This My Hero Academia review contains spoilers.
My Hero Academia Episode 16
“In all honesty, I was worried that your selflessness would be your weakness…”
My Hero Academia is a show that can often prioritize physical strength or selfless courage as the most important of skills to possess, but “In Their Own Quirky Ways” highlights how crucial intelligence and quick thinking are in battle, too. There are a lot of skills on display in this episode as each of these students try their hardest to all make their strongest, best impressions to the audience. This is inherently a lot of fun to watch, but it’s significant that in the end it’s creative ingenuity that comes out on top. It’s always going to take more than the sheer basics. Midoriya’s ability to understand that concept is why he—and the series in general–continue to shine.
The beginning of this episode excels due to how it allows a lot of students to unleash their quirks on these robots and really let loose with the action for a few minutes. Todoroki mostly leads the way in the awesome department (and we do get confirmation that Endeavor is indeed his father) and at this point it appears that Bakugo might be starting to resent him just as much as he does Midoriya. The ice component of Todoroki’s quirk is especially useful against these mechanized obstacles and they make for flashy, explosive spectacles upon defeat.
Amongst all of this destruction is the new Colossus surrogate character from 1-B, Tetsutetsu Tetsutetsu (which is somehow not a Key & Peele “East/West Bowl” character), who can turn himself into steel. He makes a strong first impression and also puts Kirishima and his regular Hardening quirk to shame with his superior ability. The same can be said for Hanta Sero and his ability to dispense tape from his arms, which even momentarily gives Bakugo pause. On that note, of course Bakugo rages and goes berserker for a little to remind everyone that he’s still just as important as Midoriya and that the spectators should lose their minds overhim and no one else.
The obstacle challenge sees its first major complication when the terrain shifts up to a highly scattered, precarious setting that favors those that are excellent jumpers or can stay in the air. This once again provides ample opportunities for select students like Asui, Todoroki, and Hatsume, who perhaps does the strongest in this atmosphere with her Attack on Titan-esque maneuver gear.
The episode continues with this theme where various students get grouped together based on their similar quirks that allow them to overcome new hazards. It’s not only a smart way to introduce some new characters and quirks, but also a natural way to get these students to make some new friends or rivals.
For what it’s worth, most of the students that rise to the top of the competition are from 1-A, not because they’re necessarily better than the students from the other classes, but simply because they’ve faced enough real dangers that they’ve learned to not hesitate or hold back. The other classes are supposed to view them as competition, but in any other situation they’d be viewing these peers as role models.
Perhaps the best part of this episode is the persistent free-for-all aesthetic that’s rampant the entire time. At times these squabbles are the focus and at other moments they just strike between each new challenge, but the episode never lets you forget the chaos that everyone’s lost in. It’s arguably the first time that these characters have been caught up in such a situation and so it’s entertaining to see how everyone copes with the excess of obstacles that are around them. All the while, Midoriya lugs a hunk of metal with him through all of this madness. His actions almost feel like some long-shot plan to solve a problem in a video game, which frankly makes perfect sense for the character. There’s also the same sense of jubilation present when it actually works.
The episode’s climax positions Bakugo, Todoroki, and Midoriya as the final three and keeps it unclear as to who will come home with the victory. It’s fitting that it’s these three that do the best here and the episode properly sets them up as the most adept throughout this obstacle course. It makes for a genuinely suspenseful conclusion and even though some people may begrudge Midoriya pulling out on top in the end, this is a situation where he certainly earns it. He even sells his own victory shorts and chalks up the majority of his success to luck rather than his mastery of the environment. Just like a perfect hero, Midoriya is humble, almost to a fault.
My Hero Academia is also pretty good about not rewarding Midoriya with wins too often, so this victory is one of few for the guy and it still comes with a mighty caveat. It’s also just worth it to see Midoriya feel like he’s done his mentor justice and that All Might himself is touched by his student’s performance so far. Even though the moments between these two have become less frequent, whenever they do connect it always resonates like crazy.
“In Their Own Quirky Ways” is such a triumph because everyone gets to show off and play to their various strengths, but Midoriya in particular gets to demonstrate just how intelligent and adept he is when pushed into a corner in battle. The way in which he solves his problem here and regains the lead is just pure bliss. It’s hard not to smile from ear-to-ear as Izuku’s plan catapults him to first place, even if you’re not a fan of the character (but if that’s the case, seriously, what’s wrong with you?). The conclusion of all of this results with a huge target on Midoriya’s back and he’s technically now the most vulnerable due to his first place position.
“In Their Own Quirky Ways” is a standout installment that finally has fun after the first two episodes from this season restrain themselves a little. The entry delivers on incredible action and reminds the audience why Midoriya is so great. Furthermore, it celebrates his success with fear and tension. That’s the right way to tell a story like this and it should be exciting to see if Izuku really does become a target amongst the other students to great disadvantage or if his ingenuity and few friends will help him stay afloat. He might be the top of the lot right now, but he also has the most to lose due to the new point system.
Plus, Midoriya isn’t always the best with pressure. Arguably a less conspicuous spot in the top ten would maybe do him better, but now what’s to come is fueled with even greater weight. With a cavalry battle as the next major competition, it stands to reason that Izuku is the guy to knock out first. He might just get plus ultra’d out of this thing if he’s not careful.
Then again, if Laser Navel is ranked number 42 out of all of U.A. High’s students, then clearly there’s hope for anyone.
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.