「奮え！チャレンジャー」 (Furue! Charenjaa)
“Battle on, Challengers!”
I love episodes like this. Time for the other characters to shine, and to build up tension for the big battle to come.
I never know how clearly some of my preferences come through in my writing or blogging, so let me make this one clear: I love multi-protagonist or large cast shows. Negima was an influential manga to me, and my love for shows like Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon, Log Horizon, and Arslan Senki (to name a very few) is well documented. Having a clear protagonist is fine, but I love it most when there’s a core of protagonists without all of which the story wouldn’t work at all—ala the main four in KonoSuba or the main three in my own books—or where the supporting characters are clear and distinctive enough to engender fans of their own. This is actually one of the reasons some harem shows work, by the way—series like High School DxD wouldn’t work as well without all the varied and interesting personalities.
HeroAca is one of the large cast shows where there’s a clear main character (Izuku), but it would be a pale shell of itself if that was all it had going on. This episode features action from only one of the main characters—Iida—and even his whole fight is a joke at his expense. Which means that all the other characters got to strut their stuff, in fights that were interesting, sometimes unpredictable, and always funny. I LOVE episodes like this so much because they deepen the world, they bring it to life beyond the limited scope of its main characters, and because it’s flat-out fun to see different quirks go head-to-head. It being written and animated so damn well doesn’t hurt either.
Kaminari’s fight against Shiozaki Ibara (Masaka Miho) was amusing because, while it’s expected that Kaminari would end up the butt of the joke, he got to be cool in the cavalry battle, so I’m fine with him getting taken down a peg. It also gives him room to grow, because him expending his entire payload right off the bat was a dumb tactical decision; better to figure out what she can actually do before you dull your own reaction time in an attack you don’t know if it can be blocked. Which it turns out it could. I did love how Ibara was so seemingly pure, mostly because that, along with this fool’s reaction, made everyone in A-gumi realize that everyone in B-gumi is just as weird as they are. Hah!
As for Iida-kun versus Hatsume Mei, I repeat: hah! Iida-kun got totally played, because Mei was playing an entirely different game than the rest of them. Sucks for Iida-kun, he technically won but really lost, but it was a solid win for us, because it was the funniest match of the episode!
Aoyama versus Mina proceeded about as well all expected, and I’m okay with Aoyama continuing to be the butt of all the jokes, because dude deserves it. He’s silly. I did like how it tied into Deku’s nerdery, and his realization that he undervalued Mina’s physical abilities. I feel like that’s a lesson that will come back up later on. Remember Eraserhead, children—sometimes, being able to deliver a regular old punch, and take a few as well, is as much a part of being a hero as any number of fantastic abilities.
Tokoyami versus Yaoyorozu was definitely the one I was most looking forward to, and here I think Yaoyorozu psyched herself out too much. She had the lower speed but the most tactical versatility, which means that if she could have survived the opening round, the match would turn in her favor; Tokoyami, on the other hand, has more limited options, but they’re better suited to the situation. Momo’s mistake was defending instead of dodging, though there’s no assurance that dodging would have served her any better. Still, I have a feeling that had she fought with the hunger of Izuku, Bakugou, or Shouto—someone with the drive to get to the very top, rather than simply not lose—she would have acquitted herself better.
Tetsutetsu versus Kirishima was, obviously, the best fight to cut away on and focus on something else. I like the two of them, and their rivalry is funny, but it’s a straightforward fight. Instead, we focused on Uraraka, and—look. Fiction will tell you that you should do things on your own, but I’ll tell you now that’s bullshit. Students out there, I hope you’re listening. You got friends who can help you? Ask for their help. You got connections that’ll help you get a job? Use ’em. It ain’t cheating, it’s fine. Humans like to help humans, and building connections helps you do all manner of things in life better. I would not have blamed Uraraka for taking Izuku’s help, and would have thought her smarter for it.
But I’m an adult and she’s a high schooler, and just because it was perhaps unwise not to take the assistance, that doesn’t mean I don’t understand her feelings. As happened with Yaoyorozu, if she had entered this battle without the grit and determination to strive for victory regardless of the odds against her, she would be doomed. As it is, despite her fear, she’s showing that she has that crucial ingredient. She may not defeat Bakugou, but I have a feeling she’s going to acquit herself far better than anyone expects her to. Anyone except for maybe Izuku and Iida. They know who their friend is. But they also know who Katsuki is, so this is going to be one helluva fight.
- Ojiro-kun is a good example of a character whose design isn’t all that interesting (he has a tail and does karate stuff), but who’s personality makes him much more vital (& interesting) to the story than he would be otherwise. Which is to say, good writing matters more than great ideas much of the time.
- “But, well, I don’t think even Bakugou would use a full-strength explosion on a girl…” “He would.” Hah! Katsuki is egalitarian in a very violent way.
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.