- Genre : Shounen, action, school, comedy, superhero
- Episodes: 25
- Studio: Bones
The road to herohood(?), herodom(?), heroness… is a difficult one. Littered with obstacles and unforeseen dangers. As it should be! After all you can’t expect to become the best without putting in the effort. A reality that the students of UA’s class 1-A are reminded of every day. But this time is a little different. Beyond the grueling schoolwork and exhausting training, lurks an impending storm. The winds of change are coming. The image and place of the professional hero is changing within society and with that, the power balance between hero and villain has been upset. Can the new generation of good doers find their own power in time to return peace to the world, or will the storm end up destroying everything in its path? Is there really such a thing as a necessary evil?
It may not obvious, but the synopsis was a real challenge for me. I tried very hard not to spoil anything. OK so in exchange I don’t think I gave you much to go on either but guys, it’s season 3 of one of the most popular anime of recent years. You know what it’s about!
I go through this odd ritual in my head whenever I go back to a show I’ve enjoyed. I brace myself for disappointment. It’s a bad habit, I end up getting over my excitement before I even start a show.
I was positively giddy seeing the return of My Hero Academia on Crunchyroll but at the same time, I tried to talk myself down. After all, I hadn’t enjoyed season 2 quite as much as season one. The formula is super predictable and relatively limited. All things considered, it’s bound to get repetitive soon… right. I kept seeing the new episodes in my queue as I was waiting for the season to be over, so I could binge them all. At episode 12 I almost started them. By episode 20 I was a little bored of avoiding spoilers and my little rebel self was ready to pick the season apart just to be contrarian.
Somewhere within the first 15 minutes, I realized something. I had missed this show. Honestly missed it. Like a favorite home cooked meal you haven’t had in a while. Once again, I felt stupid for having worked myself up even before starting the show. I’m a silly girl, I’m grateful you guys like me anyways…
This is the third season of My Hero Academia I will be reviewing and let’s not mince words, these are some of my worst reviews. No, no, I don’t need you to humour me on this. I’m a grown up. I’ve reread them, and I know I can and have done better. For some reason, when I start to write about My Hero Academia, I draw a blank. I’m sharing this with you because it’s weird. One of the few strengths I do have as a blogger is a general immunity to writer’s block. I can ramble on about almost anything. Sure, the results may be debatable, but I have never been stuck staring at a blank page. Moreover, I usually find it even easier to talk about series I’ve enjoyed, and My Hero Academia is among my favourites. Yet…once again… I don’t know what to say. And this really intrigues me.
I think it may be because My Hero Academia is just too good. Wait, hear me out. Let’s start on the technical aspects. I’ve already described them in the two past reviews. The colours are some of the richest, most impressively saturated yet easy to look at I’ve seen in recent years. The ink wash backgrounds are beautiful. Animation is fluid and engaging, really living up to the high action story line with surprisingly little loss in detail or art quality. My Hero Academia is a stellar example of a very well made action shounen.
What I mean is that every single aspect is extremely well crafted to be exactly as expected. There’s nothing novel and unusual about My Hero Academia, but what is there, is delivered in the best possible way. I appreciate expertise. I don’t feel the need to have shows constantly reinvent the wheel, sometimes it’s nice just to have a great wheel. This show is a perfectly made wheel.
But originality usually becomes a factor in narratives. Who cares if the colours aren’t special? Well I do… but you know…
That’s the thing though, the story is pretty much by the book as well. A classic hero’s journey in the narrowest sense. And season 3 simply continues in the same vein. Deku is still underestimated and facing increasingly impossible odds. The villains are getting stronger every season, but our heroes are also discovering new talents. A paint by numbers fighting shounen…and yet.
I might be alone in this, or maybe I’m just reading too much into it, but enough odd elements and random comments have been thrown around to make me think that My Hero Academia is as much a condemnation of the traditional superhero archetype as it is a celebration of it.
Creating the “job” of professional hero, together with required certification and responsibilities, really frames heroism as a function of the market rather than individual altruistic drives. Heroism as a business. It’s a callous notion and not exactly new either but I do like the balance My Hero Academia throws in. It reminds me a lot of the Incredibles which is one of my favorite movies.
Side note, when they were going to get their costumes upgraded, I kept wanting one of the engineers to scream “No Cape”! It would have made my day but sadly it did not come to pass.
Then there are the characters. Affable, even arguably noble villains aren’t that unusual but having people like Bakugo or Endeavour on the side of the good guys is a break from convention. Both are very morally grey characters, with questionable motivations. Both are arguably just unpleasant and potential even “bad” people. But in the context of business heroism, their efficiency matters a lot more than their attitude. And that has a whole lot of potential.
In previous season, this was a background aspect. A bit of spice to add flavor to our superhero tale. But as the world of heroes and villains is slowly reshaping the vanguard is taking center stage. The clash between idealism and realism is right around the corner. In these three first seasons, My Hero Academia has carefully nurtured and developed a very wide and varied cast with a whole range of beliefs that are about to be challenged. It’s managed to lay out a multitude of competing hero philosophies, admirably illustrated in how every student reacted and dealt with Bakugo’s situation. These young men and women are all very different breeds of hero. The potential for conflict is amazing and that particular conflict is one we rarely see. One that My Hero Academia has poised itself to explore like no show before.
This brings me to my title. One of the unusual aspects My hero Academia has already chosen to delve into, is the virtue of accepting and understanding weakness. This season was filled with examples of characters having to acknowledge their own limitations and learn how to deal with them. No longer is it viable to stand as a lone symbol of justice, the fight can only be won if you know when to ask for help.
Possible the most powerful image of heroism I’ve seen lately, is a broken and weakened All Might, a shadow of hi former self, standing stubbornly against All for One. Because that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it. Someone who doesn’t feel fear isn’t brave, their just crazy. Someone who is invincible isn’t strong. An unstoppable force standing in the path of evil is comforting, but when an ordinary man does it, it’s inspiring. That’s what All Might wanted to be. Most of us will never become superheroes, it’s just not possible. But we can still be heroes, and if you ask me that’s better.
I realize this may go against the message My Hero Academia seem to be putting out in earlier seasons. After all, Deku needed a quirk to be a Hero. But the narrative is increasingly hinting that All Might may be an unreliable narrator and his reasoning and choices (including the one to share his power with Deku) are suspect. Guys…this show is just so cool…
Because it is such a loving tribute to the superhero genre, because it is instantly recognizable as a shonen, because it keeps the pace brisk and action filled, My Hero Academia can make delving into ethical and moral dilemmas of power look like a thrilling ride, rather than an ethics class. I for one, amd impressed.
Like I said, I’m not sure where it will go. Season 3 is still patiently setting up the set pieces. But I can’t wait to see where it goes!
Favorite character: as always Aizawa
What this anime taught me: strenght is delicate and fleeting
Always remember to take more out of alcohol than it takes out of you
Suggested drink: Whiskey Smash
- Every time a scene takes place in a bar – take a sip
- Every time you think UA’s teaching methods are a little harsh – take a sip
- Every time one for all activates – cheer
- Every time the camera focuses on Deku’s hands – take a sip
- if it’s a fist – take another
- Every time we see news footage – get some water
- Every time anything is “normal” – be suspicious
- Every time you hear Plus Ultra – wonder how I haven’t used that one yet…
- Every time Uraka blushes – awww