Boku no Hero Academia Season 2 – 06

Boku no Hero Academia 2- 06 - 01It’s a transitional episode for Boku no Hero Academia this week, no question.  But this series is a lot like Hunter X Hunter (I’ll stop doing that when it stops being true) in that while the shock & awe episodes tend to draw the most attention, it’s often the ones that bridge them that are actually the most important in terms of progressing the story and character development. It’s part of the gift of a good writer to give you both, and it’s one Horikoshi and Togashi certainly share.

Boku no Hero Academia 2- 06 - 02Amongst the Yuuei students there are three that really stand as cornerstones of the story IMHO, without meaning any disrespect to Iida or Uraraka (who are crucial but, I think, ultimately satellites to the main story).  One might have assumed the number was two based on the first 18 episodes, but Izuku and Bakugo are only two-thirds of the tripod.  As befits Todoroki, he’s been mostly silent and observational, only rarely giving us glimpses of either his true power or what’s going on inside his head.  But that’s certainly changing now.

Boku no Hero Academia 2- 06 - 03There’s a lot of symbolism to Todoroki Shouto’s character (obviously), and to the role he plays in the dynamic of the main trio.  Deku – who observers everything with so much clarity that it’s practically a quirk-level ability – notes that Todoroki gives off a “cold aura, very different from Kacchan”.  Well, Todoroki embraces the ice that’s part of his nature and rejects the fire – and Kacchan burns bright red all the time, explosion and flame his entire M.O..  That leaves Deku balanced between them, carving out his own niche from the support that’s gotten him to where he is.

Boku no Hero Academia 2- 06 - 04It’s no coincidence that Kacchan silently observed the meeting between Deku and Shouto, because he’s a part of this dynamic too.  And it was certainly unlike him to stand silently and just listen, but Bakugo understood the significance of this moment – and was no doubt hoping he might hear something that answered some of the nagging questions in his own mind.  Todoroki’s guess that Izuku was the “love child” of All Might is quite a logical one for anyone, but especially someone with Todoroki’s own backstory.  And a terrible backstory it is, too, the product of a forced “quirk marriage” between perennial #2 hero Endeavor and Shouto’s mother – a mother who hated her life so much that she poured boiling water on her son’s face to try and burn away the mark of Endeavor on him.

Boku no Hero Academia 2- 06 - 05Todoroki is, in a sense, the ultimate insider – engineered to rise to the top in his father’s place, desperate to prove himself in his own right and reject the father he hates (which in his mind can only happen if he rises to #1 using only his mother’s inheritance).  Kacchan is the ultimate outsider, a rebel without a cause who wants to storm the barricades and take over the hero world.  What makes Deku such a great protagonist, I think, is that he truly is the product of an incredible support system rather than some inborn gift – and that he totally recognizes that fact.  Deku’s motivation is to justify the faith all those who’ve supported him have in him.  Todoroki senses how powerful that is, even if Deku doesn’t give it the credit it deserves himself.

Boku no Hero Academia 2- 06 - 07And what a support system it is, too.  Every time All Might gives Izuku an inspirational speech he reaffirms what a truly great mentor figure he is.  He leads by example, he supports through love and empathy, and he always makes it about Deku, never himself.  Ironically Deku and All Might share a flaw in that neither of them give themselves credit for being the exceptional person they are, yet it’s that flaw that makes them so uniquely suited to wear the mantle of hero. And even if his still-growing body is only able to use 5% of One For All’s power, Deku is more than capable of supplying the other 95% through grit and intelligence – thanks to those who’ve helped him get this far.  And it gives just a taste of what he’s capable of when he’s fully mastered the quirk.

Boku no Hero Academia 2- 06 - 08As for the competition itself, it does continue – through a series of recreational side-games after lunch.  There are some hijinks as Mineta cons the girls into wearing cheerleader outfits, and a couple of the survivors in the final 16 declare that they’ll step aside because they did nothing to earn their place (including Ojiro-kun) – a move I consider a mistake.  As for Deku, he’s drawn Shinso Hitoshi (Wataru Hatano) from the general studies course in the first round of the elimination tournament.  Ojiro has warned Deku of the nature of Shinso’s quirk, which is some sort of geas which causes the enemy’s mind to go blank and their body to freeze – but despite the warning, Deku seems to have allowed Shinso to goad him into replying to him, triggering the quirk.  It’s another challenge for Deku to overcome not through One For All but through his own mettle, but he’s already proved he’s more than capable of doing just that.

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14 comments

  1. Z

    As I was watching the episode I kept having the thought “Oh man, people are going to complain about how boring this episode was, but it’s giving us so freaking much information!”

    Between Deku comparing Todoroki’s backstory to a protagonist in a manga; All Might’s implied unease about how he has been raising Deku to be a superhero and looking for tips from Endeavor; or Bakugo ease dropping on the conversation – this episode was full of wonderful moments to me.

  2. Y

    While I agree with mostly everything you said, I would have phrased that view on Deku’s role/power a bit differently; he’s not strong just because others believe in him and he feels the need to prove himself worthy of their faith, but also because he has a tremendous drive to achieve a goal he’s been busting his ass for, to chase his lifelong dream of being a hero toward whatever horizon it takes him. He is without a doubt extremely kind-hearted and self-sacrificial, but he was already both of these things before All Might came along, he is not ENTIRELY selfless, he does not exist and progress in the narrative SOLELY and EXCLUSIVELY for other people and other people’s wishes/expectations. And he shouldn’t! Being entirely devoid of self-interest isn’t exactly healthy.

    Ah, and speaking of things that are unhealthy (to put it mildly)… You know, even though I am mostly caught up with the manga, to this day, I personally find nothing, and I mean NOTHING — not ONE fucking thing — more horrific than Endeavour’s treatment of his wife and children. As if it’s not enough that he has committed such horrific acts of domestic abuse towards them, but to CREATE a family for the specific purpose of controlling and condemning the lives of its members in the first place? While being fully aware of doing so every step of the way, and not caring even an ounce about what the people involved will experience in the process, and what will eventually become of them? And to do it all for the sake of quenching some festering inferiority complex? I am almost certain I will forever stand by my private conviction that this man is a very far cry from a hero — if anything, he’s absolutely villainous, and is deserving of one thing and one thing only: a life-long jail sentence. “Anime dads” tropes as a whole may be misery-oriented, but I find Endeavour particularly challenging to stomach, to the point where I think he has kind of ruined the English word “endeavour” for me. Is that funny?

    Perhaps I am taking this so seriously (though I genuinely think EVERYONE should take such matters seriously) because I am a victim of parental abuse myself, and even though what I went through is distinctly different from Shouto’s situation (most notably, he’s a fictional person, of course), I can’t help but feel incredibly sympathetic and just wish to reach through the screen and help him somehow. Give the kid a hug, at least. I’m sure he sorely needs one, even if he wouldn’t admit it.

    That being said, I had almost completely forgotten that Katsuki had overheard Shouto and Izuku talking (it’s truly been a while since I read that chapter); it’s a balm on my soul to see him quiet and feeling distraught without literally blowing a gasket, for once. As always, I am curious about your assessment of Kaji’s portrayal of Shouto. What do you make of his delivery, in this episode, especially? In my (admittedly amateurish) opinion, he’s alright, but that’s about it. And Todoroki Shouto deserves better than “alright”, but I’ll take what I can get, could be worse. I still think he sounds a tad too angry, but I’m willing to give him a pass regarding this particular conversation — if I were in Shouto’s shoes, I’d be just as pissed off.

    Sincere thanks for making it this far through my novel of a comment. Thoughts?

  3. On Kaji, I pretty much agree. He’s okay – by his standards quite restrained. But Todoroki is a character who indeed deserves a great seiyuu, because he’s a boy with a great backstory (as Deku says) and a fascinating character.

    I don’t know anyone who’s defending Endeavor – least of all me, and I don’t think Horikoshi either. But I don’t want to dig too deep there because the anime hasn’t explored that part of the story very much yet. It’s a dangerous road to go down.

  4. Y

    Ah, sorry if I left the impression that I was unhappy with your treatment of Endeavour’s character, I was just venting because I hate him tons, if that hadn’t already been made obvious by my ranting xD I know both the author and the fandom have treated him the way he deserves so far, I was just feeling that the exact brand of monstrosity found in his acts hasn’t been underlined often enough.

  5. s

    I thought this episode handled the escalating drama between the main cast and the build up to the tournament arc quite efficiently; on the other hand, i couldnt help but feel as something was off while watching this ep. Something about the storyboarding of this ep didnt feel quite as sharp as the last five eps and the animation hasnt as crisps either…almost as if this ep was outsourced. After looking into it, lo and behold i was right. I know that BONES has been ahead of production on this season of my hero so far so here’s hoping that this ep was planned from the rip to be outsourced so that they could handle the more kinetic eps in a timely fashion. Regardless of me pointing it out, this wasnt a bad effort for an outsourced ep

  6. The Todoroki segment was great but I kind of found the cheerleading gag a bit too much.

  7. s

    I actually didnt mind the cheerleading gag at all; it was a bit of levity appropriately timed and used considering the content we are about to delve into. As deku mentioned in his narration before the tournament kicked off, some people just needed a reason to distract themselves from what’s to come.

  8. Z

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the casual racism of all the American cheerleaders having long pointy noses.

  9. S

    Because nobody realised that was racism. Are americans ridiculed for having long noses? I don’t think so. It feels like it’s the same level of “racism” in the portrayal of Canadians in South Park. Or drawing black people with crayons of a darker shade. i.e. none. At most, it’s factual.

  10. Actually I didn’t notice – which makes me suspect it wasn’t nearly as bad as that horrendous ANA ad (which certainly was racist).

  11. h

    dont stop,I always like the HxH references

  12. B

    “It’s another challenge for Deku to overcome not through One For All but through his own mettle, but he’s already proved he’s more than capable of doing just that.”

    See, this is funny because (as non-spoilery as I can put it) Deku vs. Shinsou is *******

  13. Yeah… That was still a spoiler.

  14. O

    I continue to find myself impressed with the writer’s ability to make the students of Class 1-A stand out on their own and feel as actual characters rather than space-filleres. The only show that I can remember maintain a good balance of focus within a large cast of characters was Assassination Classroom, but that show’s shortcoming in this respect was that the main character was lost within the collective character that was the classroom, and in doing so did not really stand out, a mistake My Hero Academia most certainly does not make.

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