My Hero Academia
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 28 of
My Hero Academia (TV 2) ?
I was sad to discover this morning that My Hero Academia's simuldub was going to return to its usual two-week delay after spending the entire second season so far coming out the same day as the simulsub. I had gotten used to enjoying the dub first thing in the morning and it had quickly became my main way of engaging with the show, so my hat's off to the team at Funimation who managed to pull off that schedule, and I hope opportunities like it are more common in the future. It really impacted how accessible the show felt. So for now, it's back to the subtitled version for me.
This episode continues to highlight the daily lives of the students' internships, each one with its own hero who betrays our expectations to one degree or another. Ochako's working with a tough guy who acts cute, Bakugo's forced to rep the Best Jeanist Look™, and Momo's stuck with a fashion icon who may not have anything to offer a wannabe hero in the first place. The lives of these established pros then go on to bolster the much more important scene between Stain and Shigaraki.
"This society overgrown with fake heroes should be purged." This quote from Stain seems to be talking literally about the kinds of heroes mentioned above, but I can't help but feel something else being addressed beneath the surface. MHA naturally pulls a lot from both American superheroes and Shonen Jump manga, two genres that notoriously toe the line between sincerity and commercialism. Do the pop culture icons of today really inspire people to make the world a better place? Or is that just a convenient thing to believe? From the audience's point of view, the vain "good guy" heroes being showcased in this episode don't come off so bad because we still have the likes of All Might around to help us believe in the strong and pure values of heroism, but All Might probably won't be around forever, and an already unimpressed villain may not find his presence as comforting.
Shigaraki's goals in particular are not especially clear to me, but I love seeing him contextualized as one of the young ones, with Stain questioning how he will bloom in the future. There's also the presence of Shigaraki's boss who seems keen to set him up as somebody important, just as All Might does for Midoriya. The better this show gets, the more this thread of passing the torch will become poignant, if you're the kind of person who wants to interpret all this talk of superheroes as a metaphor for pop storytelling in general. As the themes get more interesting, the choice to go for a superhero skin feels that much more appropriate.
The episode ends just as the action starts to rev up, with Shigaraki unleashing a group of Nomus (the creature that All Might had to step in and fight at the end of season one) on the city. The tension is pretty high here, but we do have an old guard hero in Gran Torino there to fight, and it's fun to see such a little old guy kick some ass. Stain and Shigaraki keep rocking back and forth over a potential team-up, and we're left with a really strong cliffhanger where Iida finally gets to encounter Stain on the job, and in a rare moment of vengeful recklessness for our engine hero, his life appears to be at risk.
There are a lot of really solid threads as we begin the next arc, each one demonstrating something new for the show. Midoriya overcoming One For All's learning curve makes it easy to put yourself in his shoes and imagine what it would be like to master a power like that, Stain's philosophy reflects strongly on the world of this series, as well as the nature of MHA being the "next big thing" in the world of Shonen Jump, and Iida's moment of weakness is simply great character writing. All these things aim to bounce off each other in the next few episodes, and I can't wait to see what's next.
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