This My Hero Academia review contains spoilers through Season 5, Episode 14.
My Hero Academia Season 5, Episode 14
“I like it sweet.”
Good heroics can be a lot like a magic trick in the sense that there are multiple components that exist at once for the purpose of distraction. This is even more true with a team of superheroes where each individual fulfills a different role that can be entirely constructed around deception. This principle applies to My Hero Academia’s Endeavor and his careful manipulation of his public image that leads into his justified redemption arc, but it’s especially applicable to the structure of “Off to Endeavor’s Agency!” This episode prioritizes the valuable experiences that Midoriya, Bakugo, and Shoto are supposed to gain while under Endeavor’s tutelage, but in the end it’s actually Hawks that proves himself to be the more worthy role model, even if it’s not yet apparent.
My Hero Academia has felt like it’s been spinning its wheels for the past few episodes while it prepares for the next big arc, but now the series has finally gotten there. This lighter atmosphere has created such a sense of comfortable security that it almost feels inevitable that danger is right around the corner. Immediately there’s a more grandiose feeling present in “Off to Endeavor’s Agency!” as a war brews between the heroes and the villains. There’s a conflict on the horizon that’s the biggest thing that My Hero Academia has ever attempted where absolutely everyone is involved. “Off to Endeavor’s Agency!” is burdened with laying a lot of the groundwork for this big showdown, yet it’s an effective episode that covers a lot of territory in a natural way.
“Off to Endeavor’s Agency” jumps right into the action, but it does allow a quieter moment between Izuku and his mother that accomplishes a lot. It’s an appreciated scene of sincerity that’s incredibly sweet and harkens back to the simpler days of the start of the series. My Hero Academia has no shortage of role models that tell Midoriya how much he’s grown up and become his own individual, but it means a lot more when it’s his own mother that dawns on this realization. It’s such an endearing moment and one that might hit even harder in retrospect if mass casualties are on the way. It’s also extremely satisfying that Midoriya shares Eri’s letter with his mother (complete with a delightful scrawled sketch of Deku). It takes a bright moment and manages to make it resonate even more.
Midoriya’s mother is ready to let her boy fully spread his wings and fly, but he doesn’t face the same trust at the Endeavor Agency. After everything that Midoriya has accomplished it feels a little silly that he still experiences pushback over such basic hero tasks. The animosity that initially exists at the Endeavor Agency has more to do with the difficult situation that Shoto Todoroki pushes Endeavor into with his friends. This tension feels like a natural starting point for this new arc and it’s reminiscent of Deku’s growing pains when he first started to train under Gran Torino or Nighteye. However, all of this feels new in the sense that Midoriya and Bakugo’s progress is couched between the tricky family dynamics that have defined Shoto and Endeavor’s relationship since the start of My Hero Academia.
Endeavor doesn’t hide his judgment over Bakugo and Midoriya, but he still allows them to study under him, despite his criticism over Shoto’s shoddy friends. This reflects how much Endeavor’s bond has improved with Shoto and that they’ve reached a level of comfort with each other, even if they don’t always see eye to eye. Midoriya and Bakugo oppose Endeavor’s orders to hang back and follow Shoto’s lead, not out of any desire to rebel, but because they can’t learn anything if they’re not up close and personal with the action. This conflict comes across as somewhat artificial, but this inner drama at the Endeavor Agency resolves itself so quickly that it doesn’t hurt the episode.
Endeavor has complete control over the attack on the city, but it’s Hawks that literally swoops in to solve the problem. Hawks is on his own reconnaissance mission that has higher stakes than this random street level attack, but his covert work dovetails with the Endeavor Agency’s mission in a way that’s much more important than it seems. Heroes like Endeavor, Midoriya, and Bakugo are eager to rush into battle and extinguish a problem before it gets a chance to grow into an epidemic. Hawks’ work is a lot more thorough and patient. It has him deep in the belly of the beast all Departed style and nearly everything that he does has to be done through code or secrecy.
This chance meeting with Hawks plays as deceptively innocent, but it’s really the catalyst to the entire episode. Hawks’ crusade is heavily linked to a text known as the “Meta Liberation War,” penned by an infamous villain known as Destro, which has become an inspirational manifesto for villains. Destro’s incendiary words are gaining a modern resurgence, which indicates that a major revolution is on the rise. The “Meta Liberation War” fans the flames of frustrated villains, but Hawks attempts to illustrate that there’s also important information in the text for Endeavor. It’s frustrating as Endeavor fails to pick up the significance of Hawks’ message, but he manages to crack the code by the time that the credits roll. It wouldn’t have come as a surprise if My Hero Academia spent several episodes on Endeavor’s obtuse misunderstanding of Hawks’ cryptic clues, but its expediency here is encouraging.
It’s also absolutely adorable that Deku has grown in major ways and continues to display incredible intuition in battle, yet he thinks the “Meta Liberation War” manifesto is some secret text that contains the secrets to Hawks’ high speed. He can still be so incredibly naïve at times. There’s some palpable awkward tension and the makings of a friendly rivalry that gets ignited between Bakugo and Hawks, but it’s a big deal that these characters are now on each other’s radars. An attack as a united front is definitely in the cards.
Another asset to not just “Off to Endeavor’s Agency,” but this season of My Hero Academia in general, is that there are some wildly creative villains that get disposed of in a single episode. This demonstrates an impressive level of confidence for what the series has planned with the League of Villains. It’s easy to picture a villain like Starservant, and his dangerous glass sucking abilities, to cause permanent trouble in the series. He’s taken care of with minimal effort here, which becomes a subversive highlight of the episode, but also proof of the level of efficacy that the heroes and villains in the series have reached.
“Off to Endeavor’s Agency!” is exactly the change of pace that My Hero Academia required before it fell into too deep a place of complacency. There’s a lot to this episode that mostly amounts to prologue, but it’s not a problem when it’s all such compelling material (and that new opening theme song is absolute fire). There’s a major attack on the way where over 100,000 villains are eager to assert their dominance and restructure society, but what’s significant here is if this onslaught will punctuate the end of this season or if what’s to come will drag its feet and leave the rewarding culmination for season six. “Off to Endeavor’s Agency!” is a promising start to this Meta Liberation War, but we’ll see how the rest of this season handles this seismic turn of events.