If anime has taught me one thing, it’s that you can never truly be considered a master of anything until you enter the tutelage of a seemingly insane old man…who is probably actually insane. For it is only they who can think outside of the box enough to unlock a whole new level of power and skill within a budding warrior. Extra points if they’re super old and have a whole Yoda vibe going.
As somebody who frightens the bejesus out of All Might, a man who can literally change the weather with a single punch, Gran Torino makes quite the impact before his introduction…then he was introduced. Beginning as dead and upgrading to senile, the legendary trainer of All Might seems to be far less than advertised, long passed his prime and long, long passed his wits. But, since darn near everybody has seen Star Wars, or Dragon Ball, it is immediately obvious that Gran Torino fills a role left surprisingly empty in the series thus far. With every mentor figure being a well respected Pro Hero, there has never really been a moment where the students of UA have doubted the validity of their lessons. From something as simple as throwing a ball, to something as complex as the Sports Festival, the kids have taken it in stride on their path to become a hero. Gran Torino is really the first character to ever make Midoriya question the knowledge of teacher figures. Granted his naturally inquisitive and adaptable nature has him come to understand Torino fairly quickly, but it is still a nice dynamic that is rather fresh to the series.
Perhaps one of the most interesting facets of Gran Torino’s character is his relationship to All Might. As his teacher, he stands as one of the few who looks at the Number 1 Hero as the younger generation. And it is through this viewpoint that he is able to point out weaknesses of All Might that nobody else can. Namely, that he is a terrible teacher. With the intensity and never say die attitude of Shonen Jump coursing through our veins, we have never truly stopped to wonder what the hell All Might’s plan for Midoriya’s development is. Since providing him a work out regime and bestowing One for All upon him, All Might has really taken a back seat in Midoriya’s growth. Every moment of revelation, every evolution of Midoriya’s power has come from Midoriya himself and, as impressive and self propelled as this all is, the kid could probably use some more experienced advice from the guy who went through the same thing. We didn’t even discover that All Might was born Quirkless until recently and that seems like it really would’ve given Midoriya a morale boost. Combined with the simple fact that it has taken this long for either All Might or Midoriya to seriously consider learning to use One for All without shattering his bones is pretty terrible. Enough to make me think wisdom is directly proportional to how old and short somebody is, with Recovery Girl and Gran Torino being the only ones to demand Midoriya use his power differently. Which is even more bizarre considering that, with Midoriya’s penchant for rapid growth, it wouldn’t take much for him to adapt a new method of attack. Nor did it. It just took a microwave and some snacks.
Though the Midoriya/Gran Torino thing takes up the majority of this episode, we are also shown glimpses of other UA students and their various levels of success in regards to their work experience. Bakugo is finally forced to listen to how his attitude is not beneficial to heroism, Uraraka discovers the cute side to a hero named Gunhead, Mineta cleans up after Mt. Lady and Tsuyu is busy doing push ups. It’s an eclectic mix of scenes, including a few I didn’t mention, that really goes to show you how varied the world of heroes is. Combined with the various levels of success each student appears to be integrating with their respective agencies, we are reminded that each student has their own motivations and concept of what it means to be a hero. Again, though a comparatively small portion of the episode, it is a nice step towards further individualising the students that comprise Class 1-A.
Speaking of interesting characterisation: Stain. Though the new face on the scene (at least to us), we are shown very clearly that he is far from green. With Shigaraki being our first real introduction to the world of villainy, consistently being reminded of his lack of vision and skill is as refreshing as it is startling. Likened by Stain to a kid throwing a tantrum, Shigaraki’s lack of direction and revelry in destruction is not painted as unpredictable and dangerous, but just plain stupid. Thus, as with the variations of Pro Heroes, we are reminded that UA is indeed a microcosm of this society and what we understand far less than we thought we did. Big fish, small pond indeed.
As far as arc beginnings go, this is a surprisingly solid episode. Though episodes such as Midoriya vs Todoroki are more likely to spring to mind, slightly more subdued events, such as this episode, also provide solid offerings to the My Hero mythos. Midoriya evolved One for All More than he ever has before, All Might is revealed to have weaknesses and secrets of his own in a far more human manner than normal and both heroic and villainous societies are shown to be far more idiosyncratic than we first believed. Still, when one of a series moments of revelation revolves around understanding how a microwave works, it truly is something special. Seriously, between this and Stein’s Gate, I have severely underestimated the power of the heated food box.
It’s fine now. Why? Because My Hero Academia is on Crunchyroll