My Hero Academia
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 47 of
My Hero Academia (TV 3) ?
Last week, we saw Bakugo emphatically telling the League of Villains to shove it, and now this week we punctuate that scene by continuing U.A.'s press conference, where Aizawa affirms Bakugo's dedication to heroism even further. "He is trying harder than anyone in his pursuit of becoming the 'top hero.' If the villains saw that and thought they had an opening, then I believe they are being short-sighted." I really enjoy the game being played between the school and the media, where the teachers can't actually provide concrete evidence that hero society is safe, but they have to stick to their guns nonetheless, all while the press do their job and prod mercilessly. Bakugo's got plenty of issues, and he has a long way to go before he earns the public's trust, but he's truly one-of-a-kind and the audience can take comfort in the knowledge that this spiky fireball isn't going to turn to the dark side any time soon.
I've talked about this show's limp arc structure in the past, but to my pleasant surprise, this Bakugo rescue story arc is leaning into that weakness in an interesting way. We've spent a lot of time setting up the kids' covert sneaking mission, but before their semi-vigilantism even manages to take hold, the adult heroes are already busting in on the League of Villains. It's a big scene where the pros break in with a flashy team attack. All the big shots we've met until this point are here, including All Might, Endeavor, Gran Torino, etc, and it appears the villains don't stand a chance at all. It almost seemed like overkill on the heroes' behalf, but if this kidnapping controversy could spell the beginning of the end for hero society, then it's probably best not to leave a single thing to chance. In a matter of days, the heroes have even managed to track down the real names of all the participating villains, just to rub it in their faces that much more.
But even the good guys find this change of pace suspiciously convenient. From a storytelling point of view, why even bring Midoriya and friends into the plot if the pros are going to be so on top of things? Once the funny disguises happened, I assumed hijinks and plot complications were inevitable, but complicated plotting has never been this show's strength. The obvious answer is that this arc is far from over. While the heroes succeed in thwarting Shigaraki's plans, the League of Villains still has a enigmatic master who's finally on the move. We've seen bits and pieces of this mystery man, but until now he's been Darth Vader in his meditation chamber. Now he's finally putting on his favorite suit and scary mask to enter the fight himself. This is a character I know little about, but it's frankly hard to separate what I've learned through fandom osmosis and what's actually been solidified in the anime so far. Based on the info we have, I'd say it's pretty clear he's connected to the All For One user from All Might's origin story.
Just as the story looks primed to resolve too quickly, a wrench gets thrown into the works, and I wouldn't have it any other way. The juiciest part of this "master" character's explosive arrival actually comes after the credits, where we see the aftermath of his attack. It's hard to tell the chronology of events here—I suspect it will be more clear next week—but we get a much more interesting sense of what Midoriya's team will have to deal with as a result of embarking on this mission. They were off to the side when the heroes jumped in to save Bakugo, and now they're seeing hallucinations of their own death purely as a result of his presence. Perhaps this well-meaning but ill-prepared rescue mission has a much harsher lesson to teach than we were expecting.
On multiple occasions now, this arc seemed to be headed down a predictable path, but the upsets to that order manage to be much more than simple plot twists. Bakugo's conviction and this new villain's arrival both have such intense feelings tied to them. Bakugo's role in this story is only possible because of how intensely emotional yet believable he is as a character. The master's arrival on the other hand feels much more traditional in nature, but the atmosphere and dread he creates is on such another level that it's showstopping. It's a common device of shonen escalation, but this master isn't just a stronger villain, he's the stronger villain. We're jumping straight to All Might's counterpart, and the story has immediately become more personal.
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