No matter how many times I revisit this episode, I always forget just how entertaining it is. In terms of raw fun factor, this may be the strongest episode of the entire series. Is it the most dramatic or character developing, but the sheer number of fun character moments make this all worth it.
So many characters get a small amount of time to shine, and they each shine brilliantly! Everyone has a unique way to deal with the problems set before them in the obstacle course, all of which give extra depth to their characters. There are so many that it would take a long time to list, so I’m just going to give a quick highlight reel.
- Kirishima and Tetsutetsu echoing each other is one of my favorite parts of this entire arc. It’s a simple gag, but it gives both characters a little more depth, charm and fun.
- Hatsune Mei is introduced in this episode, and she is great. She’s charming as hell, and her gadgets are super fun and interesting. I’m really glad she becomes a recurring character later.
- Sero using his tape and Tokoyami using Dark Shadow to leap over the Zero Point robots is super cool, and it also serves as a good Chekhov’s Gun for the Cavalry Battle in the next episodes.
- Mineta clinging to Yaorozu’s back makes me want to punch him, but it perfectly encapsulates his character in a very funny way.
- The business course analyzing Deku is a great little touch. It may seem like a pointless gag on the surface, but it does build the world in a simple and interesting way. It’s moments like these that make the setting of MHA feel truly alive.
And so many more. But the real highlight of the episode is obviously the midway scene of Deku flying over the minefield.
I absolutely fucking love this moment! It makes perfect use of Deku’s intellect and luck, as well as his sheer determination to win. On top of that, the animation and facial work is top notch. It’s also one of the most tense moments in the entire series, making perfect use of both the music and slow motion. This will always be one of my favorite scenes, not just in My Hero Academia, but in anime in general.
The direction in this episode is also excellent. Each shot is perfectly composed, and some even make incredibly creative use of camera placement and character placement. Specifically, the final shot of the episode.
This show has always taken creative advantage of being an animation, and this shot is one of the best examples of this. Even if you don’t know the context of the episode itself, you can almost immediately figure out what’s going on in this shot. All eyes are on Deku, and they’re hungry for blood. Deku feels small and helpless beneath this attention, building the tension for the upcoming game.
Which is also incredibly fun, but that’s not until next week.
This episode isn’t the most dramatic or character defining. But it introduces enough new characters to feel important, and makes some incredible use of the different character’s Quirks. It’s pure action fun through and through, and frankly, that’s all I really want out of my Shounen.
And we only go up from here!