Boku no Hero Academia Season 2 – 10

Everything I said last week, only more.

Boku no Hero Academia 2 - 10 - 01Wow.  Of course I thought a lot about how this particular chapter of Boku no Hero Academia would play out in anime form, but in the end it exceeded my expectations.  Thank goodness it usually falls to studios like Bones and Madhouse to bring material of this caliber to the screen, because it deserves this kind of treatment.  When the reality of something exceeds the imagination of it, that’s a truly remarkable achievement – and in terms of manga and anime, a pretty damn rare one.

Boku no Hero Academia 2 - 10 - 02I think it’s a common trait in great shounen that they’re quite judicious with the grand “shock and awe” moments.  But as with that other great mangaka who I won’t mention so as to piss of the people who make of fun of me for always mentioning him, Horikoshi Koushei understands this essential point – if you’re going to make the audience wait for the big payoffs, you better bloody well deliver big-time when they come.  It’s hard to imagine many who’d want a bigger payoff than this – it was monumental.  And as with most of the payoffs in this series, there was a tremendous amount of psychological complexity underpinning the action.

Boku no Hero Academia 2 - 10 - 03What really makes this particular clash stand out is that these are two wholly admirable and decent competitors, of roughly even ability.  This is not G** vs. H***ka here – both Deku and Todoroki-kun are honorable and decent.  Both want to becomes heroes for all the right reasons (even if Todoroki is a bit confused about this at times).  They genuinely like and respect each other.  But they also want very much to kick the other’s ass, because both are totally determined to make it to the top.  And if someone is standing in your way, you have to crush them.  Still – it goes much deeper than that.

Boku no Hero Academia 2 - 10 - 04So much is happening here, my goodness.  Up in the bleachers, we once again see Bakugo putting the lie to those who dismiss him as a hotheaded berserker child.  Kacchan is actually one of the most calculating members of this cast, right down to the nature of his costume, and he understands what’s happening between Izuku and Shouto better than any of his classmates.  All Might and Endeavor are in the stands too, of course, and both of them are heavily vested in this match.  But for all that they have in common in that (and not just that) sense, their role in all this could hardly be more different.

Boku no Hero Academia 2 - 10 - 05In a very real sense, I think this battle is as much between All Might and Endeavor as it is between their stand-ins.  I mean that in this way: two competing philosophies are at war here.  All Might is a true mentor, a man who took up the cape in order to help others, and he bleeds every time the power he gave to Midoriya wounds him.  Endeavor is a user, a vainglorious manipulator who sees others as tools towards his own glorification.  What he did to the young Shouto Todoroki is terrible altogether, but the most terrible thing he did was drive the mother Shouto loved to lash out and, in her anger at Endeavor, mutilate her son.  In doing so he shook Todoroki-kun’s faith in everything that was decent and right.  And of course, he made it almost impossible for the boy not to hate a part of himself.

Boku no Hero Academia 2 - 10 - 06That’s what this titanic battle (and it is titanic, there’s no doubt – the tactics and the power on display are incredible) really boils down to.  With all due respect to Shouto, who I adore, Deku stands tall as a hero among heroes.  Because here, even with the stakes as high as they are, he does exactly what All Might would do – he thinks of Todoroki before himself.  Shouto comes as close to literally fighting with one hand tied behind his back as possible without actually doing it, and this offends Izuku as a competitor.  But more important is that fact that Deku sees Todoroki as his friend, and knows what this constant suppression of himself does to him.  All the agony Deku subjects himself to, all the injuries not even Recovery Girl can magic away – more than to win, he does this to force Shouto to free himself.  And if that’s not heroic, I don’t know what is.

Boku no Hero Academia 2 - 10 - 07“To Be a Hero” could easily have been the title of this series, because it’s constantly pondering what that means.  I think my favorite part of Todoroki’s backstory is when his mother, at his low ebb of despair, says “It’s OK for you to be a hero.”  She’s telling her son that whatever he is, he’s himself and no one else – and this is something that All Might and Deku know instinctively.  Make no mistake about it, Deku desperately wants to win this.  Yes, he wants to defeat Shouto at full strength, but he also wants both of them to walk out of the arena ready to become the heroes the world needs them to be.

Boku no Hero Academia 2 - 10 - 08Of course, only one of them will walk out of the arena, because Izuku has damaged himself so badly he has to be carried.  The sheer weight of courage and resolve in that tiny body never ceases to be astonishing, and through all the agony, Deku never stops thinking – knowing that no matter how great his quirk, his brain will always be his greatest asset.  Right now it’s not enough – he’s just strong enough yet to take down Todoroki at full power.  But surely we’ve learned enough about this boy by now to realize that won’t deter him in the slightest, because he always keeps his eyes on the prize.

 

 

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27 comments

  1. s

    supposedly hirokoshi watched today’s ep n cried at how much it resonated with him and exceeded his expectations. Damn was this episode pure shounen greatness with all the impeccable emotional beats of a great story hitting the heart exactly where it should…..hell yeah; this is definitely a slam dunk for Bones

  2. Where was that reported? I would love it to be true, but it sounds folkloric.

  3. s

    It was a comment made during a live reaction i saw (waiting for that commentor to provide me some sort of proof about hirokoshi’s reaction); i know that some fans follow certain mangaka on tumblr and twitter if they have them so it occurred to me that it could have been possible someone following him caught wind of hirokoshi’s “crying” comment. Of course I took the comment with a grain of salt but at the same time it doesnt seem out of the realm of possibility.

  4. Y

    He said that in the author comment section in this weeks WSJ. You can easily find it if you wanna see it yourself

  5. s

    Belatkuro already beat me to it it seems; I had just received the source of the hirokoshi’s comment. As Kuro mentioned, Hirokoshi made the comment in the weekly shounen jump author section

  6. http://readms.net/r/wsjac/%2347/4308/2

    It’s in the author comments section of WSJ. This issue came out on 5/29 so I suppose Hori saw the episode early from the studio itself.

  7. Seeing that almost makes me cry, dammit. What a great reaction, and what a great thing for a mangaka to get to feel that way.

  8. K

    I was crying from excitement while watching this! EPIC!!! Great review, btw, Enzo!

  9. h

    that hirokoshi’s comment was made on those shonen jump authors short commentary ,you can find it on manga stream
    http://readms.net/r/wsjac/%2347/4308/2

  10. Y

    It is true that Horikoshi cried, I think he said it either in an interview or left it as a footnote somewhere (here, have a screencap of the translation –> http://leinbow.tumblr.com/post/161208862346/you-know-the-episode-is-going-to-be-fucking ).

    And with good goddamn reason, because holy tits.

    I myself expected to cry and I didn’t. Instead I was grinning ear to ear the whole time, if only because this episode so magnificently recreated its manga counterpart, I was sky-high pleased with how perfect it all was; my teeth hurt at the end. I almost shed tears of joy, but that would have blurred my vision, and I didn’t want that cuz then I’d be missing out on that unspeakably spectacular animation. It has been a couple of years since my jaw last dropped purely as a result of the quality of an anime’s visuals. That finishing move? Insane. I had to rewatch it thrice to calm down. Holy tits.

    I love how you put focus on Shouto’s sense of identity, specifically what his mother says. Here is a boy who was — tragically and revoltingly — literally bred by his father to be used and abused in the name of heroics. He is the one person in our entire main cast who has a reason to despise the sheer notion of heroes down to the marrow if his fucking bones, more so than anybody else — and he doesn’t. He consciously, continuously chooses not to, chooses the opposite, chooses to still be a hero, has been making that choice since he knew what heroes were. In spite of what careers in heroics mean to him historically, personally, painfully, Shouto genuinely wants to have one. And as if to spit in Endeavour’s face (and damn if he wouldn’t be justified in doing that AT THE VERY LEAST), his desire has nothing to do with his father, but was instead inspired by All Might (who also, in yet another tragic turn, is the reason for Shouto’s conception and hero-related troubles, if somewhat indirectly — but he’s the reason behind his hero-related drives, too; what agonisingly masterful storytelling this is).

    I was always of the opinion that in terms of mental fortitude and strength of character, Deku is the only one in class 1-A that can stand above Shouto, because to keep pursuing a dream that has been tainted so harshly throughout the years for you by your own parent in so many disgusting ways is nothing short of praiseworthy. Shouto could so easily have let his father’s actions and his mother’s loss of sanity turn him cruel and cold to the point of villainy, but he didn’t. I once saw someone say that this boy’s entire character could be summed up by a quote from Undertale: “Despite everything, it’s still you.”

  11. You hit a very key point – it was All Might who inspired Shouto too, not just Deku. And countless others, no doubt, though these two are the pivotal ones for story purposes. All Might is the quintessential “lead by example” inspirational figure. I’ve always theorized that on some level Todoroki resents Deku because he’s clearly inherited something from All Might, while he inherited his power from a father he (rightly) despises. This is not simple, as is always the case with BnHA relationships – Shouto absolutely respects Deku as a person and as a hero. But that does add an interesting element to their relationship.

  12. Y

    I’ve never felt any resentment on Shouto’s part, and I’m up to date with the events of the manga. What made you think so?

  13. Just my feeling. I think you can even see it a bit in that exchange in the tunnel after the cavalry battle.

  14. Y

    Oh, you mean it happened before they became friends, before this fight? Hm, I still don’t see it but that sounds more plausible. I was confused because…

    Sorry, but that counts as a manga spoiler. – GE

  15. Y

    I knew this ep was gonna be epic, but Bones blew my mind out of the ballpark. That animation! I dare say this fight has just made a mark and will always be one of the most memorable fights in shounen history…

    Although I didn’t cry, I choked up a bit when Midoriya smiled at seeing Todoroki’s flames. That one smile pretty much sums up Izuku’s character: The admiration and respect he has for all kinds of individual, fascinating quirks (that note-taking, fanboy side of him), his relief in seeing Shouto defrost himself and embrace his own quirk, and happiness from finally getting to fight against a full-strength Todoroki.

  16. H***ka was pretty honorable during that fight, although I wouldn’t say he was decent…

    I may be wrong, but it seemed to be like Deku was holding back during the fight. If he had gone full power with one of his punches, he probably would have knocked Todoroki out, although maybe at the expense of Todoroki’s life.

  17. K

    Truly epic and ended the best way possible I think. Will be interesting to see how Todorori vs Kacchan goes…They must reach the finals right?!

    I am starting to think i need to binge this series as the week wait is killing me!

  18. Hisoka was. In fact he could easily have killed Gon whenever he wanted to, and unlike in the BnHA scenario it would have been within the rules. But he wanted to see Gon grow – he literally got off on it. For Hisoka it’s all about pleasure, and that kind of fight is more fun if he employs a sort of honor.

    You said it yourself about Deku – he might have killed Shouto. And he would have lost, in addition to never forgiving himself.

  19. h

    “…and he bleeds every time the power he gave to Midoriya wounds him”

    Is this a spoiler? I didn’t see All Might bleed once in this episode

  20. Symbolically.

  21. J

    Don’t mind me, just getting in on the greatness.

    So in the space of a week, we’ve had three episodes of anime that (Shouwa Rakugo aside) could each be considered the best of the year. I know anime in general isn’t looking particularly healthy, but that means times like these should be cherished all the more.

  22. He needs to get a handle on his power and soon. Getting broken fingers and more every time he does anything is getting old fast.

  23. H

    Just WOW! I haven’t been so caught up with a shounen anime since I don’t know when. The fight between my two favs certainly delivered and went way beyond my expectations. This is absolutely my favorite episode of the show thus far. I really enjoyed how it incorporated pieces of Todoroki’s past in combination with him finally accepting the part of his powers he has shut off until now. I also felt that this episode proved even further just how great Deku is as a protagonist. There isn’t a single aspect of his character that I don’t like. I loved how it didn’t matter to him if he lost the fight this time as long as Todoroki gave it his all like everyone else was doing. So awesome!

  24. Indeed, this is the biggest strength of Horikoshi as a writer. So many great characters – Deku, All Might, Todoroki, Kacchan (yes, Kacchan), Uraraka. And it’s hard to find another series with so many second-tier characters who are really distinctive and interesting.

  25. H

    Absolutely! I can’t help but be drawn in when it’s just as interesting and investing when Deku isn’t the main focus of an episode. I really appreciate seeing other characters focused on since it allows them the development they need so I can care about them when it matters. For example, the battle between Uraraka and Bakugo actually made me change my opinion about Bakugo. Up until this point I mostly felt that he was nothing but a nasty bully, but then he showed that he does actually respect the strength of others and is able to take things in a more mature manner. It might just be wishful thinking on my part since I would really like the two of them to be friends, but it seems like the series is working towards a turning point concerning his and Deku’s relationship. I hope I’m right. Mostly I’m just excited to see where the story goes next.

  26. M

    Believe me. I’m not about to spoil anything, but the last thing you should expect about this series’ approach to Deku & Kacchan’s relationship from now on is stagnation or deterioration of the quality of writing.

  27. Comment re-added:

    Terrestrious

    If it wasn’t for Rakugo, this would easily be my favorite episode of the year so far. Shonen perfection. I loved everything about this. My favorite character in the series switched three times this episode (Todoroki for his interesting dilemma and characterization, Deku for constantly being one of the best depictions of the spirit of heroism [and this was definitely the most heroic thing he’s done so far], and Bakugo for the depth he’s showing more and more of [It kinda warmed my heart that Bakugo actually took the time to explain all that to his classmates, I wouldn’t have pegged him for that type of guy early on, especially since he basically voiced a weakness of his to them all] and also that video game character). The sakuga was just, flourishes like that remind me exactly why I love animation and Bones so much. Another thing I love about Bones, is how they framed this episode as the epic culmination that it was. Like, saving the episode title for the end, especially for what the title was it made it seem like the match was just the origin of Todoroki’s new found perspective, instead of just, “origin” because his backstory is featured. Not only did they give the title dual purpose but I love that they also removed Deku’s opening speech that they played like every episode prior to this one. It instantly made the episode feel special and I loved it.
    As a side note, I guess I’ll just take a moment now to say I really enjoy your posts (and in the Academia ones, I really like the progression the Togashi thing took), and even though I’m behind on all the shows I’m watching (Academia, Attack on Titan, & Tsuki ga Kirei), I never watch an episode without having your review pulled up in a separate tag to read after.

    Guardian Enzo

    In reply to Terrestrious.
    Thanks a lot for that – extremely kind of you. It’s always nice to hear that folks associate reading one of my pieces with the experience of enjoying an episode.
    I loved the cold open as well. I kind of wish we’d get it every week, but it did make this ep feel that much more special.

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