Review for My Hero Academia - Season Three Part One
It looks like My Hero Academia has finally found a UK home; or at least this is the first time that two consecutive MHA releases come from a single distributor. Universal released Season 1 in a Limited Edition form, while Sony/Funimation gave Season 2 a Standard only release in the UK. Last month Manga Entertainment brought the My Hero Academia Movie: Two Heroes to us, and now they’ve gone on to bring us the first half of the third season as well; Collector’s Edition and Standard DVD and BD. If you’ve only recently become a convert to the world of My Hero Academia, and have started collecting, you might have been gnashing your teeth at the obscurity of that Universal LE release of Season 1. Well, today Manga Entertainment scheduled a standard release for Season 1 in a couple of weeks. So you can put your tooth enamel at ease once more.
There’s no reason to not be a fan of My Hero Academia. When it comes to entertainment, we live in a world of superheroes; they dominate cinema and television, and Marvel and DC characters are household names, even the ones you might not have heard of twenty years ago. To date, anime has been a little shy of getting aboard the comic book hero bandwagon, with only Tiger and Bunny a notable example to take the US comic books on at their own game. But with My Hero Academia they’ve really caught on to a good thing, combining the best of high school anime with Western comic book heroes. A large cast of great characters, and a story that draws the viewer in; My Hero Academia has grown on me to the point where I have been looking for an affordable Season 1 release for quite some time now. Thankfully, each subsequent season kicks off with the kind of recap that ensures you don’t need to have seen the previous instalment to enjoy the forthcoming story, even if you did miss out on the fun of what came before.
You can call them superpowers, you can call them mutations. In the world of My Hero Academia, they’re mundanely thought of as Quirks. I say mundanely, as some 80% of the world’s population have Quirks, some power or ability that makes them special in some way. Naturally there are people who use their Quirks for selfish, even illegal gain. Standing against them are the heroes, those who use their powers for the common good. From the day Izuku Midoriya saw the world’s #1 hero, All Might in action, he was certain that he too would become a great superhero. The only problem was that Izuku was one of the 20%, born without a Quirk.
But Izuku’s selfless actions in a crisis situation caught the attention of All Might, who decided that the young boy would inherit his power. Getting used to a sudden new Quirk doesn’t happen overnight, and even with intensive training, Izuku is still playing catch-up when he enters U.A. High School, where the world’s heroes are trained. But he and his class 1-A manage to distinguish themselves when the League of Villains attacks. As the third season begins, Class 1-A are about to go on a training camp during their summer vacation, as the faculty of U.A. High School realise that they’re going to have to accelerate their students’ curriculum in the face of increased villain activity.
The first episodes of My Hero Academia Season 3 are presented on 2 Blu-ray discs from Manga Entertainment.
39. Game Start
40. Wild, Wild Pussycats
42. My Hero
43. Drive It Home, Iron Fist!!!
44. Roaring Upheaval
45. What a Twist!
46. From Iida to Midoriya
47. All For One
48. Symbol of Peace
49. One For All
50. End of the Beginning, Beginning of the End
My Hero Academia gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on these Blu-ray discs. The image is clear and sharp, the animation is smooth, and there’s no problem with visible compression, and there is only the slightest occasional hint of digital banding. Studio Bones do the honours for the animation, and they have pedigree bringing across Weekly Shonen Jump properties to anime such as Full Metal Alchemist and Soul Eater. It all begs the question as to what happened with My Hero Academia, or whether the quality of the source material is such that there was nothing that Bones could do with it. This is a simplistic animation, with generic character designs, and a basic looking world design. It looks like the kind of show that runs for years and years on a weekly basis as lowest bidder animators churn out their work conveyer belt style. That’s the look of the show, not the actual animation, as Bones takes this basic looking story and animate as much as they can, creating something that is dynamic, vibrant, and of decent quality. But you can’t get away from how basic the show looks. It looks like kids’ TV, which is probably exactly what it is. And then they deliver an amazing fight animation sequence and it’s like you’re watching a completely different show!
You have the choice between Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround English and 2.0 Stereo Japanese with optional translated subtitles and signs. I checked that the English dub exists (it does), but stuck with the Japanese for the duration, and was happy with the experience, with the characters suitably cast, and giving the full intensity required for their performances. The action is well represented in the stereo, and the music suits the show well. The subtitles are accurately timed and are free of typos.
The discs present their content with animated menus.
Disc 1 autoplays a trailer for Funimation Now.
You get more than the usual extras with this release, all on disc 2.
The usual Funimation commentaries have been replaced by Inside the Episodes featurettes, which show the voice actors at work. You get four here on the following episodes, Kota (7:01), Drive it Home, Iron Fist!! (8:14), From Iida to Midoriya (10:29), and One for All (10:00).
There’s some Japanese talent interviewed in My Hero Academia at Anime Expo 2018. Composer Yuki Hayashi gets to chat for 8:06, while voice of Izuku, Daiki Yamashita is interviewed for 12:25.
There is a My Hero Academia Outtakes Reel running to 2:31, the Promo Videos (3:21), a Commercial Collection (1:25), and the Textless Credits.
The first half of My Hero Academia Season 3 is a non-stop thrill ride. Don’t let the little recap at the start of the season give you the wrong impression. This isn’t the kind of long running anime that will dwell on previous episodes in lengthy flashbacks, or tease and stretch and dilute storyline to make a single episode worth of story fit four, or pad the story with needless filler. The seasonal approach to the series, with hiatuses between seasons to allow the manga creator to come up with more story, means that My Hero Academia on screen is at least as satisfying as My Hero Academia on the page.
This collection of twelve episodes really comprises one big story arc, which begins with the students of UA High School heading off to their summer training camp. It’s the usual, light comedic antics at first, a whole lot of gruelling training, leavened with the usual Test of Courage trope, while Izuku has to figure out a young boy who hates Quirks, and Heroes as well. It doesn’t take long before the threat appears, which in this case is The League of Villains with another scheme to overturn the order of things. They aim to unsettle the heroes by attacking what should have been a secret student retreat, decreasing the public trust in heroes while at the same time picking off the more promising of the hero candidates. There’s an extra plan as well, as they’ve also targeted a certain student for recruitment rather than assassination, and it turns into one big fight sequence in the woods. Izuku faces his first real failure when the villains succeed in one of their goals, capturing that one student.
This takes us up to episode 45, which sees the students from the trip dealing with the aftermath, and now expected to leave things in the hands of their teachers and the qualified heroes. Of course Izuku and his friends can’t merely sit around and recuperate at a time like this, and they are spurred on to act, torn between following the rules and following their hearts. While Izuku is ready to rush into saving their abducted friend, this time it’s Iida who tries to stop him from apparently pursuing revenge; a call-back to the storyline in Season 2, where it was Iida who sought revenge and it was Izuku who pulled him back from the brink.
Things quickly escalate from this point, as while the heroes think they have the upper hand when they track down the base of the League of Villains, it seems the bad guys have anticipated this and prepared. The collection culminates in the big showdown between All Might, and the up till now secretive leader of the villains and his long time Nemesis, All For One. On a scale of confrontations, this is Superman vs. Lex Luthor, Batman vs. The Joker, and things get suitably epic and apocalyptic for the conclusion. I have to congratulate My Hero Academia for one thing at least; being circumspect with the episode titles. Other long running shonen shows tend to spoiler the episodes with the titles, but there is very little given away here. The final episode in this collection, paraphrasing from Churchill makes things clear in one respect however. From now on, the battle passes down to the protégés. It won’t be All Might vs. All For One from this point, rather Izuku Midoriya vs. Tomura Shigaraki.
My Hero Academia is a long running shonen action show, but by playing in a Western comic book theatre it manages to reinvent its oversubscribed genre. It also offers a decent alternative to fans that may be overdosing on DC and especially Marvel these days. Its production format, that of discreet seasons rather than the ongoing never-ending productions of yore, means that the story is paced brilliantly, and you really get to appreciate the character development. I now wonder what Naruto would have been like if its anime had been made this way.