「うなれ体育祭」 (Unare Taiikusai)
“Roaring Sports Festival”

It’s a sports festival! An obstacle course race! We’ve all seen them before, but not like this.

The name of today’s game is stakes. Namely, setting and building them. The conversation with All Might? Building up the sports festival as personally important to Izuku’s mentor. The visit from the other students? Revealing that there’s risk to the Hero Course students, as well as incentive for the other nine classes to tear them down. Everything Katsuki does builds the stakes, mostly by pitting others against him and Class 1-A—but more on that soon. Everything up to huge crowds emphasizes that this is a Big Deal, and we viewers should treat it as such. Which was done successfully! No surprise there.

The other big theme was determination and motivation, as embodied by Izuku, Katsuki, and Todoroki. I like the contrasting ways they got themselves riled up. Katsuki’s is the most dramatic, and the most interesting to me. With his “It doesn’t matter as long as you rise to the top” and call out/put down combo in the opening ceremony, Katsuki is the epitome of the freelancer who realizes that, as long as he’s good enough, he can be an ass and still get work (see Neil Gaiman, i.e. you can be good, fast, and a pleasure to work with, and you only need two of the three). More than that though, he’s purposefully taking away one of those tools, which means he has to get by on strength alone. He’s forcing himself into a corner, and he will thrive or be destroyed by his power alone. Katsuki is the type who burns his boats and either conquers Tenochtitlan or dies trying. All or nothing.

Contrast that to Izuku, who is initially unsure, and almost complacent, but arrives at his motivation for the sports festival via a different route. Whereas Katsuki looks down from the top, and ferociously fights to not be disarmed (and to claw down anyone who rises above him), Izuku looks up from above, and strives from there. His is a motivation born of respect for those striving from the very bottom, and to do his very beast and reach for greatness, no matter how unworthy he may be.

Then there’s the other flavor, Todorok’s. He’s a consumate ace, already nearly a professional in demeanor, and hardly needs motivation to try his best. Yet he seeks out Izuku and challenges him anyway. It seems to me that he’s performing for his father out of annoyed necessity, but in Izuku (and Katsuki, and others), he wants a challenge. That’s what gets him motivated. He needs others to challenge him for this to be anything but boring—and fortunately for him, he has them.

(There’s also Uraraka, which we talked about last episode, and everyone else. There are as many flavors of determination in Class 1-A as there are quirks, and in the other notable characters as well.)

All this serves to set up the sports festival over all, but I’m glad we started the first event, because that leaves us with a more tantilizing cliffhanger than ending on the starting bell would have. The obstacle race is already great for showing just how badass Todoroki is, and establishing him further as a serious challenger/ally/threat in Izuku’s class. It doesn’t leave Katsuki and others out either. It’s the cliffhanger that’s especially nice though, since it leaves us with that age-old question. We know Izuku will almost certainly make it through this event, but how? With One For All still unreliable, he won’t necessarily blast straight through like Katsuki likely will—though even Kacchan goes in for some tactical flare on occasion. How will Izuku get out of this jam?

Turn in next time to find out! ; )

Random thoughts:

  • “Those who are always aiming for the top, and those who aren’t. That slight difference in attitudes will have a big impact once you go out into society.” Not that those who can be satisfied are worse off. They’re likely happier. There is a big difference, though.
  • Mt Lady using her sex appeal for ¥500 of takoyaki was hilarious. So petty!
  • Live your life with the determination of Izuku, and—even if you have the doubts of Izuku as well—you’ll do all right.
  • Izuku’s mom is such a mom. It’s not that she doesn’t believe in him, it’s that she fears for him more. She just wants her son to be safe! Parents tend to be more conservative about their children taking risks than they would be taking those risks themselves, after all.

My SECOND novel, Freelance Heroics, is available now! (Now in print!) (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Sign up for my email list for exclusive content. At stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Guardians of the Galaxy, Glee, & Firesign; That’s not supposed to go there . . .; The Carcer Principle; and Fire, further.

Full-length images: 25.

 

Preview

22 Comments

  1. Never knew much about Todoroki. Watched this episode, instant fave. Why no screenshot of him breathing? That was badass as hell. Aside from that thing I might like the most about BnHA is that side characters get their share of free time, I imagine there will a decent amount of focus on them during this festival. Let the games begin.

    Jon Oscar
      1. Yep, as a screenshot maniac non-still scenes end up wonky. I appreciate the effort, though. Just compared that scene in the manga and it has less impact there. To the animator, I say bravo.

        Jon Oscar
  2. I think we all knew Katsuki was going to tell everyone to suck it the second he walked up to that microphone.

    He’s one of those rare characters (Ange from the gloriously depraved ‘Cross Ange’ is the only other example that immediately comes to mind) who takes a grating character flaw–being a consistent a-hole–to such an extreme that it starts to become kind of endearing.

    blargnobia
    1. “gloriously depraved ‘Cross Ange’” yes it was and she did grow on ya. I don’t know if Katsuki will be as gloriously multi partner bisexual though. (different mature rating I know)

      RedRocket
    2. To me, it’s not that Katsuki takes it to such an extreme that it’s no longer grating. It’s that there’s actual nuance to his character. He’s the extreme bastard whose pride you keep expecting to break against all the slights that life—and especially Deku—heap on him . . . but he doesn’t. And that’s key. He is an asshole, but he’s also interesting.

      He’s like Walter White in a way. No one approves of anything WW did, but he is fascinating, because he’s more than what the tabloids in his story would have you believe of him. We can disapprove of everything these characters do—and Katsuki is a bully, and no one excuses that—but we understand it, and it’s interesting.

  3. This episode was kind of interesting. It was tightly plotted and hit all the right notes for building hype for the narrative… but it started out with like, two flashbacks, one before the title crawl and one after.

    So all the time saved with everything else being concise and punchy is wasted on like a minute and a half of stuff that just happened last episode.

    Guile
    1. There weren’t two flashbacks, and I don’t think that time was wasted. I’m pretty sure the one before the episode is just part of the OP, ala Nanatsu no Taizai (though we’ll find out for sure next episode). As for the second (re-explaining the tournament), that was technically a flashback, but I’m pretty sure they did that so that the episode would end in the right place. Otherwise the episode would have had to progress slightly further, instead of the natural endpoint of Izuku’s “How am I going to get past this?” face.

      Tl;dr – That time wasn’t wasted. If they hadn’t put (at least the second) flashback in, they would have had to pad out an extra minute of runtime elsewhere. And maybe it would have been with something good! But maybe not, and maybe it would have poisoned the whole episode. I’m fine with the decision they made.

  4. I believe it was you Stilts that gushed on the glory of the Tournament Arcs. I agree the fact that the hero can lose ups the stakes rather than lowers them because people are less likely to die.
    This episode was wonderful on building the tension and building up the action. Trying to recall our girl who pulls objects from her body name, she wears a skimpy outfit in part to be able to easy access things I wonder if the tournament uniform harming her somewhat.

    RedRocket
    1. That was definitely me! I love tournament arcs. Probably why I put a quick tournament in my second book :X They’re fun!

      Yaoyorozu is shown in the preview with her shirt unzipped, allowing her easier access to her quirk. No harm, no foul.

  5. Mt Lady using her sex appeal for ¥500 of takoyaki was hilarious. So petty!

    I feel like one of the biggest strengths of My Hero Academia is the same as Naruto’s was: the diverse cast of interesting characters. So it’s great that the trio we’re first introduced to as mid-level heroes pop in now and again. When they first showed up and Deku was a mere Deku scrub, their powers were titanic. Now they’re scamming takoyaki from street vendors and working school security.

    It makes it feel like Deku is not so far away from them after all.

    Stilts edit: Fixed your quote. Use < blockquote > (without the space).

    Guile

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