The biggest lie this show has spread so far is that ‘WOWOW, it’s all right. Everything will be alright’ bullshit in its opening. In the second half of its fifth season, ‘My Hero Academia’ introduces its darkest arcs yet and honestly, this might be one of my favourite seasons of ‘My Hero’ ever. As an anime-only fan, I clearly cannot compare it to the manga, however, in terms of pacing, writing and overall quality, the ‘Endeavor Agency’ arc and the ‘My Villain Academia’ arc presented some stellar material. These two arcs feature some of my favourite episodes of the entire series and I cannot wait to talk about them so without further ado, let’s ride that merry-go-round of spoilers!
major spoilers for the fifth season of ‘My Hero Academia’ are clearly present in this review.
While I genuinely enjoyed the first half of the fifth season, I was eagerly awaiting for the show to pick up the pace and introduce some more tense and urgent matters. The Christmas episode was such a genuinely pleasant surprise though! Do you know how RARE it is to find holiday-themed anime episodes! It was a fun and light episode and it gave us some pretty great meme templates. The episode then ends by setting up the ‘Endeavor Agency’ arc and in the following episodes, we join Midoriya, Todoroki and Bakugo as they train under Endeavor’s wing for the rest of the holiday season. This arc was a blast, I loved seeing this trio interact more and progress. Deku and Bakugo’s “friendlier” interactions were a highlight every episode and it was just great to see Shoto return properly as a main character. The brief set-up for this arc with the episode ‘Vestiges‘ earlier on in the season, definitely made me more eager to see more of Hawks and this arc definitely did not disappoint. He carries mystery and charm as if it was a second quirk of his. He is easily one of the coolest characters I’ve ever seen and I hope once again, we get to see more of him. That being said, the highlight of this arc was not Hawks, neither was it Midoriya’s excellent All Might scarf, it was The Todoroki Family.
First off, I’m gonna need a written apology from Kohei Horikoshi because this arc hit a little too close to home, like intensely close. I don’t think an episode of anything really, has ever made me feel such a specific type of discomfort and that’s because as sad as it is, it is all too familiar! Gotta hand it to Horikoshi for nailing the daddy issues this season because holy shit. While the arc does start off a bit on a low note with a great first episode but two mediocre episodes after it, it picks up like hell with the episode ‘The Hellish Todoroki Family’. This fucking episode felt like a taped dinner at my house. My brother and I were just in complete silence looking at each other and laughing out of pure discomfort. Endeavour’s character arc was so compelling to watch and as someone who has a similar parental figure in my life, it was very important to me that they handle his character with care and this season nailed it. They are constantly reminding the audience as well as Endeavor himself of the sins he’s committed. This episode itself features a scene where he just sits back and actually reflects on every shitty thing he’s done and you can see the growth happen right before your eyes. He’s progressed so much as a character and despite him being crucial to this arc and to our protagonists, the show never asks you to forgive him. It respects Shoto and Natsuo’s pain and lets them interact realistically. There is no neat apology, no happy reunion. This episode interprets the messiness, the discomfort and the overall awkward nature of a situation like this to a tee. It hurt all the more when Natsuo later breaks down on the street to Endeavor in the following episode. Sometimes no act of kindness can ever change your perception of a person, especially someone as close as your father and I respect this show for sticking to the sad truth.
My biggest issue with the anime and especially this season, however, is actually the structure of the episodes. I don’t really mind the pacing but the time chosen to tell the viewers crucial information is just so oddly placed. An episode will be called ‘Lemillion‘, the name of a character but half of the episode has nothing to do with them. This season, this particular flaw was incredible present in the very divisive ‘My Villain Academia’ arc. From what I heard, the arcs were swapped chronologically which genuinely messed up the order of events. However, my biggest critique with this arc is that even though it definitely gave the League of Villains more depth and character, they ultimately didn’t really divide the time all that well. Some characters like Spinner and Mr. Compress got none of the same treatment characters like Toga, Twice or even Kurogiri got. The arc started off with such an odd set of episodes. Up to this point I never really cared for any of these characters and now we’re getting a surplus of time with them. I found the first two episodes of the arc to be very slow and boring even if the arc picked up the pace and ended on an insane note. This season just never really used its time wisely and it’s unfortunate because the amount that they did get right was genuinely some of the best this show has to offer so far.
Tomura Shigaraki has now become one of my favourite characters in the entire series. His two-part episode left me speechless. His story brilliantly sets up the dark and bitter contrast to this hero-infested world Deku introduced us to. The incredibly sad truth is that in a different timeline, Izuku and Tenko would’ve been best friends when they were younger. The parallels to the first time Deku used One For All in this episode were mesmerizing. Finally, after five seasons, we get to witness the birth of Deku’s antagonist. Tomura’s awakening finally made him the compelling antagonist he was destined to be. Easily two of the best episodes of the entire series and they completely won me over on Shigaraki. Bring on the next season! The rest of the League of Villains also got compelling backstory and depth, namely Toga and Twice whom I do care for to an extent but nowhere near the same as Shigaraki and even more so, Kurogiri.
My favourite episode of the season is in neither of the arcs mentioned so far, it is the oddly placed ‘More of a Hero Than Anyone’. Unlike these two arcs, we have an episode fully dedicated to one plot point. This episode took to some of the underdeveloped characters and made them fan-favourites in less than half an hour. In retrospect, this episode does not fit this season at all, however, it still works because it acts as a self-contained story. The idea of getting two of the most two-dimensional characters and putting them in such a situation that forces them to show such a different side was as compelling as it was heartbreaking. Seeing Mr. Aizawa and Present Mic get so hopeful, so passionate only to break down crying was easily one of the most emotional scenes in the entire series. Giving Kurogiri, a character we literally knew little to nothing about such a tragic and emotional backstory was brutally effective. This episode truly was chilling, everything from the writing, direction to the gut-punch of a scene where Aizawa refers to his eyes as “unbearably dry” as tears are clearly falling down but because of his quirk they’re overwhelmed in more ways than one. It’s just fucking brilliant.
Overall, this season was honestly a blast to watch! While it was slower at times, Season 5 definitely made up for it with some of the best episodes this show has to offer so far. The character development, animation, writing and voice-acting was superb and I hope Season 6 will work on the structure and pacing to give us an even better season. God knows when I’ll watch ‘World Heroes Mission’ though, I might have to book a flight to London to catch a showing because I AM Plus Ultra.
the fifth season of ‘My Hero Academia’ is now available in full to stream on Crunchyroll.