After witnessing your personal hero (who also happens to be the world’s hero) beat the absolute tar out of a mostly invincible, partly human monstrosity, going back to school may seem a little…mundane. Or at least it might, were said school not one that specialises in teaching those imbued with superhuman abilities how to fight other imbued with the like, or the teachers weren’t certifiable, or one of the required classes wasn’t an almost-no-holds-barred beatdown. You know, because education.
And just like that, we’re right back at UA. The League of Villains has been turned away, at least momentarily, and the students of Class 1-A are settling back into the daily swing of things. Or so they would be, were it not for the UA Sports Festival just around the corner. Just another school event, you say? Not so, my misinformed friend. As so courteously explained to us in episode, the UA Sports Festival just so happens to be the most popular sporting event in all of Japan, with the Olympics having lost some of the lustre that we here in the real world still bestow upon it. Seriously, have you ever seen Olympic Diving? I’m not even an avid diving fan, but it sure is fun to watch once every four years…I digress. With that kind of fanbase supporting it, the UA kids will have a little more than the normal pressure resting upon their shoulders. Though, if they didn’t want that kind of life, they wouldn’t have opted for careers in heroism I suppose. Still, combing the drive to win with the knowledge that scouts ready to judge the next generation of heroes sit in the stands cannot be easy. And then there’s Midoriya…
We know how special this timid little snowflake of ours is, what with the inheritance of All Might’s power and all, but boy do we see how heavy that uniqueness weighs this episode. After hearing some of the more upsetting details about The Symbol of Peace’s deteriorating health, Midoriya is told by All Might to take his first step into the public view, or at least, the first step on his own terms. To cast aside his doubt and show the world the unbendable optimism and naivety that caught All Might’s attention in the first place. As triumphant as this moment is described by Numero Uno himself, it is somewhat hard to get pumped up. Through the combination of Midoriya’s reactions and the animations present, this scene feels remarkably…heavy. Like a wave of panic has rolled on through and there is no way to escape it. It is an honestly dark note in this season’s opening song and one that reminds me of what it is I love about this series.
Although this series carries with it the inherent style of Shonen Jump, there exists a much harsher reality within it. Rather than simply save the day with main cast bravado, last season’s final arc saw Class 1-A coming to terms with the reality of their future. Though they did survive, they were outshone by their teachers, who themselves are often outshone by the more active duty heroes of the world. Even Midoriya, with the power of One For All inside him, was nothing against Nomu, a threat so large that even All Might was forced to push himself. Combine this with this week’s definitive knowledge that All Might’s power is weakening and you pretty much have to respect Midoriya for not curling up into a ball, or throwing up on the spot…or both. I don’t mean to be super grim or anything, I just enjoy that My Hero Academia does not take its decisions lightly. That, regardless of the character’s popularity and position in the cast list, their actions have consequences.
Now, why don’t we lighten things up a little and focus on Uraraka, whose name just so happens to be in the title of this episode. After witnessing an unexpectedly fired up response from Infinity Girl herself, Midoriya comes to a realisation: He has no idea why she wants to be a hero. Which is a great question. After all, the series has spent most of its time delving into the story of Midoriya himself, with a nice helping of Bakugo on the side, leaving the rest of the class underdeveloped on this front. And thus we find Uraraka breaking ground on this front. With her friendly personality and upbeat attitude already established, her reasoning is exactly what you would expect: She’s in it for the money. Okay, so maybe it doesn’t sound like what you were expecting, but trust me on this. Rather than for herself, she wishes for money in order to give her parents an easy life and a trip to Hawaii. In her own words, her reasoning lacks the inherent good and heroism of Midoriya’s motivation, the very reason she has not spoken up about it before now. However, her motivation does shine a slight ray of light on the more pragmatic side of this world. Though heroism is commonplace within My Hero, to us it is still a fantastic occupation. With comic books providing the handy detail that most superheroes are loaded beyond belief, or have landed a career through unbridled intelligence, the gamut of this series runs far wider. Some people just need a pay cheque. Sure they want to be heroes, but well wishes don’t keep the lights on, a simple fact Midoriya has paid no mind to, by his own admission. Thus, even a bait-and-switch joke regarding the purity of Uraraka’s intentions become a teachable lesson and source of character development. Man this series is awesome.
If there’s one thing that can be said about this episode that leans into the negative, it’s that not a tremendous amount happens. In reintroducing the characters, running through events that transpired (despite having a recap episode before this) and announcing the upcoming sports festival, the episode is over before anything too major occurs. Sure we learn about All Might’s condition and Uraraka gets some nice moments and I like this series too much to fault these more subdued goings on, but it’s at least worth noting. Similarly worth noting is the fact that the man who trained the Symbol of Peace makes a brief appearance and we learn that All Might’s name is Toshinori Yagi. Which is neat. Also, on the topic of life teachers, I absolutely adore Midoriya’s mother and her brief appearance. There’s just something so telling about the smile she gives when Midoriya says he’ll be ready for dinner. Poor woman, her son’s arm explodes every time he makes a fist, she deserves a moment of peace.
Ultimately to me, this episode carries the vibe of continuation. Yes because it is the beginning of a new season, but moreso in that we have passed a truly climactic fight. All Might pushed himself above and beyond to take down Nomu last season and brought forth some of the most dynamic action seen. However, just as with Midoriya’s last ditch effort to win the Battle Trial and secure the fake bomb, there exists a world beyond such an intense fight. The day was saved, but All Might is now weaker and there are no shortage of villains in the world. Necessitous or not, there are consequences for pushing oneself too far and the world of My Hero Academia may just find themselves one Symbol of Peace short when those consequences amass in full.
It’s fine now. Why? Because My Hero Academia is on Crunchyroll