My Hero Academia S02E23: Stripping the Varnish
Starring: Ayane Sakura, Ryō Hirohashi, Takuma Nagatsuka
Director: Kenji Nagasaki
Review by Bee Sigler
Following up from the teaser after the credits of last week’s episode, Ochaco Uraraka and Yuga Aoyama are up against Thirteen, the Space Age Hero, for their practical exam. Pairing the determined Ochaco with someone as flighty as Yuga initially rubbed me the wrong way. As their battle went on, it became clear that this was a chance for Ochaco to shine. Despite his distracting question about her feelings about Izuku, Ochaco is able to turn the situation around using the skills she learned in her internship with Gunhead and capture Thirteen with Yuga’s assistance. It’s nice to see Ochaco take the lead in battle, rather than playing an assist role to her classmates with more powerful Quirks.
Next, Mina Ashido and Denki Kaminari, the chronic underachievers of Class 1-A, are up against Principal Nezu. Mina and Denki arguably have two of the Quirks least suited to this kind of battle. Mina’s Acid Quirk is primarily offensive and easily can become lethal. Denki’s Electrification Quirk is confined to close-range and limited in the amount of power used before short-circuiting his brain. Nezu plays the role of the intellectual Villain perfectly. He mans a crane from afar and systemically blocks off the paths to the exit. His High Spec Quirk gives him the upper hand against Mina and Denki, and it feels a little unfair. Despite their best efforts, the pair is unable to escape in the allotted time and fail the practical exam.
On a happier note, we have Koji Koda and Kyoka Jiro battling against Present Mic. Koji is absolutely adorable. If I had an ita bag filled with Koji merch, I would haul it everywhere. I support my selectively-mute son, even if he is afraid of bugs. Oh? That’s right, this guy, right here—
He’s really afraid of bugs. Kyoka tries to convince him to use his Quirk, Animal Voice, to sic the insects on Present Mic, but he’s just too scared. After seeing Kyoka struggling to counter Present Mic’s overwhelming attacks, some words of encouragement, and a brief but heartwarming flashback. Koji whispers his request to his little creepy-crawly buddies. Present Mic is overtaken by the bugs. Koji and Kyoka make a mad dash to the exit. The skills Kyoka learned in her internship really got a chance to shine here. She takes charge quickly, but never minimizes Koji’s fears and remains kind despite her injuries.
Toru Hagakure and Mezo Shoji deal with their opponent, Snipe, in an even more efficient fashion. Their practical exam battle seems to be the shortest so far. Mezo acts as a distraction while the invisible Toru captured Snipe. I’m glad we’ll get to see these two at the summer training camp. I’m a little disappointed at the brevity of this scene.
In the last battle of this episode, Minoru Mineta and Hanta Sero go up against the 18+ Only Hero, Midnight. I’m not quite sure what the purpose of pairing Midnight with Minoru was. Besides providing another chance for him to act like a total creep. Hanta is out of the battle early by Midnight’s Somnambulist Quirk. So, the battle is left up to Minoru to win. There’s a bit where Recovery Girl explains to the other students watching the battle that vague goals aren’t enough. Just wanting to be a Hero for the sake of being a Hero isn’t enough. Minoru’s goal of becoming a cool Hero is apparently motivation enough for him to come up with an admittedly genius plan utilizing Hanta’s tape and defeat Midnight, dragging his teammate through the exit with him.
Skip it, unless you’re a big fan of any of the characters battling in the episode. I felt a little underwhelmed by some of these battles. I wish a little bit more screentime could be devoted to developing the students in 1-A as characters. Koji and Kyoka’s battle against Present Mic stands out as my favorite battle of the episode. The animation in Mina and Denki’s battle was quite enjoyable. Next episode, Kacchan and Deku finally face All Might in Katsuki Bakugo: Origin!
Until next time, Plus Ultra!