My Hero Academia Season 3 – Mid Series Anime Review
Synopsis: In a world where eighty percent of the population has some kind of super-powered “quirk,” Izuku was unlucky enough to be born completely normal. But that won’t stop him from enrolling in a prestigious hero academy. Now, the promising freshman class is making its debut at the world-renowned U.A. Sports Festival! It’s Quirk versus Quirk as our young heroes face off in the ultimate showdown. (Official Funimation Synopsis.)
Mid Series (12 Episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
My Hero Academia’s 3rd season is much as all the others, generally strong animation, plenty of enjoyable character moments and a slew of developments catapulting Midoriya and Co. into a new age of Heroism as the Villains of Academia gradually continue to regroup and resurface. All that said, there are places where this 3rd season stumbles a tad, in ways absent from past entries in this adaptation of the hit manga.
While the series often looks good, and accurately adapts the manga’s artwork without losing too much detail or personality, the anime fails to do great justice to one of the story’s biggest moments, with faltering artwork mid season during the biggest clash between good and evil in the series. While the really important moments still look solid, plenty of animation surrounding them feels off-model, low detail and unable to keep up with the incredible art the manga used to depict one of its highest of highs.
Delving beneath the surface the anime doesn’t manage to do much better than the manga has at balancing Academia’s overwhelming cast of characters. This current arc has a heavy refocus on Midoriya and All Might, putting both characters center stage for some of the series’ best work with either. But Academia has a character problem, and the anime even recognizes it, as every episode is littered with text on screen reminding us of who every character is and what their quirk is called, clearly aware that more casual fans of the series have little to no hope of remembering every single character that’s appeared on screen, especially as more and more get added. Aware that fans tend to latch onto many of these smaller characters for little more reason than “they look cool” or “seem heroic, funny, etc.” each has to have a chance to shine and that means the expanded characters that aren’t part of the center stage (like Midoriya, Bakugo, Todoroki and All Might) each need a cool moment or two to show their stuff. While Season 2 expanded upon some of the work-place experience training, giving audience favorites a chance to be in the spotlight, Season 3 ops for less filler here, stepping over quite a few opportunities to give these characters greater focus, leaving much of their screen time to quick sequences where they tackle a villain or two, which each end so abruptly that not much really comes of any of the confrontations. It’s not a major flaw, but for a manga that already keeps itself taunt to the point where its story arcs are far shorter than many of the other long running beloved shonen, some expansion on character focus wouldn’t hurt and might actually be welcome compared to the absurd levels of filler seen in the original Dragon Ball Z run.
Despite missing opportunities here or there, the anime does indeed expand on some moments, fleshing out sequences the manga skirted right over. Early on in the season Midoriya and Co. are sent to summer camp, and must rush across woods filled with deadly creations by one of their summer mentors. The manga skips past this, making it a mere footnote in the arc. The anime takes the perfect opportunity to build on this moment and expand it into a visual showcase that works wonders. More of that would’ve definitely been welcome.
Still, Academia moves faster than many other shonen, cramming larger developments and arcs into a handful of chapters compared to other leading series (save Black Clover). Even with the anime’s additions the pacing is on point, with episodes generally flying by with plenty of things happening. You don’t end up with too many episodes stalling for time, or stretching things out, even when there’s the opportunity to exploit that.
Ultimately for whatever quibbles I have with it, My Hero Academia Season 3 is still one of the best anime Spring 2018 had to offer, and will likely remain a strong series going into the Summer. It’s still a great series for teen and young adult audiences, and the greater focus on Midoriya and All Might during this first half helped to catapult the story into a new direction, where it feels like consequences are starting to build and take hold, potentially crafting a more turbulent time for our budding heroes.