This My Hero Academia review contains spoilers.
“Get the wrong homeroom teacher and life is hell…”
Whether you lead an exciting existence or not, life is still full of surprises. There are just certain elements that are simply impossible to plan for in life, even for the most cautious of individuals. This idea is especially true if you happen to be a superhero. They can have incredible power, but they’ll still get caught off guard by natural disasters or a villain’s evil scheme. That’s what Deku’s new homeroom instructor at U.A. High tries to reinforce in his students, but it’s a lesson that’s applicable even if Deku wasn’t enrolled in the school. It’s important to understand that life has no pattern and that it will throw out plenty of curve balls. That’s why the high-octane exercise in adrenaline that was last week’s episode is followed up with another test that puts a lot on the line. My Hero Academia wants the audience to be just as surprised and thrown off guard as Deku and company are here.
Accordingly, Midoriya finds himself out of the frying pan, but into the fire. Just after Midoriya scrapes his way through the entrance exams, he doesn’t even get a chance to celebrate his first day as a student at U.A. High before he’s immediately put into another test that threatens him with expulsion from his dream school. This is all because Deku’s homeroom teacher is the mummy-like Shota Aizawa, whose hero name is “Eraser Head” (eat your heart out, David Lynch). Aizawa seems like a real manic personality that fluctuates from intense to monotone at a moment’s notice. However, he certainly feels like one of the more unique homeroom teachers for Deku and company. It’s clear that he expects a lot from his students, but there’s also a caring, gentle side that will surely display itself more as the dangers intensify. This also probably isn’t the last that we see of his cocoon-like sleeping bag either.
There are likely more severe teachers out there at U.A. High, but Aizawa proves that this education is going to be a true challenge and not some joke. However, what’s important here is that Aizawa seems to be a genuinely good teacher and know how to get the most out of his students. He sets out to rank all of the quirks of his students and warns the class that the student that performs the worst will be kicked out. This is a big blow to all of the students, but it makes Midoriya particularly nervous because he still doesn’t have control over his quirk. Even when Midoriya has been able to get One For All to activate, it’s still been a huge gamble.
Once again, My Hero Academia really deserves credit for how it takes the time to build up Deku’s strength. It allows for both the series and Deku himself to be patient about all of this. So many shows have their heroes overpowered and invincible from the jump and then they just encounter even stronger individuals, but this approach is so much more natural and “grounded” (as insane as something like that may sound for a show about 80% of the world having super powers). This attitude has been present right from the opening frames of the anime’s first episode, but it’s episodes like “What I Can Do For Now” that really emphasize how important this perspective is for the series and how advantageous it is in regard to introducing the audience to this exaggerated world. A common trait of the “shonen” genre that My Hero Academia fits into is that the protagonists are typically these strong, badass archetypes. It seems likely that Deku will eventually get to that stage, but the fact that he begins at such a remedial, disadvantaged level already makes this anime more interesting than so many other similar series.
If Midoriya were immediately in control of his One For All quirk then the stakes present in this episode’s challenge would be considerably lower. The fact that Deku initially breaks down into a sobbing mess, but then gets his emotions in check and can step up is not only a deeply touching scene, but it also speaks to My Hero Academia’s mission statement. This isn’t a show about being a hero, it’s a show about how to become a hero and Midoriya’s evolution in that department continues to be fascinating. Furthermore, Midoriya doesn’t just have to figure out how to use his quirk, but also how to make it his own. He’s inherited this ability from All Might, but he’s not just supposed to mindlessly use it in battle. All Might entrusted Midoriya with this quirk because he knows that he’ll be able to push its potential. He might even be able to do more with the quirk than All Might has done. This means understanding what One For All truly represents for Deku and how he can push it to new levels.
Deku takes baby steps into U.A. High and the world of hero-dom, which makes it that much easier for the audience to process it, too. The audience is still figuring all of this out too, so it’s a great idea to have them be just as unfamiliar with these characters and this world as their protagonist. That all opens up a lot in this episode due to how Aizawa’s test naturally puts everyone’s strengths on display and literally ranks them against each other. Iida and Uraraka are very welcome presences here and it’s still fun to see Midoriya’s group of friends slowly expand. As My Hero Academia sheds more light on Deku and gains a firmer grasp on his character, it slowly begins to feature the show’s supporting characters and bring them deeper into the fold. The audience is also given a little more context on U.A. High itself, like how there are only 300 students in the academy and that classes are split into twenty students apiece (and yet somehow all of the people that Deku has met so far end up in his homeroom…).
It’s also worth noting that the various teachers at U.A. High are already comparing Deku and Bakugo to one another. Bakugo actually leaves the entrance exams in first place and it’s entirely through combat points as opposed to helping anyone out. Midoriya’s assist points put him at a very average seventh place when the episode begins, but he still stands out to instructors because he’s the only fighter to gain a score exclusively through helping others. If the narrative wasn’t already pushing Deku and Bakugo down these parallel paths of heroics, the instructors at U.A. High also seem determined to play them against each other (that moment where Deku finally clocks out Bakugo is pretty sweet though). That being said, the way in which every student uses their powers to creatively gain advantages through Aizawa’s eight tests is a real joy.
The long-awaited reunion between Midoriya and All Might also takes places and the legendary hero confirms that Midoriya’s achieved all of this on his own without him pulling any strings. It’s telling that there’s already a certain level of maturity between Deku and All Might’s meetings versus their initial encounter. It makes All Might comfortable enough to reiterate that his end game here is to eventually retire once Deku’s grown strong enough to replaced him. All Might also briefly expands on the fact that he’ll be a teacher at U.A. High this year and that in spite of how that might bring some unnecessary attention to the school, he’s happy to instruct the super youth of tomorrow. It’s also nice to see that All Might isn’t Deku’s teacher. It’d make for an interesting dynamic for them to juggle, but it’s ultimately better that Midoriya gets to have a different mentor that can help him in other ways.
“What I Can Do For Now” fits in an unexpected conclusion where Aizawa is ready to kick out Midoriya before he’s even done with his tests, but Deku pulls out a very impressive move that keeps him in the running and wakes everyone up. It’s hard not to smile at the super cool image and message that the episode goes out on. Midoriya is finally ready to start turning the tables here.
This all makes for a solid episode that crams in a surprising amount. What’s shocking here is that the first act really takes its time and Aizawa’s tests haven’t even begun, but then through some frantic editing the episode fits in many tests and gets to showcase most of the class in the process. There’s no shortage of action in this installment, but there also some tender moments between Deku and his mom before he goes off to school. The humor from Aizawa’s unconventional ways is also highly entertaining and gets to show a lot of these characters at their best. It’s also quite suspenseful to see what Midoriya will do here. While it feels unlikely that the show would expel him, I wouldn’t completely put it past them either. The results here are satisfying and they build to a huge, flashy finish in a way that is starting to become a tradition for this show.
Next week Midoriya’s tests and trials at U.A. High continue. Thankfully he’s packed more than just action figures for this journey.