Review for My Hero Academia: Season 5 Part 1
The accepted wisdom with anime is that faithful manga adaptations are good, filler is bad. But when it comes to My Hero Academia, I’ve come to appreciate the filler. It’s a show that is animated by season when there is enough material to adapt, not to a regular schedule to fill a weekly demand, so technically there is no need for filler episodes, those studio exclusive stories that do their own thing, and drag the pace down. My Hero Academia on the other hand tends to take the first episode of each new season to deliver a filler episode. It’s good because the show has an extensive cast, and the hiatus between seasons can cause memories to fade, and attention to drift. Once more, the first episode of the new season offers a story that uses as much of the cast as possible, and there’s always a freeze frame, when the characters makes an appearance, with voiceover guy reminding us of who they are, and what their special powers are. I have no reason to whine about my fading memory.
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 this collection of episodes begins, following a stressful series of events, Class 1-A found the chance to relax and unwind at the school festival, although things didn’t go smoothly. With All Might retired as a hero, the position of #1 was inherited by Endeavour, and straight off the bat, he was challenged by the latest Nomu creation of the League of Villains. And Izuku’s started having strange dreams that are affecting his Quirk.
The first thirteen episodes of My Hero Academia Season 5 are presented on 2 Blu-ray discs from Funimation UK.
89. All Hands on Deck! Class 1-A
91. Clash! Class A vs. Class B!
92. Make it Happen, Shinso!
93. Operation New Improv Moves
95. Match 3
96. Match 3 Conclusion
97. Early Bird!
98. Izuku’s Turn
99. Our Brawl
100. The New Power and All For One
101. Have a Merry Christmas!
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.
You get two discs in a BD Amaray style case, one on a hinged panel. Funimation ditches the o-card slipcover for this release, and from the next release, it will probably be the Crunchyroll name and logo on the case. I hope you’re not OCD about your Blu-ray shelves and displaying your collection. The inner sleeve has some nice comic style art referencing the episodes. There is also a leaflet for a digital copy of the collection.
The discs present their content with silent animated menus.
The last My Hero Academia release from Funimation got almost 2 hours of extra features. The direction of travel with My Hero Academia doesn’t look promising though. This time around you get...
Promo Videos (3:09)
Season 5 Part 2 has some work to do to redeem itself.
The My Hero Academia anime has been operating by alternating between a simmer and a boil when it comes to its storytelling. The boil is all the cool narrative heavy stuff, the battles between the heroes and the villains, and filling in the back-stories, developing the characters. The simmer is the bits in-between, which given the “Academia” setting will mostly be focused on school activities, the training lessons, and the fighting tournaments and the like, light on character development, and even lighter on narrative. You could call it a superhero, slice-of-life arc, and for me, it often feels like it’s getting in the way of the good stuff, you could go as far as calling it filler, were it not actually adapted from the manga. Combined with Season 4 Part 2, this collection of episodes represents the longest My Hero Academia has spent on a simmer so far, with the school festival episodes of the previous collection, added to the Class 1-A vs. Class 1-B battle lesson here making for a long breather from the narrative.
Having said all of that, there are some essential story developments here that you really need to keep on top of, if you’re following the My Hero Academia story. Still, this is one time that the season opener filler episode that reintroduces the 1-A students is actually unnecessary, given that what follows over the next nine episodes does exactly the same thing. The important story development lingers on from the previous collection, and is reiterated in the second episode in this release, Izuku’s dreams of previous holders of the One For All quirk, and the realisation that his powers are starting to run out of control.
This leads into the next lesson the students face, with the twenty students of Class 1-A pitted against the twenty of Class 1-B in a practical lesson. They split into teams of four, with the aim of capturing their opponents. The wild card is a student named Shinso, currently in the Support Class, but who wants to apply his Brainwashing Quirk as a hero. The lesson will be a test to see if he’s ready to transfer to the Hero curriculum, and he takes two shots at the lesson, one on a Class 1-A team, and one on a 1-B team. He’s also got history with Izuku from an early episode which is revisited here.
What follows are nine episodes of fun, getting reacquainted with the characters, seeing what new skills and powers they have developed and learned, but the overarching story doesn’t really progress much, We might have got a couple of episodes of Endeavour versus the Nomu at the end of the previous collection, but the whole All For One and League of Villains story arcs go on the back burner for the duration. It’s always my worry with such long gaps between releases, and between story arcs, that essential details get lost to memory, and it’s only in the final episode of this collection that it looks like we’re getting back to the main storyline, even if it is just half a moment of foreshadowing in a Christmas episode.
The big development in this collection is Izuku learning something new about his powers. Given how much time there is between the second episode with Izuku’s dream, and when that development pays off eight episodes later, the suspicion that the storytellers had forgotten the whole thing might be justified. But it does pay off, and makes for a really interesting story development. In other developments, Bakugo and Todoroki finally get their provisional licences, just ahead of the school reinstating the internship programme for the students. With them going back into the world for hero work experience, it seems a lot more likely that the main story will take precedence in the next collection of episodes.
When it comes to the story, My Hero Academia feels like it’s spinning its wheels for Season 5 Part 1. Thankfully the idling episodes are still a great deal of fun to watch, as the students pit their special powers against each other in a test of skills and teamwork. The quality of the AV presentation is still up to scratch, but Funimation are cutting corners now when it comes to o-card slipcovers, and especially when it comes to on disc extras. Hopefully the latter will be addressed with the next release. I’ve given up on consistency in packaging.