While episode 53 felt somewhat slow in terms of story progression, it provided much needed set up for the coming Exam. Overall, the episode was a strong step for the weeks to come.
88 %
A Solid Step

MY HERO ACADEMIA is kicking off its exciting foray into the real hero world. The students of Class 1-A have just spent several days developing new moves and styles. Midoriya was the main focus of that growth with his unique leg-based move Shoot Style, but others improved too. Uraraka is becoming adept at making herself float, Bakugo can focus his blasts, and Tsuyu has a move “more froggy than ever.” Needless to say, they’ve all gotten considerably stronger since starting at UA just months ago. But even that might not be enough to guarantee success. The Provisional License Exam normally has a mere 50% passing rate, and now it’s even lower. The students of UA are some of the only first years to attempt the test. That means other hero candidates from other schools will likely have years worth of training to work from.

What this episode did most is examine the mindset and outlook of all the characters. We also met new people and got context about the state of hero society. While we as viewers may not be aware of it, the events of MY HERO ACADEMIA have caused massive shifts in the world. Losing the Symbol of Peace and witnessing Stain’s ideology at work had a profound effect. The former inspired villains to be more active and heroes more vigilant. The latter sparked discourse concerning what it means to be a hero.

Like last week, Episode 53, “The Test,” was mostly exposition. But as anime fans know, it’s important to segment out arcs like this. We started the second cour with training and a brief time skip. Now, we get some battle strategy and the rules of the exam. Plus, some exploration of romance and a taste of combat to come.

MY HERO ACADEMIA Episode 52 Recap: Shoot Style is Epic

Budding Romance

The last two episodes have both included substantial screen time to showcase Uraraka and Midoriya’s relationship. Last week, Mei Hatsume’s extremely… physical interactions with Midoriya prompted a lot of embarrassment from Uraraka. Now that there’s plenty of downtime, she finds herself thinking about him more and more. While it certainly makes sense for her to be jealous of Hatsume given how she semi-tackled Midoriya, it is somewhat disheartening for her and Midoriya’s relationship to replace development for the other girls. The night before the exam, all of the girls were gathered in the Heights Alliance dorm relaxing and hanging out.

Just prior to them meeting up, we got a lot of time seeing the boys discuss their new combat and gear. Kirishima and Denki both showed particular interest in Midoriya’s new style. Those conversations and mutual admirations of power are how we learn about new skills. The conversation amongst the girls shifted to romance almost instantly. This is a tendency present in the manga and all throughout the series. Uraraka is generally portrayed as a function of romance rather than her own character following the Festival arc. However, that romance can be a bit wholesome, especially when considering that she and Midoriya suit each other and have funny interactions.

MY HERO ACADEMIA Ochaco Uraraka thinking about Midoriya.
Uraraka so smitten she’s floating | Image: Crunchyroll

On top of that, we saw an interesting side of Aizawa as a way of introducing new characters from other schools. While it’s doubtful that he and Ms. Joke have a real romantic relationship in the slightest, it was fairly hilarious to see him get sheepish.

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The Spotlight Sours

Earlier on in MY HERO ACADEMIA, we saw the fame and admiration people have for UA. Following the Sports Festival, random people in public recognized Class 1-A from television broadcasts. For public perception, having a yearly showcase of fresh talent and skills is positive. Not only can pro heroes scout potential recruits for their agency, but citizens can feel safe. The more they enjoy the spectacle of combat, the more likely they are to trust heroes once they go pro. And that trust flows through to all of hero society, making the world a bit more stable.

But there’s also a secondary effect that Midoriya and the others quickly become aware of. Other schools that are less prestigious or less well-known compared to UA also watch these exams. For a test that involves combat against heroes, knowledge is always power. We got to see plenty of examples in fights against villains of this in practice. By knowing the identities of the Vanguard Action Squad, All Might, UA, and the police were better able to attempt a Bakugo recovery. Other schools have had the opportunity to study every facet of UA and probably dislike them. For a strong hero in training at a different school, UA probably seems snobby and overhyped. The academy is, after all, more or less the Harvard of superhero schools.

The candidates for provisional licenses in MY HERO ACADEMIA
Of the 1540 candidates, only the first 100 will pass | Image: Crunchyroll

The time spent on expository details like than inter-school competition is important. It gives us context for meeting new characters. The students of Shiketsu high school, for example, exist in the context of competition. MY HERO ACADEMIA did well this episode to characterize their mindset even before we see them up close.


Holding their Own

This is what All Might meant when he said that the class’ new techniques were more than just stopgaps. By learning new moves, UA’s Class 1-A can effectively manufacture a unique competitive advantage within their usual disadvantage. Everyone around them is intimately aware of what their Quirks are. For people like Midoriya, the other students are very much aware of the most glaringly weak aspects of his Quirk. Due to the massive influx of heroes in recent years, only the first 100 of the 1540 examinees will pass.

So, if someone’s Quirk is known to destroy their body the more it’s used, it makes sense to target that person. Quickly. But as fans know, Midoriya hasn’t just sat back and done nothing since his time at the Sports Festival. He can now use almost a tenth of One for All’s power without sustaining major damage. And, he has Shoot Style to up his destructive power.

MY HERO ACADEMIA Class 1-A ready for combat!
Squad up | Image: Crunchyroll

This is true for most of the class, and they show it. After the starting ambush by every other school, Class 1-A shows they’re not to be taken so lightly. The new techniques they developed during the last few days of Training and the skills they learned in real combat show. They’re all quite used to being targets, and that makes them more suited for the test than probably any other group. Episode 53 laid out this characterization of the fight and showed how Midoriya and company can use everyone’s assumptions against them.

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Tough Trials Ahead in MY HERO ACADEMIA

This week gave a little taste of the incredible combat to come in the second cour. As someone who has seen the content of the next few episodes via the manga, I can tell you with certainty that some of the new Quirks we’re about to see are amazing. The Provisional License Exam has the best of the best soon-to-be heroes from all around Japan. As such, those that last past the initial massive skirmish are sure to be at or above the level of UA. Plus, the unique combat format of the exam will likely favor more intensive strategies and tactics.

MY HERO ACADEMIA is just getting started and looking good. As usual, the setup episodes will pale in comparison to more combat-centric ones. But even then, the exposition is strong and the development stays full. For that reason, the second cour is likely to be just as exciting as the first.

Did you enjoy the episode? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Featured image from Crunchyroll.

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