「デクvsA組」 (Deku Bāsasu Ē-gumi)
“Deku vs. Class A”
I’m sure you’re all tired of me waxing on about how under-appreciated HeroAca is, but the fact of the matter – it is. I do think it puts more recent WSJ action titans to shame, for the record, but that’s not really the point. It’s more about how little respect it and Horikoshi get for all that’s remarkable about this series. The longevity, the cohesiveness of the plot, the emotional weight, its sheer commercial success. And not least, Horikoshi’s remarkable ability to deliver epic moments and really nail them. If that were easy to do, everybody would do it.
This was one of those episodes that manga readers had circled on the calendar. As was last week’s, for that matter – they’re coming fast and furious these days. I was initially skeptical about approaching this by having all (well, most) of the 1-A students reflect on what Izuku has meant to them – too much of that sort of thing can be an issue for Horikoshi. But it totally won me over in the end. What’s really happening here is that Izuku’s own decency is being thrown back in his face. He established the precedent here – meddling where it’s not strictly necessary is what a hero does (Iida throws that exact line back in his face, in fact). The interest on all that meddling Izuku did for his friends is coming due here.
The strongest of the class are certainly Bakugo, Shouto, and Tokoyami in some order, so it’s only natural that they’d be the point men in any attempt to restrain Deku now. But it’s a function of how much stronger Deku has become that even in his exhausted state none of them would have been a match one on one. In fact it’s going to take basically the entire group to wear him down, and pretty much everybody does at least put a foot in. He blows through the best Shouto and Tokoyami can throw at him with relative ease, but the punches – verbal more so than physical – keep landing.
The thing is that this is a fight nobody wants to have. All Deku wants is to be alone, and all the rest of them want is to bring him home. The exchange between Mineta and Deku caused a bit of a stir when the manga chapter came out, with some interpreting Mineta’s words – literally closest to “I fell for you” – as a romantic confession. I don’t think he (or Horikoshi) meant it that way (not that it should be a problem) – it think it was just meant to show how much of an impact Deku has had on these people.
As we’ve progressed through the series Iida-kun has, for the most part, kind of disappeared. He had a huge role in one of the series’ best arcs (“Vs. Hero Killer”). And what’s more, he was really the first person Izuku befriended at Yuuei, and one of the first to be strongly impacted by him. But since then it’s been pretty much nada, so it was nice to see him claim a significant role in bringing this confrontation to a head. It’s only right that Iida should be one of the prime movers in persuading Izuku to end his isolation – the connection between these two is deep and significant.
That’s really the opening act, though, because nothing can stuck up to Kacchan coming center stage in the way he did. He’s always been a difficult character for me to embrace, but he’s never been less than fascinating. Nobody in Boku no Hero Academia is underestimated more than Bakugo, because he’s one of the smartest people in the cast. But he’s also consistently self-destructing and projecting a false braggadocio to drive people away. What Izuku is doing now is basically a more extreme version of what Bakugo has been doing his whole life, at least in terms of pushing people away.
For all that there’s always been more to Kacchan than meets the eye and that we’ve seen real growth from him, we’ve seen nothing like this. The one thing he could never, ever do is be vulnerable – to allow himself to be seen as he really is. I think this finally broke Izuku down for a couple of main reasons. First, because nobody knows Bakugo better than he does and thus, he knows exactly how hard it is for Bakugo to say “I’m weak, and I’m sorry” – never mind in front of all their classmates. And second, because – rightly or wrongly – Izuku has always been motivated to try and win Bakugo’s approval. Seeing Kacchan – the least humble person in the world – humble himself like this for his sake, Deku’s will to resist just gave up the ghost.
Deku coming home is a big step, no question. But what he’s coming back to is no picnic. He’s still a bit broken (and probably very smelly) for starters. And he’s coming back to a world that doesn’t particularly want him now that Yuuei has become a refugee camp behind a massive wall. Izuku has a target on his back and everyone knows it – the same reason why he didn’t want to come back is the reason those refugees (representative of a public now hostile to heroes) don’t want him to come. Iida and Bakugo did the heavy lifting to break Izuku down – now it’s going to fall to Ochaco to make everyone feel like that’s the right thing. Everyone wants to be protected, but sometimes the ones doing the protecting could use a little help too.
After this episode I don’t want to hear anyone talk shit about Bakugo and his lack of development ever again.
Bakugo’s apology was very well done, kudos to the VA for doing such a good job to bring across Bakugo’s sentiments.
Always felt that this arc was meant to be longer but was cut short.