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What’s in a Name – My Hero Academia Episode 26 – Season’s Writings

Image is everything

If I were to ask what the most recognisable feature of a hero is, what would you say? Their costume? Their powers? Their stance on killing and its correlation with becoming that which they fight against? Well, if any of those were your answer, you wouldn’t be wrong. Each is an undeniable quality of what makes a hero a hero and yet, there is an even more crucial factor that is ironically one of the most overlooked: Their name. Though it eventually fades into the collective unconscious when speaking of your favourite hero, a name is what marks them, what defines them, what showcases their personality and makes them unique. Though slapping “man” onto the end of an animal doesn’t score too highly on the creativity spectrum…

In case the bombastic finale of the Sports Festival caused you to forget, the students of UA are far from the realm of professional heroism. Though their costumes made their debut some time ago, we are reminded this episode that our heroes-to-be are yet to name themselves, legally speaking. Though built into the lore of the series, pertaining to their future careers and all, this aspect of the student’s curriculum is about as wish fulfilling and fun as it can get. Since time immemorial, kids around the factual and fictional worlds have pondered the name of their superhero form. Ranging from inane to amazing, these nom de guerres are a source of merriment and imagination, traits which are shown by Class 1-A through and through. With a large scale brainstorming session, and a few failed attempts, a touch more attention is given to characters who did not leave a mark on the Sports Festival stage (literally and otherwise) and the personality they hope to infuse into their heroic personas.

Red: Colour of passion, fire, power

Kirishima manages to pull ahead of the pack in this episode revealing that his name of choice, Red Riot, is based upon a hero whom he admires, the similarly named Crimson Riot. Whilst introducing the idea that many professional heroes may be named after predecessors and idols, it shows a straightforward side to Kirishima’s motivations. He wants to be like his favourite hero, so he names himself like his favourite hero. The comparison this will cause is not overlooked either, with Midnight (who serves as name rater in 1-A’s endeavour) explaining the additional focus and pressure a legacy title will have. This fact is, of course, multiplied within Midoriya tenfold, having forever longed to mimic All Might and yet now finding himself trained by the man himself. With a flashback to lil’ Midoriya and is All Might onesie, we are reminded of the simpler hero worship of youth. Though such passion may be tempered with age, as evidenced by Kirishima’s calm understanding of forging a path towards the ideals of his idol, Midoriya’s path is unmistakably different. Having never lost his fervour for professional heroes, All Might’s appearance in his life created a tumultuous period of growth and adaptation. Literally carrying the legacy of his idol/mentor, Midoriya has never been his own hero. Which is where much of his turmoil comes from.

Though Kirishima fashions himself after Crimson Riot in deference to the kind of hero he was, Midoriya follows the path of All Might because he is a fan of All Might. Though he definitely longs to be a hero like him, his actions thus far have been heading towards the goal of All Might himself. One cannot entirely blame the kid, as his powers come directly from the No. 1 Hero in the world and even have a history long before that. Midoriya always refers to his Quirk as One for All, the name given to it long long ago, and though other character’s Quirks seem to lack such a unique title, they generally refer to it as their own. Midoriya rarely calls All for One his, it is always “this power” generally followed by “given to me”. Combined with naming his attacks variations on “Smash!”, Midoriya has never claimed One for All as his own, constantly measuring his progress against what All Might can do with the same Quirk.

Taking the power back

The main reason any of this psychological rhetoric is at the forefront of my mind is due to the ten seconds of internal monologue, wherein Midoriya ponders not being able to live up to the mantle of All Might. Though his flashback showed a child beaming over calling himself Captain All Might or All Might Jr. When he grew up, the current Midoriya is unsure, burdened by the truths he has learnt surrounding the legend himself. Thus, he opts for his strongest stride into being his own hero: Adopting the name Deku. Though originally Bakugo’s go-to insult, Midoriya muses over how he began to accept the nickname after Uraraka noted the certain charm it possessed. As much of the impact is lost in the jump between languages, Class 1-A’s reactions were a nice reminder for how bold a move it is for Midoriya to intentionally label himself Deku. The closest I can transliterate would be a hero calling themselves Worthless and we all know that could totally work as the name of a graphic novel lead.

Oh boy…

Character interpretation aside, not a remarkable amount happened this episode. Aside from the aforementioned naming shenanigans, each moment is simply setting up for the next arc. Students pondering where they’ll go for work experience, Iida seemingly dipping his toes into the waters of self-destructive retribution and Midoriya venturing into the home of a man All Might is terrified of. Interesting concepts, but little else as of now. Still, they did their job, because I am more than a little excited to see exactly what work experience, Stain and Gran Torino plan to bring to the table. Probably learning, violence and wisdom…possibly in that order.

It’s fine now. Why? Because My Hero Academia is on Crunchyroll

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