Reaper's Reviews: 'My Hero Academia S3'
Format: 25 episodes
Release: April 7, 2018 - September 29, 2018
My Hero Academia is currently one of the most acclaimed shounen anime and manga in and outside Japan. With a solid first season (review) in 2016 and an absolute masterclass of a second season (review) in 2017, My Hero Academia has cemented itself as the 2010s’ most prominent shounen and one of my personal favorite anime of all time.
And with the story far from over and its popularity in the sky, a third season was not only a logical option, but was actually confirmed with the conclusion of the second season, and after many weeks of joy and excitement, it’s finally over.
I don’t actually need to properly introduce the series by now, though, right? So let’s begin our discussion about studio Bones’ third run with Kohei Horikoshi’s superhero manga.
Story & Setting
Considering the fact that by a third season of a show, you’d already be a fan (or just someone who enjoys suffering), I think the majority of this review’s readers are familiar with the premise, story and world of My Hero Academia. In case you aren’t, I have two full reviews (linked above) about the previous seasons explaining most of the HeroAca’s setting and narrative.
As with the second season, the majority of the third season focuses on the studies of Izuku “Deku” Midoriya and his classmates to become Pro-Heroes, only this time, things go south much quicker.
After two seasons of build-up and the brilliant Hero Killer arc, the enigmatic League of Villains finally make a large-scale move beginning with crashing Deku and his class’ training trip. What starts as a lighthearted session turns into an intense cat-and-mouse situation as Deku and his friends realize that Stain was just the beginning.
It’s impressive that the first arc alone already pushes the characters’ limits and helps re-establishing just how dangerous and unpredictable the Pro-Hero society’s opposers are. It also makes up for a fairly slow-moving start.
It’s not that the first three episodes are bad or anything - they are still fun - but the first episode is a semi-recap/semi-filler episode while the later two could be compressed into one package, thus allowing for at least forty more minutes worth of story.
But the rest of season does make up for it, as the overarching arc is set into motion and events hinted from the first season’s finale finally culminate midway in a clash of brute strength and ideology between the opposing pillars of the hero society and the villain agenda.
One thing I particularly love about this season is how its main adversaries, barring the main two antagonists, are a byproduct of the Hero Killer arc from the second season, which shows just how everlasting Stain’s actions are, spawning a handful of successors in his own twisted legacy. It’s one exceptional aspect of HeroAca that sets it apart from many other series of its kind, and it’s how it refuses to keep a status-quo.
This is what makes the final clash of the show’s first saga, U.A. Beginnings, into such a powerful and moving event, which signals certain ends and new beginnings to both our heroes and villains as the conflict rolls into another generation and its after-effects are still felt by the setting’s society even by the end of the season.
Its placement in the season is the only thing that baffles me about that plot point, as such a climatic event occurs only around the twelfth episode. While the previous season also ended it high point before its conclusion, it only had a few episodes left by that point opposed to a full cour.
But this is really more of a nitpick than an actual fault against the season, because HeroAca maintains a certain amount of quality in its writing and pacing that few shounen anime share with. Its succeeding arc is just as interesting and exciting and provides a meaty case of world-building.
This is the first time that we actually see other hero academies and students, their way of acting, their relations with U.A. Academy, their mannerisms and their talent. It is here when I realized that there is so much more to HeroAca than just Deku and the rest of Class A-1, more than just U.A. Academy.
This arc was an incredible showcase of new potential heroes, and I definitely can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.
It’s no secret that the characters are the biggest reason to watch My Hero Academia, and the cast is arguably one of the best in the current anime age, and S3 only amplifies this point.
As always, Deku is such an endearing protagonist to watch, whose determination and resolve know no boundaries, and his maturity into a hero like his mentor All Might is an intriguing quest. All Might, for his part, got a lot more focus than previous seasons as his retirement as the Symbol of Peace draws near.
There is a sense of growth to them both as individuals and as a mentor and his successor, or a father and son, with a period of over 60 episodes and several in-series months reflecting in their dialogues and interactions.
The star of the season is without doubt Bakugo, however, whose literally explosive nature and hostile behavior become an unfortunate plot point as his jealousy towards Deku intensifies. It was satisfying to see how the show’s number 1 problem child began to take steps in improving himself, even if it’s slow and subtle.
Bakugo, like Deku, is another kid who was inspired and influenced by All Might’s heroics, but his contrast as the initially talented and more experienced student who feels like his idol choose a relative “loser” over him drives home just determined and stubborn Bakugo is, just as if not more than Deku, and seeing him slowly accepting Deku’s prowess is a sight to behold.
Aside from our usual trio, My Hero Academia S3 gives a lot more time for the rest of Class A-1 to shine, similarly to the previous season, but with a broader scale.
One of the more noticeable ones is Eijiro Kirishima, Bakugo’s self-proclaimed best friend who as far as I’m concerned, can be considered a main character. He is especially important during the season’s first two arcs, and is another visible change of Bakugo’s character development, but also a likable and fun character in his own right.
Aside from Kirishima, almost every single member of Class A-1, including some previous joke characters like the electricity-manipulating Denki Kaminari or Hanta Ser, get fairly substantial amounts of time to really come to their own and new interactions between characters who were previously never seen together are refreshing and intriguing due to the different dynamics.
The bird-like Tokoyami, multi-armed Shoji and others show potential to be mainstays just as Deku and Bakugo, and their different personalities complement each new partnership they strike. There are still some minimally developed characters such as the animal-loving Koda or the sugar-eating Sato, but I have faith we will see more of them.
On the villains side, I found it refreshing to see how many varied and colorful antagonists there actually are in the League of Villains. From the suggestive blood lover Toga to the eccentric Twice to Dabi who seem he can blow up every minute, they were an absolute treat to watch. Definitely not to the level of Stain, but it’s interesting how so many different individuals were influenced by his actions and how they interpret his ideals.
The full introduction of All For One was definitely the high point of the series, presenting the setting’s strongest villain in a chilling manner. While his ultimate goals are still somewhat vague, A4O steals the spotlight with his immense charisma and alarmingly calm demeanor. There is more to be seen if he is deeper than a simple one-note villain, however.
As HeroAca’s biggest season to date, S3 introduces dozens of new characters, from different statuses and affiliations, with their own quirks (both personality and ability) and design.
You have the Wild, Wild Pussycats, who serves as instructors to the U.A. Academy students, and new students from competing schools such as the ever so excited Isana, the deceptive Sindo or the seductive Camie. And I really like the majority of them. Sure, some designs ARE lazy or uninspired, but they all leave a mark, even if it’s small.
I am a little concerned, however, with the introduction of dozens of new characters in such a short period of time; I have no doubt that all, or at least most of these characters will become fan-favorites and quirky like the already established cast.
But I do fear that My Hero Academia might become a little too crowded to pay attention to these new faces. It’s just a little concern but nothing that really harm the overall quality of the series, and if anything just show how good Horikoshi’s writing and characterization are that I want him exploring most of his new creations.
Animation & Sound
This should be quick as I’ve already talked more than enough about MHA’s aesthetics, production values and sound design in the past. Once again by Bones, the animation is often of high quality, colorful, eccentric and frenetic, and the action scenes mix manga-style frames and movement fluidity.
As I said earlier, the new character designs are mostly unique and varied with their own personality and visual cues, although I have to admit I’m not a particularly big fan of some… color schemes chosen for several characters, mainly one villain who I shall refrain from talking because it would be spoilers.
As far as sound goes there are some noticeable tracks that are added, like All for One’s shady leitmotif and All Might’s victorious and inspirational crowning moment OST, but the soundtrack on a whole is mostly the same, which is good, right? If it ain’t broken, why fix it.
One thing for sure that I don’t like is the first opening, “Odd Future”; I’m neither a fan of the song, which feels too hip-hop/electronic to my tastes, nor its animated sequence, which doesn’t sync well with it. On the other hand, the second opening “Make My Story” is quite possibly my favorite opening to the series since the first season’s opening “The Day”.
And as far as voice acting, it’s still one of the best English dubs around that holds up very well against the Japanese track. Aside from that, John Swasey is a really damn good pick for All for One, and him balancing between the calm yet arrogant tone of the villain and his hammier side is excellent.
There are multiple shows that begin decaying only halfway through their second run and lose everything that made them special, but with its third season under its belt, My Hero Academia still shows no signs of slowing down or getting weaker. On the contrary, it keeps evolving and learning as it goes, just like its main protagonist, and avoids many missteps associated with its .
It does start slowly and reaches its peak a little bit earlier than it should have been, but overall, 63 episodes and several OVAs in and My Hero Academia continues dominating the anime community with its exhilarating action, heartfelt writing and attaching characters, major and minor roles alike. If you haven’t started this series already, now is the time.
- The villains plot finally kicks in
- Continues the excellent world-building
- Powerful character moments
- Stumbles a bit at first
- Peaks somewhat early
- Some lazy character designs
& the Ugly:
- Sucky, sucky, sucky...
As for alternate recommendations I'll point you towards:
- Soul Eater, another series produced by Bones and based on a popular manga, even though in this series' case it eventually went off the rails to do its own thing. It's fun, it's pretty and it's hilarious.
- Little Witch Academia, which is frankly more about comedy and humor, but it shares enough similarities to scratch that little itch left by HeroAca.
Between those two shows, you will probably find something you like.
© 2018 Raziel Reaper