My Hero Academia
by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 84 of
My Hero Academia (TV 4) ?
The day of the school festival is here! It's time for everyone's hard work and practice to pay off, and all that's left for preparation is for Deku to buy some last minute supplies for the performance. Unfortunately today is when Deku discovers he may have been born with a quirk after all: Villain Attraction. The boy cannot take ten steps out his door without running into a supervillain he has to throw hands with, including walking smack into Gentle Criminal and La Brava in their wonderfully posh disguises. This teenager fights more criminals before breakfast than any of us will fight in our entire lives.
From there the episode mostly follows the early beats of Deku and Gentle's fight. We learn Gentle's quirk, “Elasticity” lets him turn anything into a trampoline, including air, and it's a suitably silly power for a YouTube D-list supervillain. Plus in classic Jojo's fashion it turns out it can be implemented in surprisingly effective ways, making invisible barriers that propel Deku backwards and turning a construction site into a steel bounce house as he tries to buy time to salvage his plan of sneaking into UA.
Unfortunately, buying time is the MO of this episode – the reveal of Deku's new “Air Force” move and his subsequent scramble with Gentle is padded with a number of flashbacks. A few are new scenes, hammering home how much work his classmates have put into their performance and how important it is to them and Eri, but that's ground thoroughly covered by the previous episodes and in aggregate hurts the pacing of the action more than anything. It doesn't help that Air Force just isn't that impressive looking a move. It's versatile and promises to expand Deku's fighting abilities, especially combined with his improved coordination thanks to Mina's dance lessons, but it lacks the oomph needed to carry the action as it's expected to here.
Thankfully Gentle is plenty capable of keeping things lively on his own. While he has been and continues to be a goofball, the boon of MHA's power system is even joke characters can prove surprisingly tough if matched with the right quirks and circumstances. Even as he slapsticks his way through an argument with Deku, he shows just how he's managed to evade capture as a small-time menace with some effective scheming. He baits Deku into trapping himself under a steel girder, and adapts to the situation by pragmatically changing his video's title to “I Tried Going to U.A.!” just so he won't be posting clickbait if he doesn't succeed. That's real moral backbone for an internet star.
There seems to be plenty of fight left to go at the end of this episode, with La Brava declaring they'll have to use her quirk to get out of this, and hopefully next week will deliver a stronger package. Even for a relatively low stakes scuffle, there's no reason it can't be entertaining and MHA has proven it can deliver great, unorthodox battles before. There are plenty of elements prime for an exciting encounter, but they'll need to be put together properly to keep this arc from petering out before it ends.
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