My Hero Academia Season 6
by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 136 of
My Hero Academia (TV 6) ?
Community score: 4.6
It's probably not accurate to call this a fight. For one, in a head-on battle Deku could probably take out any given member of his class at this point just by pile-driving them through a skyscraper. Of course, that's not what happens here, because even at his most desperate and worn down, Deku would never want to hurt any of his friends. The other kids certainly don't want to harm him – their entire reason for chasing after him is because they care about him. Rather, this whole confrontation is a struggle to save Deku from himself, to pull him kicking and screaming out of his worst impulses, and to remind him that he has countless people who love him, and want what's best for him.
This isn't a fight. This is Deku's intervention.
In that regard, it's an excellent episode. As each of Class A's characters hurl themselves into Deku's path, they speak of small moments where he made a difference in their lives; mundane and dramatically inconsequential anecdotes that nonetheless built the foundation of their connections to him. Maybe it was Deku offering some help with Jiro's notes, or thinking about Tokoyami's Quirk in a way bird boy hadn't considered, or getting upset on Ojiro's behalf at the sports festival. In all cases, the common factor isn't Deku's power or strength, but the simple kindness he showed them and countless others. Now, they're determined to reciprocate that kindness.
Of course, Deku can't see that right now. When his friends rush to his side, all he can picture is Bakugo getting skewered in his place, Aizawa severing his own leg, or Gran Torino's guts spilling over the ground. Everything from his last battle has told him that people will get hurt, and will die, if they're between him and All For One, and that scares him more than anything else could. It's a simple, inevitable slide from seeing his own well-being as secondary, to seeing himself as a threat to those around him. AFO tripped that psychological trap with a single, purposefully ironic call-back, and it cinches tighter every time he escapes his classmates' grasp. Each time he slips or powers through their hold, it tells him that he has to be right – they can't keep up with him now, which means he has to get away from them before his ultimate enemy swoops in to annihilate everyone he loves.
If you're somebody who came into this fight looking for a brawl, or to argue power levels, it might be disappointing. I, however, cannot get enough of it. This is the tipping point that Deku's self-destructive altruism has been leading towards for six seasons, and seeing all these good kids (yes, even Mineta) put their all into bringing their friend back from destroying himself is everything I could have asked for. That it's Iida, with the entire class backing him up and pushing him forward, who finally catches up to Deku, is the perfect choice. All those many seasons ago, Deku leapt forward to keep Iida from going down a dark path, and now he's at last able to return the favor.
The perfect cherry on top of it all, for me, is finally hearing “You Say Run” again. That track was the defining piece of music for MHA in its early seasons, staying with fans more than any individual OP/ED. It's been noticeably absent since around season three, but the leitmotif has stuck around in various new songs through the entire franchise. I had mostly accepted that, for whatever reason, it wouldn't be returning. Yet I also knew that if there was ever a moment for the anime to bring back its most iconic song, it would be right here, to crystallize the moment Class A become heroes in their own right. When those familiar notes started playing, I god damn seal clapped through the rest of the episode, then immediately went back to watch the whole sequence again, and again, and then another three times for good measure. That's the power of a musical sting seven years in the making.
Speaking of things years in the making, Bakugo's apology is something I and many others have been waiting ages for. While Deku's never held a grudge against his rival for the years of bullying, and their dynamic at this point is basically slightly antagonistic pals, a full-on apology was something necessary for them to truly move beyond who they were as kids. Hearing Bakugo finally, finally call him Izuku hits like a truck, and seeing him bear every nasty insecurity that lead him to lash out before finally saying he's sorry made it all the more impactful. Only after saying all that can he speak to Izuku not as a rival or fellow successor, but as an actual friend. It's not the only thing that cracked Deku's fearful shell, but it's the last blow to bring his shield crumbling down, and allow himself to rely on his friends.
“Deku vs Class A” might be disappointing if all you wanted was a big superpower slugfest, but in every other respect it's a perfect culmination for much of the most important and gripping character drama in MHA. It's thrilling, heartbreaking, and brimming with long-awaited payoffs that land brilliantly. Now please get Deku to take a bath.
My Hero Academia is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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