My Hero Academia Season 5: Anime Review

From the discussions I’ve seen online as the season went on, My Hero Academia Season 5 is probably the most divisive season of the show thus far, between those who have been reading the manga, and those who have been watching the show, and a lot of that comes down to the decisions made around the final arc of the season, the My Villain Academia arc. It’s not that the season is bad, it’s that the narrative decisions that were made about where they would include that arc in the season was very controversial.

By way of explanation – Season 5 is made up of 3 main arcs. In order, they are “the Joint Training Arc” (where Class 1-A and 1-B basically go sparring), “the Endeavor Agency Arc”, and “the My Villain Academia Arc” (also known as “the Meta Liberation Army arc” – henceforth abbreviated to MVA). What makes things complicated is in publication order the MVA arc goes between the first two arcs, and the MVA arc is set contemporaneously with an event we saw at the very end of last season – the apparent destruction of Deika City by what appeared to be Shiguraki.

Promotional art for Season 5 featuring Class 1-A and 1-B

So, at the end of last season, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth from fans on whether we’d see the MVA arc at all, considering that there was some very narratively important material in that season that the audience would need going forward. Then, when we actually got the arc, initial joy at the arc’s inclusion was dampened over the omissions of material that was felt to be incredibly significant, related to the Meta-Liberation Army’s background and makeup.

That said, from a narrative standpoint, I get why those decisions were made. You want to return to the season with an arc focusing on Class 1-A, particularly considering last season wrapped up with the further development of the Vestiges, and with it more information on the previous wielders of One For All. From there you probably want to slow-burn the introduction of the Meta Liberation Army for TV audiences, and Endeavor learning about the army’s plans through a coded message Hawks – who has gone undercover in the Army – works well in that regard. And the season finale wraps up with the set up for the Paranormal Liberation War arc – in the sense that the combined forces of the League of Villains and the Meta Liberation Army are the new force that Class 1-A and the heroes are going to have to face, presenting even a larger threat than the Shie Hissaikai from last season.

The League of Villains from season 5's My Villain Academia arc.

The animation on the show generally meets the bar for earlier episodes of the series. There is a definite sense that they were leaving their big guns in reserve for the Villain Academia arc, with the destruction that is wrought there, particularly by Shigaraki, along with our look at Shigaraki’s backstory and what happened when Shigaraki’s power first manifested (which leads to one of the bloodier moments of the series as a whole).

This also leads to probably one of the bigger content warnings of the series – with the show to date, they have generally managed to skate around heavier issues. Sure, Mineta is a sexually harassing twerp and the absolute worst (and this season is no exception), but outside of the off-camera treatment of Eri during the Shie Hissaikai arc, the show never got into anything really heavy, or anything that would merit a significant content warning beyond Deku’s tendency of coming away from fights with compound fractures. Shigaraki’s origin breaks from that, with content that hits JoJo levels of grotesque.  Now, if you’ve stuck around with the show to the point where you’re at season 5, you’re probably invested enough to get through this, but it’s worth mentally preparing yourself for some heavy content, as let’s just say that when Shigaraki’s power first manifests, he doesn’t have control of it.

At this point in the show, I definitely feel like I’m invested for the long haul, and I’m looking forward to Season 6 and seeing where the confrontation between the now combined Meta Liberation Army and League of Villains (calling themselves the Paranormal Liberation Army) and the Hero Association goes from here.

My Hero Academia Season 5 is available for streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.

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