Tamaki’s Moment in the Sun
What should a story do when they have built up to a dramatic confrontation between heroes and villains and have four of the main cast involved as the heroes charge in? Certainly they should definitely ignore the kids we’ve grown to care about over three seasons and focus entirely on a character barely introduced at the end of season three who has made almost zero impression on the anime only audience in season four and also give us tons of almost meaningless back story about his friendship with Mirio.
Now, if you actually care at all about Tamaki, and I’m just not sure how you could if you’ve only watched the anime, then maybe this episode is fantastic. He gets to drag us through all his wondrous self-doubt before finding his inner strength and makes the decision to do his best and confront a trio of villains along (we’ll have to wonder forever what police procedure involves leaving a kid alone with a bunch of villains and zero back-up). And then he naturally gets beaten down so that he has that inspiring moment of clarity and power-up that shounen stories are known for. It all works perfectly functionally treading over a well worn narrative. My only real issue is I could not care less about this particular character and the justification for leaving him alone was flimsy at best.
Uraraka and Tsuyu are glimpsed briefly at the start and then never seen again which leaves me wondering why they are even included in this raid. The thought of finally getting to see them do something was kind of exciting and instead it feels like they’ve once again been pushed to the side. They aren’t in the group charging in after Eri so I assume they are dealing with the small fry on the surface. Maybe we’ll see some of that later, maybe not, but either way it means their chances of being involved in anything critical is pretty non-existent.
Midoriya and Kirishima get to break a wall.
Yep, not even kidding. That is their only contribution this week other than Kirishima criticising the villains for not being manly (and seriously, who cares) and then he asks why Fat Gum left Tamaki along, for which I’ll give Kirishima points for being the only logical person in the group who thinks that it was a stupid idea. Midoriya doesn’t even get that much of a showing. He breaks the wall and then runs along with the crowd. For a guy looking to become the greatest hero I do have to wonder about how easily he fades into the background.
Now, as much as I ridiculed Tamaki’s fight earlier, it is a pretty decent fight. Three on one, quirks that go well together in a fight as they each have moments where they can gain the advantage. It is certainly flashy enough with crystals, squid arms, and a guy with a sack on his head biting through everything. It really is just a case where there’s so many characters and none of the characters involved in this fight have had enough time to make us actually care whether any of them win, lose, or otherwise.
The end result is that I didn’t mind this episode but am once again feeling disappointed with this season as the kids who they’ve been building up for so long seem to no longer be a focus and I’m just not that into any of the other characters.
I’m gonna be the Yin to Karandi’s Yang here. I won’t say it was a terrific episode, just that it did enough for me to appreciate that things were finally happening. Based on this, however, I feel this is going to be one of those multi-episode-long arcs where each character in the main group gets to have some sort of impact on the raid in their own fashion. Tamaki got his this week, maybe next week it’ll be Mirio? It’s unknown now, so we’ll just have to wait.
As for Tamaki’s shining battle, one thing I will complain about is the amount of talking and flashbacks. Lots of waiting around here, which hurts the pace of the fight and makes it very apparent that he was never in any real danger. Losing to three no-names? Come on, what would all that build-up be for then? I figured Tamaki would be annoying since the episode where Kirishima fought his first battle this season, and while I’m still not super fond of him, I have no problem with him getting some due spotlight this episode. They built up this “Big Three” quite a bit at the end of the last season; should develop them at some point!
I think with that perspective of “This is Tamaki’s episode, next will be someone else’s,” I’m not quite as upset by the lack of screentime from others. Midoriya, Kirishima, and perhaps Tsuyu/Uraraka (not confident with them, though) will get to be part of the plan when it gets to that more crucial point, as they’re, frankly, more important. And hey, at least Kirishima and Midoriya got to break that wall! They could’ve done nothing!
One other thing I will praise is the bizarre animation quality of the walls when the antagonist was controlling it. While not mind-bending or anything, it’s a pleasure to see the animators do some zany stuff with their craft to differentiate the look of the action. I enjoyed seeing things all distorted and weird, and how the heroes reasonably reacted to it. One slightly odd thing was why the villain decided to drop all the heroes sans Mirio into the room when he could’ve just did that with Mirio before he ran off, too. On a similar note, I agree with Karandi in that it was odd they didn’t leave anyone back there with Tamaki. I would’ve been like, “Kirishima, back him up in case things go to shit,” and they’re in the same work study group, too! What better way to create some teamwork boost?
Again, not an episode that will blow anyone away (unless they were pining for some Tamaki love), but I think it’s been better than the rest of the season thus far. Some development of character, an entertaining (albeit slow-paced and cliché) fight, and further progress made on the major goal. I’m more pumped to continue the series than I’ve been since it started, so I’m sitting pleasant. Bring on more wall smashing.
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Images from: My Hero Academia Season 4. Dir. K Nagasaki. Bones. 2019.