Animation
Characterization
Story
Summary
MY HERO ACADEMIA integrated constant characterization through battle this week. Episode 56 showed us that Class 1-A is truly best under pressure, and even showed off every single member!
90 %
Spectacular Episode!

UA really showed its worth today. MY HERO ACADEMIA episode 56 “RUSH!” gave nearly every student a chance to engage in some real combat. Last week, there was a fair bit of filler mixed in with the content of the actual episode. Originally, this seemed extraneous. But, in reality, it was super important. With last week’s episode and this week’s episode, every single character got screentime. While giving a large variety of characters their moment isn’t unique to MY HERO ACADEMIA, doing it this much is. Most shonen series only have a core group of four to five protagonists. As a result, it’s much easier to showcase everyone over an entire season. MY HERO ACADEMIA managed to do it in just a few episodes with nearly triple as many characters as most anime.

In doing so, the series revealed a lot of the hidden parts of people’s personalities and motivations. The stronger, more “heroic” characters often have more on their minds than we think. And for the characters that constantly end up as second fiddle, the same is true. Of course, if every single moment of conflict or risk doesn’t involve you, it feels bad. It’s quite easy for a character like Aoyama or even Hagakure to feel dwarfed by the immense potential of their classmates.

What this episode did is explicate that while making additional commentary about the state of hero society writ large. The result is yet another solid progression of story mixed with character development. MY HERO ACADEMIA is keeping the bar high.

MY HERO ACADEMIA Episode 55 Recap: Class 1-A’s Comeback!

Maximum Pressure

As the episode began, students had already claimed well over half of the 100 passing slots. With loud announcements of nearly every chunk of passes bursting through the stadium, the tension was maximized. Recall that over 1000 applicants entered the playing field at the start. They came pre-organized via school and year, though. So, it made sense to lean on existing affiliations and pursue those who were the best targets. In almost every case, the answer to the question of who to target was UA. Every rival hero program has loads of data on their Quirks, tendencies, and weaknesses. So, they pursued UA vigilantly with the hope of collecting early.

MY HERO ACADEMIA character Denki Kaminari delivering a shocking new attack.
UA has new tricks up their sleeves | Image: Crunchyroll

But this is probably the best situation for Class 1-A to be in. After the crises at USJ, Hosu, and Kamino, UA’s primary source of experience is through danger. Unlike other students, they’ve had their lives on the line. They’ve basically acquired involuntary training in keeping calm and thinking things through. The exam is designed to mitigate most danger to one’s life. We saw several characters point this out last week; if you lose, you just wait until the next test date and try again. Even if you continue to fail, you can just live a normal life. But to Class 1-A, failure corresponds to death and prevailing becomes everything.

On top of that, the structure of the exam makes it difficult for weaklings to last in groups or otherwise. Because only the final hit on an examinee counts as a victory, many weak people tend to lose to a few strong people. Semi-strong people then lose to stronger ones trying to target the weakest. Those who tried to ambush weak people quickly ran out of potential targets.

The Shape of One’s Dream

But UA stayed in everyone’s scope until the very end. And it may have been the only reason all of them were able to pass. Of course, like with most shonen anime, it’s expected that all of the main cast passes. But even though they all passed, passing means different things.

Shiketsu high students have pointed out how heroism has changed after All Might’s retirement. There’s a huge gap in the overall power of potential heroes once their hero-Jesus is gone. What hero society needs to recover is not merely numbers, however. A dozen average heroes will never come close to recovering the presence of a symbol of peace. That’s why the exam is so difficult; not only does it cull the weak, but it also cultivates the strong and the resilient.

Hagakure's new special move in MY HERO ACADEMIA
Even Invisible Girl busted out new powers | Image: Crunchyroll

With its combination of expressive music, voice acting, and animation, Episode 56 really communicated the strong desires of Class 1-A. Even Midoriya, when an upperclassman pled for a chance to pass during his last chance at the exam, mercilessly pressed onward.  The students’ prior experiences were all outside of the legal and official realm of heroism. While doing something like taking down Stain or fighting against the Vanguard Action Squad is impressive, it doesn’t do anything. There is no recognition or additional status granted for vigilante action.

And this is important for MY HERO ACADEMIA in order to build its structured and well-defined world. Laws exist, and they’re important. So, this test is the first big opportunity to put Class 1-A’s extralegal training into legal practice.

KAMIKAMIKAESHI Vol. 1 Review: Shinto Meets Simplicity

Becoming an Equal

This desire was strong for some unexpected characters. For Aoyama and even Iida, their desire to be an equal and do something useful was so strong they were willing to fail. To them, even guaranteeing that some classmates pass was a win. This test was important both within and without the series to give some lesser characters a chance. People like Tsuyu or Seto, who generally struggle one-on-one, are strong here. That’s because everyone’s Quirks have the potential for awesome combos. Due to their practical experience, Class 1-A is able to think of inventive strategies using those combos.

Katsuki Bakugo, the most explosive character in MY HERO ACADEMIA
Even Bakugo started making sure his comrades were safe during his fights | Image: Crunchyroll

The anime was able to improve the final scenes of the exam’s first stage. This is because music and dynamic expressions enhanced the scene. Hearing an emotional melody play behind Aoyama’s pleas to Iida made the rest of the class’s ambush that much greater. Seeing Koda swarm the other students with an army of pigeons sounds better when contrasted with his less aggressive-sounding voice. Adding motion and sound makes a humongous difference when it comes to characterization and delivery.

Plus, this episode gave us a look at more ultimate attacks, old and new. Probably the biggest surprise was Hagakure’s light refraction. Up until now, it seemed like her only talent was just being invisible. But the ability to bend the light around her and blind enemies while remaining invisible is actually pretty cool.

The Real Test Begins in MY HERO ACADEMIA!

All of UA may have “passed” this portion of the exam, but it’s still far from over. The second part of the exam is a unique way to test for real heroes. And, considering what the hero world really needs right now, it’s an important one. Finally, MY HERO ACADEMIA is showing its audience that raw power alone isn’t enough to be great. Some of the biggest powerhouses at UA aren’t all that great at doing the more heroic parts of heroism. Usually, when legitimate heroism happens, it’s thanks to the efforts of the “weak” students at UA. But now the tables have turned.

We’re learning more and more about what every character is capable of. And in the show, the characters are understanding each other too. Even Bakugo is starting to understand the truth behind Midoriya’s Quirk.

MY HERO ACADEMIA has consistently found ways to creatively redefine the idea of a superhero anime. Even compared to Western media, where superhero franchises are the most popular and commercially successful, this level of story crafting never happens. MY HERO ACADEMIA keeps cool characters in the spotlight while forcing them to grow past the coolness and strength of their combative potential. And for that, it’s steady remaining the best shonen anime in recent memory. Hell, it’s even giving Marvel and DC a run for their money.

Featured image from Crunchyroll.

GINTAMA’s Web Drama is Getting a DRAGON BALL Crossover

Load More Related Articles
Load More By Jay Gibbs
Load More In Anime Reviews

Show ComicsVerse some Love! Leave a Reply!

Check Also

Why CELLS AT WORK Works

CELLS AT WORK is funny, action-packed, and educational. Check out our analysis of the show…