Animation
Characterization
Story
Summary
The second half of the exam is underway, and the students are struggling to juggle a variety of high stakes rescues. The episode did a great job of capturing the many moving parts of the episode while giving the characters room to grow.
88 %
Solid Development

MY HERO ACADEMIA hit us with an exciting new chapter of the Provisional Licensing Exam arc! This week’s episode is the beginning of the exam’s second half. Unlike the first half, which focused on adaptive combat strategies, this phase is all about rescue. While it is quite easy to forget, a huge part of a hero’s duties involves removing civilians from harm. The flashy fights, cool powers, and fearsome villains make this easy to ignore. But in a time when impetuses for heroic reforms are increasingly emphasized from both within and without, that’s not enough. Combat focuses alone don’t create heroes worthy of the title. The exam is taking this to heart by forcing the best fighters to prove their capabilities rescue as well.

This is why Episode 57 “Rescue Exercises” is so unique for MY HERO ACADEMIA, Class 1-A, and for shonen anime in general. It’s somewhat rare for superpower anime to focus on rescue like this at all. By making it clear that rescue matters in the world of MY HERO ACADEMIA, it begins to matter for the anime in turn. This gives the series two unique chances. One, it allows lesser seen characters to have some unique chances to use their skills. Strong thinkers like Yaoyorozu can create strategies that save lives. And two, it forces characters with a lot of combat roles to adapt their perspectives and strategies.

By combining that drastic shift in characterization for a lot of the budding heroes, the episode managed to further the plot while building up its characters. For some characters, like Uraraka, that characterization has been moving in a somewhat annoying direction. But, ultimately, the episode gave a lot of hope for the overall track of the series at this point.

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New Forms of Heroism

In instances of rescue, the first response is the most important part. When push comes to shove, it’s generally the actual professions that tend to do the true care and treatment. The job of heroes is to ensure that a situation is best prepared for the arrival of emergency medical staff and police. MY HERO ACADEMIA utilizes the Help Us Company, a legion of professional bystanders, to accomplish their scenario. Bystanders from the HUC assume roles in perilous positions. Using the ruins of the simulated exam field, the staff put themselves in positions beneath rocks, feign injury, and evaluate the students.

HUC employees in MY HERO ACADEMIA
The professional bystanders. | Image: Crunchyroll

What makes the exam somewhat interesting is that the criteria are unclear. Unlike any examination we’ve seen thus far, the method of gaining points is vague. HUC employees deduct points for anything from incorrect decisions to sloppiness. Since even simple absentmindedness can affect the impact of a student’s “heroism,” anything can hurt their score. Something as simple as Midoriya asking an awkward question hurts his score, for example.

The exam gave us a chance to see different uses of Quirks Shiketsu High has a lot more experience and training in rescue than UA. While it’s quite clear that their past experiences give them a strong resolve to fight villains, it also means that a lot of that experience is tied to saving themselves, not others. On top of that, this week’s episode did a great job jumping across locations. In this way, the constantly moving scenes across the arena are all covered carefully.

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Frustrating Romance and Budding Rivalries

For reference, today’s episode only adapted two manga chapters. It was able to convert a very small amount of source material into a full-length episode, which is important. But, in conversion, the scenes with Uraraka’s inner thoughts felt a bit longer and more drawn out than they needed to be. The scenes were already somewhat distracting from the rescue efforts, but they also felt overdone. Uraraka as a character has recently only been developing via Midoriya. It’s fantastic that their wholesome friendship and budding romance is growing. Shipping wars aside, it’s cool to see a shonen relationship foster via mutual respect. But, it’s somewhat upsetting for Uraraka to focus on Midoriya with every onscreen appearance.

Uraraka Ochaco in MY HERO ACADEMIA
Uraraka’s character feels way too linked to her and Midoriya’s budding romance. | Image: Crunchyroll

If today’s episode holds as any indication, she’s abandoning her heavy focus on loving Midoriya. This is quite good, especially if MY HERO ACADEMIA wants to capitalize on her unique backstory. During the Sports Festival arc, we learned about her parents and struggles with poverty. Since then, there hasn’t been an incredible amount of exploration done on the subject. In fact, she’s essentially fallen to a source of comic relief via her embarrassment over loving Midoriya.

Beyond that, we saw some interesting dynamics with Shiketsu High. There seems to be some reservation about the hyper-elite and entitled mindset of UA students. In this portion of the exam, teamwork is essential. It’ll be interesting to see how the current tension between both schools affects that teamwork.

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Double Trouble

If the difficulting of quickly adapting to rescue missions weren’t enough, MY HERO ACADEMIA threw Gang Orca into the mix too. We haven’t seen exactly how the #1o hero will make things difficult for the students. Gang Orca, due to his unique Killer Whale powered Quirk, is a great adversary. He’s deadly enough to pose a real threat and force the students to adapt quickly. Thus far, both the first and second part of the exam have lent themselves to combat in small squads. Of course, powerhouses like Shiketsu High’s Inasa or UA’s Todoroki were able to take on many enemies alone. But, for everyone else, teamwork was somewhat of a necessity in order to accomplish anything. Given the massive gap left by All Might’s departure, this is important.

HUC scolding Midoriya in MY HERO ACADEMIA
HUC bystanders are quickly critical of the students’ actions | Image: Crunchyroll

By teaching the students to work together, the goal shifts toward better outcomes rather than personal gratification. In terms of power, no single individuals is ever going to replace All Might in the short term. Even Midoriya, who managed to inherit One For All, will need a year or two before he’s a full-fledged hero. As a result, the heroism and symbolic protection All Might put into practice needs to be replicated in an additive form. This is to say, that if it’s impossible for a single new hero to replace All Might, MY HERO ACADEMIA can fill his void with many impressive ones.

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With the arrival of a fake villain to the scene, the heroes in training need to do everything at once. Rather than just rescue HUC civilians or battle villains, they’ll have to do both. That’ll require them to adapt between what’s most necessary in order to guarantee maximum survival and minimum injury for the civilians. It’s not a job that any one person can possibly do. The team dynamics in the show are already established from the first portion of the exam. with the second phase, it’s likely we’ll keep seeing inventive strategies from the students. And, they’re learning to quickly internalize feedback and improve their rescue techniques.

The students most used to relying on pure power are finally starting to struggle. For the first time in a while in MY HERO ACADEMIA, the best fighters are having the most difficult. Hopefully, the series will build on that to develop better.

What did you think of today’s episode? Let us know in the comments!

Featured image via Crunchyroll.

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