My Hero Academia
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 25 of
My Hero Academia (TV 2) ?
I never spent much time imagining how the Sports Festival might end. I just assumed something was going to interrupt it and we'd fluidly transition into a new arc, but nope. It just kind of ends. A lot certainly happened, and the characters have undoubtedly developed, but I guess I'll have to wait and see where else this arc is going to fit into the broader story, because I'm pretty surprised at how self-contained it feels right now.
This week is the final tournament match between Todoroki and Bakugo, the two naturally gifted pretty boys of Class 1-A. Everything related to Bakugo in this story is in a precarious position, because he's the kind of character that you don't want to empathize with—thanks to his past abuse of Midoriya—but you also kind of have to empathize with him if you want the drama of the story to work. Everything in this fight is about Bakugo wanting Todoroki to go all-out on him so that his win will mean something, and his despair comes from not getting that wish.
Bakugo was my favorite aspect of season one because whenever the story chose to explore his psyche, the intensity of the episode's direction would ramp up tremendously. The emotions running through his head may feel like a horror movie from our perspective, but he's feeling them so much that it's hard not to get sucked in. It also helps that the music choices in the episode are noticeably snazzier than usual. The electricity powering Bakugo's internal strife is one of those things that's hard to explain, but the anime knocks it out of the park in motion. It just feels good to indulge in his craziness.
The fight itself is swift and impactful, as we see the creative ways that these two use their Quirks, but it does ultimately end with Bakugo's (unearned by his standards) victory. It seems that Todoroki's momentary comfort with his fire Quirk was a one-time thing, and he's still figuring out what he wants to do with himself now that Midoriya's ripped all these new feelings out of him. There was a second where it appeared as though Bakugo was going to get the fight he asked for, but Todoroki just couldn't go through with it. Bakugo is so desperate to get what Midoriya got a few episodes ago.
It's almost hard to describe how much different stuff gets packed into this episode. Todoroki vs. Bakugo lasts the first half, and then the second half is the closing ceremony of the festival among many other things, like Iida visiting his brother in the hospital, Todoroki deciding to confront his mother for the first time in years (he has general parent issues beyond just his daddy issues), and a little series of adorable vignettes that serve as post-credits sequences. The best stuff is when All Might gets to award the top three contestants with their medals, and Bakugo has to be chained down and muzzled—despite winning, mind you—to restrain him from expressing his vicious disagreement.
There's a lot of interesting stuff to break down when it comes to Bakugo and Todoroki's character arcs, and I especially liked Todoroki's walk to his mother's hospital, where we get to see that this superhero world is still a pretty normal-looking Japanese city. There's a lot of atmosphere and contemplative emotions going on in the fallout of the festival, but I'm left wondering what it was all leading up to. Now that it's over, it barely felt like it happened. Compared to its long-running peers, My Hero Academia aims to be a lot more efficient with its storytelling, but I'm often left wondering if I'm just conditioned to expect more fanfare between points A and B. Some things, like the final battle of a tournament, just feel like they end too quickly.
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