My Hero Academia
by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 77 of
My Hero Academia (TV 4) ?
The fight against Overhaul may finally be over, but the arc itself still has a lot of fallout to cover. We start with Suneater rescuing Aizawa, who in turn narrowly saves Deku from Eri's quirk running totally out of control. With so many serious injuries accrued by the cast, it's hard for this moment to feel truly triumphant, but if nothing else the image of Deku cradling a feverish but finally safe Eri is a comforting one to finish out the whole ordeal. And everything our heroes accomplished becomes even more impressive when it's revealed they wrapped it all up before 10 in the morning! I didn't even have this review finished by that time and I set an alarm. Maybe heroes really are a special breed.
Except this episode makes it clear things are far from over. As Overhaul is being (over)hauled off to the slammer, Shigaraki finally makes his move, breaking his yakuza adversary out just long enough to gloat over his failures and add injury to insult. Now, Chisaki has been far and away one of the most gruesome antagonists in the show, and he's the last person I'd have sympathy for under most circumstances, but it's still a bit chilling to hear him wailing in despair as Shigaraki gleefully steals every bit of his work and ambition before maiming him. Overhaul's a twisted person who spread a lot of misery, but even he's still spurred by human motivations, and to see them appropriated by somebody as cheerfully nasty as Shigaraki hammers that home.
Our heroes are still human too, and that fact comes crashing down in the final scene of this episode. Nighteye dedicated his life to finding some way of keeping All Might alive, so it's tragic that it's not until his own final moments that he's able to reunite with his idol, but what he tells both him and Deku is more important than ever. Seeing the young hero twist fate showed him a way to change seemingly certain futures – not just through Deku, but through the combined power of many people striving for a better future, it coalesced into a reality that his own pessimistic certainty couldn't have attained. It's a bittersweet epiphany for a character who's spent so much of his screen time mired in dour pragmatism, but Nighteye seems genuinely happy to have been so wrong, because it means there's indeed hope for a better future; not just for All Might, but for all the young heroes striving for it.
It's fitting then that his final words are of the future. Freed from his own restrictions, Nighteye looks into Mirio's future and assures him that, quirk or no, he'll become a finer hero than anyone, and that's the one future that absolutely must not change. It's left up to the viewer to decide whether he's being entirely truthful, but that's perhaps the point. It's the future Nighteye wants for his protege, and saying it to him certainty is his last push to make it happen. If nothing else, he passes away with a smile on his face, proving he absolutely believes in his dying message: “Smile. A society without cheer will not have a bright future.”
On the purely technical side of things, ep 77 was clearly (and understandably) a lower priority compared to its predecessor. While the non-action scenes are handled with the care they deserve, the brief scuffle with the League winds up feeling a little awkward and stiff. That's not a huge problem, since the goal of the sequence is more about a verbal confrontation, but it's noticeable enough to pull some viewers out. The episode delivers where it counts, and that's more important on the whole.
“Bright Future” is a game changer on two levels. On a textual level, Overhaul's downfall has bolstered and emboldened the League of Villains, and it's anyone's guess how Shigaraki will choose to use the power to eliminate quirks. Metatextually, it's the threshold every shonen battle series has to grapple with eventually – the moment that proves even good guys can die. Rather than tying a bow on this storyline, MHA has set the gears turning for new possibilities to come. While it's anyone's guess when or how either topic will come up again, this is undoubtedly a turning point for the series at large.
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