My Hero Academia
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 50 of
My Hero Academia (TV 3) ?
All For One has been taken down, but the ongoing fight against villainy is far from over, not the least of which because All Might has burnt out the final embers of his Quirk and can now only summon his muscle form for a few brief seconds. All Might, the number one hero, has been effectively retired. This is highlighted through a heartwarming and bittersweet scene on the beach between All Might and Midoriya, where the former hero turns his efforts toward raising the new generation. In an episode that gets so personal between these two characters specifically, it's interesting to also have a scene where Bakugo asks All Might why he seems to give Midoriya special treatment, and All Might has to brush it off with a line like "O-oh! He's a student just like you and the other kids!" He's not ready to reveal Midoriya as his proper successor.
With U.A. in hot water over the whole kidnapping thing, they decide the next course of action is to double down on how they're training their students. They want to establish a dormitory for the kids, where everybody can stay within arm's length, but first All Might and Aizawa must drive around town and confront each student's parents face to face, asking for permission. Most of the parents are surprisingly accommodating, wanting their children to follow their dreams and be safe above all else. Seeing the designs of the parents is one of the most fun aspects of the episode, because none of them are wild and crazy looking, but you get a glimpse of which parent the kids get which characteristic from, especially when Quirks are involved. The domestic lives of these hero children would make an endearing spin-off, in my opinion.
Surprisingly, the biggest holdout is Midoriya's mom. We may have overcome MHA's biggest climax yet, but the show isn't done demonstrating an admirable amount of maturity as we sift through the falling action. Inko's feelings of fear and unease are taken very seriously by All Might, who goes so far as to bow in asking permission to continue being Midoriya's teacher. Being a hero, let alone being the number one hero, is a dangerous job. There's no way around that. A prominent through-line in this episode is All Might's willingness (or lack thereof) to reprimand Midoriya when he throws himself into trouble, but we've seen time and time again that it's always been in the name of saving others for him, and the fact that Midoriya appears to be gradually learning from his mistakes only inspires that much more faith from All Might. The things that put Midoriya's life at risk are also the reasons why he's hero material.
The strength of this recent batch of episodes is not only that it's brought the series' trademark bombast, it manages to be refreshing in its story beats and characterization as well. It brings humanity and consideration to the archetypes of shonen heroes who throw caution to the wind. We want Midoriya to become the number one hero, but we also want him to be safe enough on the path there that his mom doesn't have to worry. Whether that's even possible is yet to be determined, but the scene between All Might and Inko is powerful, and it manages to make a moment where a character asks for forgiveness feel as brave as any battle between fists. Even when he's no longer a pro, All Might is still a hero.
So Inko allows her son to continue attending U.A., on the condition that All Might not put his own life at risk to keep training Midoriya. Since All Might's living on obviously borrowed time by now, this sets the expectation that All Might will have to surpass the trope of the older mentor dying, which is a theme that this series will continue to wrestle with indefinitely. Is not dying going to be the badass shonen hero thing that All Might accomplishes in his retirement, or is this entire question only setting us up to get hurt even more in the future? Only time will tell.
All Might's retirement comes with a myriad of feelings, and My Hero Academia dwells on them beautifully. The title of this episode is "End of the Beginning, Beginning of the End", just to drive home the enormous sense of change that comes at the midpoint of season three. Of all the transitional episodes between arcs, this one is especially good. It's thematically resonant, invigorating in its mundanity, and full of tiny world-building details that make the story's universe feel even more rich. (Hell, I didn't even mention Bakugo's foxy mom.) Even as someone who's only casually following the manga, I remember when these chapters were coming out and how much it felt like Shonen Jump belonged to My Hero at that time. Last week's episode was the wake-up call that this is the show to be watching, and this episode only continues to please.
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