Last week's episode was awful, but this one made up for it. On top of brilliant characterization of some of MY HERO ACADEMIA's strongest characters, it showcased amazing action with strong thematic depth.
92 %
Properly Good

MY HERO ACADEMIA is finally back after a rather disappointing hit last week. Episode 58 ended up being nothing more than a marketing ploy with an extremely anachronistic plot. For an anime as story heavy and timeline dependent as MY HERO ACADEMIA, this was somewhat of a problem. Anime fans, especially shonen ones, likely know that there is always a tradeoff between how often you get to watch your favorite shows and how consistent the quality is. For weekly premieres, there’s an expectation of filler. The source material needs time to catch up and let the anime be on a break so to speak. But, MY HERO ACADEMIA airs in seasons divided by entire years of space, so I was somewhat disappointed to see such poorly done filler when the show hardly needs to use filler at all.

Given this, Episode 59 “What’s the Big Idea” had a huge burden. Last week was like plot and thematic whiplash for a lot of viewers. Stories like this require momentum; things need to stay consistent for every possible layer to fit together. And since the growth of the heroes is continuous, breaking up flow hurts the show. This episode brought the flow back with a return to the exam arc.

For those who forgot exactly where we are and why it’s important, this is the rescue portion of the Provisional License Exam. In addition to fighting well and defeating other potential heroes in combat, this is important too. Episode 59 managed to re-secure much-needed focus on plot. It did so with a lot of character development for Todoroki and Inasa, a fantastic broad contextualization of the exam, and stunning animation throughout.

The Perfect Exam

I don’t talk about quite how impressive this exam really is. To begin, the current rescue portion includes a strong connection to the political movements within the show. As Aizawa noted, the biggest loss in the hero community to date is All Might. All Might represented a veritable extreme of confidence and hope for citizens. In hero society, this hope translates directly into power and agency for heroes. After all, since they are saving the public, they are only as efficacious as the public gives them reign to be. So, in the absence of All Might, it makes sense that a replacement is needed. But, since even strong heroes like Endeavor are light years from All Might in terms of being charismatic of a “Symbol of Peace,” alternates are in order.

Gang Orca and a squad in MY HERO ACADEMIA
Gang Orca might be my new favorite hero. | Image: Crunchyroll

And that’s the entire reason behind the test. Rather than engaging villains in one-on-one combat, groups are a more practical choice. Just like in Kamino city, it was swift and accurate coordination that allowed for heroes to respond properly. And, like with any rescue, mistakes are unacceptable. This episode finally explains the scoring system for the rescue portion of the exam. Unlike a lot of other tests in MY HERO ACADEMIA, this one has you lose points for mistakes. A demerit system essentially means that you cannot push at the last second to gain the points needed to pass. Once you have messed up sufficiently, you fail with no hope of recovery.

This is the perfect model for actual heroism. The public reacts to heroes based on the sum of their bad, not the net good. In going out into the real world, this is the exact same standard Midoriya and his friends will be subject to.

Old Struggles and New Conflict

This is as a standard that corrupted both Todoroki and Inasa. Todoroki and his family have always been my favorite part of MY HERO ACADEMIA. On top of having one of the coolest Quirks in the entire series, Todoroki has a tragic past that explores some of the flaws in hero society. Like we began to see way back with Stain in the Hosu City arc, not all heroes are equal. Some, like All Might, have the charm and selflessness of a “true hero” rather than the common fakes. For Todoroki, who was the result of his father forcing his mother into an abusive marriage, he detests heroes that pursue status. He rejected that status internally and welded it to his very ego. Even within the episode, wavering emotions about his father have tangible effects on the strength of his Quirk.

Todoroki and Inasa in MY HERO ACADEMIA
Todoroki’s hard memories. | Image: Crunchyroll

Inasa is a fantastic example of how that stress and frustration can be infectious. These two hero candidates are extremely powerful. They were able to trap the pro hero Gang Orca in a brilliant cyclone of wind and fire but at a high cost. Their persistent need to outdo each other all ties back to Todoroki’s father, Endeavor. It’s a testament to how divisive concepts like Quirk marriages can become. In terms of the exam, its a great example of why having an extremely powerful Quirk isn’t a golden ticket to hero privileges.

Their struggle with each other is where the strong animation really came through. Fighting is always crisp in MY HERO ACADEMIA. But on top of smooth action sequences, the animated movements of both boys’ pained, struggling faces looked incredible this episode.

Possible Failure in MY HERO ACADEMIA?

We saw a lot of interesting mistakes and important successes over these past few weeks. This week especially showcased Inasa and Todoroki struggling to act in the most concise, efficient, or cooperative ways. But the question becomes, was it enough to make them fail? Early on, students like Midoriya made plenty of mistakes. The arrival of Gang Orca and his criminal squad brought everyone together, but the episode’s ending crafted a fantastic cliffhanger by making it unclear whether the come together moments of the exam’s end will mean our heroes in class 1-A pass.

How did you enjoy the episode? Who do you think will pass? Let us know in the comments!

Featured image from Crunchyroll.

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