Animation
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Summary
MY HERO ACADEMIA is back this week with an exciting episode to start back Season 3. This episode provided a useful transition and gave us a look at Midoriya's long-awaited new moves with the Shoot Style!
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Great to be Back!

MY HERO ACADEMIA is back at it again with the start of the second cour after a one week break! This week’s episode was more of an introductory episode than anything else. However, it still brought us a bunch of new content to set up a new arc. Episode 52 came with a groovy new opening and ending. We saw some fresh action of a few new characters in that opening. And, we got one of the most long-awaited additions to Midoriya’s character: his new way of using One for All, the “Shoot Style.” In more ways than one, this episode is a transition. But, it’s probably one of the most well-done ones I’ve ever seen.

What MY HERO ACADEMIA does continuously within the anime is reinforcing the realities of superheroism as an industry. Superheroes aren’t vigilantes. Rather, the government strictly regulates nearly every aspect of their work. The mere ability to attempt rescues requires a permit. Getting that permit requires an exam that 50% of applicants fail. Seeing as a good portion of those applicants go to vocational high school literally meant for superheroes in training, this is big. Since Class 1-A’s internships and the first forays into Hosu City, there has been a building tension between their heroic tendencies and qualifications. Plenty of them has what it takes to be true, honest heroes. But there’s a big difference between wanting to save the day and actually being able to.

But finally, we’re seeing the training that will elevate the students to pro level. And while careful buildup will never be quite as satisfying as a United States of Smash, Episode 52 did a damn good job.

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The Ultimate Attack

For most anime, the Ultimate Attack is usually just a flashier version of a normal strong attack. For us viewers in the real world, however, we latch onto those moves. We begin to identify the words a shonen character proudly screams with the action that follows. Suddenly, a mere stance can produce immeasurable hype. For me personally, I remember the instantaneous rush of excitement whenever Gon from HUNTER X HUNTER would begin to prepare his signature Jajanken. Even before a single word left his lips, I knew something amazing was coming. Within the anime’s own world, MY HERO ACADEMIA reminded us that viewership is the core of their society.

MY HERO ACADEMIA character Mina Ashido and her improved control over her acid.
Simple changes in approach come with the development of new moves. | Image: Crunchyroll

Due to the nature of heroism, status and legitimacy are pegged to public appeal like a currency. When the general opinion toward hero society sours, heroism is less efficacious or permissible. After all, if you’re not excited to see something and it fails often, why would you tolerate it? The training that Midoriya and his friends are doing is one of the first steps toward the level of the pros; the top heroes are all strong because they’re recognizably strong. Endeavor has destructive power via his flames to rival All Might, but All Might is successful because he is a literal symbol. In his case, like a stance begets excitement, his presence begets a feeling of safety.

In terms of the students, this sort of training also allows them to develop more situational applications of their Quirk. Bakugo is consistently the best at this, but others do it too. Something as simple as angling one’s fingers to shoot streams of acid rather than burst is important. And, they look better all the while.

A New Style

The addition of new heroic techniques to MY HERO ACADEMIA is great. But, the most noticeable change without a doubt came from Midoriya. While the fan-servicey sequence that led to his epiphany was somewhat unnecessary, the process as a whole was important. All Might has brought up time and time again the issue with Midoriya copying him. Every smash attack, movement, and cadence is burned into Midoriya’s mind. And to be honest, what other choice did he have? We see several of Midoriya’s classmates remark that they’d spent a good portion of their childhood thinking of super moves. For those who had Quirks that manifested early, this was a simple process of thinking about the future. The same way middle schoolers dissecting frogs picture themselves as surgeons, kids predict via their Quirks. But for Midoriya, who had no Quirk, he found a worthy substitute.

MY HERO ACADEMIA Protagonist Midoriya Izuku's new Shoot Style
Midoriya combines his signature wind up with a destructive kick. | Image: Crunchyroll

Reinventing Old Habits

His otaku habit of documenting and analyzing is merely a mental defense. Since he had no Quirk up until 4 months ago in the series, he found some way to link to superhero culture. The simple possibility of developing a Quirk in cool and creative ways was foreclosed for him since childhood. But, that also means he’s trapped in the mindset of an observer rather than an actor. What makes Midoriya’s growth so astounding is not just its speed, but its psychological intensity. He has to mentally adapt to changes and needs for his Quirk despite only having it for months. He is basically being told to compose an 8-minute dance routine after taking his first steps. Given that, of course, his instinct was to copy.

But Shoot Style will revolutionize the way that his copying works. Finally, Midoriya is beginning to properly weaponize his innate ability to observe and respond. Luckily, Hatsume is eager to help him. The metal braces he added to his legs allow him to make use of their huge strength. He had already begun to copy the mobility techniques of Bakugo and others. But, in borrowing many elements from many of MY HERO ACADEMIA characters, the style ceases to become borrowed. Soon, no individual component of his strength will be definitively that of someone else. This is the beginning of his own unique style. Shattering a boulder to save the hero he used to imitate was a great metaphorical image of that shift.

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The Upcoming Provisional Licence Exam

MY HERO ACADEMIA support character Mei Hatsume
New developments are only possible because of characters in Support roles, but even upgrades may not be enough for some. | Image: Crunchyroll

For the upcoming exam however, fighting prowess won’t be enough. The reveal of Shoot Style somewhat glossed over a lot of the dialogue, but Aizawa’s words on the exam itself were important. Like some of the pros noted, an Ultimate Attack need not be combative. In fact, some of the cooler Ultimate Attacks we’ve seen have either been preemptive strikes meant to bind and repress, or some kind of “boost.” In taking this hero exam, the students will likely face a lot of challenges that aren’t pure combat. If I could levy any true criticism for most of Class 1-A, it would definitely be that they evaluate themselves too much on combative strength. This is the reality of a lot of truly dangerous professional hero work.

But, being able to save people is important too. During one of the filler episodes last season, we got a look at Tsuyu in action during her internship. Her Quirk is incredibly useful in a naval setting. So, she chose to work with an agency specializing in aquatic rescue. That sort of thinking will be important if the heroes want their licenses. This is especially true for people without combat-oriented Quirks like Hagakure. After all, a hero’s job is to save civilians from all kinds of dangers.

A New Chapter for MY HERO ACADEMIA

All in all, we got to see a lot of new and a good reinforcing of the old with Episode 52. MY HERO ACADEMIA never fails to impress. And the same can be said of its transitions and pauses. This episode introduced the core focus of the second cour cleanly and swiftly. And, we got a little taste of Midoriya’s new moves. Manga readers know that his Shoot Style makes him into a whole different type of fighter. Personally, I cannot wait to see that style more in action with this season’s crisp battle animation. Also, tomorrow is Midoriya’s birthday so sing him a little song after you’ve caught the episode.

Featured image from Crunchyroll.

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