My Hero Academia
Episode 8

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 8 of
My Hero Academia ?

As intense as My Hero Academia can get sometimes, we always have to pull back and remember how little has actually been on the line so far. Last week's Midoriya vs. Bakugo match was easily the best episode of the series yet and an important stepping stone of the characters' relationship, but once the hearts stop beating and the adrenaline dies down, it's back to regular old class time. It was purely incidental that the first round of the hero vs. villain mock trial pitted Midoriya and Bakugo against each other. Things were never intended to get as passionate as they did by the curriculum.

The theme this week is ego. We return to review the match with All Might and the rest of the class, expecting glowing praise for the spectacular finish. However, despite the nervous sweat drops indicating that everybody was at least impressed, constructive criticism is also in order. Both Midoriya and Bakugo took action in ways that were destructive to their environment, i.e. they weren't being very hero-like, nor practical when it came to the cause they were supposed to be fighting over. There's a real sense of deflation when Bakugo gets reviewed and his natural strength didn't carry him as far as he had hoped. It's not just misguided anger this time; he's honestly disappointed in himself.

It doesn't end there, either. A humiliated Bakugo gets to stand on the sidelines as the rest of the class continues on to their own matches and we learn there are several other star students who are not to be taken lightly. Anybody who's taken any sort of art/film class where they've underestimated the talent of their peers will identify this sequence as something very real. None of these other matches are nearly as showy as Midoriya and Bakugo's, but that almost makes it that much more embarrassing that they ever got so impassioned over something so trivial in the first place.

Meanwhile, Midoriya is back in the hospital due to One For All's recoil. All Might is torn, feeling like he failed his pupil by letting him get hurt so often. All Might also feels a strong sense of responsibility towards Bakugo, recognizing that his damaged pride is not something the young man should be dealing with alone.

Surprisingly, to both Midoriya and All Might, it appears that Bakugo is dealing with his emotional problems in a much healthier way than expected. The episode caps off with Midoriya and Bakugo confronting each other with big, emotional shounen speeches where they vow to overcome each other. Bakugo's half of the conversation is the strongest, where he angrily admits defeat. The things that bothered him the most about the critique he received after their fight was that he agreed with it. It turns out Bakugo can be a lot more pragmatic than he appears, even if it hurts for him to admit.

This is an episode that seeks to humanize its current antagonist and it succeeds incredibly well. I was already fairly sure Bakugo was my favorite character in the show, just based on how lively and energetic he was, but seeing him wrestle with his own feelings seals the deal for me. He's a jerk, but he's not a lost cause. He's got intelligence and self-insight that's going to take him far on his journey of defeat and humility. He's not happy about it, but he's going to be okay.

Lastly, the post-credits stinger for the episode teases some upcoming villains. This time, they're not people Midoriya's age, but real adult villains who may have some connection to All Might, so hopefully My Hero Academia will be moving up a peg in the scale department.

Rating: B+

My Hero Academia is currently streaming on Funimation.

Sam Leach writes and records about One Piece for The One Piece Podcast and you can find him on Twitter @LuckyChainsaw

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