This week’s MHA remained consistently grounded in its core themes, exploring further the nature of a hero and, finally, christening Midoriya with a power of his own.
People have criticized MHA for this choice of allowing Midoriya to have a power. In a way, the story of an underdog who becomes a hero despite not having powers is compelling in its own right, but I believe MHA needs to be embraced for its decision to allow Midoriya to have a power. In fact, it’s a very pragmatic decision given the world that Midoriya lives in. Episode three makes this clear. But instead of making it appear like it was some random blessing that falls in his lap as a sort of plot device, All Might tells Midoriya that he has to work for it. He has to exert some effort, both physical and mental, in order to attain his own Quirk.
After explaining to Midoriya that transferring his power “All for One” could rip an unprepared body to shreds, All Might makes Midoriya clean up a beach-turned-landfill through a 10-month regimen — all of this in preparation for the UA entrance examinations for aspiring heroes. The rest of the show is basically a Rocky-esque climb to the top, culminating in a chiseled Midoriya just in time for the opening examinations.
Unfortunately, the show decides not to focus on Midoriya’s new powers and leaves the episode hanging. Despite a changed physique and new powers just waiting to be revealed, Midoriya is still dorky Midoriya — mumbling to himself in class and shy around girls. This show keeps in mind that it’s not so much the power that’s the focus, but the determination and will of Midoriya to achieve the thing he desires most. It’s an endearing showcase of human perseverance and endurance that shows in very simple ways that if you want something, you go out and get it. In that regard, I can relate quite closely to Midoriya. Unlike a certain caped crusader who was blessed with wealth and resources, the Quirkless Midoriya who gained his powers out of sheer effort and determination is and endearing spectacle to behold.
And this is one of the beauties of MHA. Much of its core themes are very basic values that are often regarded as cheesy. Sure, this is a show about superheroes, often with a hint of naivete, but there’s a brazen honesty in its message that makes its lessons timeless nonetheless. True, you can argue that life can be a bitch. Life isn’t always butterflies and unicorns. Sometimes you try as hard as you can but nothing ever seems to go your way. But as short-curcuited as Midoriya’s path to becoming a hero seems at this point, you can’t help but feel happy for him and the things he’s been able to achieve.
MHA remains consistent in its core values, but its first few episodes so far have been more character driven than anything. This isn’t bad per se, but for a superhero show, this might mean that it feels slow, especially for this episode that lacked any actual conflict. At this point, the superpowers seem accessory to the plot, and the characterization of Midoriya is the point of focus. The comedy is also decidedly simple, mostly consisting of slapstick and occasional crazy facial expressions, complete with complex body contortions.
Regardless, MHA has a strong spirit and character that makes it undoubtedly unique. It still remains one of my favorite shows this season primarily for its character focus, but I’ll admit that it won’t be that great a hero show unless it starts pulling out the big guns. The fourth episode looks like it’ll be just that, so here’s to hoping for a blast next week.
Episode rating: B+