The Vanguard Action Squad assembles.
Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.
Instead of jumping right into the next major conflict, Season 3 of My Hero Academia has taken its time to lay the groundwork for UA High’s next showdown with the League of Villains. “Kota” puts the final pieces into place, delivering a well written episode that does an excellent job at further developing My Hero Academia’s cast while setting the stage for the epic confrontation that lies ahead.
By weaving in brief shots of Dabi and his Vanguard Action Squad amongst the intense training the students are undergoing to strengthen their Quirks, “Kota” builds upon the sense of urgency that was so well presented in “Wild, Wild Pussycats.” Dabi’s cool and collected demeanor is unsettling in a way we haven’t seen from My Hero Academia’s villains in the past, and the brief glimpses at the maniacal Toga sporting a black mask are wonderfully creepy.
“Kota” treats us to another well executed montage where each member of Class A furiously works to strengthen their Quirks. Some of their exercises are quite clever, like Bakugo submerging his hands in boiling water to expand his sweat glands, while others, like Kaminari electrocuting himself by running a current through a large capacity battery, are quite funny, thanks to the exaggerated animation that emphasizes its impact.
All signs point to an increased role for the Class B students in the episodes to come, and seeing their homeroom teacher Sekijiro attempt build them up so they can rise above the shadow of Class A was heartwarming. Additionally, his explanation of how to strengthen one’s Quirk, likening it to the process of damaging muscle fibers so they can repair and become stronger, was an excellent illustration that provides real-world example the viewer can relate to.
As its title implies, “Kota” also spends a fair bit of time on Kota, and Deku’s desire to reach him. Much like how Deku broke through to Todoroki during the sports festival, Deku sees a brokenness within Kota and wants to help him. Given the circumstances of his parents’ deaths, Kota’s disdain for the way in which society is built around pro heroes is understandable, but unhealthy. Deku realizes this when no one else does, and this awareness of others is what truly makes Deku a hero.
Deku’s conversation with Todoroki hammers home this point. The fact that Todoroki didn’t even know who Kota was when Deku mentioned him in conversation isn’t so much an indication of how selfish Todoroki is, but rather how selfless Deku is. While all of the other students are so focused on strengthening their Quirks, Deku can’t help but see the needs of those around him. The strength of My Hero Academia’s writing is what makes these moments so powerful and its cast of characters so relatable and memorable.
“Kota” also does an excellent job at showing us how much the students of Class A have grown and how much more growing they still have yet to do. When it’s time to cook, we see Todoroki ignite a flame with clear control over his fire Quirk. Conversely, the destruction caused by Bakugo’s explosive rage makes it clear he’s going to need to learn to control his anger if he’s ever going to be a help to the group.
Meanwhile, the kids who failed their exams are stuck taking extra lessons. The horror on Ashido’s face when she’s told she can’t participate in the test of courage is simultaneously heartbreaking and hilarious, thanks to some incredibly wild facial expressions. It’s clear they’re all at different places in their journeys to become pro heroes, and the ominous way in which “Kota” concludes has me eager to see how the students will rise up to handle the oncoming ambush from Dabi and his villainous crew.