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My Hero Academia Season 6
Episode 121

by Nicholas Dupree,

How would you rate episode 121 of
My Hero Academia (TV 6) ?
Community score: 4.3

Lemme tell ya, if I was a 16-year-old with a Kaiju bearing down on me and all my friends, and had roughly a minute to concoct a plan to stop him, I'd probably come up with something like “run away” (or possibly “run away without pissing myself in fear” if I was feeling extra competent). But apparently they teach some really good improv classes at UA, because YaoMomo managed to come up with – and execute – a multi-stage plan with multiple contingencies, plus furnish all the necessary props, in less time than it took me to write this paragraph. Midnight was right; this girl's got the makings of a natural leader.

Really though, it speaks to both Momo's ingenuity and Gigantomachia's threat that roughly half this episode can be taken up with the superhero version of making my cat take medicine and still be riveting entertainment. I love that her plan incorporates so many different characters' powers – from Mudman turning the forest floor into a swamp trap, to utilizing Mineta's gross grapes, to Kaminari and Poltergeist girl's tandem attack on the League members riding on Machia's back. Obviously not everything goes exactly as envisioned, but the scope and complexity on display delivers a great moment for Momo here. It not only makes this feel like a team effort with nearly everyone pitching in to stop the enemy, but also makes it clear that the kids are throwing out everything they have to stop Machia from breaking free. For a series that has often struggled to keep its large cast of lovable side characters relevant, it's both an exciting and economical way to make the characters outside of Deku's direct orbit feel meaningful.

Though, speaking of things MHA has struggled with...oh Mina. Probably this franchise's most long-standing bad habit has been teasing that its female characters were going to do something important, only to have that chance yoinked away by the narrative, often with an implied promise that they'd get another chance later. That worked well enough when it was early in the show's going, like Uraraka nearly beating Bakugo, but we're six seasons in now and right in the middle of series' largest conflict to date, so there's really no excuse to have teased a big moment for Mina only to have it pulled out from under her moments later.

And look, I get what the scene is going for. This is a fight where even a second's hesitation could cause the whole plan to fall apart, and Mina having a moment of human vulnerability is totally in-line with how MHA has written all of its cast. I get that this is also a way for Kirishima to pay back the moment from middle school where Mina inspired him to be a hero. All of that is well and good, but it doesn't make it any less deflating to see Mina literally swatted out of the air in the middle of her biggest moment in the show. I'd be fine with Kirishima coming in with an assist – this whole fight is the kids emptying the tanks for the chance at a single layup – but his line about passing on her “chivalrous spirit” because it was her canister of sleep juice he threw cannot help but taste like ash. In a vacuum it's not a bad moment, but in the context of how MHA has so often sidelined its cast of colorful female heroes, it sucks a lot of air out of the fight.

Thankfully that's not the end of the episode, and the return to Shigaraki's side of the battle helps bring the energy back up. I don't know how Endeavor of all people thinks he can get away with calling out Shigaraki for a lack of conviction, but it tees up our symbol of destruction for a pretty striking little monologue about just why he's become what he is. It's nothing new to the audience, since we're already deeply familiar with what fuels his hatred for Hero society, but it hammers home for our heroes – and Gran Tarino especially – that the threat they're facing now wasn't wholly the construction of All For One. Shigaraki, the League, the Liberation Front – they all spawned from the festering flaws of the world heroes built, and now all that damage has come home to roost. In the here-and-now that doesn't change much, but if any of these characters make it out of this battle alive, there's going to be a lot more to answer for than pure fighting strength. Victory here, even an overwhelming one, will amount to hitting snooze if things don't change outside of the battlefield too.

That lingering baggage – along with the cliffhanger ending – is enough to bring things back up for me, but it can't erase (heh) how MHA's biggest narrative weaknesses reared their heads at a really bad moment this week. The suspense of these fights is still enough to carry things, but the rest of the arc is going to have to work overtime to compensate.

Rating:

My Hero Academia is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.


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