This My Hero Academia review contains spoilers.
My Hero Academia Season 5 Episode 12
“We need to know more about this power.”
My Hero Academia’s previous episode started to move its characters into a more relaxed place now that the Joint Training Arc battles have reached their conclusion. This laid back energy takes up the entirety of “The New Power and All For One” and this is mostly a disposable episode that’s full of entertaining interactions between characters. However, it’s a relatively inconsequential offering beyond a few veiled assumptions about One For All.
My Hero Academia can’t only cater towards non-stop battles and perpetual obstacles, so “The New Power and All For One” effectively releases some pressure and is satisfied to just allow Class A and B to mingle together. This isn’t a problem, but it’s a little surprising that this is the big showcase for the anime’s 100th episode. 100 episodes is no small feat and the series decides to embrace its fundamentals and more muted character moments for this milestone instead of using it to conclude some major conflict or defeat a noteworthy villain. It’s a decision that represents the best and worst of My Hero Academia after 100 episodes.
This season of My Hero Academia has featured some of the anime’s most explosive battles, which makes this level of recent comfortable complacency come as a shock. A slowed down episode of relaxation is understandable, but “The New Power and All For One” is a lethargic installment and it looks as if next week’s escapades enter an even more informal and relaxed rhythm. So far pacing has been the biggest problem for My Hero Academia’s fifth season and it leaves episodes like this one feeling like they’re spinning their wheels.
It’s a lot of fun to watch Kirishima and Tetstutetsu trade sparring tips while other students just kick back reading manga or run outside in the snow. These young characters often face constant responsibilities that it’s always appreciated when My Hero Academia just allows them to act their age and let their more juvenile impulses out. “The New Power And All For One” is full of moments like these, which will either elicit smiles or induce eye rolls. It never hurts when My Hero Academia’s characters are treated like real people instead of invincible superheroes, but it doesn’t change the fact that this episode feels like it’s running out the clock and a degree of emptiness sets in when the credits finally roll.
“The New Power and All For One” gets bogged down with how it’s an episode that’s mostly about results and reflection, yet there are some Quirks that receive more attention than others. There’s still considerable fascination over Midoriya’s evolving One For All, but the characters circle around the same general points without making much progress. The highlight through all of this analysis is that Bakugo is now fully indoctrinated into Midoriya and All Might’s secret heart-to-hearts. It’s an absolute joy to have him casually weigh in and become a more justified presence in this group.
It’s hard not to think of the One For All charged events from the Heroes Rising movie and how this shared dynamic between this trio of characters only grows more intense over time. The group also deduces that the anomalies surrounding One For All and how it wants to manifest multiple Quirks through Midoriya bears some connection to the nature of All For One and its multiple Quirk mentality. The beginning of this season teased the fundamental connection between these two powerful Quirks, as well as their original bearers, and it looks like this mysterious dynamic could frame much of the season’s remaining episodes.
It’s been a while since My Hero Academia has checked in on Eri, but her Rewind Quirk is another ability that plays an important role in this episode. Everything that Eri does is absolutely adorable, but the glimpse of her writing letters to Midoriya and Togata so that she can better express her gratitude towards these two important friends in her life is just so sweet. It’s deeply comforting to learn that Eri’s starting to fit in and has become a relatively well-adjusted child who has risen above her past trauma.
Togata playfully warns Eri that Monoma represents the “bad part” of U.A. High, but he might actually be able to make her life easier and help her grow more comfortable with her abilities. “The New Power and All For One” explains the significance behind Monoma’s Copy Quirk and how it can be used to better understand people’s more volatile Quirks, such as the powers that Midoriya and Eri possess. It definitely seems like these experiments over what Monoma’s Copy Quirk can and cannot accomplish is foreshadowing a major breakthrough, either against a villain or to aid Midoriya in battle. “The New Power and All For One” is a scattered episode, but the brief detour on Monoma and Eri feels consistent with the rest of its reflective nature.
My Hero Academia mostly spins its wheels here with a narrative that’s intentionally small stakes. It’s therefore quite unexpected that all of a sudden “The New Power and All For One” tries to quickly resolve seasons’ worth of provisional license exam backstory. Todoroki and Bakugo’s impromptu takedown of a Mr. Freeze-esque villain and his cabal of weirdos gets crammed into the final minutes, but it’s without a doubt the most worthwhile part of the episode.
It’s easy to picture a better version of this episode that uses this conflict as its centerpiece and instead allows all of the slice of life cuteness at U.A. High to be more background fodder that’s intercut with the battle. It wouldn’t be difficult to have students and teachers reflect on the progress of their classes while they watch Bakugo and Todoroki go through the same thing against this random foe. The episode’s structure doesn’t do it any favors, but it’s at least able to end on the strongest note and it’s genuinely exciting that Todoroki and Bakugo finally have their provisional hero licenses. Bakugo’s immediate disdain over how his cake is too big is also just perfect.
“The New Power and All For One” is a serviceable episode of My Hero Academia that’s plenty of fun in the moment, but not necessarily an installment that many fans will feel the need to revisit, which seems antithetical for the anime’s 100th episode. There’s not necessarily anything in this installment that’s not present throughout the rest of the season. Thematically, the previous episode, “Our Brawl,” would have made a better fit for the big 100. However, despite these quibbles over the episode’s unusual priorities, My Hero Academia has never felt more confident in itself, its characters, and its storytelling.
100 episodes might have seemed like a bold pipe dream during My Hero Academia’s first season, but all of the series’ hard work and growth makes it feel like episode 200 is a foregone conclusion at this point. Not everyone has been a huge fan of this season and its structure, but it’s very much functioned like one big extended love letter to the series’ characters. It’s been a slow start to the season, but My Hero Academia seems ready to channel everything that’s been brewing across these 12 episodes and deliver a second-half that’s bigger and more surprising than everything that’s been seen before.