「騎馬戦決着」 (Gibasen Ketchaku)
“Cavalry Battle Finale”

Everyone comes out of this fight looking stronger, and weaker, than they did just seconds before the end. A battle of reversals.

This was a battle of reversals, and it’s a textbook case of how to do them right. Let’s start with one thing we could all safely assume: Izuku would advance to the next round. Of course, right? But there are many ways that could have happened. He could have kept the 10,000,000 headband; he could have lost it, and reclaimed it; once that one revealed itself to be the 70, he could have grabbed another headband with enough points to win; or, once that failed, they could have revealed that the top four teams advancing was a lie, and the top six teams were advancing! All of these were possible, and the unpredictable nature of the battle—for instance, how Izuku’s team kept control of the 10,000,000 point headband until the last minute, made it hard to guess which would happen.

Then the bell rang, and it was over. Then the story moved directly into identifying the winners, which is crucial. Given too much time, we would have realized that someone must have grabbed another headband, because the only other option was to admit the top 6 teams, but even a moment’s quick consideration would make us realize how bullshit that would be. So don’t give us the time! Show us the winner, the runner up, the surprise third-place finishers—which is even better, because it distracts us from thinking about Izuku’s team for a moment—and then straight into the reveal. Tokoyami, you glorious sonofagun! And Uraraka too, for taking such delight in revealing to Izuku how they won. Awesome, amazing, magnificent, WOOHOO!

This is what made this episode so great: reversals, and pacing. The pacing has to be quick! And that truly bastardly mid-episode cliffhanger, switching to commericial and then Bakugo’s team, when we were all dying to know what happened with Izuku vs Todoroki. (Not that Bakugo’s story thread wasn’t good, because it was, but c’mon. Priorities.) Also, and I think it almost gets lost in the shuffle, but Izuku used his quirk again without shattering his arm! That’s huuuge, since it opens up more choices for him in the final round (and beyond), while leaving his quirk still unreliable enough for him to not go to that well immediately.

Probably my favorite part of the episode is how various characters’ stocks rose and fell as a result of the events. Iida-kun’s obviously went up, though so did Kaminari’s, which is more of a surprise—I like seeing the guy who’s always getting shit remind everyone that yeah, he does deserve to be there. Izuku’s both goes down—down for his assumption with the first headband, and up because when they were left with zero points and little time left, he doesn’t waste any time and immediately launches his team back into the fray, and still goes for #1. By the same token, Uraraka’s stock also goes up for not hesitating and backing Izuku up immediately. Tokoyami’s stock, of course, went way up. Love that guy!

And as always, Katsuki continues to surprise. He might have gotten super pissed, but both he and Izuku showed why they deserve to be there. Monoma Neito’s (Amasaki Kouhei) quirk, Copy, is a great one, but Katsuki’s team blows past it and knocks him out of the running completely not because they’re better, necessarily, but because they want it more. And that’s the key. Katsuki is gifted with a powerful quirk, but it’s his tenacity that makes him so damn good, and because, as much of a rage monster as he is, it doesn’t overwhelm him. He’s not flexible, and I keep expecting that to lead to a breakdown—but it hasn’t. Not yet.

All of this analysis obscures something crucial, and which needs to be said: this episode was thrilling, exciting, pulse-pounding, and damn fun! I exclaimed aloud when the mid-episode cliffhanger came, and cried out in excitement and relief when Tokoyami showed the headband he had swiped. Boku no Hero Academia is logically good, I can tell you the storytelling reasons why it’s good. But what really makes it amazing is that it grabs a hold of your monkey brain, straps a couple of jumped cables to it, hands the other end to Kaminari, and then shocks it up to excitement level 9000. It’s awesome, yo! Because, as a wise writer once said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And I won’t soon forget how Boku no Hero Academia makes me feel.

Random thoughts:

  • The other big storyline was with Todoroki, and how he wouldn’t use his left arm (fire), which gave Izuku’s team a weakness they exploited—and which, when push came to shove, he used anyway. But that’s going to be more of an issue next week, I feel, as All Might and Endeavor enter the equation just as their successors continue to square off. Though Todoroki’s stock—even though he won—is probably the one that suffered the most. It really did feel like they were on thin ice.
  • Another thing I expected, but was still surprised from due to pacing: Shinso’s team advancing. There was no point in him being in the OP if he wasn’t a player in this arc, but his team flew so far under the radar during the cavalry battle that it was still surprising when his team came up third place, just because I’d forgotten about them. Another example of storytelling concealing the obvious to make it a surprise.
  • Izuku is such a crybaby. Though, at least we know where he gets it. She’s such a mom, lol!

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: I get it now!; Guardians of the Galaxy, Glee, & Firesign; That’s not supposed to go there . . .; and The Carcer Principle.

 

Preview

34 Comments

  1. https://randomc.net/image/Boku%20no%20Hero%20Academia/Boku%20no%20Hero%20Academia%20-%2018%20-%20Preview%2002.jpg
    For someone who’s smiling all the time, Shinso isn’t really a happy guy.

    It was also nice to see the teams kinda… mesh back together after the fight, you know? Yaoyoruzu being seriously impressed with Iida. Sero Hanta seems to be getting on board with Team Bakugo together with Bakugo’s lil buddy with the hardness quirk. Tsuyu being all annoyed but going up to congratulate Alien Queen whats-er-face. Actually, lots of the losers seem kind of pissed, which makes sense given how competitive everyone in this school is, but the anime did a good job showing that there’s a lot of friendships criss-crossing through Class A in the short time it had.

    Oh, and Bakugo actually remembering the names of some of his horses! So proud. And, that Bakugo actually had plans for how to use his horses to good effect, even if when push came to shove he just jumped off and did his own thing. He actually has a brain under that crazy hair.

    Guile
    1. The good thing is, at least Horikoshi-sensei isn’t treating Katsuki as admirable. He’s treating him as formidable, which engenders a certain kind of respect, and as not totally irredeemable to his classmates, but he’s not acting like all the things that made Katsuki a bully are all right, nor that he’s some kind of jerk with a heart of gold (mostly, he’s just a jerk, albeit a clever one). He’s walking a fine line, and walking it well.

      The old plan sounds annoying, though. Probably a good change.

  2. Because this FANTASTIC show is gonna be 25 eps , the pace is really slow compared to the first season
    the past 5 eps could have been 3 but the amount of awesomeness at the end part of each episode is shadowing that fact

    Urahara
  3. Oh. My. God. Like, I have nothing to add accept by saying Todoroki’s story should be good following what happened now. But other than that, all I can say for myself is that this episode was nerve-wracking, in a good way. Those reversals kept coming from left and right like crazy, and I could feel myself in the end of it all as if I was gonna genuinely feint. Everyone was top notch in their own ways, but for me, I have to say Tokoyami is the star of this episode. He really went for the win like his team, his loyalty was astounding, and his quirk was really quirky, for lack of a better word. It’s as if this episode was dedicated for him. And his reversal in the end. My body fell down out of pure relief and… ohhh. This episode was just awesomeness incarnate. I’m too tired of my excitement to say anything else at the moment XD

  4. https://randomc.net/image/Boku%20no%20Hero%20Academia/Boku%20no%20Hero%20Academia%20-%2018%20-%20Large%2036.jpg

    You’d think with 4 eyes behind him, Shouji would have no blind spots. So how did the headband get stolen from them? Maybe he has to focus his attention on those eyes as well?

    https://randomc.net/image/Boku%20no%20Hero%20Academia/Boku%20no%20Hero%20Academia%20-%2018%20-%20Large%2030.jpg

    They look confused as to how they won. You’d wonder why two from Class A, and one from Class B, who looks like Haruyuki from Accel World(ironically, his VA is doing Todoroki) would team up with him. Depends on how he negotiated perhaps. Though in the first stage, Shinsou was being carried by some people when Todoroki first iced the crowd. By now one would have a guess as to what his power is. The answer will be for next time though. I love how much the clues were scattered all throughout the event.

    https://randomc.net/image/Boku%20no%20Hero%20Academia/Boku%20no%20Hero%20Academia%20-%2018%20-%20Large%2003.jpg

    Off-design aside, I love how unique Class B looks. There’s this Beast guy, a big yellow guy, a girl who looks like she came from My Little Pony, and a guy with a speech bubble for a head. I’d love to see more of Class B. Monoma’s not a good representation of the class as we have Tetsutetsu that seems decent. There was also that thorn-haired girl who seems to regret stealing Mineta’s headband like that.

    belatkuro
  5. I almost cried once again. Every episode so far in this season is doing this to me (except for maybe the first one, since nothing major happened and it was main exposition and recap). Midoriya is just amazing, even thought most of his successes are so far attributed to luck. But look! He took a light hit on Bakugo without breaking his arm! 😀 Progress!

    starss
    1. You mean Todoroki, not Bakugo 🙂

      Anyway, indeed Midorya is really becoming an awesome main character, makes you wish him luck on controlling one-for-all and becoming the strongest 😀

      Zedovio
    2. He’s certainly had luck, but he’s done a lot of work to put himself in a position to be lucky as well. That’s key—characters can be lucky as long as they worked hard and it’s justified well. That’s done for Izuku, and—well, lucky wins still count 😀

      1. Lucky people are also those who make the most out of the opportunities given to them and Deku is definitely one of them. On the other hand, can’t wait for more Todoroki reveal. 😀

        WarriorsHeart
    1. Ochako didn’t get much either, although there was that nice little moment where she was like ‘Fuck yes we’re taking the headbands back!’ and started the stalled cavalry horse back into motion, and Deku used her flashback as motivation.

      Guile
  6. Oh wondering why gadget girl has settled on support role, with her talents a bit more developed she could build a cool Iron Woman suit for her self. Or go for “insert creature name” woman lighter gadget fighter.

    Again I think on how these superhero’s are not given the term super but like any talented sports star have to work incredibly hard long hours to develop to a true superhero.

    RedRocket
    1. Probably just personal preference. She seems more focused on making the gadgets, and making them well, as opposed to performing the heroics herself. Right now it’s just to her benefit to use them herself so she (or her teammates) can show off her babies.

  7. Really loved the suspense in this episode, and the efforts of the aforementioned Chocobro really was heartwarming! It’s great to see the supporting cast getting their chance to shine, especially in Lida’s case.

    My only complaint about this episode was when Midoriya only grabbed one headband when taking them all was clearly an easier option. They should’ve perhaps had Todoroki’s other hand instinctively block access to the headbands, making it seem more sensible to have only grabbed the top headband.

    Other than that, it really was one of the strongest and most emotionally involving episodes to date.

    Sekai
    1. True on the complaint, especially since Katsuki grabbed two. Not a deal breaker for me either, especially since the pace helped there too. I didn’t have chance to be irked because the end was approaching so fast!

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