As a great educator once said, “Exam arcs in anime are the ground on which new foundations are built and old ones crumble.” Now, don’t ask me the name of this esteemed teacher, for their identity has been lost to the waves of time and I totally didn’t just make them up to use as a paper thin veil for barely passable rhetoric. Speaking of passable, those exams sure do look tough…
Picking up from the odd scene that capped off last episode and could best be described as a nature photographers fever dream, Tsuyu and Tokoyami take centre stage in this knock down, drag out, run away for the ages. Though not the longest bout to grace the lineage of My Hero Academia test scenarios, this round provides a nice amount of development for some strong supporting members of Class 1-A. Following the logic established by the U.A. faculty, teacher student match-ups are based on the worst possible mixes. Thus, ranged and single point attacker Tokoyami is pitted against Ectoplasm, a creepy cool looking dude who can produce up to thirty clones. Which is a lot. Against this one man army, even Dark Shadow is forced on the defensive, though his abundance of confidence belies this fact. However, what is most interesting about these weaknesses is how how well they are excepted by these two level headed students.
Marked as a good student with no glaring negatives, Tsuyu serves to aid Tokoyami in every possible moment during this exam. That isn’t to say that Tokoyami is a detriment, merely that the more uncertain clashes were centred on him. The escape manoeuvre utilised by the two, in addition to being awesome, goes to show the difference between duos who talk to each other and those who simply run headfirst into concrete walls. Tsuyu does however show that a few secrets here and there aren’t necessarily a bad thing, revealing a new frog-like ability that saves the proverbial day. Just don’t look at her when she uses it. Regardless, it goes to show yet again how simply being the most powerful is not tantamount to success and strategy is crucial in living to fight another day. For this reason, and the more subdued manner in which it is handled when compared to the next exam truly focused on, I honestly enjoyed watching the Tokoyami/Tsuyu duo the most this episode. Though still strong characters in their own right, the distance between their highs and lows is far less exhausting than certain other members of the cast, who will go unnamed…Midoriya.
For this episode’s half-time show, we are given a brief exam that essentially exists to show that Iida is indeed moving past his self-destructive revenge tendencies and is once again the uncool speedster we all knew and loved. Also, Ojiro was there. He’s cool. He has a tail.
And now, for your feature presentation, I present Yaoyorozu. Despite the many strengths that make her the premiere academic in Class 1-A, last episode drew focus to a surprisingly overlooked fact: She hasn’t actually done a whole lot. With her solo outings amounting in defeats or jokes, poor Yaoyorozu hasn’t exactly lived up to the hype that comes with being one of the only two students who received a recommendation from U.A. (the other being Todoroki). Unfortunately, it was this pressure, combined with the confidence she lost after the Sports Festival, that has left Yaoyorozu a mumbling ball of uncertainty and insecurity. Which is sad. Luckily for everybody, fictional and non, My Hero Academia is an upbeat Shonen anime and moments of weakness bloom into expressions of the truest strength…more often than not with explosions.
Though entirely predictable, given the focus placed on her since last episode, Yaoyorozu’s upswing is no less satisfying to watch because of it. Yes, one could argue that her emotional pivot was rather swift, but it could also be as simple as her needing anybody in her life to tell her that she is strong and her thoughts have merit. Look at her reaction to the written portion of the exam, she was over the moon when the students asked her for help and completely in her element. Of course, paper tests seldom hold the same dangers as a fight, so her confidence boost was understandably non-transferable. However, with a little help from a still-learning-emotions Todoroki, Yaoyorozu is able to receive the confidence boost she needs and immediately transforms from terrified schoolgirl, to awesome hero who can make catapults from her own body and knows what the heck nitinol alloy is. Again, a swift pivot, but when the results are as cool as they were, I can let rapidity slide.
So, what did we learn this week? Confidence is a fluid force that ebbs and flows with the times, mistakes are bumps in the road and not the stop signs they may originally appear to be, communication is the foundation of any good relationship and a calm mind is often the key to finding a better solution. Also frog girls can throw up their stomachs and we are all very, very lucky that Thirteen is not a villain. Dude can absorb light and break apart matter at a molecular level. And they drop that bomb after the credits. Well, that and the fact that Aoyama knows Uraraka is diggin’ on Midoriya something fierce. So enjoy that particularly favourable wind, shippers. What’s that one called by the way? Midocha? Urariya? Dekuravity? Because I’m feelin’ Dekuravity.
It’s fine now. Why? Because My Hero Academia is on Crunchyroll