MHA 15: 100-meter dash

My Hero Academia episode 15 review

MHA 15

My Hero Academia gets its sports festival underway with a whole lot of talk about Class 1-A. The class in question is, of course, Izuku’s class. He and his classmates are quite the narcissists. All we hear is about how Class 1-A survived an attack by villains and how Class 1-A is the class everyone looks up at now. Seriously, guys, chill out. You survived because real heroes showed up at the last second to save you. You aren’t that good yet.

But it’s not just Izuku who thinks his class is all that. Bakugo goes ahead and tells the entire sports festival that he’s going to win. That was so bold of him but so not really at all. After all, what else is he supposed to say? This reminds me of how the media latches on to every time a player says his team is going to win the Super Bowl. Suddenly headlines read “Player Guarantees Super Bowl Win.” What’s he supposed to do, say “we’re going to flame out in the first round”? So I don’t consider Bakugo all that brave by saying that.

Finally, the event begins with an obstacle race. Everyone dashes for the door, just as they did back at school. Once they’ve gotten through, they use their quirks to get going. And now they’re up against giant robots. Sadly I get the feeling we’re going to be seeing 1-on-1 battles as we did in Bleach every time it looked like we’d get something more interesting. I was looking forward to an actual obstacle race straight out of the Laff-a-Lympics.

Character of the episode: Bakugo

Episode rating (out of four stars): **1/2

AoT S3 1: Lost Without a Trace

Attack on Titan Season 3 episode 1 review

AoT S3

This is season 4 of Attack on Titan, right? Because I feel like I missed a whole 12 episodes. Nothing in this episode makes sense. I feel like there’s so much information I’m missing, like “it’s all in the manual.” Did I need to read the manga to understand the current state of affairs?

Let’s go back to season 2, shall we? Back then, Ymir turned into a Titan to fight off Reiner and Bertholdt, who revealed themselves to be the real villains (or so we think). After that, it’s all a blur. Now suddenly we’ve got the Survey Corps/Scout Regiment all together doing menial chores. Jaeger is mopping the floor, Sasha is stealing potatoes in a true “please-the-fans” scene, and Armin’s trying to keep everyone happy. Okay, that’s good.

But after that I completely lost it. And this time it was not because I was too busy playing Mario Golf. No, I just had no idea what was going on. I couldn’t understand what the whole purpose of the unassailable Levi’s master plan was. Levi decided to have Armin and another guy pose as Christa/Historia and Jaeger and allow them to get kidnapped, only to kidnap the kidnappers. Okay, that’s a weird way of doing it, but why?

Then there’s this new pink-haired girl, who might as well been wearing a red shirt because she screamed “kill me!” And sure enough, she did die, as all these guys with scout gear came and attacked Levi. But by the time they did, I was so completely lost that it didn’t matter. I had given up on trying to understand it.

You see, Attack on Titan thinks it’s smarter than its own viewers. We’re the dumb ones; the story is so much smarter than us. But when you do that to your audience, you end up losing the casual fan such as myself. Remember that show called Lost? It thought it was so cool for being impossible to figure out. Then it painted itself into a corner and ended up with one of the most unsatisfying endings in the history of television (behind Seinfeld only). That’s where I fear Attack on Titan is headed.

I wish I could whine about how bad this was or rave about how good this was. Instead, I’m just sitting here scratching my head. What exactly happened?

Character of the episode: Armin

Episode rating (out of four stars): **

Ping Pong The Animation

Ping Pong The Animation review

Ping Pong The Animation

So this week I decided to watch a sports anime with the sport in question being kind of obvious. It was a departure for me, as I usually only watch dubs or well-known stuff. This was a sub and a bit of a more obscure one. Nevertheless, I marathoned the 11 episodes in about a week.

My thoughts on this one are mixed. First of all, there’s not nearly enough ping-pong in Ping Pong. The table tennis is never something of prime importance. You may see a couple of rallies, and then they’ll show the final score of the game or match. If you were hoping to see some good table tennis and some exciting play, you’ll be greatly disappointed. (Substitute “me” for “you,” because I was genuinely hoping for a cool take on table tennis.)

But the characters are fantastic. The two main characters are named Smile and Peco. Smile is pretty much Rei Ayanami, except not moe in the least bit, not a sex symbol, and not a girl. Otherwise, the two are the same. He never smiles, which is why he’s nicknamed “Smile.” But he grows as the series goes along.

Peco does the most growing in this series, though. He goes from being a terrible ping-pong player who gets skunked in his first game 11-0 to one of the top table tennis players in the world. How? Well, that’s what the story is about. There is one disturbing scene halfway through the series where Peco literally tries to commit suicide. It’s not easy to watch, but it’s perhaps a bit prescient with today’s day and age. Peco recovers from that suicide attempt to become an excellent player and a “hero,” in his words.

Would I recommend Ping Pong? Actually, I do. Here’s why: while you’re not going to get that sports feeling like you do from something like Eyeshield 21, you do get characters who are worth rooting for – or rooting against. And while they all have flaws, they also all grow as the series goes along. Ping Pong may not win a gold medal, but I’d still give it a solid silver.

Series rating (out of four stars): ***