My Hero Academia
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 45 of
My Hero Academia (TV 3) ?
Tragedy strikes our youngling heroes this week as they manage to defeat a good chunk of the Vanguard Action Squad, but still let a few of them get away with their target Bakugo in hand. After just a little more action, the Forest Training arc is wrapping up, and our main characters return to the city to discuss their next move going forward.
The driving force of this week's episode is a conflict of responsibility. People have been kidnapped, the media is hounding the school, and the children most driven to do something about it must weigh the pros and cons of vigilante justice. The process of managing a hero school within a society like this is full of complicated hurdles, and they all seem to be coalescing at once. For one, there's the suspicion of a traitor within the ranks of U.A., since that's the only possible explanation for why the League of Villains was able to locate the training camp. Then there's the issue of Bakugo's Bakugo-ness being public knowledge. If the League were to succeed in making him an ally, it would be a PR nightmare.
This episode does a really good job exploring the complexities of the matters at hand. It's hard enough to deal with villains and work within the bureaucracies of the law, but even then doing the right thing is the usual battle with self-esteem. We saw the insane turmoil that Midoriya put his body through during the fights (he finally collapses mid-battle toward the beginning of this episode), but he still beats himself up for not being able to save Bakugo before he got warped away. Even the teachers all have to reaffirm their trust in each other when the traitor theory gets proposed and none of them can guarantee their own innocence. These characters' patience and understanding with each other is all they have to keep themselves from going crazy, but they manage.
The issue that I think these exposition-heavy transitional episodes run into is that a lot of information gets conveyed through talking heads, and the lack of visual stimulation has my eyes glossing over to the point where I'm more likely to miss something. It's still well-directed and polished, but the insides of the school and hospital are recurring settings that flatline in comparison to the more interesting scenes around them. They just don't get their hooks in me at all.
The final scene sees the children determining to go after Bakugo, using a tracking device Yaoyorozu created. Midoriya couldn't save Bakugo in the forest, but now the students have a chance to make up their own minds about how they follow the rules, which runs directly counter to the lesson Iida learned in the Stain arc about vigilantism. This show sympathizes immensely with how hard it is to call yourself a hero, and I find the challenges it lays out fascinating. "You can't save the people you can't reach," are the words of All Might that ring through Midoriya's mind. But what if someone was in your reach, and you weren't supposed to try for a myriad of reasons? There's no easy answer.
This episode is a great summation of the kind of themes that would normally roll right off my shriveled-up heart, but lately My Hero Academia has been selling me on its romanticization of heroism. It still suffers from the fact that cool-down/set-up episodes aren't the most exciting installments of the series, but I can respect how deftly it makes its emotional conflicts clear. I care about these kids, and whatever they choose to do in this tough situation, I hope they go all the way with it.
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