Both My Hero Academia Season 5 OVAs, “HLB” and “Laugh! As If You Are in Hell,” will be available to stream on Crunchyroll on Aug. 1, 2022.My Hero Academia is back! Kind of. The two new OVAs (Original Video Animation) may not contribute much to the overall plot of the show or offer many clues as to what’s coming next, but they are good reminders of what My Hero can do at its best. These standalone stories get you reacquainted with most of the main cast, expand the world of MHA, and also provide enough superpowered laughs and fun to make the wait for Season 6 easier.
OVAs, in general, are not what they used to be. Back in the ’80s and ’90s, when home video exploded in popularity, they were an avenue to produce edgier, more mature animation that couldn’t get past TV sensors. From gory and violent shows like Bubblegum Crisis and Hellsing Ultimate, to experimental ones like FLCL and Gunbuster, or complex, epic sci-fi operas like Legend of the Galactic Heroes, there was an OVA for everything. Nowadays, most high-profile OVAs tend to be short episodes or bonus features released on home video as cool extras to reward fans. Shows like Attack on Titan released OVAs that expanded their world without distracting from the main plot.
My Hero Academia had already released several OVAs, but not to this level of anticipation. After a lackluster reception to Season 5, a smash hit film, and an adaptation of an acclaimed arc coming soon, it is the perfect time for the show to remind us why we’ve stuck with it for many years, and prepare us for what’s to come.
The two new OVAs are as different as they come. HLB, or Hero League Baseball, is essentially an episode-long game of baseball between Gang Orca’s hero agency and Lion Hero: Shishido and his agency. Meanwhile, Laugh! As If You Are in Hell feels more like a standard episode of the show, with Midoriya, Bakugo, and Todoroki working with Endeavor to stop a criminal whose quirk makes people around him laugh uncontrollably.
Just like the last time a big shonen anime did a baseball episode (Jujutsu Kaisen), the HLB episode is a hilarious success. Rather than remotely attempt to connect this episode to the events of last season, it is mostly just an excuse to show how superpowers would affect sports in this world. The result is essentially Super Mario Strikers but with baseball — i.e. a no-holds-barred bloodbath. The animation may not reach the hights of the main series, but it still knows when deliver energetic moments of action to highlight the quirks.
And this is what makes this an essential episode for My Hero Academia, even if it doesn’t move things forward. It explores a rather mundane part of the show’s world and uses its runtime to answer the question of how it would work with superpowers, all while reminding us of which character has which power ahead of the new season. Seeing the over-the-top violent and creative ways the players use their quirks not just to score but to put the other team out of commission is thrilling and some of the most fun the show has been in a long while. Whether it’s Mineta using one of his adhesive spheres disguised as a baseball to knock out the batter using his own strength, or Gang Orca using his sonar to affect the ball’s movement, or Shishido just throwing the ball so hard it destroys the home base and knocks out both the batter, the catcher, and even the umpire, it’s all delightful, superpowered madness.