Who is a Hero?
So my prediction for how the cliffhanger ending for the last episode would play out ended up being only partially true, though the main thing is that it did end up being substantial. What this season thus far has lacked on any level is stakes, and Midoriya choosing to question the position of the major baddie ended up boiling the tension. What made it all the more engrossing was Togata’s own hesitance to follow Midoriya’s lead. He, like other rational people, would have rather played it off and not risked any trouble. But coming this far, the audience knows who Midoriya is, and if a little girl is going to cling to him and beg him not to go, he won’t stand by. This was a really nice reminder of his key personality trait, and his proverbial “pulling at the scab” was gripping.
In the end, it did end up as a “scary dude shows killing intent and the girl is forced to retreat with him.” To focus more on Togata, my impression of him until now was of an All Might wannabe in appearance and personality altogether. Yet when the moment came when there was clearly signs of wrongdoing, he chose to stay back. It’s another indication of All Might’s inclination to Midoriya, whose virtue is in his altruism. Even if it were to risk his own safety (and others, as his rash actions tend to do), he wishes to see things bend to justice. Togata is clearly not one to have his heroism questioned, though the comfort in letting things play out shows he’s more mature than Midoriya—perhaps also as a detriment to heroism. It’s this type of tricky interpretation to heroism that has made this series more engrossing than the general slop provided by the superhero genre, and I’m overjoyed it provided some more of that brain food.
The episode kind of slips onto itself from the end of that scene, however, as it continues to flirt with the idea of showing other characters for more than ten seconds, only to not do so. Bakugo yelled, Mineta made a stupid comment, a few students were missing due to hero internships; playing out as blandly as possible. The entire scene felt almost pointless. Some more clearly-done-to-remind-people-that-characters-still-exist shenanigans continue and the episode arrives at the last scene that matters.
I was somewhat reminded of the scene with Nighteye where he challenged Midoriya to take his eraser or whatever. This final scene of the episode, where All Might explains his reasoning for not telling Midoriya about his awkward relationship with Nighteye and Togata being the original choice for One For All, takes up maybe a third of the entire episode. Should it have been that long? Probably not. Did I mind it being that long? Not really. I felt the re-establishment of All Might as the beacon of hope and his almost father-like relationship to Midoriya was strong enough to carry the scene despite the drawn-out dialogue. And the shocking reveal that All Might would die soon (which I’m pretty sure one of us predicted. Karandi?), was something that made the stakes all the better. Considering the circumstances, I would think All Might’s demise would happen sooner than later, so it was a decent sendoff.
Unrelated to the episode entirely, but a concern has risen. It was revealed during the final scene that Nighteye looked six or seven years in the future and saw All Might’s “gruesome death”? And then All Might mentioned that Nighteye’s quirk has never been wrong? Okay, how the hell is Nighteye not the greatest hero of all time? He’s essentially a god with his quirk; seeing the future surrounding a person just by looking in their eyes can provide the key to victory assuredly. How is the author going to write around that? I swear, if Nighteye attempts to use his quirk on a future villain and it turns out being wrong because of some stupid wacky evil trick… How dreadfully cliché. And not to mention the theoretical implications of seeing into a future SO FAR AHEAD despite the concepts of past, present, and future being man-made and the possibility for endlessly convoluted multiverses and… yeah, not worth the headache.
My own Nighteye quirk aside, this was the best episode so far. The beginning was captivating, the middle was whatever, and it ended on a good note. And the cliffhanger this time around is more of the League of Villains conflict, which I was interested in. It seems things are finally starting to come around! I’m still a bit concerned we won’t have a lot of time to focus on the rest of the students, so I hope Midoriya and Togata can continue to challenge each other on the ways of heroism, because that’s what has intrigued me the most thus far. Here’s to trending upward!
I’m late watching the episode but I’m glad that despite the exhaustion of sitting behind the wheel of a car for nine hours I decided to forego an early night to dive in because it is episodes like this one that really remind me what I keep watching MHA for. Sure there are episodes like the last three that make me question the overall quality of the franchise, but it continues to pull things together to deliver compelling and weighty moments that are loaded with questions for the audience to consider and characters that ultimately we care about. All of which makes me wonder if this series would be better binged where these highlights would come more frequently with less waiting and the low points wouldn’t feel quite so dragged out.
As to the prediction of All Might’s death, it is something I’d be wondering for awhile given his basic hero story is over and as I said in a post about Rukia’s basic role in Bleach and why I thought she should have died, mentor’s tend to die in narratives to clear the way for the next generation and to cause a critical disruption in the young hero’s life forcing them to take action. All Might’s death has seemed a foregone conclusion and yet four seasons in and he’s still kicking away, albeit in a more and more incapacitated form. However, maybe that will just make his death all the more moving when it does happen because unlike so many other mentors we’ve really had time to grow attached to All Might and his relationship with Midoriya has become stronger and stronger over the course of the previous seasons.
All things considered, this episode knew what it wanted to do. It started with the resolution of the cliff-hanger and delivers to us a bad guy who can be pretty terrifying when doing very little. The tension in that scene was palpable and played out through the strained relationship between Togato and Midoriya as well as Eri’s reactions. It was enough to set a viewer’s teeth on edge but little happened. Later our resident villain turned a guy into a bloody stain on a wall but that seemed more like relieving some of the tension that had built up in the scene rather than an actual act to show off how bad he was.
The Night Eye / Midoriya dynamic which was contrasted sharply with the All Might / Midoriya dynamic later in the episode worked really well and made All Might’s story and his assertion that they valued different things much clearer than just the words that were said. Likewise, we’re seeing the parallels as Kapodaco said in that Togato is playing a long game as Night Eye would instruct where Midoriya wants to leap into action.
With the episode bookended by solid character moments that also pushed the plot forward, I didn’t mind the brief classroom shenanigans. While I would like more than brief cameos by some of the classmates, in an episode with this much going on it felt like breathing room.
I definitely feel this episode has stepped things up and it feels like My Hero Academia is continuing to be the anime I was swept away by. Sure it has had its slower episodes but when I watch this I realise that without the prior two episodes not a lot of this makes sense. Could they have gotten through some of that material faster? Definitely. However, do I still appreciate this episode for what it does? Absolutely.
Thanks for reading
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Keep up to date with Kapodaco and I as we cover the latest season of My Hero Academia!
Images from: My Hero Academia Season 4. Dir. K Nagasaki. Bones. 2019.