My Hero Academia introduced fans to a whole new world of smash this week, leaving everyone reeling from the fallout. This week, Nick and Steve get passionate about what this drastic turn for the story means to them.
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Well Nick, I've thought about it long and hard, and I've finally made a decision. I'm formally expatriating myself in order to become a sovereign citizen of the actual greatest country on earth: the United States of SMASH.
I wish you only the best of luck Steve. And might I offer some reading material for your upcoming trip?
DUDE. DON'T EVEN JOKE ABOUT THAT. I want to protect this smile.
Well somebody's got to, considering everything that's happened since the last time we checked in with MHA.
Yeah, I know it's only been a month since our last column
on it, but WHAT A MONTH HUH?
When it rains it pours in MHA, and we've had a maelstrom of dramatic turns since Bakugo got kidnapped.
Not the least of which was Bakugo himself proving that he's THE BEST CHARACTER IN THE SERIES AND I WILL NOT HEAR ANOTHER WORD AGAINST HIM MOVING FORWARD.
I literally cannot understand anybody who does not love this good shouty boy.
I swear the last two years I've had to watch all these anime-only newbies theorize how Bakugo would obviously become a villain. He'll turn evil, he'll throw away his life for power, he's just another Sasuke and so on. And I shall not bite my tongue a moment longer.
Despite his capture, this arc is such a great moment for Bakugo. Because of course the villains thought they could turn him. Like you said, many readers would have agreed with them! He's a loud, aggressive, and literally explosive bully who never utters a single line of dialogue below 100 decibels. But deep down, he's not evil; he's just a shitty teen boy. Fundamentally, he's cut from the same cloth as Deku. It's just that his piece of cloth is constantly on fire
Bakugo became my favorite early on, specifically because I was sure he wouldn't turn evil, but the series never shied away from showing that he was still a gigantic asshole. It was the first sign that the series was aware that "Hero" and "Villain" are not moral positions by default, they're labels decided by society based on specific criteria, and this moment was when I was 100% sure the series had somewhere interesting to say with Bakugo. On top of being inspired by the same hero as Deku, Bakugo is also - and he would kill me for saying this - inspired by Deku. The entire reason he's able to stand so confidently against the League is because his exam fight with All Might and Deku reminded him why he wanted to be a hero in the first place.
It's still an inherently selfish goal that he'll have to grow past eventually, but it's clear that Bakugo is more complicated than he initially seems, and I really love it.
He's a super fresh and interesting take on the obligatory rival character, and I can't wait to see where the series takes him as he grows up.
Is that your way of saying you hope his mom shows up again?
Well, I mean, I wouldn't complain. Their relationship also explains A Lot.
But we are getting a bit ahead of ourselves, because after my boy's shining moment we have my other boy's shining moment.
Do you mean this good boy?
Or this other good boy?
There are so many to choose from, and as you can see, they are growing up so fast.
Well actually I meant the Biggest Boi.
Though sadly, he's not as big as he used to be.
Granted, even outside of muscle form All Might is over six feet counting his hair. But yes, the Symbol of Peace has certainly seen better days, though by god did he go out with style.
My Hero Academia at its best is nothing short of transcendent, and All Might's last stand against All For One is an instantly classic moment. It's a culmination of everything MHA stands for, capturing and celebrating the essence of heroism not just in the comic book sense, but in the timeless literary sense of tales meant to thrill and inspire readers across the ages. And the anime marries this perfectly with some stunning cuts of animation. It's incredibly good.
I've been waiting to see this sequence animated since the moment it hit in the manga, and after two years of hyping it up I was certain it could never live up to my expectations, but boy was I wrong. The animation, the editing, the music, the voice acting, it all coalesces into the peak of MHA for me so far.
As someone who hasn't read the manga yet, I looked exactly like Froppy that entire episode. Literally on the edge of my seat.
It's absolutely intense, but weirdly enough I think my favorite part of All Might vs All For One is everything that comes directly after it.
True! MHA's ability to nail both the big loud moments and the small quiet ones speaks so much to the strength of its material. I absolutely love how All Might's gesture toward Deku was both this larger-than-life moment addressing the entire planet and a somber passing of the torch from a hero who had spent everything left in him.
And it's framed beautifully in both respects.
Same, Deku. Same.
I'd also be remiss to not mention the show absolutely nailing Nana's flashbacks. This scene was good in the manga, but the anime version knocked me on my ass.
I was basically crying that entire episode. It's not only the finest moment in this story so far, I think it's one of the finest moments in any story about heroes (and there's a lot of those)!
I just love the bit about smiling. That constantly reassuring smile has been All Might's signature for almost 50 episodes. It's what inspired Deku to dream of being a hero himself, but it was something All Might learned from his own master to start with.
Lots of series have bits about passing things on to the next generation, but MHA has burned that into its DNA in so many great ways that every time I revisit it, I find something new to love.
Yeah, MHA is every bit as concerned with the concept of family and legacy as it is with fun superpowers and fights. And it especially seems to be coming to a head now, with Shigaraki firmly established as not only the central villain, but an unmistakable foil for Deku. Just as Deku has inherited the legacy of All Might, Shigaraki follows in the footsteps of his own father figure, All For One.
I'm A LOT more interested in Shigaraki and All For One now, so I'm both pleased and extremely worried about this development.
But on the subject of All For One, I did appreciate that his best idea for a counter to All Might's strength was just the biggest, grossest, most edgelord muscly arm that ever could have been doodled in the margins of a rowdy tween's notebook.
I love the addition of the spear-bones. Like they don't even point forward, they're not hurting anybody. They're just there to look cool. If he could, he'd put a racing stripe and flames on that thing.
It's so bad and yet so perfect.
But really, AllFo and Shigaraki are just past and future threats. What really hit me hard was the aftermath of All Might's retirement - the entire world is shaken by his fight, and we see that most in the last place anyone expected.
God, the scene with Deku's mom is so wonderful, because this kind of thing is rarely depicted with so much empathy for the mother. She's 110% in the right.
It's an emotionally fraught scene from start to finish. Both Deku and the audience suddenly realize that for all the fist-pumping action we've enjoyed, from Inko's perspective the last few months have just been watching her son get put in mortal danger by forces his own teachers seem powerless to stop.
Lest we forget, Deku nearly freaking died.
Like sure, we got excited by Deku beating Muscular, but all Inko sees is her only kid tearing his body apart because the adults sworn to protect him keep failing, and she's totally in the right. Even if these kids are training to be heroes, they absolutely shouldn't be facing this kind of terror by themselves.
The battles and the stakes have continued to escalate, because as readers that's what we want to see. But MHA always concerns itself with the way its grandiose battles affect both society at large and the private lives of its characters. It'd be easy to write off Deku's mom's feelings or even write her out of the picture altogether, but her presence enriches the story in an invaluable way. And it ultimately lets us see the extent of Deku's determination to be a hero. He doesn't want to become one so badly that he'd completely disregard his mother's feelings. If need be, he would listen to his mom, he would go to another school, and it wouldn't matter because he'd still put in the work no matter where he ended up. That's the real reason why he's earned his opportunity to be at UA.
To put it frankly, All Might's been a pretty bad teacher. Sure he's been inspirational and given Deku chances to prove himself, but he's also failed to give his successor concrete goals or reasonable expectations for the future. But now that his time as the #1 hero is over, he realizes that he needs to dedicate himself to doing better.
It's Deku's turn to become the Symbol of Peace, and it's Toshinori Yagi's turn to become the master he should have been from the start.
Sorry All Might, I was crying during this episode too.
So yeah, these past few episodes have absolutely been MHA's pinnacle so far, and things are only liable to escalate from here. We've got Shigaraki off his leash, a whole new generation of heroes in need of training, a world at large riddled with anxiety over it all, and the new #1 Hero who has to hold it all together is this asshole:
It's hard to believe we're already 50 episodes in, but also only 50 episodes in. Things have been shaken up a lot, and Deku's still got a long way to go before he becomes the greatest hero, but I can't wait to see where his journey takes him.
And I also can't wait to acquire more screencaps of this good Knife Wife.
Lemme just say that we're gonna be getting an eyeful or two of Toga in the future, though maybe not how you'd expect.
Okay, but in terms of going above and beyond, does Jiro ever wear a shirt better than this? Because I don't see how that could be possible.
No, but Deku sure comes close.
Thank you, Horikoshi-sensei. Thank you for everything.