My Hero Academia ‒ Episode 96

1 month ago 35

Now THAT is more like it!

I've had fun with the past couple of training matches. They had some neat powers at play, some lesser-seen characters got to do a couple cool things, and pacing issues aside they've been generally agreeable adventures. But it's here with the back-half of Match 3 that it finally feels like MHA is back in gear with the energy and action that's made it so addicting to follow all this time. This episode feels like a marked improvement over its recent predecessors in just about all aspects: pacing, character focus, and especially animation.

I'm gonna say it right now: the MVP of this match isn't any of the actual characters. That title goes to Yutaka Nakamura, an iconic and veteran animator who's made his presence known time and again throughout MHA, and he delivers once more with the debut of Recipro Turbo. Capturing physical speed in animation is notoriously difficult, but the way Iida's new power up seems to warp himself and the world around him makes you believe he's hurtling forwards with just the barest of control. In terms of screentime, Iida actually doesn't feature heavily through most of this episode, but he makes a supreme impact with what time he has, and a lot of that is owed to the impact of the presentation. As somebody who really likes this speedy dork, it's extremely gratifying to see him get this kind of treatment.

The rest of the battle is also really good too, with every member of both teams getting to do something cool or important with their time – which is all the more impressive when looking at how fast the whole thing moves. Ojiro and Kaibara's spar isn't particularly meaningful, but they do both get to show off some cool martial arts moves, as well as contributing in one way or another to their team's performance. Shoji gets to pull off his best Star Platinum impression, while Pony demonstrates some surprising versatility with her horns – she even skates on them to give herself what are effectively hover boots! Team B's ace turns out to be Mudman, who works as vital support through the whole fight, and is instrumental in keeping Iida's new speed from totally overwhelming them. If these kids take nothing else from these training exercises, they should at least internalize the power of support-style Quirks, because they've been critical every time.

But of course, the main feature of this brawl is Todoroki vs Tetsutetsu, and it makes for the most emotionally intense confrontation of this whole season. Mr. Real Steel is in full shonen rival mode, all hot blood and hotter steel coating, and he puts up a damn strong fight. He's also smarter than I gave him credit for, purposefully seeking out a 1v1 with Todoroki to best make use of his temperature resistance. The one mistake he makes isn't even really a mistake, but a quirk of fate as his attacks bring Shoto right back to his “training” sessions with Endeavor. The boy's made admirable progress since the sports festival, even with the speedbump he hit in the License Exam arc, but he still hasn't quite uncoupled his own flame power from the trauma and self-loathing he once attached to it. It's only in the heat (heh) of battle that he's able to fully let loose with his firepower, and the result looks startlingly dangerous as he readies what looks to be a version of Endeavor's signature Flashfire Fist.

However this particular emotional revelation will have to wait, seeing as he gets interrupted by that pesky Mudman. Not gonna lie, I like Honenuki's personality and versatile approach to fights, but that is one of heck of a buzzkill. Yeah yeah, he probably saved Tetsutetsu's life and all, but I'm still going to enjoy watching Iida kick his terrifying teeth in on loop to ease my frustration. Frustration is actually the concluding idea to this match – with all but one of each team unconscious or imprisoned, the whole thing fizzles to a stalemate between Pony and Shoji, and eventually ends in a draw. Not that that's a bad thing – we're meant to relate to the characters' own frustation at the bad luck and shortcomings that kept them from getting a proper conclusion to any of this. By design it's not particularly satisfying, but it makes for a meaningful step in both Iida and Todoroki's journey towards the heroes they want to be.

Next round, on the other hand, is guaranteed to be a banger. Starting next week our lineup is:

Team 1-A
Katsuki “Hero Name Pending” Bakugo – Quirk: Explosion – Special Skills: #1 Most Popular Character for 5 years running.

Kyoka “Earphone Jack” Jiro – Quirk: Earphone Jack – Special Skills: Legally Certified Best Girl

Hanta “Cellophane” Sero – Quirk: Tape – Special Skills: Saves loads on packing supplies

Rikido “Sugarman” Sato – Quirk: Sugar Rush – Special Skills: Baking ability ensure a happy future as a househusband

Team 1-B
Setsuna “Lizardy” Tokage – Quirk: Lizard Tail Splitter – Special Skills: She's actually the source of all those lizards you see all over the place in Florida

Yotetsu “Welder” Awase – Quirk: Weld – Special Skills: Helped Yaoyorozu that one time in season 3

Kojiro “Plamo” Bondo – Quirk: Cemedine – Special Skills: saves loads on model kit supplies

Togaru “Jack Mantis” Kamakiri – Quirk: Razor Sharp – Special Skills: still cooler than Black Clover's inexplicable Jack the Ripper themed character

Alright so I might have called this last one wrong, but here I'm 1000% confident 1-A is coming out on top next week. Even with dead weight like Sero and Sato, there's no way any of the shmucks in Team B are taking down the rock & roll power of Best Girl AND Best Boy combining forces. Monoma better start stocking up burn ointment and earplugs for his classmates, because this next match is gonna be explosive.


My Hero Academia is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.

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