There are eight million stories in Boku no Hero Academia – and give Horikoshi-sensei enough time, he’ll tell all of them.
This amazing, enchanting, nesting doll of a series just continues to unspool its seemingly endless web of creation. I worry sometimes for Horikoshi Kouhei, actually, because like that other guy, he clearly puts a ridiculous amount of preparation and frankly, of himself into every arc, every chapter. Doing the art for a weekly manga alone is a soul-crushing amount of work – but when you have a writer who’s so intricate and detailed with the story, it almost seems inevitable that health problems and hiatuses will follow. When I see the occasional missed week and the slight dip in the detail work in the art, as we have for Boku no Hero Academia this past year or so, it’s enough to give anyone who follows the manga world pause.
Selfishly, of course, as a reader and viewer I just want to drink it all in and enjoy every moment of it, because shounen of this caliber is a genuine treasure. Having just deconstructed the sports festival arc, BnHA now gives us another side of Horikoshi’s talent. This is a transition episode, sure, and in many ways a light-hearted one – and this series is among the best at that (though we’ve rarely been treated to it yet in anime form). But there are no wasted panels in Boku no Hero Academia, and no throwaway characters – every arc fits neatly into the next, and with each new development some new facet of this mythology is brought to light.
The harsh reality of the hero business is this: even high school children are on audition (and on trial) from the moment they begin training. The Yuuei sports festival may have been games, but it wasn’t play – the hero world was watching, and taking careful notes. Now comes the “draft” – the chance for established hero agencies to bring students in for internships. This is calculated, of course – the idea is to invest in a kid you want to end up tied to you once they go pro (like Arsenal or F.C. Barcelona bringing prodigies into their youth academies).
It’s certainly no surprise that Todoroki and Bakugo lead the field in offers (well into four figures) – or that it’s in that order (Kacchan’s display on the podium didn’t exactly help his cause). Tokoyami is third and Iida fourth, and Uraraka and Tsuyu get their share – but there are no offers for Izuku. Who would want to have an intern that puts himself in the hospital every time he uses his power? No one – or no one, at least, who didn’t understand the nature of how One For All works. And there are very few people who do – very few, but not “none”…
Next up is names – because you can’t go work in the field and not have a hero name. This is a classic case where Boku no Hero Academia can be both hilarious and charming and serious – because as Midnight (Eraserhead can’t be counted on for this sort of work) points out, the name reflects the nature of the person who chooses it. This is a fun moment, but not remotely insignificant – each of the choices tells a lot about the chooser, and because in BnHA all the characters matter, so do their choices. I could say more, but as a manga reader I can’t in good conscience do so about some of them – all I’ll say is to think back on this scene later, because your respect for Horikoshi-sensei will certainly increase when you do.
Certain things, though, are pretty plain in the present. Izuku’s choice of “Deku” as a hero name is self-explanatorily in-character – embrace what could be an insult and turn it into a badge of honor. Deku is supremely humble, and no name could reflect that better than the one Kacchan derisively stuck on him. And then there’s Iida, who chooses “Tenya” (Todoroki also goes with his first name, though his circumstances in doing so are quite different). For Iida, as it usually does, it comes down to his brother – Ingenium has asked Tenya to take his name, as he’s lost feeling in his legs and believes his hero days are over. Iida goes so far as to start writing it out, but in the end he can’t.
That Iida is in a dark place right now is hardly a spoiler, and it should be clear in his choice of “Hosu City” (the Romanization of “Hoth” – if you hadn’t noticed, the place names in BnHA are taken from Star Wars) for his internship. That’s where his brother was struck down by the Hero Killer Stain, who thankfully didn’t live up to his name in Ingenium’s case but has already done so 17 times. Deku and Uravity (that and “Froppy” are among the best of the hero names IMHO) take care to make sure Iida knows that he’s not alone, but alone is very much how Tenya feels as he sets off on this dark journey.
Before we wrap, there’s the matter of where Izuku will train. Even if a student gets no offers, there are still some 400 agencies out there that agree to take on Yuuei students for practical training – but in the end, one late-arriving offer does come in for Deku. It’s one that makes even All Might tremble, from a mysterious hero named Grand Torino (Ogata Kenichi) – one who knows the nature of One For All, and who acted as a mentor for All Might in the past. This development will best be left to speak for itself when it resumes in two weeks (next week is a season break for Boku no Hero) but even from the postscript here, it should be pretty clear than it’s going to be a memorable one…