Producer: Madman Entertainment/Funimation
Director: Kenji Nagasaki
Writer: Yosuke Kuroda (screenwriter) & Kohei Horikoshi (mangaka)
Starring: Justin Briner/Daiki Yamashita & Christopher Sabat/Tessho Genda
Distributor: Madman Entertainment/Funimation
Genre: Shonen, Superhero, Action
My Hero Academia (Boku no Hero Academia) has grown into a very popular anime. The third season wrapped up with the airing of a My Hero Academia movie, Two Heroes, which did so well in theaters that extra showings were added due to the earlier ones selling out. This was, of course, driven by the popularity that this third season only continued to grow on from Season 2. Season 3 takes what the class 1-A heroes learned in the first two seasons and forces them to apply it in real, life-or-death situations. The show takes on a more mature approach, as we see the heroes facing the reality of the true dangers around them, and how much more they need to grow to challenge them properly.
After their encounter with Hero Killer Stain in Season 2, as well as their exams facing-off against the teachers, class 1-A was probably ready to catch a break and enjoy their summer training camp. Things, however, don’t go as expected…
When their grueling camp is invaded by the League of Villains, things go South. The students are thrown into life-threatening danger with little backup. While they manage to keep anyone from being killed, one class 1-A member is taken and the villains escape all-but-unscathed. This first story section is handled well. We are introduced to a new character, Kota, whose story plucks heartstrings. His interactions with Midoriya, in particular, are a beautiful showcase of what heroes are meant to be. This section also shows us the first real taste of how dangerous the new League of Villains can be.
The capture of a student naturally sets off a chain of events. This introduces us to the threat of All For One and brings us to a fated showdown between him and All Might/One For All. This showdown is gripping. I found myself holding my breath through moments and gawking at the screen after it. When the fight forces All Might to step down as the #1 hero, the world of heroes and villains alike begin to shift.
To try and help fill the gap, class 1-A is told to develop their own special moves and then given the chance to try for their provisional hero licenses. This story arc following the different sections of the hero test was fantastic. Before the test even starts, the show introduces new characters and hints at new rivalries. The actual test itself is action-packed, introducing many briefly-shown characters with all kinds of quirks. It’s like a much bigger, better version of the Sports Festival, but a battle royale of 1,000+ students.
Action aside, the license test arc also showcases a rescue portion, highlighting some unexpected weaknesses and hidden strengths in some of the 1-A students. The story breaks some typical tropes by actually allowing some main characters to fail. This is something I enjoy in shonen especially, as it feels more authentic than when the main characters are just some unstoppable force that never falters. These heroes don’t just crush their opponents and hurrah in victory. They struggle and sometimes fall behind.
The last few episodes are split into two smaller story-points, which, without spoiling too much, set things up very well for Season 4. The plot feels like it hits a climax of sorts in episode 23 (episode 61 of the show overall), as some plot-points hit their boiling point and emotions explode. Rather than losing momentum after that, though, the last two episodes make the most of pushing things along to make the user anticipate Season 4 with excitement. Who’s this new villain? Will we see some Hero Work Studies? How will Class 1-A continue to grow after their recent demonstration reminded them they still have a long road ahead?
What I think I enjoyed most about Season 3 was that in the plot overall, things felt more serious/mature. While the show still incorporated funny elements and felt light-hearted at times, there was always the understanding that there was a darkness lurking in the shadows. An evil was growing that would have to be faced. Midoriya and friends are presented as children, yes, but also as children who are maturing into heroes that will stand against villainy. There was also some character development in episode ten that honestly had me tearing up. This season only makes you more attached to the characters and you feel for them as they face a scary future.
While I won’t go into detail about it, as I’m not the best critic of these elements, I do think the animation and soundtrack were superb. I’m a huge fan of UVERworld’s songs from some other opening/ending themes they’ve done for different shows, so I was happy to see them handle ODD FUTURE for the first half of the season. I should also note that the soundtrack choice for the last few moments of the last episode was spot-on. The music combined with the tone left by Midoriya’s speech almost sent a chill down my spine.
Overall, I’d say My Hero Academia is continuing to ride the huge wave it has been since Season 1. While I hesitated to check this show out initially because I figured the hype must be overdone and I’d be let down, I most certainly have not been. Even my husband, who’s fairly new to anime and pretty selective about it, got excited each week when the next episode was up. This show is shonen done right.
Spiritual Content: No concerning material.
Violence: The violence in this season is stepped-up somewhat from Season 2. While all violence is “cartoon violence,” we do see some pretty graphic depictions of things like Midoriya’s arms being destroyed in the process of him overusing his quirk. As the characters are forced to confront more real, violent threats we do see both the villains harming people in various ways (such as cutting them, gassing them out, etc.) and the heroes fighting back in equally violent ways (Bakugo blowing people up, Midoriya hitting hard, and so on).
Language/Crude Humor: MANY uses of “d*mn” and a few uses of “h*ll”, “b*st*rd.” Much of this language use is Bakugo’s referring to Midoriya as “d*mn Deku”/”d*mn nerd” and Todoroki as “icy-hot b*st*rd.” A few instances are Midoriya swearing in frustration. However, there is certainly more language in Season 3 than prior seasons.
Sexual Content: (There’s a fair bit of mild sexual content but I think I’ve got most of it noted here). Yaoyorozu’s costume is still very open at the front, showcasing her chest. Mineta continues to make some sexual jokes/comments and act generally pervy (often with Kamanari in tow). In particular, there’s a time he tries to spy on the girls bathing and an instance where a female hero asks if his balls on his head are hair and he makes a comment about “she asked about my balls,” and exclaiming something about sexual harassment. Midnight appears in a few episodes, always in her skin-tight, bondage-themed costume. The “Pussycats,” a pro-hero group, are introduced at the training camp, and the female members are dressed in cheerleader-esque outfits. They make some suggestive comments veiled in cat jokes. Hatsume falls on top of Midoriya and the camera focuses briefly on her obvious cleavage as she lays on him. The provisional hero test has some other scantily-clad heroes introduced. There are a few instances during this test that stand out. One female hero pins Midoriya to the ground in a suggestive way (and the camera showcases it). There’s a girl dressed similarly to Midnight (the one who pins Midoriya). There’s also a girl who appears as Uraraka and later shape-shifts, then appearing to be naked (though covered in some form of mud) at one point – Midoriya sees this, and Mineta and Kamanari make a point to grill him about what naked Uraraka/hero-lady looked like. Additionally, a hero is introduced whose quirk often leaves him naked while fighting; while angles are careful not to show genitals, much of the male hero IS exposed, including brief glimpses of his butt (and reactions of the other heroes coupled with his apology to the girls about seeing his “willy” confirm he is fully nude).
Drug/Alcohol Use: No concerning material.
Other Negative Themes: This perhaps could be counted as “violence” but it’s more disturbing than anything: On
e character introduced in the licensing exam has a quirk, meatball, which allows him to meld people into flesh balls. He’s found surrounded by many students turned into these gross balls of flesh and costumes. Some may not be bothered by it, but others may find it disturbing/nauseating.
Positive Content: There’s a lot of focus on self-improvement, focusing on overcoming your weaknesses. There’s also some great character development shown by multiple characters (won’t go into details so as not to spoil things). There’s also an overarching idea about standing up to darkness rather than allowing yourself to be helpless.
The Bottom Line
Season 3 of My Hero Academia has continued to impress the fans it drew in during the first two seasons. It takes the premise of the world— the characters, concepts, etc.—and builds them into a larger plot that draws you further into the journey of not just Class 1-A, but this world of superheroes and villains.