This show continues to stay hot.
Overview (Spoilers below)
My Hero Academia resumes with the practical exams, and from the get-go, it’s a quick-paced episode with a lot of reveals. Yuga Aoyama and Ochaco Uraraka fight in a tense match with Pro Hero Thirteen. “What would Deku do at a time like this?” Ochaco wonders. “Is it because you like him?” Aoyama asks smugly. At this, Ochaco blushes.
Denki Kaminari and Mina Ashido take on the principal of U.A., a really neat touch. This remains one of the best fights of the exams and the series. That’s largely because of the format. Unlike the U.A. Sports Fest, it’s not a battle of students vs. students. Instead, it’s kids versus a pro-hero. As such, the stakes are pretty high.
Nevertheless, there’s not the threat which was presented by the fight against Hero Killer Stain. Still, My Hero Academia doesn’t exactly play it safe. There’s a neat fight with Mic vs. Koji Koda and Kyoka Jiro against Mic. I enjoyed seeing Mic as a formidable opponent and competent hero. For most of My Hero Academia season 2, he’s been comic relief. For instance, as the color commentator during the U.A. Sports Fest. Now, he gets a moment to shine and it’s really refreshing.
As the matches continue, it’s incredibly enjoyable seeing how students face off against teachers and how the kids are paired. Pro Heroes are picked to go toe to toe with students based on their strengths in order to exploit the kids’ weaknesses.
Again, My Hero Academia clocks in a fantastic episode. Granted, even a lackluster My Hero entry is still better than the best entries from other series. Where “Stripping the Varnish” excels is in its deviation from the norm. Instead of sticking to tropes, this series entry throws in some neat twists. Students are truly challenged and don’t always come out on top.
Furthermore, I like the screen time afforded to secondary, and even tertiary, characters. Mostly, the same few characters get the majority of the spotlight. While others are shown, it’s briefly. But in “Stripping the Varnish,” we see a wide smattering of students.
However, like later episodes in the U.A. Sports Fest story arc, this episode feels rushed in spots. Luckily, it’s not like that throughout the entire episode. But it’s not terribly off. Rather, some segments just feel like they’re over as soon as they started.
“Stripping the Varnish” delves deeper into characters on the show and their motivations. It’s fascinating learning more about students and their varying driving forces for becoming heroes. Some feature more grounded desires. Yet others are pretty superficial. In this way, the varnish is removed from them.
Ultimately, this episode is surprising in several ways. One of the most enjoyable moments comes as a huge twist, though not terribly crucial to the overall series. Just this episode. “I think that kid pulled one over on all of us,” someone comments. And it’s true. Another top entry in the My Hero Academia franchise.