If you thought My Hero Academia was ready to finally move on from the provisional hero license exam, have I got news for you. It isn’t. We’ll remain stuck in the relentless minutiae of professional heroism for a good while.
Now that one hundred students are through the first leg of the exam, it’s time to blow up the testing ground and populate it with actors playing the roles of trapped and injured civilians. When UA’s Class 1-A darts out to answer the first audible call for help, they’re met by a small man playing the role of a small boy. Noting their panicked and deficient response, the small man immediately starts deducting points. These people aren’t just actors, but are the administrators of this portion of the test.
Izuku Midoriya (Daiki Yamashita) musters his best All Might (Kenta Miyake), slapping on a smile and declaring that “it’s fine.” The mock-victim is less than impressed, but Izuku scoops him up and whisks him away to an impromptu triage area. Realizing they’re a little out of their depth, the rest of his class splits into smaller groups, loosely organized by complimentary Quirks.
This is most of the episode: groups of three or four students finding actors and helping them to the triage area while learning lessons about prudent safety measures that are necessary to rescue operations. Half of it feels like stuff they probably should’ve been learning in a high school “Hero Course” before being tested on it, but I guess UA’s faculty was more confident in their curriculum of field trips doomed to be attacked by villains. The other half feels like explanations of the structure of this society that just raise more questions.
Why “heroes?” Why aren’t they just fully integrated into police and medical services if literally everything they’re taught includes a caveat about how they’re really just a temporary bulwark before the “real” professionals show up? We already know the police chief is a Quirked dog-man, and 80% of the population has Quirks, so why does this other all-important yet totally subservient pillar exist? I’m no fan of cops, but the more the show points out the relationship between Heroes and police and emergency services, the more awkward the dichotomy feels.
Still, the kids band together–even working with students from other schools–and rescue a lot of people. But, just as everyone is gelling into a cohesive, cooperative rescue unit, Gang Orca (Shuhei Matsuda) and his gang explode through the wall of the arena. For the next portion of this exercise, they’ll be playing the role of villains, here to disrupt the rescue process. How will the students balance their duty to rescue versus their conceptual duty to do cool fights?
Irritatingly, all of this serves as a backdrop for more pervy nonsense. Before the new test begins, Hanta Sero (Kiyotaka Furushima), Minoru Mineta (Ryo Hirohashi) and Denki Kaminari (Tasuku Hatanaka) confront Izuku about his fight with Camie Utsushimi (Minori Chihara). Sero eagerly told his horned up classmates about how Izuku saw the Shiketsu High student naked, and now it’s all the boys can think about. This is then positioned against an onlooking Ochaco Uraraka (Ayane Sakura). We get more of her blushing and wondering about whether her feelings for Izuku are romantic, or are rooted in her aspiration to be equally heroic.
It’s the sort of thing that’s bound to continually suck. Mineta’s continued existence will always be a down note for the show, but the paths forward offered to Uraraka are just as bad. At best, she’ll realize a level of heroism that will be overshadowed by Izuku (just as he has yet to escape All Might’s shadow). More likely, she’ll reach something like that level, but will take on a greater role as Izuku’s high school girlfriend. Either way, she can only exist in relation to Deku.
When I said I liked this show because of the intense personal growth, I didn’t mean engorged teen morons.