Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.
After an incredible second season that holds its own against the very best of last year, My Hero Academia returns with a Season 3 premiere that leaves a bit to be desired. Thanks to a large number of flashbacks recapping prior events and a pool party serving as its primary focus, “Game Start” is a fun but ultimately inconsequential episode that does little to move the characters or plot forward.
While a brief overview of prior events can be a helpful refresher at the start of a new season, “Game Start” goes a bit overboard with so much reused animation. Kurogiri recounts Deku’s actions, Aizawa goes over the abilities of every Class 1-A student, and Deku is shown rewatching his old cherished footage of All Might saving people. We also get flashbacks of the practical exams, the sports festival, and the students’ fight against Stain.
Given that everyone watching Season 3 should have already seen the two seasons that came before, the extent to which “Game Start” catches viewers up to speed is a bit overkill. My Hero Academia is filled with so many interesting characters, and I would have much preferred seeing new interactions between them than heavy-handed reminders of how much they’ve grown.
Instead, it’s the subtle callbacks in “Game Start” that I found to be the most effective. Deku’s moment of introspection when he looks at his scarred hand serves as an excellent example of how to remind viewers of how far Deku has come without presenting another montage of footage from prior episodes. Speaking of scars, I must applaud Bones’ attention to detail, as I immediately noticed a scar on the left shoulder of a shirtless Iida, reminding me of the wound he suffered during his confrontation with Stain.
I also found Deku’s return to Dagoba Municipal Beach Park at the end of the episode to be incredibly powerful. The once Quirkless boy has come a long way since the start of Season 1, but he’s remained humble in the process and his return to where it all began is a perfect illustration of that fact.
Additionally, I appreciated the small window “Game Start” provides into Kirishima and Bakugo’s friendship. Kirishima apologizing for showing up to the pool late because it was difficult to get Bakugo to come along was a nice moment that adds a bit more depth to his character. It was also great seeing Kirishima attempt to calm down an enraged Bakugo after they all were kicked out of the pool by Aizawa, as it added another layer to a relationship that until now I was oblivious to. During this exchange we’re also reminded of how surpassing All Might is what drives Bakugo, which is something I hope is explored in greater detail later this season.
While the pool party was reminiscent of the clichéd beach/hot springs episodes found in so many anime, the strength of My Hero Academia’s characters kept things engaging. Bakugo blasting himself across the pool, not even touching the water during their race was quite funny, as was seeing Iida using his engine-powered legs to propel himself across the pool roping, and looking very silly while doing so. It was also extremely rewarding to see Mineta and Kaminari’s scheme to see the girls in bikinis blow up in their faces.
That said, I would have liked to see the girls get more screen time during this episode, as they all too often take a backseat to their male classmates. Perhaps if there weren’t so many flashbacks, we could have spent a bit more time with Ashido, Uraraka, Asui, and the rest of the gals at the pool.
While there wasn’t much time dedicated to Shigaraki, the brief tease at the end of the episode that Season 3 marks the “start of a new game” for the nefarious League of Villains leader was just enough to get me excited for whatever villainous plot lies ahead, especially now that we have Toga and Dabi in the mix. It’s also worth noting that Season 2 started fairly slowly before kicking the plot into high gear, so while “Game Start” didn’t move the main plot forward in any meaningful way, I’m confident exciting things lie ahead for My Hero Academia in Season 3.