「ヒーローの条件」 (Hiirou no Jouken)
“What It Takes to Be a Hero”
I repeat: I know what they’re trying to do, but it works. The hero fights through disappointment, and that moment at the end … chills. It’s been a while since a story gave me chills like that.
A Hero’s Disappointment
I suspected that the first episode was mainly setup, and it would get good from this episode onward. While some shows are hyped for I-know-not-why, this didn’t seem like one of those. I figured there had to be a reason so many held it in high regard. Turns out, there was.
I have a world of respect for Horikoshi-sensei (the original creator) for not giving into platitudes early on. It would have been so easy to have All Might tell Izuku he could do it from the beginning, and it would have been befitting of All Might’s larger-than-life personality. Instead, All Might gave the “realistic” answer—I put that in air quotes because I’ve always considered realists to be cynics who don’t want to admit it, but it really was a sensible response, wasn’t it? It’s like telling someone they can be in the NBA. I’m 6’7″, so if you told young Stilts that, you had a leg to stand on. But if you were 5’6″ with short parents? It would seem like a lie.
A Hero’s Heart
Izuku and Katsuki’s actions show two different paths to the hero. Katsuki’s is one of strength and pride. Even if the kid is a dick, it’s hard to hate him when he shows so much toughness in the face of an enemy that nearly subsumed Izuku in seconds. His pride at being the best propels him, and will never allow him to be a sidekick, as that one superhero suggested—he’ll be a hero himself, or he’ll die trying. That pride is fragile, and could backfire, but in a way he reminds me of the principal from Ansatsu Kyoushitsu—yes, his strength seems destined to falter, but it hasn’t yet. If his pride is a wall that will tumble down in a hurricane, while the palm tree that bends will remain, he hasn’t met that hurricane yet.
Izuku, on the other hand, follows a different pride. His is one of weakness and heart. Katsuki undoubtedly works hard, but Izuku will have to work twelve times as hard to attain any measure of success. He seems an unlikely hero, but he’s looking more and more like the Steve Rogers who becomes Captain America every day—it’s not his abilities that matter, but his heart. He will jump on the grenade, even if it means his death.
This episode was like the first of Sousei no Onymouji, where two people save each other—one physically, one spiritually. All Might certainly saves Izuku (and Katsuki) from certain death, but Izuku also saves All Might from becoming a hypocrite. His will and heart are what save the day, and even though I know what they’re doing, damn if it didn’t work gloriously.
A Hero’s Chance
I’m glad the preview spoils All Might’s plan, because I noticed a hole in his admonishment earlier. He never said Izuku couldn’t be a hero, he just said he couldn’t become a hero without power. If he doesn’t have it, then he needs to acquire it. Extended training montage incoming, with All Might’s Quirk as the goal at the end of the rainbow.
But before that was the undoubtedly best scene of the episode. When All Might chased Izuku down and gave him a thanks, a correction, and a suggestion, it was like—well, your personal hero acknowledging you. All Might recognized his will and his heart, and that he has the essential quality of a hero, the quality you cannot train. When a tragedy strikes, there are those who run away from the danger, and they’re sensible. But there are also those who run toward it, and they have what it takes to be a hero, power or not.
It’s been a while since I got chills like that from an anime. The kind of chills that make you believe. Horikoshi-sensei and BONES are grabbing hold of an elemental nerve, a story we all want to believe in. It’s not unique, it’s not groundbreaking, but damn if it doesn’t work. Sometimes the classics are the classics for a damn good reasons.
Coverage decisions will be made in a couple of weeks (after the April 15th shows have had a couple of episodes), but I would be surprised if this doesn’t receive regular coverage. This episode proved what everyone has been talking about.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Power does not a hero make. It’s heart that makes the difference #heroaca 02
- Tatooin Shopping District. I choose to take that as a reference!
- All Might lost half of his respiratory system and ALL of his stomach? How is he even alive?
- I love love loooove why All Might smiles—to trick the fear inside him. I’ve used this too. Sometimes it’s a choice between smiling and crying (or screaming), and in that case, it’s better to smile, even if the smile is a lie. It can often become the truth.
- “Their bodies moved before they had a chance to think.” “You can become a hero.” So many chills.
My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel novella. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Even if you see it coming, it can still work, Batman does not kill. Superman does not kill., Inside Out: What Emotion Drives You?, and Superhot: Storytelling through gameplay.