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Herding Cats – My Hero Academia (Episode Forty) – Season’s Writings

Crush begets crush

The past is passed and there’s no going back. Well, there’s no going back, as of…now. We did the flashback thing, we spent time at the pool, but now we’re dried off and ready to kick this shindig off the right way. No need to hold back, My Hero, show us what you’ve got. We survived USJ, we beat down Stain, what more could you possibly have to throw at us? Really? That much? Well, I stand by what I said…I’m just going to stand by it really far away from where you are. Like, a few kilometres. That forest looks safe…

Manufactured scenery is out, boys and girls, it’s all about that nature. Fresh air, trees, mud monsters specifically designed to push students to the limits of their tactical knowledge and stamina. You know, nature. Or at least the nature that My Hero presents, in its universe of loose child safety laws…or really solid contract lawyers. Yes, the life of a hero-in-training is not an easy one and our group once again find themselves on the rough end of that particular stick. With so much having happened since we started peering through the fourth wall, Eraser Head and those other teachers we all know so well,have decided to speed up the lesson plan. With a two week training course from that-place-nobody-wants-to-go, Class 1-A should find themselves in primo standing to acquire their Provisional Hero Licence. Long story bureaucratic, said documentation will allow the kids to legally use their Quirks in times of crisis and actively help those around them. Policy aside, it is nice to see the professionals consider recent events, in both UA and the world at large, and plot a valid course of action. They are not patronising the children, nor are they coddling them, simply providing them with the tools they’ll need to make it on their own. Of course, said tools involve a jaunt through a forest populated with monsters, but hey, what plan isn’t without its kinks?

Bus Ultra

Speaking of kinks (don’t blame me, I didn’t forge the multifaceted anime fan base), this episode also introduces us to the Wild, Wild Pussycats. Though two of the four have yet to make an appearance, the group is to take the role of trainer/mentor/torturer and whip Class 1-A into shape. Though early days, Mandalay and Pixie-Bob seem to fit the mold of My Hero, presenting classic anime fronts, whilst actually featuring a sense of calmness and depth. Of course, the main gimmick thus far is Pixie-Bobs manic behaviour and apparently irrepressible desire to find a mate. Which is a little weird if you think about the age difference, but this is still an anime, so it’s probably best to just let that train of thought slide on through the station. Besides, we can’t be focusing on the real world ramifications of a thir…eighteen year old woman hitting on a bunch of fifteen years olds, there’s monsters in them thar hills. Okay, so they’re only mud monsters made by Pixie-Bob, but they still pack a punch and come in a variety of cool shapes and sizes. Not that the latter matters too much, as they all wind up the same shape in the end: Broken. Wait, broken isn’t a shape. Squiggly, they wind up squiggly. Jagged triangle-like? The students break them into piece, that’s what I’m getting at. Regardless, it’s exciting to see all of Class 1-A on display, toppling the beasts in their own unique ways. It also goes to show that last season has not been forgotten, with formerly meek and frightened characters utilising their Quirks without hesitation. I’m lloking at you, Koda. Still, as harsh as it sounds, I was most impressed by the state of the students after their harrowing ordeal. Though it’s easy enough to show hatch mark battle damage, each individual student is looking worse for wear in the way that directly relates to their Quirk. Koda’s throat is shot, Kaminari is shorted out, Uraraka is queasy and Mineta’s scalp is bleeding. Again, I know it sounds cruel, but this is the attention to detail that I love about this series. It shows effort, it shows care and it makes the world feel consistent and real, for better or worse.

What’s new?

On the topic of the latter, this episode throws us a bit of a curveball with Kota, Mandalay’s young nephew. Spending most of the episode with a dour look on his face, an unfortunate fall off a hot spring wall (long story), leaves us with a concerned Mandalay revealing Kota’s tragic past and the genesis of an attitude we have not seen in a non-villain: Hating heroes. To tell a tale out of turn, Kota is the child of two professional heroes, two professional heroes who died in the line of duty. Lauded as noble people who died bravely, we are reminded of a simple counterpoint that is formed in the mind of a child: Who cares? Even if they save a thousand people, Kota’s parents left one day and never came home, nor will they ever. Bravery is great and all, but not every goes down together in that glorious blaze, some are forced to witness the ashes. To bury them, to mourn them. In the mind of a child, heroism is a tattered rag that offers little warmth in the face of a cold world. Even Midoriya is left with nothing to say, floored by a worldview so alien to his own, yet not inherently wrong. It’s easy for us all to decry Shigaraki’s hatred of All Might, he’s a villain who actively seeks to harm others, but how would you respond to a child? What would you say to a young boy who has lost faith in that which is meant to foster it? Because I sure as hell don’t know.

And yet, despite the harsh reality of Kota’s life, we find ourselves unable to ignore the will of those who stand far on the other side of this moral quandary. Class 1-A came to the forest to train, to become strong enough to become the heroes they wish to be. They’ve been through hell as it is, surely that has helped prepare them for what comes next. Well, to muddy the waters, it has and it hasn’t. Continuing that trend of detail I have already expressed my love for, our first glimpse into the Summer Training Camp reveals to us the sobering reality of the students’ current state. With the ol’ self-measuring baseball reappearing in grand fashion, we see just how little Bakugo has increased the force of Explosion. As Eraser Head so gently puts it, lessons up until now have focused on enhancing the childrens’ tactical reasoning and judgement skills, their ability to adapt and survive, not once have they specifically trained their Quirks. What this means, is that, contrary to Shonen formulae, the leaps and bounds of Class 1-A have come from perfecting the abilities they have always had, not powering up to new heights. Which, whilst supremely surprising, is inordinately exhilarating. Think about it. Four 1-A students were able to take down Stain, admittedly with some trouble, but they did it nonetheless. Imagine what they could do with stronger abilities. Hell, Midoriya and Todoroki almost demolished the Sports Festival when they fought, how much further could they possibly climb? We’ve seen All Might and Endeavour in action and, if both youths are purported to be their successors, something tells me that the future of My Hero is going to be very, very dangerous.

Problemed Child

This is what I love about this series, we’re barely two days into the Summer Training Camp and already we’ve received doses of reality that have shaken the series’ foundations three times over. Just when we thought we were getting a handle on how the world works, on how the story was progressing and where those within it all stood. I never even got around to mentioning the League of Villains and you know that they’re going to be jamming wrenches and spanners into gears and works as soon as they get the chance. With that in mind, combined with the new possibilities of growth and the presence of a boy whose soul needs mending, we have before us the workings of a very fine arc. A very fine arc indeed.


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