My Hero Academia’s Joint Training Arc Is the New Chunin Exam Arc

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for My Hero Academia Season 5, now streaming on Crunchyroll, Funimation and Hulu.

The current arc of the My Hero Academia anime takes a break from the war against villainy to focus once again on academic growth and shonen-style rivalry and competition among U.A.'s students. While Izuku and his allies have done well in serious fights against real villains, they are still in training, and they must prove themselves to their teachers, not just to pro heroes like Fat Gum and Ryukyu.

Classes 1-A and 1-B have begun the joint training exercise, and this is an opportunity to show off the various and powerful Quirks of class 1-B's students. In many regards, this story arc may remind viewers of the Naruto series' famed chunin exam arc, and for all the right reasons. From reestablishing sidelined characters to examining new and exciting powers -- My Hero Academia is expanding its world.

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The Joint Training Exercise: New Powerhouses Arrive

In the Naruto series, the chunin exam arc was an opportunity to introduce dozens of new characters and show off their unique jutsu and ninja tools. The cast of Naruto expanded greatly during the chunin exams, showcasing the likes Shikamaru Nara, Shino Aburame, Ino Yamanaka, Gaara, Rock Lee and many others. These characters all showed off their unique and fascinating jutsu to deepen Naruto's combat system, and now, the joint training arc of My Hero Academia is doing something similar.

In My Hero Academia, the students of class 1-B have had limited time to shine. The likes of Itsuka Kendo and Tetsutetsu impressed during the League of Villians attack during the Forest Training arc, and the U.A. sports festival showcased Ibara Shiozaki's Quirk and a sample of Neito Monoma's, too. Although My Hero Academia's combat system has been deepened quite a bit by now, there is still plenty of room for more. With live-fire exercises -- notably less deadly than in Naruto -- it may also be mentioned that both story arcs occur in controlled environments, with referees and teachers watching.

The Joint Training and Chunin Exam arcs also have a similar theme: the semi-complacent lead characters getting a rude awakening when they realize that they are not so special after all. Naruto Uzumaki was feeling pretty good about himself after the success of that Land of Waves mission. Still, once the chunin exam began, he was surrounded by talented ninjas who were several steps ahead of him. His teammates Sakura Haruno and Sasuke Uchiha had their own rude awakenings too. With Rock Lee's incredible taijutsu and Gaara's seemingly invincible sand, there were plenty of skills these youngsters realized they needed to learn. Now, Izuku and his friends are having a similar experience, facing class 1-B and realizing that the gap between these two classes is shockingly narrow.

New Powers, New Rivalries: My Hero Academia & Naruto

Both story arcs also introduced, or reinforced, many existing rivalries, and the characters played off each other quite well. For example, in the chunin exam arc, Rock Lee came to see both Naruto and Sasuke as competitive rivals, and Naruto and Neji Hyuga soon developed a grudge due to their clashing personalities and ideologies about fate. Meanwhile, the characters of My Hero Academia are building new and healthy rivalries between the two classes during the joint training exercise, especially as class 1-B's characters show off their true powers and capabilities. By now, Itsuka Kendo has established herself as a melee specialist and a capable leader and strategist to rival Momo Yaoyorozu.

Shihai Kuroiro of class 1-B is an unofficial rival to Fumikage Tokoyami, since both use darkness for their powers and clashed directly in their match. Then, Denki Kaminari had a rematch against Ibara Shiozaki, or rather an opportunity to get even for his quick defeat at Ibara's hands in the U.A. sports festival. There's no bad blood between them, but still, many Denki fans probably wanted to see the electric boy land a blow on Ibara and prove himself against that vine-wielding powerhouse. As a whole, class 1-B has solidified its position as class 1-A's proper rival, and not just through Neito's taunting. These classes are rivals in practice, not just in theory, and the My Hero Academia "chunin exam arc" is proving it in true style.

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