「僕のヒーローアカデミア 生き残れ！決死のサバイバル訓練」 (Ikinokore! Kesshi no Survival Kunren)
“My Hero Academia: Make It! Do-or-Die Survival Training”
The ever-expanding world of Boku no Hero Academia continues to- well, expand. This time around it’s a two-episode OVA called Boku no Hero Academia: Ikinokore! Kesshi no Survival Kunren set during the third season of the anime – just before the “Provisional Hero Licensing Exam” arc. Apropos of nothing, it’s interesting that we still continue to use the term “OVA” even when it’s a release with no physical video involved – I guess streaming counts. In this case it’s a worldwide premiere – Hulu in Japan, Funimation outside – today, then additional services on the 30th of August.
Timeline notwithstanding, these episodes themselves are very much in fourth season mode, right down to the OP and ED. The art and animation is the more expressive, stylized look of BnHA S4. There’s no direct mention of Horikoshi Kouhei’s involvement with the story here as there was with the “Heroes:Rising” movie, so I’m assuming head writer Kuroda Yousuke is the man behind Ikinokore. And it plays pretty much in OVA fashion – something that feels a bit like an omake chapter rather than a part of the original story.
One thing we can assume is that if Yuuei designs a training session for its students, something is going to go wrong. But it’s not immediately clear if that’s the case when the kids from 1-A are assigned a practical training session, rescuing a missing victim from a fire at an underground shopping mall. Yes, all hell breaks loose, leading to at least one student injury (Iida), but is this part of the training (spoiler: yes)? Sabotage by villains? An earthquake? For the kids on the ground (well – under it) the “why” doesn’t matter so much as the “what”, and that’s staying alive. Though Bakugo is determined to keep searching for the missing victim (who’s a dummy, or so we’re told).
When Aizawa-sensei splits the class into two teams Kuroda puts pretty much all the headliners in the “A” team – which if nothing else would seemingly create a serious power imbalance between the two teams (which seems suspicious in itself). Indeed we don’t even see Team B for the entirety of these two episodes. Kacchan does his usual rogue routine and goes off on his own (though his usual posse follows him), Iida makes too-long speeches, and Deku overthinks every aspect of the exercise. Everyone is very much in-character, in other words, though the effect is somewhat superficial.
That said, it’s nice to see BnHA get a crucial aspect of Kacchan’s character right. He’s a hothead and unrepentant egotist, but he’s not stupid or thoughtless – Bakugo always thinks his way through crises, even as he rages at the world and blows up attempts at teamwork. He has a plan here – restoring the emergency power – and a clear idea of how to go about executing it. He’s not a leader in the way that Deku is, but he does lead by gravitational pull in a sense – the sheer scale of his strength and force of will tends to suck his comrades along in his wake. That said, I continue to suspect that it’s relatively unheralded Tokoyami who may have the most inherently powerful quirk of anyone in Class 1-A, though he’s nowhere close to realizing its full potential
While Deku, Momo, Ochako and Froppy manage to find a way to the surface to evacuate the injured Class Rep, Deku returns underground on the assumption that the remaining students might need help. Which indeed they do, as water starts flooding into the facility and Bakugo and his retainers are all the way down on level B-6. Shouto – with Dark Shadow’s help – manages to rescue them just after they’ve rescued the target dummy. But then the lot of them need rescuing themselves, as Shouto’s surface-level freezing of the floodwaters is only delaying the inevitable (and indeed, making it worse).
More than anything, really, this scenario is a showcase for Kacchan and everything that makes him so infuriating. In terms of combining a powerful quirk with intelligence, he’s right up there with the best of the bunch. But he insists on making everything much more difficult (and dangerous) than it needs to be, all for the feeding of his monstrous ego. In truth Denki and Eijirou don’t have an idea between them – they’re pretty much totally dependent on Bakugo – and they don’t come off especially well. Of course it’s going to come down to Izuku, Kacchan and Shouto – indisputably the three central pillars of Class 1-A – having to work together to escape.
Does all this work as entertainment? Yeah, it works fine (though the placing of all the core cast on Team A and total omission of Team B is kind of a plot hole). No one is especially out of character, but no one has any additional light shed on their character either. There’s not much nuance or development here – it’s like hearing a great ensemble’s songs played by a good cover band rather than interpreted by the creators themselves. This is one classic direction for OVAs – comedic slice-of-life being the other – and while there’s nothing off-putting about it, one doesn’t sense that anything essential has been added to the BnHA mythology either. It’s just a pleasant place-holder to help us bridge the gap to Season 5.
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