My Hero Academia
by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 99 of
My Hero Academia (TV 5) ?
We've at last reached the finale of the Joint Training arc, and with this concluding episode to a very muddled storyline, we get a fittingly mixed wrap-up. That was probably inevitable once it was decided to let the final match go forward after last week's big reveal. No matter how much I like Shinso and enjoy seeing Monoma eat dirt, those moments can't help but pale in comparison to our hero's central powers undergoing such a fundamental shift. Still, I can't help feeling at least a little let down by “Our Brawl” no matter how much emphasis it tries to put on this final match.
For one, this is the first match that I'd say has some outright bad moments – others had weaker showings or iffy individual match-ups, but none of them had crap like Mineta divebombing his way into Mina's chest. It had been a good couple of years since that miserable little grape gremlin had done anything outwardly gross instead of just unnecessarily horny, but he had to get his purple stench on something eventually, I suppose. Mina almost makes this bit funny by turning him into an elastic projectile, but it's still a definite mood killer. That half of this match gets downplayed in general despite having most of the current fighters involved, and while I'm usually fine with the show prioritizing Deku over the ensemble cast, here it feels especially egregious after past battles did a far better job spreading their focus. Also, Monoma briefly copies One For All, but just fails to activate it rather than blowing off his limbs. Give me something, show, come on.
That said, there are also some decent moments. Deku's split-second control of Blackwhip is a strong recovery after an episode fraught with worry for him. Shinso's overall fighting skills still need improvement, but he does well trying to keep his team in the game by holding the other side's powerhouse back as long as he can, and overall behaves like the smart and rational hero we've seen Eraserhead be, even if the boy's execution ultimately loses out. The real star for me is Uraraka, who not only takes down a potentially super-strong Monoma without hesitation, but completely rebuffs his attempts to goad her into joining Deku and Shinso's standoff. It's the right decision for several reasons: adding another person to that fight would give Shinso a better opportunity to use his quirk, the rest of their team is outnumbered and scrambling to hold it together, and Monoma is a duplicitous buttface who speaks in farts so you should never listen to him to begin with. Deku makes the final capture, but it's Uraraka and Mina who clinch things for their side and deliver the clean sweep, so I'm giving match MVP to Uravity.
But it's Shinso who gets the post-match peptalk, and it's overall a solid reminder of what this whole arc was about to begin with: to showcase where all these kids have improved and what they still have to learn. It's a good premise, and there have been individual moments and episodes that delivered on it, but at nine episodes this whole storyline feels stretched just a bit too thin for itself. That's about where I stand on all this, really. I like the idea of focusing on the extended cast, getting more varied fights with different quirks, and with tighter pacing this probably could have been a solid six-and-a-half-episode little sidequest. Previous arcs like the Cultural festival also went on a bit too long, but those at least had the benefit of a unique emotional climax and some thematically important villains. Here, this joint training feels like obligatory preamble to the OFA reveal, sprinkled with just enough solid moments to keep from feeling arduous, but ultimately too sparse to completely justify all the time it took up.
Perhaps part of my impatience is also knowing that there are big things on the horizon after this relatively minor arc. For one, we'll now be moving forward with a protagonist featuring massive new potential and opportunities. For another, there's still all the cloak and dagger between Hawks and the League of Villains that's bound to come up sooner or later. But for now, we're left with a mildly pleasant affair that could almost certainly have delivered far better than it did.
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