Review for My Hero Academia: Season 5 Part 2
I always complain about delays, and lengthy gaps, especially in serialised stories like My Hero Academia. You get long running series, with multiple seasons, which naturally get gaps in Japan as the animators now, sensibly take hiatuses between seasons instead of just fillering their way through as they used to. And then when the shows come to the West, there’s added delays for dubs, and/or license renegotiations and the like. And then there are the local distributors who also have to release shows when they can best afford to, rather than front-load their schedules. The longer the gap, the more I worry that I’ll lose interest, or lose the plot thread, or just forget who the characters are. My Hero Academia Season 5 Part 1 came out on April 5th 2022. This Season 5 Part 2 release came out on January 30th 2023. I’d normally whinge at this point, except I started watching the first episode in this collection, and it felt like no time had passed at all.
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, Izuku is coming to terms with what he has just learned about his quirk, and at the same time, alongside Bakugo and Shoto Todoroki, interning with Shoto’s father and current #1 hero, Endeavor. It turns out that there is a reason the trainee heroes are being fast-tracked through their internships, as a villainous scheme is coming to a head.
The concluding twelve episodes of My Hero Academia Season 5 are presented on 2 Blu-ray discs from Crunchyroll.
102. Off to Endeavor’s Agency!
103. One Thing at a Time
104. Long Time No See, Selkie
105. The Hellish Todoroki Family
106. The Unforgiven
107. More of a Hero Than Anyone
108. My Villain Academia
109. Revival Party
110. Sad Man’s Parade
111. Tenko Shimura: Origin
112. Tomura Shigaraki: Origin
113. The High, Deep Blue Sky
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 each inner face. Now it’s Crunchyroll on the spine, and they’ve ditched the digital copy that was all that Funimation kept from the Manga releases. I still 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.
And now the disc menus are static.
The extras are on disc 2.
My Hero Academia Season 5: Villain Lightning Round (4:33)
Promo Video (0:53)
The big mistake I made with this release was that I started reviewing it while I’ve been re-watching Tiger & Bunny. Tiger & Bunny is a genuine superhero anime show. My Hero Academia is a long-running shonen action show in the vein of Naruto, One Piece or Bleach, with a superhero facade. Structurally, it has the same meandering storytelling, with a creator writing a story to match the demand of fandom and the manga editors rather than something concise and complete, with characters that level up on a regular basis, and succeed through superior willpower. Watching them side by side makes the contrast only more obvious, and it’s not all that favourable to My Hero Academia. The second thing is that the meandering story that I mentioned heads into a backwater in this collection of episodes.
That’s the problem with long-running shonen stories. With someone like Eiichiro Oda churning out One Piece on a production line (the TV series is well past 1000 episodes at this point), and with producers and editors requiring a constant flow of story, even with the best of wills, a creator will reach stretches of story where they are dialling it in. And even in the good stretches, the audience is required to have faith in the storytellers that a stretch of ‘disappointing’ episodes will have a point, even if the payoff to those arcs won’t show up for another twenty, fifty or even a hundred episodes. In this collection of My Hero Academia, the story does reach such a point in my estimation.
The show to this point has had a cycle of narrative and training when it comes to the students of UA Academy, focusing on Izuku Midoriya as the main protagonist of the story. The narrative sees the students challenged by the latest villainous schemes, usually from the League of Villains and their ‘sponsor’ All For One. Then there will be a stretch of episodes with the students undergoing a period of training at school, or taking part in a tournament arc. We’re currently in another down-time arc, as the students go back to school and start a new period of internships, training on the job with established heroes.
There is a standalone episode in this arc with Uravity and Froppy interning with Selkie and chasing down pirates which might be the most entertaining episode in this collection. But generally, the focus is on Izuku, Bakugo, and Todoroki as they intern with Todoroki’s father, and current #1 hero Endeavor. Given how Endeavor treated his family, and pressured his son to become a hero, there is a whole lot of domestic drama and previous trauma to unpack in these episodes, and the story is good if you’re invested in these characters. Understandably Izuku’s story takes something of a back seat however. At the same time, the Hawk character is infiltrating the Meta Liberation Army, a plot thread that unfolds in the background of the story.
Then the My Villain Academia episode arrives, and a new arc begins in the story, relating the conflict that arises between The League of Villains (led by Tomura Shigaraki or Hand Face as I call him) and the new antagonists on the block, The Meta Liberation Army. The League of Villains is following All For One’s villainous agenda, whereas the Meta Liberation Army has a tad more nuance to them, more a protest movement who have become militant in their pursuit for civil rights for people with Quirks, or Meta-Humans as they call them. Although it’s gone far enough for their goals to be a reversal of the hierarchy rather than genuine equality; they think they should be in charge.
For five episodes, I’m bored with this release. The villains in My Hero Academia have never been the most charismatic or well written of the characters, and I’ve never been all that invested in their stories, finding the UA students to be the actual draw in the show. Shigaraki does get some back story to explain his motives, but it’s in the form of the path of zero resistance, the clichéd flashback episodes, which reveal him to be a dark mirror of Izuku when it comes to his upbringing, and with a tangible connection between him and Izuku and All Might when it comes to the One For All ability. While the established villains aren’t that interesting, I have even less interest in the new villains on the block, The Meta Liberation Army. We get a bunch of new characters, new motives, and not enough in the way of back story to make me care about any of them, or the battle that unfolds between them and Shigaraki’s bunch.
The final episode is a return to the students of UA, as we catch up with them after their latest period of internships, and once again we get the freeze frame re-introduction to the class, as we see the new abilities they have gained over their training. This episode might have been better left to the start of Season 6, where a quick reminder of the cast would be more useful, but at least it is a sign of a return to usual service.
There is a point to the My Villain Academia arc in this collection, and it concludes on a development that will have big import when it comes to the world of My Hero Academia, and the story. But this is the point where you have faith in the storytellers, and hope that the point to this collection of episodes, drifting in doldrums will become clear sooner rather than later. This is the first collection of My Hero Academia episodes where I had a hard time enjoying them. That is inevitable in long running shonen series like this, although I always hold out hope that one such show will come along which avoids this. Hopefully Season 6 of MHA will return to form.
My Hero Academia Season 5 Part 2 is available from Anime On Line, UP1, and the usual mainstream e-tailers.
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