「未成年の主張」 (Miseinen no Shuchou)
“A Young Woman’s Declaration”
One of the core truths of Boku no Hero Academia is just how nice Deku is. And as in real life, that often doesn’t get you much, which I think is part of Horikoshi-sensei’s messaging with this series. Ultimately what led Deku to this point more than anything else was his sheer kindness and desire to help other people. In the larger sense because it drove his ambition, and in the specific because it was jumping in to help Kacchan (when he had no quirk and seemingly no chance of doing anything but getting himself in trouble) that first drew All Might’s attention to him.
Izuku Midoriya is a good kid, by any measure. The extent to which he’s helped other characters in this story is pretty much limitless, so it seems only right that all that paying it forward should be paid back now. It doesn’t matter that he never intended to be paid back – in fact that’s exactly the point. The loyalty of his friends and teachers was never in question, because they know the boy well enough to understand who he is. But it’s a big ask for people fleeing a world that looks as if it was effectively screwed by hero incompetence to accept him. Word travels fast, and the rumors about Deku’s connection to Shigaraki are common knowledge by now.
As Nezu says there is a very practical reason to want Deku secure inside Yuuei’s fancy new wall – without him, their chances against All For One are basically nil. But this mob (which contains a few pockets of extremely sympathetic Deku partisans) isn’t about to won over by logic. Best Jeanist gives it a shot but doesn’t find a receptive audience. The principal could tell them about how the shelters can effectively go underground and escape any attack (thanks to his “gut feeling” about Shigaraki) but that wouldn’t move the needle either. They’re emotional and only emotion is going to reach them. Which is where Ochaco comes in.
This is her big moment, no question about it, and it’s been a long time coming. She’s noble and eloquent in her plea for understanding – her most cogent point being that while Izuku’s power is as special as it gets, the boy himself is by no means exempt from heartache, exhaustion, and despair. Ochaco has the added motivation of being in love with him as well as loving him in the way her classmates do, but that’s not really what this is about. As powerful as her words are, they’re also a reminder of the essential unsustainability of hero society.
Ochaco’s words give courage to two members of the audience to come forward – one of the people Deku saved during his “Dark Hero” period, and Kouta-kun. They know first-hand what he’s put himself through and frankly it’s about damn time somebody stood up for him like he’s always standing up for everybody else. And so they do, to the point where it becomes a little easier to back off than it is to keep screaming to throw Deku out. If Ochaco accomplishes anything here it’s at least partly through shame, but hey – shame is underrated. I can think of a lot of people in RL who could use a much stronger sense of it.
At this point you should definitely stop reading if you haven’t watched the episode, because what happens at the end of it is a pretty big and unexpected plot twist. Toshinori, sensing he’s not needed at UA at the minute, heads off to try and convince the anti-hero holdouts still on the streets to evacuate to a shelter. The need for him to be useful any way he can be clearly drives him hard – this is a man who basically spent his entire adult life as the last best line of defense against crime and anarchy. All Might may be gone, but maybe the residual goodwill for the man in the costume might allow him to do what others could not.
The big news, though, is who watches him depart. The Hero Killer Stain is HeroAca’s version of Harry Lime, somebody who had a huge impact on the story despite relatively little screen time. He’s been off-screen and forgotten for a very long time, so to see him now is a major event. The question of what role he has to play is a fascinating one. He idealized All Might above all others, to the point of murder. His “ideals” are certainly twisted, but he’s a man who you’d think would have nothing but contempt for the likes of Shigaraki and the League of Villains. Stain was always too good a character not to bring back – he’s one of the best villains in all of shounen – and Horikoshi could hardly have picked a more dramatic time to do it.
I find it fitting that Aizawa smiles when he heard what happened. He didn’t believe Deku could be a hero, so it is nice to see that he was proven wrong.
I wish Ochako got more big moments like this but I will take what I can get.
Having not followed the manga I was this close to ditching MHA just because of how depressing and real it became. I apparently wasn’t aware enough to figure out that’s the point, which I am pretty embarrassed about. This episode finally turned it all around to prove that yes, there is still hope, and idealism still lives.
My eyes welled up for this episode. Very emotional and surprised me. Great character moments all around. Looking forward to the next installment.