It’s easiest for a story to impress when it’s first starting. That’s when we don’t know what to expect, and when we’re open to being positively surprised. The entire first season of HeroAca was phenomenal both because it was phenomenal, and because even when people hype up a story, when it’s this good it’s hard to hype it up accurately. That first season exceeded lofty expectations. No easy task.
Since then, those pulse-pounding, heart-quaking episodes have been fewer and farther between. Not because the storytelling is any worse; on the contrary. It’s just that our expectations calibrated. It’s hedonic adaptation with regards to narrative. It takes more to get the same high.
I say all that to say this: this was one of the best episodes of the series so far.
It started out with a realization, at least for me. I realized that, with the Hassaikai in the story, it puts the heroes + the League of Villains in an interesting place, at least for us, the viewers. The heroes are the heroes, but the League of Villains are more the protagonists to us than the Hassaikai. In a battle between the heroes and any villain, our choice is clear. But in a battle between the League of Villains and the Hassaikai, we root for the League of Villains. That’s crazy, and also cool. They’re our villain protagonists now, and we cheer for them above all the other villains. That’s what familiarity, and good characterization, has bought them.
But that’s not why this episode was so good. That had everything to do with the episode’s namesake. This episode was all about Lemillion.
They threw challenges at him. He defeated them. Overhaul threw his best at him. He took it, and gave back better. And in the end, when it came to a terrible choice, he did the heroic thing, and this too could not break him. Where others would have crumbled at the confession dude’s psychological warfare, Mirio excelled. Most others would have fallen apart at losing their quirk.
That’s not even counting the reveals about Eri’s parentage. Chisaki’s origin. How Mirio became who Mirio is. Though it has a lot to do with that last one. This is all about a man, who people expected to act like a boy, and who is more hero than most heroes will ever be. It’s about doing something different than killing a character, but getting that same incontrovertible change. Mirio is changed. Lemillion is dead.
Only he’s not. Lemillion was never a quirk. Lemillion was also Mirio, and the hero he could be. He may not now save 1,000,000 people, but when the chips were down, he didn’t just keep fighting. He excelled, and he hung on long enough.
And isn’t it a good thing Mirio didn’t get One For All now? It would have just been eradicated. Fuck me!
This time, instead of my occasional random thoughts, we end with two of Mirio’s lines, and my thoughts on them. First:
“It’s okay! I will become your hero!”
That’s it. That’s his line. Even if he only gets to use it once, that’s Mirio’s hero line, and it’s every bit as good as All Might’s was. Izuku is going to have to get cracking to measure up to either of those slogans.
“A hero puts on his cape so he can use it to wrap up a hurting girl who’s suffering and in pain!”
Holy s#*t. This line is the best encapsulation—some would say excuse—for heroic capes I’ve ever heard. Heroes are symbols, and the cape is a symbol of heroes, this is true. But the point of the symbol is its effect on others. His symbol he uses to protect and to reassure. Mirio is the best damn hero of them all.
Full-size images: 34.