「八百万：ライジング」 (Yaoyorozu: Raijingu)
Three good matches, and one giant softie.
Since we’ve got a clear delineation between each match, I’ll briefly reintroduce my old format. That’s right . . .
Tokoyama & Asui VS Ectoplasm-sensei
What I most enjoyed about this is that the students didn’t win because of their quirks. Tokoyami is formidable, and acquited himself well, and certainly their combo moves were excellently performed, but it was really Tsuyu-chan who was the star, and once again, not because of her quirk. They won because of her personality. Her quirk—able to do things that a frog can do—isn’t exceptionally powerful, though it is versatile. What makes her so good is her. She’s so composed under pressure, and so quick-witted, and so able to help others while still making the plays herself that need making that it makes her formidable regardless of whatever her quirk does. That plus the reminder that communication skills—i.e. interpersonal skills—are far more valuable than many give them credit for made this a battle worth watching, and worth cheering for. Rock on, Tsuyu-chan!
Iida & Ojiro VS Power Loader-sensei
This was the quickest battle, and thankfully so, because we’ve spent a lot of time with Iida-kun lately and Ojiro, like Tsuyu-chan, always comes across as so sensible, grounded, and competent that—while I eagerly look forward to the day when we get to dig into his character more—we’d need to spend a LOT of time with him to any squishy weaknesses inside. Mostly this was to show that Iida really is taking to heart his declaration to once again walk the hero’s path, and that he can think pretty quickly on his feet as well. That plus a clutch mid-air evasion from Ojiro, and it was a satisfying match.
Todoroki & Yaoyorozu VS Aizawa-sensei
I really love the arc Yaoyorozu has been laboring through, because if there’s any character flaw that’s really hard to pull off, it’s confidence issues. Notice how most people hate Shinji more than Asuka, even though they’re both just as broken? (Side note: haven’t seen the new movies yet, don’t spoil nothin’.) Confidence issues come across as wishy-washy, and that’s poison to an audience. Yet Momo hasn’t ever fallen into that trap, in part because the focus isn’t solely on her—that’s the large cast coming to HeroAca’s aid once again—but also because it’s both relateable and not overly belabored. I mean, it’s understandable that she’d look at her performance so far and feel unsatisfied, especially compared to her fellow recommendation student, who even the haters will agree is a competent young man. Mostly it’s because this is something that’s been stewing for a while, but was tackled in full force in under half an episode, which let it come to a boil without overstaying its welcome.
There’s also something extremely millennial about Momo’s problem, because she, like many young people these days, has the problem of options. Of too many options. It’s a different problem than the few, limited options that people labored under in the past, and it’s a preferable problem to have, but it’s still a problem. Take a student who can do damn near anything with their life (or at least, are told they can), and give them the infinite options of the internet to research and see what others are doing, and how the damn hell are they supposed to decide? Momo is the same. She can do anything, so it’s hard to decide what specific thing to do. In a way, someone like Aizawa-sensei has it better, because his quirk allows him to do one specific thing, and then he’s slowly layered other abilities and tools on top of that, giving himself more options—but at a rate which he can easily digest the new abilities. He has fewer options, but within that framework creativity can flourish. Momo can do anything, and that’s paralyzing.
And let’s admit, there’s something very gendered about Momo’s crisis of confidence. Maybe this isn’t the case in Japan (though I have a feeling it is), but I often hear or see men go after promotions or new jobs when they have 60-70% of the qualifications, while women who are 90-100% qualified (or more) will hold themselves back. Probably the right balance in somewhere in between, but seeing the ridiculously smart, skilled, and qualified woman get the win she was always capable of securing was nice to see.
That’s not to say Shouto didn’t contribute. I liked how Aizawa-sensei slapped just a little bit of sense into him, pointing out how much of the burden he was taking onto himself—and Shouto then turned around to immediately show his worth by realizing his mistake, asking Momo what her plan was, giving her a dose of confidence by revealing that he voted for her for class rep, and then executing his part of the plan splendidly. And Aizawa-sensei—no matter what he says, he’s a big ‘ol softie through and through. D’aaawww!
Uraraka & Aoyama VS Thirteen-sensei
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