Be still, my soul: characters’ hearts have gone aflutter with romance, passion, and the pressure of passing yet another battle royale tournament. Who will emerge victorious? Find out next week! But for now, join Karandi and I as we discuss all the boring stuff that comes before it.
Once again My Hero Academia has me being a little bit cautious in my optimism for it as we go into the provisional license test. It was much the same when it started it’s sports tournament arc and I was very much not expecting anything from it. Tournaments by their very nature limit the stakes because in the sports tournament losing ultimately didn’t mean anything and they weren’t fighting someone for real. Admittedly, the sports tournament proved me very wrong and delivered some really compelling character moments and some of the most amazing match-ups I’ve ever seen.
But the provisional license test has the same problems going in. Even if the students fail, there’s no real downside that’s been established. Even if they get cut from the class or the school, they are more than talented enough to get into another one and as first years it isn’t as though they won’t have other opportunities later on. Failure isn’t exactly the end of the world here even though the kids might think it is. That definitely minimises the stakes. Throw in a whole bunch of new characters from other schools that we’ve barely had any awareness of as potential rivals and this has the potential to get very messy. Now, My Hero Academia has definitely bought itself some goodwill by defying my expectations in the past, but I am definitely in a wait and see mode with this latest offering.
Of course, all of that is about the overall plot, so what about this episode?
Can I do a little happy jump up and down with glee as I watch Uraraka watching Midoriya? Sorry, but I think these two are totally adorable and I’d love to actually see them get together even though it kind of seems like the story has better things it should be doing. Little moments with these two characters always make me happy such as the phone call between them previously or Uraraka refusing Midoriya’s plan before fighting Bakugou. So getting this moment in this episode was actually really great (though I wonder what Kapodaco thought about it).
Otherwise, I really liked the introduction of the teacher from the other school who was baiting Aizawa. If she was a full time character she would annoy me to no end, but diluted here and played off against Aizawa she was great value and I look forward to her commentary and banter in the next episode.
And that’s where the happiness really ends. Mostly this was a lot of set up, introduction of various characters I don’t have any reason to care about just yet, the ‘surprise’ that only 100 of the 1500+ students will actually pass the exam, and then the exam start. None of this was particularly bad, but it definitely was set up and until we get to the payoff it is hard to know whether this will all be worthwhile.
A little behind the scenes look at the process of this collab was shown through Karandi’s parenthesized statement regarding me. In case you ever wondered, we don’t watch this anime and write our thoughts down on it at the same time! The placement of whose section is first any particular week is intentional; it’s whoever writes down their thoughts first.
Anyway, the episode this week was rather “Meh” from me, as well, though for different reasons. As evidenced from prior episodes, Karandi and I aren’t usually eye to eye when it comes to the importance of “stakes” in regard to an episode’s quality. For me, I thought the inclusion of a provisional license exam was just one more step in the direction of becoming a hero. As Aizawa(?) put it: “You go from eggs to rookie chicks” (or something like that). It’s a process. Trust the process.
Where Karandi and I feel similarly is the foundation of “set-up.” This was absolutely a set-up episode and while it was no worse than the set-up episodes that started the season, I couldn’t find myself getting too excited about what’s to come. The only thing that interests me is who would fail and who would pass. I don’t expect every U.A. student to pass, so those who do will likely be getting a little more future screentime (maybe?)—and I’ve always been fascinated at who a writer may be smitten with when it comes to tournaments and what-not.
To satisfy the question from my collaborator, I thought the scene involving Ochaco was a little cheesy, though it also made me think about how developed a character she is when I know for certain that she isn’t just in love with Midoriya because he’s hot or because he’s nice. His passion for heroism and unyielding strive to improve himself are definitely factors to fawn over with another person; though if we wanted to dive deeper into the psychological sphere, she could also subconsciously see these traits themselves as the things she desires for herself, with the premonition of love being a catalyst to awaken her own motivation. But I highly doubt the series will go that route.
I also really enjoy the banter between Ms. Joke and Aizawa. I don’t think I’d get tired of her if she were a series regular, but perhaps if she were alone I wouldn’t be so docile. It’s basically just these two. Oh, shit! Do I have a new shipping?!
Lots of talking, lots of new character introductions (many of their designs looked really uninspired), and lots of holding the cards at the chest prevent this from being a particularly good episode, but it’s fine nonetheless. As I said before, it’s a process; one I’m too far into to not trust now. As long as Iida is one of the winners and Mineta gets knocked out first, I’ll be fine with it.
(To see all posts concerning this collab, check out my Collabs page!)