This My Hero Academia review contains spoilers
My Hero Academia Episode 4
“This was it—my first step towards becoming a pro!”
To become an expert at something, it’s absolutely necessary to put in the right amount of rehearsal and practice. While this degree of work ethic is fundamental for success, practicing for something is very different from actually being out in the world and doing it for real. You can train forever, but if you freeze up or can’t hack it when it actually counts, then all of that training was useless. The safety net’s gone now.
“Start Line” officially marks the beginning of Izuku putting his new training and abilities into action. He’s spent the better part of a year with All Might and he’s pushed his body to the absolute limit, but will that be enough? For all Midoriya knows, every other prospective U.A. High student has trained just as hard for this moment. Plus, they’ve probably actually used their quirks, which is something that Izuku has still yet to make happen. Whether he’s ready or not, it’s finally time for Izuku to face the music and see how he shapes up. Izuku’s now on the “Start Line” for his superhero career and he’s sure to hit the ground running and make a strong—albeit very much flawed—first impression.
Izuku’s fear and trepidation towards the task ahead of him and that plays a whole lot better than if he were heading into this thing with a cocky disposition. The requirements behind the entrance exam are pretty creative and thankfully it’s not just people sitting at a desk answering multiple-choice questions for half the episode. Basically there’s a testing ground that’s been split up into separate areas, each of which have their own big villains to take down, as well as smaller obstacles that are peppered throughout the grounds, too.
Competitors get points based on the difficulty of the villains that they take down and the circumstances behind it. It’s a good excuse to throw a bunch of amateurs into the fray and see what happens. The results here are a lot of fun although it’s the smallest bummer that the opponents here are all robots. It makes sense from a story perspective, but mechanical punching bags have become fairly common as training tools. At least these three behemoths have a bit of personality behind them even if they don’t amount to be much of an overall challenge here.
A handful more of characters are introduced to the audience, but it’sUraraka and Iida that get the most attention. It looks like they’ll continue to see more development as the season goes on and that they’ll probably become part of Izuku’s core group of crime-fighting friends. Uraraka has control over gravity and telekinesis like skills whereas Iida has super speed thanks to jet engines that are in his calves. Those powers certainly compliment Izuku’s brute strength—that is if he’s able to activate it.
Izuku very quickly finds himself in trouble once the games begin, but thankfully “Laser Belt” saves Izuku in a pinch. Izuku gets rescued in a very flashy way, but it doesn’t save him from the fact that he freezes up in the battlefield. He stays alive, but he fails to take down any robots and this is a competition that’s about a high score, not survival tactics. Meanwhile, Uraraka, Iida, and plenty of other classmates are racking up impressive scores and showing these robots who’s in charge. Uraraka’s anti-gravity powers are especially awesome here and she takes down dozens of robots at once whereas Izuku just cowers in disbelief.
“Straight Line” makes it interesting to see the various strategies that these fighters put to practice, whether it’s speed, strength, or skills that cater to reconnaissance. The instructors don’t intend to make this challenge easy and once most of the competitors get their lay of the land, they throw new massive challenges at everyone that trulytest everyone’s merits and determine who the real heroes are. A lot of the crowd balks at the challenge and even though Izuku still has a pitiful score of zero, he stays behind in order to save Uraraka.
This moment where Izuku comes to Uraraka’s rescue is so damn inspirational. It’s not only an impressive piece of action, but the episode also packs on the emotion here and turns the whole scene into quite the spectacle of heroics. It’s without a doubt Izuku’s biggest moment to date and the most that he’s resembled the hero that All Might sees inside of him. It’s nice to see that even though All Might sits this episode out, his voice carries on through Izuku here. My Hero Academia can still effectively tug at the heartstrings and create touching, inspiring scenes.
So many characters here just feel concerned about their powers and becoming the absolute best. Izuku wants to be the best and strongest too, but he’s such a breath of fresh air because he genuinely cares about helping others before himself. It will likely be this humble modesty that leads Izuku to success, rather than the powerful quirk that he’s sitting on. By the way, the moment where Izuku finally does put his One For All quirk to practice against the robotic threat is a particularly beautiful piece of animation. It looks great.
Izuku’s positive attitude shows the kind individual that he is, but if he continues to help out more individuals and make friends throughout his time at U.A. High, then he’ll no doubt have many allies that can later help him in battle. In fact, maybe some big showdown between Izuku and Katsuki Bakugo will come down to the support that Izuku gains from those that he’s helped throughout the season. Or maybe Izuku will become corrupted, sell out his ideals, and turn into the biggest villain that the show has ever seen. It’s doubtful, but time will tell, and Izuku’s immersion into the world of superheroes looks like it will only become more intense.
What’s really great about this episode is that the first half ends with Izuku taking down his biggest foe yet, but the second half is all about recovery. Sure, this is an episode about victory, but it’s just as much a story about pushing yourself too far and using skills that you’re not ready for yet. “I wanted to be a pro, but I don’t even have enough skill to be a sidekick,” Izuku laments. After Izuku defeats this major robot he finds himself stranded hundreds of feet in the air. All he needs to do now is figure out how to safely stick the landing and survive. He ends the first act as a hero, but now he’s just a scared boy.
The challenge here isn’t a physical threat, like other robots coming for revenge. It’s simply Izuku trying to will his quirk to work again so he can stick the landing and not break every bone in his body on the impact. Even then, after this supremely humbling moment, Izuku doesn’t even solve his own problem. Uraraka saves his ass for a second time now. In this sense “Start Line” features the perfect balance of both Izuku’s strengths and faults. He continues ahead through these entrance exams with caution rather than bravado and it’s the right attitude for this early arc in the series.
It’s nice to see some debate break out over Izuku’s actions and whether he should be seen as a major threat here or not. A lot of people here can’t look past his zero score, but it’s Iida that comes to the incredible revelation that’s the saving grace of the episode. Iida states that if this was real life and not a competition that depended on points, then he would absolutely come to a fallen fighters’ aid. He grimaces over how quickly he and the rest of them have become cutthroat at the expense of true hero ideals. Izuku has a zero, but so what? He did what Iida would have done in the real world and isn’t that more important to what makes a hero?
The post-battle period also introduces U.A. High’s nurse, Recovery Girl, who conveniently can completely heal warriors courtesy of her loving kisses. She’s a human Senzu Bean! Characters like her are also the reason that U.A. High is able to hold such grueling qualifying tests such as this where fighters can get so beaten up. It would never happen if they couldn’t be completely healed at the end of the day.
At this point the episode flashes forward to a week in time when the entrance exams are over and done with and Izuku is back at home, lost in grief over what his results will be. All Might’s also ghosted him so the kid’s feeling especially down at the moment (“With great power comes a great amount of paperwork”).
This works a whole lot better than showing everything that follows during Izuku’s testing because it leaves so ambiguity towards his poor score in the mock battle. Miraculously, against all odds he sees admission (but really, who was expecting otherwise?) and All Might reveals that there were other parameters in play during the mock battle and that points were also given out for rescuing fellow classmates. It’s also rather touching to see Uraraka attempt to donate some of her points to Izuku so he doesn’t leave empty-handed. Their friendship purely seems platonic at this point, and perhaps that’s for the best, but I look forward to these two becoming a stronger team.
Regardless of how he gets in, it’s still exciting to see Izuku get admission to U.A. High and that he might now be more cautious than ever about his powers. Furthermore, he already has a reputation on campus, even if it’s unclear if it’s a good one or bad one. More people seem to know who he is than who Katsuki is though, so Izuku can at least rub that in his smug face.
“Start Line” is the perfect follow-up to the training-heavy installment, “Roaring Muscles.” It’s great to finally see a trained Izuku out in battle, but the baby steps that the series takes in this regard keep the character’s progress believable. There could have definitely been a few more minutes devoted to the mock battle instead of the lengthy admissions video that Izuku receives, but the fighting that’s present looks great and Izuku’s use of One For All is quite exciting (even if that excitement gets deflated rather quickly afterwards). Next week Izuku’s in U.A. High for real. If he struggles this much with the entrance exam, the actual course curriculum might send the guy home in a body bag.
And let’s please get a Best Jeanist solo installment sooner rather than later.