MY HERO ACADEMIA Episode 40: "Wild, Wild Pussycats"
Animation
Characterization
Story
Summary
While Episode 39 was a bit more recap than expected, "Wild, Wild Pussycats" made up for it and then some. Combining incredible action, consistent humor, and new characters makes this an amazing catalyst for the newest arc.
88 %
Amazing!

Finally, the training camp arc has truly begun! MY HERO ACADEMIA’s premiere left plenty of fans wanting more. But the start of Season 3 was mostly recap. While this is pretty standard fare for MY HERO ACADEMIA (and anime writ large), it was still painful to wait another week. But episode 40 made up for that and then some.

This begins the long-awaited Training Camp arc, wherein the fledgling heroes are finally developing their Quirks. One extremely crucial detail in this episode was the way it how the students have barely improved their Quirks, even after all they’ve gone through. Despite being in situations of true combat and danger, the power of the students’ Quirks has only increased marginally. The obvious exceptions are Midoriya (who doesn’t break his arm every two seconds anymore) and Todoroki (who finally uses his flames), whose improvements are elsewhere. These subtle increases in ‘power’ are generally derived from better stamina and mental preparedness.

But in terms of MY HERO ACADEMIA’s broader story arc, “Wild, Wild Pussycats” reminded viewers that this training camp has meaning. It isn’t simply the case that Midoriya and his classmates seek strength just to be strong. Rather, their training is in response to a crucial rise in the rate of villains committing crimes. On top of that, these new villains are singling out and targeting Midoriya’s class specifically. Given this, the beginning of the episode establishes the context we need for the arc. It is absolutely imperative that the Hero Class master their Quirks, or else villains will annihilate them.

Episode Spoilers for MY HERO ACADEMIA Episode 40 “Wild, Wild Pussycats” follow.

MY HERO ACADEMIA Episode 39 Recap

New Characters

The most noticeable new content comes in the form of the training camp leaders and owners. This team of pro-heroes specializes in mountain rescue operations and fly as hell cat outfits. Thus far, we’ve met Mandalay, a clear-headed pro with a penchant for calm conversations, and Pixie-Bob. Unlike Mandalay, Pixie-Bob is quite hyper and expressive. She forces Midoriya to abstain from mentioning details about her that imply her age and is quite concerned with marriage. While the trope of ‘woman concerned about having to get married’ is somewhat overused and unnecessary, it does create some light humor early on. While we don’t know Mandalay’s Quirk yet, we have seen that Pixie-Bob is basically an earthbender. She can cause mudslides, shatter rock, and even create remotely controlled golems.

Pixie-Bob uses her Quirk to shatter ground beneath UA students and send them flying.
Pixie-Bob’s destructive Quirk, “Earth Wave,” in action | Image: Crunchyroll

The final new character we meet is Kota Izumi, a jaded 5-year-old who acts as a neat foil for Midoriya. Unlike most kids, who idolize superheroes, Kota sees the profession as pointless. He brings an element of realism into the show by reminding us of an unfortunate reality. Just as firefighters might die diving into a burning building, heroes often die in battle. In Kota’s case, his parents both died in action when he was just three. As a result, he abstracts the positive role of heroes from the specific trauma he has suffered, and thus hates the profession. While we’ve seen villains that hate heroes, this is the first kid in MY HERO ACADEMIA to not idolize them, making him an especially significant addition.

A Nonstop Journey through the Woods

The journey through the woods was what really made the episode. From Midoriya’s Full Cowl to Yaoyorozu manifesting a literal cannon, the action just kept coming and coming. Partially due to the fact that they were fighting earth golems and not people, their attacks were extreme. Rather than having to hold back, the students literally tore their enemies apart. That action was amazing compared to the lack of fighting in the series opener, but it’s significant for other reasons too. Given that the purpose of the training camp is to radically increase the dynamism of their Quirks, what we saw was a baseline. That means that later fights will likely involve even better action than what we saw in Episode 40.

Also, every single character had a bit of screentime. We even got to see some rare combo plays, like Uraraka, Yaoyorozu, and Tsuyu teaming up to take down a golem.

Yaoyorozu creates a cannon to fight the earth golems in MY HERO ACADEMIA episode 40.
Being able to pull a cannon out of your stomach can come in handy | Image: Crunchyroll

But in terms of the story, this form of training is representative of an entry into the real world. At school, there is a limited amount of time to use Quirks. While UA Academy is primarily a hero training facility, regular subjects like math are still part of the curriculum. Over the summer, however, no such impediments exist. Midoriya and his classmates are at a level of training where practical improvement of skill is paramount. On top of that, the exercise that left the entire class completely exhausted was an easy day. I can’t wait to see what MY HERO ACADEMIA brings next.

Some Unfortunate Fan Service

Even great episodes like this one aren’t without flaws. While extremely brief, MY HERO ACADEMIA did indulge in some unfortunate fan service part way through the episode.  This had the immediate effect of forcing me to pause and wait until I was in private to finish the episode (just in case). But more than that, there was simply no reason to engage in Mineta’s antics. The extremely sexual nature of the entire segment, featuring the overused hot springs trope, distracted from exposition about Kota. Furthermore, the fact that a 5-year-old has a nosebleed in response to seeing a nude woman, a reaction we would normally see from old men in anime, is a bit disturbing.

Granted, this sequence is also present in the manga. However, consistency with source material doesn’t absolve a work of some of its problematic scenes. Additionally, the bathhouse scene in the anime was slightly more sexualized than the same scene in the manga, and the emphasis appears intentional.

MY HERO ACADEMIA and AVENGERS Collide in New Promo

Episode 39 had a similar moment of brief sexualization in the form of Mineta’s fantasies. While this sequence was also egregious and unnecessary, it at least didn’t propagate into the actual show. This time, we had several minutes dedicated to a scene that could have easily been left out entirely. Since it was essentially used as a mechanism for having Kota pass out, the show had many options that achieved similar ends. Honestly, I could’ve done without Mineta pissing himself too.

Overall, A Great Episode for MY HERO ACADEMIA!

Even given the short stint with Mineta’s antics, this episode of MY HERO ACADEMIA was absolutely fantastic. The action was consistent, the (non-sexual) humor was appropriately sporadic, and the new additions to the character roster are quite interesting. Some especially memorable and hilarious scenes are Kota punching Midoriya directly in the jewels and an invisible high five from Hakagure. One thing that has been particularly interesting as someone who reads the manga is the difference in excitement I get from animated vs still scenes. While the MY HERO ACADEMIA manga’s version of Beast’s Forest was sufficiently hype, seeing the motion along with the action was even better.

Nearly every character got some screen time today, and that was super nice to see. This season is already impressive from just 2 episodes. The real action of the arc hasn’t even started yet, and I’m already on the edge of my seat.

Featured image from Crunchyroll.

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