This My Hero Academia review contains spoilers.
My Hero Academia Episode 15
“One chance a year, three chances in a lifetime, no aspiring hero can afford to miss this festival!”
“Roaring Sports Festival” throws a lot of quirk-filled action at the audience as the series begins to prepare for its next tournament, but there’s a rather poignant conversation that Izuku shares with All Might during the beginning of the episode. Feeling the pressure of the impending festival, Izuku begins to wonder if he really needs to go all out here since he has a rather cushy situation in the other aspects of the hero department. He’s fortunate enough that he’s not someone that needs to go all out here if he doesn’t want to. Regardless of whatever degree of privilege Midoriya has, the Sports Festival is about more than the rewards and who comes out as winner.
All Might philosophizes about how there are heroes out there that always try their hardest and others that consistently don’t try hard enough. Izuku may not need to win this thing, but what’s important is that the public sees him as someone that always tries hard and takes a competition seriously. The Sports Festival is arguably more about the image of these heroes-in-training that goes out to the world rather than who’s technically the “best.”
Even though it feels like this news should make Midoriya more uneasy about the festival, it’s actually what finally calms his nerves. Midoriya may not win this thing in the end, but deep down he absolutely knows what kind of hero he is and he won’t have any problem showing that off to the world.
This episode begins with Sports Festival fever in full swing and right from Eraser Head Aizawa’s opening lines he wants it to be clear to Midoriya and the rest of his students how important this ceremony is. The entry proceeds to outline how the Sports Festival is structured and broken up between the different years and programs at U.A. High. My Hero Academia can sometimes falter when it gets too caught up in its own rules, but it flies through the bureaucratic boilerplate components of the festival so that this installment can fit in as much actual training as possible.
A rumor also begins to float through U.A. High that someone in Class 1-A is actually the son of Endeavor. This mystery just gets dropped into the mix, but should lead to some potentially explosive developments later in the season. On that note, the new confident purple-haired student from Class 1-C brings a lot of heat, but he also seems like he could be Aizawa’s son. They definitely have the same eyes. Whether this character turns out to be Eraser Head’s kid or not, he still might be a major threat in this arc or later down the road. He’s hungry to taste that hero course and the fruit that it bears.
Furthermore, My Hero Academia has had a tunnel vision of sorts to only focus on the students in Class 1-A, but “Roaring Sports Festival” begins to expand the school’s boundaries a little more. Not only does the audience get a small taste of Class 1-B and beyond (all the way to 1-K!), it’s also learned that Class 1-A isn’t exactly popular among the other classes.
As the festival draws close, All Might continues to be adamant in his strategy that Izuku should use the Sports Festival to mark his flashy debut as his successor. Izuku seems to have more or less accepted this lot, but he’s not quite ready for Todoroki’s attempts to intimidate him. Todoroki comes on strong here and it’s clear that he wants to be Midoriya’s major competition and make everyone forget all about Bakugo (although Bakugo also ups his game plenty in this episode).
This might actually speak to the fact that perhaps Todoroki is Endeavor’s offspring and he’s finally decided to accept his birthright. He did say that his father is watching him. Even though Todoroki takes an early lead here, the opening moments of the obstacle race give many characters different opportunities to shine (although Mineta isn’t having the easiest experience).
Class 1-A makes a strong first impression as the festival begins, but to say that they have the public on their side wouldn’t exactly be accurate. Apparently Bakugo’s brash actions back in season one have soured many on the showboating class (his speech as class rep also doesn’t help him any with the popular vote).
This communal hatred for our heroes may or may not play into the series in a major way this season, but it’d be great to get an episode from Class 1-B’s alternate perspective or to see many of these disgruntled students spitefully end up at the League of Villains. My Hero Academia already has enough story to keep itself busy, but they could really explore some more complex issues about attention and validation if they were interested.
It’s helpful that the episode spreads its focus and that it showcases how many characters choose to prepare over the two weeks before the festival begins, rather than exclusively focus on Izuku and his regiment. The montage scenes look great and it’s fun to see everyone in their element, but with so many students on display these sequences are also an easy way to stretch out the episode and run the clock. Whether this is intentional or not, it’s easy for this episode to get away from you and start to be wrapping things up before it feels like it even really begins.
“Roaring Sports Festival” spends a lot of its time trying to enforce the stakes and pressure in play with the Sports Festival. These moments of anxiety and anticipation before the festivities get started are helpful reminders that these super powered individuals are still just children. For example, the scene where all of the various first year classes come out to experience the Sports Festival’s huge crowd and the associated feelings that come along with that audience. Students are nervous, overwhelmed, excited, and the episode knows when to carefully pick these introspective moments.
“Roaring Sports Festival” amounts to a bit of a letdown, even if it does show promise for what’s to come. The entry ultimately feels like it treads a little too much water for its own good. The first act is mostly spent recapping various characters motivations to do well at the festival and Midoriya announces that the event is still a full two weeks away. It makes sense to spend some time on training and relearning the fundamentals, but I don’t think anyone would have really batted an eye if this episode just started on the opening day of the ceremony.
The installment compromises and finds some middle ground by the decision to jump forward to the beginning of the ceremony half way through the episode. Even then the events don’t actually start until the episode’s final minutes. My Hero Academia knows that its audience is hungry for this tournament—almost as hungry as the students themselves—and even though “Roaring Sports Festival” doesn’t jerk the audience around with this wait, it still does make them wait.
The show wants to be a little withholding before things really get nuts and feature the best of both worlds in this episode. My Hero Academia can get away with that in the second episode of the season, but it needs to be careful in the future as to how much it pads its story, especially when this new season is nearly double the length of the previous one. Let’s hope that the festival’s first event, the obstacle race, doesn’t turn out to be more of an obstacle labyrinth.
Oh, and can Bakugo apply his personal editorial touch to all of the next episode previews from now on?
Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, Bloody Disgusting, and ScreenRant. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem and his perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.