Anime Season's Writings

Physical Therapy – My Hero Academia (Episode Sixty-One) – Season’s Writings

What’s a few fistfights between friends?

The human mind is a complex system. Born within are the ideas, concepts and observances that comprise a person and their world. Of course, such a lofty notion is seldom on the forefront of thought and people tend to focus on what is occupying their mind at the current moment. Of these possible lingerings, anger sets the deepest roots and can take a hell of a lot of effort to weed out. Filter this into the ol’ anime engine and you’ve got yourself one prime foundation for some serious percussive maintenance…which hopefully stops short of crossing the concussion and serious injury threshold.

Since the day he first screamed into our lives, Bakugo has been impossible to ignore. Whether his bombastic posturing irked you, or charmed you, our Heroic futures have been lined with the presence of Lord Explosion Murder. Personally, the guy kinda pisses me off. Though your part and parcel Shonen friend/rival, Bakugo never really added anything but pain to Midoriya’s life. Hell, the first time we met him he told Midoriya to kill himself, torching his precious notebook just to drive the pain deeper. From that moment on, his mere existence seemed to invoke jealousy, hatred and ego; standing as a bastion of what a hero shouldn’t be. And I’ll stand by those remarks; however, this most fated rematch between acquaintances has served to put a new spin on everything, delving slightly deeper into the psyche of a boy who can command explosions.

That All Might certainly is a card

As has happened so many times in history, both fictitious and not, Bakugo’s boisterous nature mask a deep-seated inferiority complex. I know it isn’t a revelation, All Might outright notes this trait, but let’s explore it nonetheless. Having set All Might as his ideal, Bakugo has spent a lifetime striving for unparalleled greatness. More so than the selfless nature we’ve seen represented loudly thus far, Bakugo focused on the raw power held by the Symbol of Peace. The power to fell any foe, to win any fight, to alter the environment and situation around him with physicality alone. Can’t say I blame the guy, that level of strength is…well, it’s impossible. To respect such a force is honourable, in it’s own way; however, lingering on it for too long can lead to…Bakugo. With only a portion of All Might as his ideal, Bakugo has been walking down a fractured path since before we joined this story. A drive for victory without humility to temper it, that is what the League of Villains sought to twist, to turn a Hero into a Villain. Luckily for all of us, duking it out with Midoriya has brought this flaw to the surface. Now we just have to wait and see the extent to which Bakugo can course correct.

Battle Won

With all that being said, fights seldom involve only one person. Though we have watched his development far more closely, Midoriya still houses his fair share of weaknesses and blind spots. Whereas Bakugo poured his entire focus onto All Might’s strength, Midoriya idolised his heroism. A more traditional path, but not without its own flaws. In focusing solely on selflessness, Midoriya has found himself on the wrong end of his own Quirk. His refusal to take his own being into consideration has shattered his arms to the point a new fighting style was a necessity, to the point that we as an audience expect every one of his fights to end with an appearance by Recovery Girl. Though All Might himself has thrown self-preservation to the wind before, the stakes were far higher than any Midoriya has faced. All for nothing gambits are reserved for the bitter end, not every single scenario. Though touched upon hesitantly on his path to self-improvement, bestowing a sense of selfishness still seems count-intuitive to My Hero as a whole. I mean, “the spirit of self-sacrifice” is what got Midoriya into U.A. in the first place. But I guess moderation applies to all facets of life and if Midoriya was already the ideal of balance, we wouldn’t have reached sixty-one episodes in the first place.

Jumping back to Bakugo for a hot second, this episode also reveals a rather glaring and important plot element…that none of us ever thought about. In the chaos that ensued after All Might’s secret was revealed to the world and All For One took a much earned punch to the face, there was one boy at the heart of it all: Bakugo. Though the world mourns for its fallen Symbol, Bakugo was being eaten by the guilt that All Might gave his remaining power in an an attempt to rescue him. And that…that is a heavy burden to bear. There’s really not anything else to be said. All Might did fight his last rescuing Bakugo and no amount of “not your fault-ing” will disperse that pain. All Might tries regardless, bringing him into the exclusive club that knows the truth behind One For All in the process, as is his wont and duty as Hero, teacher and adult. Much like the consideration given to Stain ingesting Midoriya’s blood back in the day, the series’ willingness to direct time and energy to exploring Bakugo’s guilt is a serious mark in the positive column. It’s these moments that hit just as hard as any Smash and remind us that the majority of the characters we love are still children. Powerful, occasionally angry and violent children, but children nonetheless.

The Next Generation

And with that, catharsis has rammed into us at full force. After the false rivalry that saw Midoriya tremble and Bakugo scream, we finally have a chance to start…well not fresh, but from a better place. Now that Midoriya and Bakugo have heard what Deku and Kacchan have been thinking for all these years, their energy can be devoted to fighting against each other in a healthier way. Sure fighting against each other might not sound healthy, but it is. Shonen logic and all. Even without that, you can’t deny a certain innocent charm in Midoriya asking Bakugo what he thought of Shoot Style. Despite all they’ve been through, these kids are still All Might fanboys at heart and, as the man himself said, together the two can build each other up to heights beyond the Symbol of Peace the world once knew. And that is a future worth fighting for…well, a future worth watching them fight for. Man, audiences can’t do jack squat can we?

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