I’m now left to wonder exactly how Diablo would fare in the Hero Provisional Licensing Exam. Sure, he has the ability, but… with his personality? I am intrigued.
Full disclosure. The Master of Ragnarok & Blesser of Einherjar is officially off the list. It didn’t do anything particularly offensive in its most recent episode (that I’m aware of). I’ve just grown tired of giving it chances to be anything other than… “fine.” It’s simply rather dull to behold. And while I’m probably not as hard on it as some others are, I maintain that the worst sin a piece of entertainment can commit is to be boring. So yeah.
That’s right. The Master of Ragnarok & Blesser of Einherjar is officially out of the race, folks! And then there were three. So let’s get to talking about them, shall we?
How Not to Summon a Demon Lord
Okay, but really. Why in the world is this show so good? This show has done a lot of things right that I honestly never expected. It’s not fair, man. Makin’ me look bad, like that. Its character work has, thus far, been on point. It’s certainly nothing amazing, but the show has a handle on its characters in a way that a lot of its peers lack. This is made fairly evident with an early dream sequence. Ordinarily, these annoy me, but the point was obviously to establish more about Diablo’s personal history to set up for things he’d go through later in the episode and help to inform his actions (or lack thereof) a little. It effectively drove the narrative. And while I do have to somewhat wince at the rather hamfisted execution of it, it did its job. And it’s only one example of how this episode really delivered in that regard.
As to the rest of the episode, I find that another thing this series does incredibly well (and surprisingly so, at that) is balance its fanservice. As a general rule, I don’t mind fanservice, though I could very much do without it. That said, there are certainly ways to do it “wrong.” And I think that comes down to how balanced it is against the narrative. When fanservice seems to just intrude an episode, rather than slide into place naturally, that’s when it gets jarring. Most times this has the effect of bringing the story to a screeching halt. I’ll probably talk more on that at a later time in a more in-depth article. But what I’m getting at is that the fanservice in this series generally doesn’t intrude at all. It either happens during what was already downtime or it’s actually a part of the narrative, in some way, and furthers things along.
Take the climax of the episode, for example. This is fanservice that actually serves a purpose. It feels sleazy and uncomfortable… and that’s the point. The scene is being used to paint a vivid picture of exactly how depraved Shera’s brother is. He’s a monster and you aren’t supposed to be enjoying that scene. At least not in the typical context one would a fanservice bit. It’s incredibly effective and I think the handling of it when Diablo finally arrived to save her elevated it even more. There wasn’t any pause for a comedic beat. It’s not even really acknowledged. I love how Diablo just, without thinking, gives her a cloak and moves on to deal with her creep of a brother. If nothing else, it really helps to cement exactly how much these characters mean to one another. As does an earlier scene between Diablo and Rem. And if I talk about the episode any further, I may as well just make the entire review about it, alone. But there are other shows to cover. So let’s just call it Super Effective and move on. Besides. Tons of other people out there have proven far better at discussing the subject than myself.
This was actually a pretty fun episode (in the context of what the show’s delivered, thus far). As expected, Magna and Luck’s super duper team attack did next to nothing against Vetto. So now it falls on Asta and his former opponent to fight the guy while the rest of the bulls deal with other members of the Midnight Sun. What worked arguably the best for the episode was Asta’s part in the fighting. Once again, Asta’s shown to struggle. His anti-magic is of little use against the beast mage. While he’s more than capable of damaging Vetto if the latter allows it, Vetto does the intelligent thing, relying more on his natural toughness and his surroundings to gain the advantage without letting Asta get a clean hit. It’s like I said before. Smart villains who can out-think the abilities of the good guys are really the best.
The rest of the episode put a lot of emphasis on the rest of the bulls. While Finral and Vanessa’s upcoming battles were teased (kind of) as they’re hinted at in the OP, Gauche got a lot of spotlight… again. He and Grey both, actually. And Charmy, to some extent. They battled a few Midnight Sun peons and Gauche came up with a few clever tactics along with Grey to help bring Grey a bit into the foreground since he wasn’t really being used much. Oh, wait, did I say ‘he’? I meant ‘she’. I already knew this, but turns out “Samus is a Girl” applies. Grey is actually a timid young woman. Go figure. Anyway, the episode was a nice little exercise in Junk Food.
My Hero Academia
At last the Provisional License Exam becomes something a little more interesting. That isn’t to say the elimination portion was bad. But it’s not really anything we hadn’t seen already, what with the tournament arc of the previous season. And while it was fun, this is something I find much more compelling, narratively. It’s just kind of assumed that saving people comes with the territory in being a superhero. But different heroes go about this differently and adapt their styles to suit the situation.
A hero like Batman is not going to go about it the same way Superman would. And Spider-Man is far removed from both of them. It’s an often overlooked but incredibly necessary part of being a superhero. If they’re just fighting the whole time, and never go out of their way to help people in danger, it’s hard to call them heroes. And that’s why this test is more interesting to me. It’ll hopefully see the aspiring young heroes find their styles when it comes to this sort of thing. And the cooperation we saw from all the characters already makes me incredibly interested in where this portion of the arc will go. Things like Yaoyorozu and Iida taking charge through their more tactical mindsets, the different skill sets of the students being applied to different tasks, etc.
Another major focus of the episode was Uraraka, who they spent a not-insignificant amount of time on. Essentially building more around her feelings towards Deku. Especially after she overhears (at least I’m fairly certain she overheard) Mineta, Kaminari, and Sero getting on his case about his interaction with Cammie (who somehow got her clothing back. No, but really. Given the nature of the test, how did that work?). She decides to put that feeling away, however, probably to focus on the exam. Though there’s also the possibility of her potentially shelving it indefinitely so she can focus on her own growth. That is clearly a thing with her.
Anyway, all-in-all a Super Effective episode, and I’m looking forward to the next phase – a villain attack. After all, a hero’s primary objective may be the protection of others. But fighting bad guys is still a pretty significant part of it all.
Overall Episode Medalists
And for once, it was actually a pretty difficult call. Two shows had really good episodes, this week. But I think the Gold has to go to the My Hero Academia, this time.
Unlike the last test, this one gets way more into what I love about the series – cracking open the exact nature of what it means to be a superhero. Saving people is at the core of that. And while How Not to Summon a Demon Lord put out a great episode with a lot of great character work, My Hero Academia put in some character work and some greater concept work. So How Not to Summon a Demon Lord takes home the Silver. Of course, this leaves Black Clover with the Bronze, though only by process of elimination. Had there been more shows to pool with, it may well have taken that honor on its own merits, as the episode was fun.
This was another tough one, but not so much between shows as within one show. The latest episodes of My Hero Academia and Black Clover didn’t really have standout characters. None of them carried the entire episode. They focused on the greater collective. All of the characters supporting the episodes in concert. At the same time, I find it incredibly difficult to say that the latest episode of How Not to Summon a Demon Lord didn’t do the same thing. Shera is a treasure and Rem is a delight. And while the two of them go a long way to elevate the show, and the latest episode in particular, I have to concede that this one was honestly all Diablo.
The character development he went through, while simplistic, was the backbone of the entire episode. Without that, it wouldn’t have had nearly the same level of impact. So while he didn’t carry the episode on being ‘awesome’ or ‘lovable’ (though he is both of those things, in some regard), he held it up simply by being well realized as a character, also both having and catalyzing some of the most emotionally significant scenes in the entire show. Especially where it concerns Shera, who was really, really close to walking away with the MVP award for the second time in a row.
Unique Achievement: Intimidation Factor Over 9000!
How Not to Summon a Demon Lord? Yeah. More like “How to Royally Piss Off a Demon Lord.” That prince pressed the Shera button. He shouldn’a did that. But all DBZA references aside… seriously. To hell with Bakugo’s temper. That is a face that says someone’s ’bout to get it. And given what the prince did… I can’t wait to see how. Though can I just say that, in general, this show has some great expressions?
Unique Achievement: Heroic Villain Points
Yes, it’s a repeat, but c’mon. The show even says it for me!
And there you have it. Even if only barely, My Hero Academia maintains its lead. Perhaps unsurprising, given my genre bias. But even so, it’s been a very close race with some really solid episodes, this week. What do you think? That’s all for me, folks. Thanks for reading, as always. Keep up the Awesome.