sell their connection on top of being some great deadpan comedy. The result is something spiritually similar to the lovable crime family of Team Rocket in Pokémon, where even as ostensible villains they're so endearing together you can't help but root for them just a little.
And that's what keeps “Gold Tips Imperial” from feeling like just a part 2 of last episode. Even as somebody who's quite enjoying seeing the rest of the cast share the spotlight, I do find myself getting impatient to see things come to ahead, so it's nice that the preview promises we're finally reaching the main conflict of it all next week. MHA can have a habit of revving its engine longer than necessary, so while the school life breather has been fun it's probably better to get down to business already.
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