What was that? Oh, that was my heart skipping a beat and me forgetting that I can actually breathe. We’re all good. Given this episode gave us a recap, reminding us how angry Bakugo is as a character all the time and a prep room confrontation between the two characters before we got to the fight and it was still all over before the 12 minutes mark, it has no business hitting me that hard. By the way, the next part contains major spoilers for the fight so go watch it first.
Are we sure that Bakugo isn’t secretly evil?
This fight was short but really, really intense. I think all the big shonen titles of the last twenty years could take a lesson from this. Stretching a fight over three, four, five episodes (half a season) does not make it more powerful. Getting the audience invested in the participants, having some emotional drive, and hitting hard and fast, that is going to knock the audience back in their chairs and have them wondering how many times they can watch it before the internet crashes.
Bakugo is angry for most of this fight. Like, furious. Almost manic would probably be the best descriptor. He isn’t angry at Todoroki. I’m somehow doubting Bakugo has actually seen Todoroki as a person yet given I don’t think he’s used his name once. No, Bakugo is angry at himself and the situation. Once again, Midoriya has beaten him at his own self-imposed standard and that is killing him just a little bit inside. And outside. He isn’t given to keeping his feelings to himself.
Todoroki on the other hand is emotionally torn in two. He wants to win and he knows he needs to use his left side. He is hearing Midoriya’s words from their fight and logically he understands their meaning and knows the truth of it. He actually does start bringing out his flames after Midoriya calls out from the stands, and then… Well then reality kicks in. A lifetime of trauma doesn’t just vanish because of one fight and a pep talk.
Before Bakugo’s attack even reaches him, Todoroki has conceded defeat and his flames have gone out. It means Bakugo has convincingly won the tournament but it means his actual victory, showing that he is better than Midoriya, has been snatched from his grasp.
I was kind of glad when they knocked him out before declaring him the winner. He actually looks really peaceful when he’s unconscious.
So, if all that happens in 12 minutes what happens for the rest of the episode?
We have an award ceremony where All Might shows once again he is a giant dork yet everyone loves him. Except maybe Bakugo. That kid does not know when to just let something go and I kind of love him for it. He might be a socially inept, explosively angry, bully at times but his genuine drive to always be the best is kind of admirable. A lot of characters say they want to be the best but they almost always succumb to being ‘nice’ or helping others. Bakugo isn’t hindered by the usual constraints put on protagonists because he isn’t the protagonist. This allows us to see the true personality of someone who strives to be better than other at any cost. Even if he wants to be a better hero which is kind of arguably a good thing.
We also spend some time with Iida and his family in the hospital before we head back to the classroom and the students are told they have a couple of days off class. It’s the final scenes here where we see the reflection and regrouping process these characters go through that takes this episode from being cool action to actually being another excellent building block in this story.
While we see numerous characters I’m only focussing on these two. Todoroki visits his mother. He realises he has to overcome his block on his own and he’s finally ready to take that first step. Midoriya on the other hand has taken Rescue Girl’s words to heart and has finally realised his reckless actions cause others to worry. He is also finally ready to go to the next level and wants to take that first step.
With that, the whole class is fired up and ready to get stronger and with the villains briefly being shown plus the condition Iida’s brother is in, it is clear it won’t take long before the students are going to be thrown back in the deep end.
Seriously brilliant episode of a show that has really delivered this arc well.
My Hero Academia is available on Crunchyroll.
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