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My Hero Academia Season 6
Episode 129

by Nicholas Dupree,

How would you rate episode 129 of
My Hero Academia (TV 6) ?
Community score: 4.3

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© Kōhei Horikoshi/Shueisha・My Hero Academia Production Committee

After last week's prison break slapped anything resembling a victory out of our heroes' bloody hands, it's time for MHA to really dig down into the rubble. That means we're in for a significant break in the action, but that's a good thing in my book. After an entire season of nonstop fighting, the story needs to decompress and let the consequences of that battle play out before we get back to action. You'd think a title like “The Hellish Todoroki Family Part 2” would mean we'd be rejoining said family and their handling of the fallout, but that only comes at the very end. Instead, this episode is about finally revealing the truth behind the ever-enigmatic Hawks.

With all the chaos happening at the time, it was easy (for me) to forget that, alongside airing his family's dirty laundry, Dabi also found some mud to throw at Hawks, revealing him as the son of a murderer. Now that the dust is settled and Hawks is only extra crispy rather than double-deep fried, we learn the story behind that, and it paints a complex, complicated portrait of the man we know now. For one, it is just now hitting me how young Hawks is. He's only a few years older than the students at UA, and if not in the same generation, at least young enough to have grown up watching the same footage of All Might that inspired so many other kids. Of course, Hawks' childhood didn't allow for any starry-eyed dreams of becoming a hero until the most dramatically ironic hero inadvertently changed the course of his life.

That mess of emotions is what makes Hawks' story here so compelling. The man who made him believe in heroes and saved him was an abuser who tore his family to shreds in his corrupted pursuit of power. Moreover, Hawks' journey to becoming a hero meant he eventually became the kind of person who kills for the sake of heroism – even killing somebody he saw as a good person with Twice. It's a far cry from the image of heroism he first aspired to, so perhaps it's not that ironic for Endeavor to have been his inspiration. If All Might is the shining example of altruism who's pushed Deku and the other kids forward, then I suppose Endeavor is the perfect mascot for an ultimately compromised, all too humanly flawed vision of heroism.

Still, underneath all that, there's clearly a compassionate spirit inside Hawks that still wants to help others. The most striking moment from his story is when he talks about how he “abandoned” his mother after the safety commission took them in. Obviously, it wasn't his responsibility as a child to mend their relationship or undo the damage dealt by his father. Yet now, as an adult, he recognizes the pain she was going through and regrets not helping her. Twice's selfless devotion to helping his friends brought on this realization, which is just one more layer of thematic irony on top of it all. It wasn't a hero who reminded Hawks of the kind of hero he wanted to be, but the very villain he killed. It's too late to take back that act, just as it's too late to change how he treated his mother, but it's the perfect time for him to reclaim that original dream and help the flawed man who brought light into his world all those years ago.

Endeavor – and every other hero – will need as much help as possible, too. Out in the larger world, the chaos is only growing. It's fascinating to see the previously tightly maintained order of MHA's world spiral out of control now that the safety bumpers of hero society are gone. The fall of the status quo begets panic, prompting civilians to take up arms themselves, only to sow more destruction in the process, a cascade effect that only makes trust in Pro Heroes plummet further and faster. It's all the more effective because, while the villains had a hand in escalating all this, they're not controlling it. There's a sense that this was always going to happen eventually. So much cultural equity was loaded into the image of infallible superheroes, so much stacked atop a single pillar, that once the foundation cracked, there was no possible outcome besides this one.

It certainly doesn't help that the top hero is too busy dealing with a personal reckoning even to begin addressing societal issues. As always, Endeavor's material here is walking a very fine line. His pain is almost entirely that of his own making and only hits him years after running roughshod over his victims. While there's a certain sympathy to seeing him break down so totally, it would have been a massive misstep if the series had played it solely for that sympathy. But for all that the show allows him that moment of vulnerability, it's not interested in wallowing in his self-pity – and neither is his family. Rei's line about the rest of the Todoroki family feeling far more guilt and regret than him is a hell of a diss, but it's true and a reaffirming choice for the first words she said to him in years.

That's a lot to unpack for a single episode, yet it all feels like an appetizer for the full-course meal of depression waiting for us next week. Thankfully, MHA's character drama is my favorite kind of cuisine. So everybody, get your silverware in order because this will likely be a long banquet.

Rating:

My Hero Academia is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.


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