by Nicholas Dupree,

My Hero Academia: Make It! Do-or-Die Survival Training

My Hero Academia: Make It! Do-or-Die Survival Training
In preparation for the their upcoming Provisional License exam, Class 1-A are assigned a new training mission: search for and rescue a dummy victim inside a damaged underground mall. Everything seems routine for the students, until a sudden earthquake causes a cave-in, trapping the students underground. Deku, Bakugo, and the rest of their class will have to work together, and combine both their quirks and brainpower to save themselves.

My Hero Academia is BACK everyone! For like 40 minutes total, but hey it's something while we all wait for Season 5. These OVAs aren't the first MHA has gotten, but they are the first to release legally State-side, and with no airing date still for the next season we might as well take a peek at what everyone's favorite super-powered kids are getting up to in the meantime. Though if you're not caught up with MHA's anime just yet, don't worry: these episodes take place in the weeks before Class 1-A's provisional license exam which took up the latter half of season 3, so as long as you're not literally years behind on the series you're good.

The setup is pretty typical for MHA's anime-original content: the class is assigned to a new training mission, this time forming a rescue team to search for dummy survivors in an underground mall, but things take a turn for the dangerous when the exercise gets interrupted by a real emergency. The main difference is this time it's not a villain (or faux-villain) that mucks things up, but an earthquake that leaves the training area an unstable mess that threatens to collapse on our young heroes if they make the slightest wrong move. It's honestly a rather nice change of pace from the typical villain attack setup, as it both allows the characters to use their quirks for something besides fighting and gets to explore the “saving” part of a Pro Hero's job instead of just punching the bad guys.

Those looking for MHA's typical high-octane action will be disappointed here (Don't worry, Heroes:Rising will be out on Blu-ray soon and you can melt your face off with that movie's climax) as the actual escape and rescue effort is a pretty mild affair throughout. For one, while there's tension over the characters getting injured, the fact that this all happened during a test scenario tips you off that even if this wasn't a planned “accident” on Aizawa's part, the other teachers are all but certain to be waiting in the wings to step in if things get really dicey. For another, the bulk of these episodes is mostly about the pared-down cast (we follow a team of ten through this while presumably the rest of the kids go do something less interesting) working together and formulating plans to escape the rubble safely and get an injured Iida above ground for medical attention. It's a fun enough time to see the cast using their quirks with broader application, and it allows characters besides the combat-oriented Deku/Bakugo/Todoroki trio to contribute in important moments, but it's best to approach this as a pleasant pit-stop with the rest of the cast, many of whom haven't been prevalent in the anime since 2018.

There are a few issues in the back-half though, specifically with the logistics of the danger. After securing an escape route and getting Iida to safety, half the team's left near the bottom of the mall as water starts flooding in through the damaged foundation. It's a solid ticking-clock idea, but there's never a good sense of how fast the water's rising or why the kids couldn't all just book it out of there now that their only injured member is secure. This winds up with Deku, Bakugo, and Todoroki pulling a Looney Toons-esque plan to create a pressurized geyser and blast their way back to the top, even though it seems like they would have had plenty of time to just run outside and get back out with everyone else. It's not a huge deal considering it's already obvious they'll get out fine either way, but it left me scratching my head over why they'd bother with such a needlessly dangerous stunt.

As with most OVAs like this, there's not a lot to say on the character front either. The cast are all firmly in character for where they were at this point in Season 3, and there's a handful of fun moments among some of the teams, most notably Todoroki and Tokoyami end up paired off and have what may be the first conversation they've shared in the whole franchise. There's some requisite blushy shipping fodder between Deku and Uraraka, and a pretty fun moment where Deku emotionally strongarms Bakugo into letting him help after the loudmouth injures his leg. Bakugo of course flips it and demands Deku “be [his] cane” rather than actively accept his help, which makes for a solid gag to end things on. It's all fluff, but if you're just looking to chill out with some of the more prominent 1-A kids, it does the job just fine.

All-in-all, Make It! Do-or-Die Survival Training is an amusing enough reminder that MHA exists, but if you're looking for something memorable or substantive you're better off just waiting for news about the next season. The anime has shown it can craft compelling original material within the main series, but this decidedly middle-of-the-road material won't leave much of an impression.

Overall : C+
Story : C+
Animation : C
Art : B
Music : B

+ Some spotlight given to often sidelined characters, avoids the typical villain attack storyline
Totally ancillary, back-half feels weirdly contrived

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