My Hero Academia Season 3 Part 1 (Episodes 39-50)(Cert 15)
2 Discs DVD/Blu-ray (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 286 minutes approx.
It’s back to school for season 3 of My Hero Academia but as we know, the U.A. High School for Heroes is no ordinary place of education. It nurtures the next generation of super-powered individuals that are part of the 80% of the world population with bespoke abilities called Quirks, shaping them to protect society against the disruptive few who serve the dark side.
Having successfully completed their exams via the gruelling Sports Festival tournament and been thrown into the lion’s den as part of their internship where the young heroes faced off against member of the League of Villains, the next stage of their schooling is to attend a training camp to improve the strength of their Quirks. This takes place at a remote forest lodge where they can run havoc to their heart’s content.
Under the guidance of guest teachers, the professional hero team of The Pussycats – Ragdoll, Pixie-Bob, and the lone male Tiger – the class are immediately set to work by having to make their own way to the camp via the forest where they have to fend off the earthen beasts that dwell there. Despite the extant tensions among the group, they manage to pull together and achieve their task.
Also at the camp is an orphan named Kota who despises heroes, taking out his disdain for them on nominal protagonist Izuku Midoriya aka Deku. However, Deku leans that Kota’s hatred stems from his hero parents being killed in the line of duty, but when a group of Villains attack the camp, Deku steps up to protect Kota, pushing himself beyond his power limit to survive, earning Kota’s respect in the process.
This opening story arc covers the first seven episodes in this set, now being released by Manga Entertainment instead of Sony Pictures, following a one-off part-recap chapter which is very helpful in reminding us of the extensive cast list and their Quirks. A typical blend of bawdy comedy and exposition, this works nicely as a prelude to the main story which appears to take its cue from a popular shonen well of plot ideas.
Fans of Naruto will recognise the basic premise of the grumpy kid befriended by the hero en route to rethinking his attitude as it formed the basis for the plot of most of his spin-off films. It’s not exclusive to Naruto of course, other shonen properties have use this trope as well, so My Hero Academia creator Kohei Horikoshi is less a lazy plagiarist and more a keen observer of time-honoured traditions.
Deku isn’t the only hero to be tested in this story, just as he isn’t the sole focus of the other stories, since the core maxim of this series is the teamwork of this eclectic group of heroes. The League of Villains have increased their membership since the last season and are more dangerous than ever, the newcomers taking this opportunity to show off their abilities.
Resulting in an all hands on deck situation, there are numerous battles to be enjoyed here which allow many of the secondary characters to shine in the spotlight, though the Deku-Kota relationship remains the priority. One of the teen heroes pushed to the fore is tempestuous troublemaker Katsuki Bakugo, Deku’s childhood rival and general hot head. His brash and haughty attitude catches the eye of head villain Tomura Shigaraki, and orders Bakugo’s capture in the hope they can use his anger to make him switch sides.
This is a test of loyalty for Bakugo who, despite his belligerence and arrogance, at least know right from wrong but will having his ego stroked persuade him otherwise? It’s an idea that deserves deeper exploration that it receives here but by the same token, its use as a transitional plot device at least spares us many clichés and predictable swerves whilst retaining the core essence of Bakugo’s character.
With the juniors badly injured in their own battles against the Villains, the Pro-Heroes are forced to step up to take over after the mess from before becomes a public matter, resulting in a formal apology. However, the likes of All Might and Gran Torino are almost spent forces and the Villains are younger, stronger, and more devious, boasting deadly Quirks. All Might especially is already running on fumes but can his steely resolve as the top hero help overcome this?
If anything, there is no shortage of emotional drama to drive these storylines and the attendant battles, which gives this show some degree of separation from other shonen action fantasies. Not that this isn’t a reason for most battles within this genre but the mantle of hero being an official one gives the responsibility to fight a credence not found in personal vendettas.
Emotion plays a huge part in the twelve episodes presented in this release, extending to the Villains too – remember they were once simply gifted people in need of a direction as well. The big shock in this instance revolves around Tomura and the despicable All For One, All Might’s opponent in the climax of this arc, which teases an interesting direction for the second half of this season.
Some of the battles tend to wander into Dragonball Z/Naruto territory as the combatants feel the need to reminisce mid-fight or verbalise their feelings and strategies; unlike these shows, there is no continuous run so it never outpaces the manga, therefore no punch-up exceeds two episodes at the most. But this is another shonen staple we should all be used to by now, and the fights are as spectacular and brutal as ever.
My Hero Academia doesn’t quite reinvent the wheel but puts its own unique sheen on the spokes to help it stand tall above the numerous generic outings devoid of any originality. Its driving force is its well-drawn characters and crucially, its heart. A solid return for Deku and pals, with the prospect of an explosive conclusion in the next volume.
English Language Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Japanese Language Dolby TrueHD 2.0
Inside The Episodes (4 Featurettes)
My Hero Academia at Anime Expo 2018: interviews with Yuki Hayahsi & Daiki Yamashita
My Hero Academia: Outtake reel
Textless Opening Song “ODD FUTURE”
Textless Closing Song “UPDATE”
Rigid Chipboard Box
60-page Art Book
Chibi Bakugo Keychain
10 Collectable Holographic Trading Cards.
Rating – *** ½
Man In Black