My Hero Academia
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 68 of
My Hero Academia (TV 4) ?
My Hero Academia has a giant cast of characters built right into its premise. There are about twenty students in class 1-A, but there's only so much attention the show can allot to each of them outside of the four or five really important ones. Eijiro Kirishima stands right on the cusp between primary and secondary protagonists, but being one of the stronger "fighter" type kids, you'd think we'd have seen more of him by this point. Until now, he's just been Bakugo's best bro—or at least the closest thing Bakugo would allow someone to be considered his "best bro."
This week's episode tells a slightly different story. Underneath the layers of meatheaded-ness, Kirishima has the same feelings of inadequacy as everyone else. I think it's the fact that he's on a work study assignment without any of the other 1-A around that really allows him to shine brightly. He and Tamaki—one of the Big Three along with Mirio—are being supervised by a professional hero named Fatgum. The three of them make a compelling team, and Kirishima gets to be our point of view character as opposed to somebody else's wingman. He's a refreshing take on the Good Boy™ archetype, where he's macho like Bakugo, but also kind and earnest like Midoriya.
Also, his new transformation f***s s*** up.
I don't pay close attention to the MHA manga, but I've always kept my finger on the pulse of other people's reactions. One of my earliest memories of people freaking out over the newest developments in the series came from the Kirishima/Fatgum chapters. I'm surprised by how much of a zero-to-sixty moment this episode is compared the leisurely past few weeks. It's suddenly, BAM, explosive high-octane action. Kirishima's hardening Quirk can turn his entire body into a sinewy monstrosity that almost makes him look more like a villain than a hero. He's fighting a blade user with performance-enhancing drugs, which ties directly into Overhaul's machinations. I like how Kirishima tries dealing with the criminal somewhat compassionately at first, only for the criminal to twist his words back at him and reveal himself as something worse than a simple misguided mook.
Visually, this episode really kicks things into high gear. It doesn't take a lot of explicit movement to make an episode feel dynamic and engaged, but when the episode is highly animated it's a beaut. The opening sequence of the episode is a brief scene catching us up with Ochako, Tsuyu, and Nejire that looks almost disproportionately great. I half-wondered if they weren't just playing a clip from the upcoming movie or something. Kirishima's Red Riot Unbreakable is a graphically impressive image, though that part is inherit to the source material. I'd like to also mention how good Justin Cook is in the dub, bringing Kirishima's berserker mode to vocal-chord shredding life.
Ensembles are not usually the big draw for me in these Shonen Jump romps, but I always appreciate it when a show can reveal something new to me about a side character that I didn't expect. After a rather chill first few episodes, season four is suddenly waking up with the burning passion that I was anticipating. For what ultimately boils down to a very simple fight, it's good to get that My Hero adrenaline pumping through my veins again.
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