Another week passes, and My Hero Academia‘s Provisional License Exam trudges on. Again, the opportunities for students to pass are rapidly dwindling, with less than fifty spots open and a lot more than fifty students left competing. Most of the kids have grouped up into squads, so clusters are passing and failing simultaneously.

Backed up by Denki Kaminari (Tasuku Hatanaka), Katsuki Bakugo (Nobuhiko Okamoto) faces off with Seiji Shishikura (Makoto Furukawa)–another student from the prestigious Shiketsu High–whose Quirk jabs at people with huge blobby fingers, turning them into horrific blobs of flesh. For all the flack Bakugo gets for giving off villainous vibes, he doesn’t come close to this guy. Seiji molds, flings and reforms his fleshy hands like the Batman villain Clayface, and a single touch is all it takes for him to smoosh you into a meatball.

A barrage of small explosions is enough to keep Bakugo safe from the flesh flurry, but that’s exactly what Seiji expects. From behind, his other disgusting Playdough arm snakes a circuitous path to sneak up on Bakugo. Just like that, he joins Eijiro Kirishima (Toshiki Masuda) in the group of scattered human meatballs. Denki Kaminari, famed for frying his own brain with his electrical Quirk, is left alone to face down this nightmare.

When Denki redesigned his costume, the major addition was some sort of projectile launcher on his arm. Using it, he launches a disc that Seiji easily dodges, but it’s not that kind of projectile. With the disc lodge in a wall behind Seiji, Denki unleashes his Quirk on the meat man. Unlike the old days where his electricity would flow in all directions as his own body cooks, a single arc jumps from his finger to the metal disc lodged in the wall, catching Seiji in the middle.

The sadistic student from Shiketsu High is shocked in every way possible. As he struggles to mount a counterattack through the pain, Bakugo and Kirishima struggle free from their meatball forms. Together, the trio punches Seiji into oblivion. All around them, the other balled up students reconstitute, ready for a fight.

Back in the same rocky area where this whole thing started, Izuku Midoriya’s (Daiki Yamashita) trio has a plan to get out. Hopping around from rock to rock, Izuku keeps the attention of their competitors on him. Hanta Sero (Kiyotaka Furushima) catches up to him with confirmation that all the pieces are in place. Finally, a hidden Ochaco Uraraka (Ayane Sakura) releases her gravity control Quirk. Above the swarm of pursuers, boulders tethered together with massive bands of tape fall from the sky. Most of the trio’s competitors are instantly caught under the huge adhesive straps, and the ones that slip through are easily wrangled. With some time to spare, the three UA students claim their passing spots.

At the winners’ waiting room, more and more UA students are congregating. Izuku and Bakugo’s groups join with Momo’s (Marina Inoue) group and the solo Todoroki (Yuki Kaji). Nine of their classmates are still out there, and the available spots rapidly shrink to ten.

Once again in this rocky nothing-world, Tenya Iida (Kaito Ishikawa) sprints around rounding up his straggling classmates–as his the duty of the Class Representative. He finds Yuga Aoyama (Kosuke Kuwano) huddled behind a rock, two of his targets already alight. Iida grabs Yuga by the cape, sprinting back toward the other classmates he had located, but Aoyama seems despondent. Formerly happy to show off, Aoyama now seems unsure of what he wants or why he’s even here. Wrenching free of Iida’s grasp, he goes for the heroic sacrifice.

My Hero Academia

Arching his back into a crabwalk pose, Aoyama shoots his navel laser at full strength into the sky. The gesture is meant to draw all of the remaining competitors to him, so Iida can make an escape. Instead, his light acts as a beacon to the scattered UA students. Within moments, all nine of them have converged on Iida and Ayoama and together, they easily mop up the remaining adversaries. The test finally ends and, unsurprisingly, the entirety of UA’s Class 1-A made it through.

This is the expected course for this test to take, which in itself is a little dull, but even more is the general emptiness of the competition. A standard tactic in action series like My Hero Academia is to build up a nemesis before they’re defeated. Lay on the tragic backstory, build up their abilities, and lend the whole conflict greater personal stakes. Instead, this test plays a longer–and more boring–game by setting up a new group of adversaries, but still on the thinnest terms.

We still don’t know anything about the formidable students from Shiketsu High, or the determined group training under Emi Fukukado (Mariko Nagai) at Ketsubutsu Academy. If and when we do learn more about these characters, they’re still training to be heroes themselves, so will likely become allies way sooner than they’re pitted against UA again. Before this season, this show’s entire hook was the emotional stakes of each student striving to become a Hero, and defining for themselves what heroism means. That all feels so far behind us, now.

 

Tom Laurie
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