My Hero Academia
by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 86 of
My Hero Academia (TV 4) ?
With Gentle and La Brava taken into custody and cancellation averted, Deku's finished his big hero moment for this story. That means it's time for the real heroes to make their own stand. While there's plenty of hijinks across the episode with the rest of the school festival, the centerpiece is obviously 1-A's performance, and on that front it doesn't disappoint.
Admittedly I'm not the biggest fan of the music – I prefer rock music on either the grittier or grassier side of things, and “Hero Too” is very much a power pop jam meant to be palatable to younger viewers more than anything. Guest vocalist Chrissy Costanza is a good fit for the song and does a great job selling the tune, though it runs into the same problem a number of Carole & Tuesday songs did, where the singer's clearly a native english speaker but the songwriter isn't, leading to some awkward meter in the chorus. Overall though it's a super catchy and dancy number that works well with the overall energy of the performance, especially the full version so I can't complain too much. It's still no “God Knows” though.
But hey, this isn't Pitchfork, it's an anime site, and as an emotional catalyst for the cast 1-A's show knocks it out of the park. There's tons of fun flourishes and some delightful (if limited) dancing animation that make the entire sequence infectiously fun. The brief glimpse into Jiro's relationship with her parents is sweet too – rather than disappointment at their daughter choosing heroism over music, they encouraged her to follow her passion and be the person she wants to be – and it makes for a wonderful capstone to the class' endeavor to save people with more than just physical strength. The crescendo however is seeing sheer joy on Eri's face through it all. She spends the rest of the episode looking happier than you'd ever believe, and it sells the cheesy as hell lyrics of “Hero Too” better than I thought possible.
The rest of the school festival is fun enough, and gives a little spotlight to the rest of the cast. 1-B's plagiarized fanfic stage play is worth a few chuckles, and I for one appreciate Kendo using the beauty pageant as a martial arts exhibition. Mainly it's just a montage of the cast relaxing and enjoying school life for the first time in what feels like forever, and it ends on a super charming coda with Deku making Eri her first candied apple. The UA kids likely have a harrowing future ahead of them, and the dangers of the larger world are still out there, but for today at least there's hope for a bright future worth fighting for. The same is true of Gentle and La Brava in the post-credits scene, where even in police custody and ejected at their loss, there's still room for them to grow from their own mistakes and move forward. I have no idea if we'll ever see these two again, but I certainly hope they can make a glorious return somewhere down the line.
And so ends the School Festival arc for MHA. While there are doubtlessly folks impatient for a return to higher stakes action, I'm glad for the respite to reconnect with the larger ensemble and the exploration of different aspects of heroism to further flesh out the series' thematic backbone. But this season isn't quite over yet, and it seems next week we'll be focusing on, of all people, Endeavor. So look forward to that, I guess, since I can't imagine anything with him at the center will be at all breezy or joyful. It remains to be seen if MHA's fourth season will go out with a blaze of glory or a tire fire, so we'll just have to wait and hope.
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