My Hero Academia s4 ep80- A Mild Cheese

Rini 2020 (3)

We got somewhat buried in snow over the last few days. Actually, it’s not that impressive. It’s really a perfectly average amount of snow for February in Quebec and far from the huge snow storm they’ve been promising. In fact, it’s been sort of light on snow this year. In any case, it’s now a bright and sunny day and the gleaming, undisturbed white snow is reflecting everything so the glare coming through the window is crazy. You know that particular quality of sunlight off snow. It’s super sunny and cheerful and you can just tell it’s freezing outside. It’s a good day to stay indoors and watch anime. And this was a great episode for the occasion I might add. Before we get into it, how are you Crow?

Also, just so I don’t make him do it every time. This is a discussion of episode 80 of My Hero Academia. There will be some spoilers so if you haven’t seen it, you might want to do that first. Also, I will be taking plain text this week while Crow is in bold!

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I’m doing well, Irina. Thanks for asking! We just got a little snow here, too, but no sun. So it’s just gray outside. Weird snow, too — didn’t stick to the streets or sidewalks, but buried our cars. Well, my car. My wife’s car is in the garage.

Once more, the episode was essentially split into two halves. First off we needed to finish off that cliffhanger from last week. Bakugou and Todoroki, alongside Inasa and Camie are now faced with a gang of unruly superpowered children they need to rail in. This could have been a dicey situation, as we find out the childrens powers are way beyond that of past generations, but it was solved pretty quickly and thankfully without the need to explode any toddlers.

Our heroes simply created a playground for the kids using their own powers. They threw in a few tricks and a few pieces of advice here and there to calm the kids down. Before they knew it, they had won the class over and everyone was having a good time. It was an easy feel good scene, but it actually packed in a lot of world building and character development. Or rather it confirmed that development.

First we were introduced to the concept that powers are merging and evolving with each generation having more and more powerful quirks at younger ages. This could potentially become a serious problem as we have already seen the havoc that uncontrolled quirks can cause. And it’s a very interesting idea, this notion of a quirk event horizon. A point where so many individuals will have uncontrollably powerful quirks that they could viably wipe out a good portion of the population. Or alternatively that they would themselves not survive long enough to have children thereby creating a population crisis. In the MHA universe, it’s a credible premise that mankind could evolve itself into extinction.

That’s some pretty deep classic sci fi thought experiment. And it’s mighty sneaky of them to throw it into a narrative about the two most popular MHA pretty boys taking care of a bunch of kids. What do you make of it Crow?

It felt the same way to me — classic science fiction “what if.” I’ve often referenced Dune in my reviews, and I think there’s a case to be made that the scenario you just outlined, where the children don’t survive long enough to produce children, is something right out of the complex ecology of Arrakis. It’s almost like an evolutionary population control. Kids get too powerful for the world (or their parents) to contain? The population resets.

Overall, I thought it was an interesting concept, and a sign of a dynamic world. With Quirks becoming more unmanageable, something has to give. I think I would have liked to have seen some indication that the kids’ teacher, Komari Ikoma, was trying to come up with a new way to teach them; some way that indicated she and the teaching establishment she was a part of were trying to evolve new methods.

As for the character development part. The situation was resolved by using their quirks in a creative and cooperative way rather than a show of force. Each of them found the best way to do so according to their own skills. They knew how to capitalize on the opportunity once the kids started to be won over. But the idea started with Bakugou. More precisely, with Bakugou explaining that even if they do simply defeat the kids without hurting them too much, being defeated by someone you have no respect for is just humiliating and frustrating. It won’t win the kids over. They need to create a situation that the kids want to be part of.

First of all, that’s pretty smart, but Bakugou is supposed to be very intelligent. From the very first episode he has always been top of the class. In fact it’s nice to see it in action but it’s nothing new. What is new is that this particular bright idea can only come through empathy. Bakugou had to put himself in those kids’ place and that is not something he could have done in episode 1. Our little Baku is growing up. And it’s telling that he’s the only one that didn’t use his quirk at all. Just his words.

Also that advice he threw in “If you don’t stop looking down on others from high above, you’ll fail to notice your own weakness” (I’m paraphrasing here), hits close to home. It’s obvious that the events of the last two seasons have had an effect on him and it’s sinking in.

I feel a little bummed — I couldn’t find a name from the little ring-leader from Masegaki Primary School! One thing that struck me as I watched this scene is how easily it could have become hollow and saccharin sweet. But because it was the product of Bakugou’s authentic character development, and because he was so convincingly empathetic, I thought it worked and worked well. 

And though I’m really happy they didn’t have to resort to physical violence, I did think it was extremely cool that when the kids unleashed their attacks on our four heroes, they  weren’t even annoyed. No damage; not even enough to make them uncomfortable. I do so like moments like that!

In many ways, Bakugou’s character arc, his hang ups and obstacles are similar to Todoroki’s, which is probably why they clash so much. However, they are represented in opposite ways. Todoroki is the golden child who had so much pressure heaped on him that he’s come to deeply resent everyone’s hopes and expectations. It’s symbolized in his unwillingness to accept his own quirk, which is in many ways a symbol of a lot of the pain he’s suffered in the past. He has willingly hadicapped himself using only a portion of his power and strives only to be different than what is expected of him.

Bakugou comes from a much more modest background and has had forceful but supportive parents. Despite being in many ways perfectly suited to the golden child role, brilliant, often referred to as handsome, strong and healthy, he has defined himself solely by his quirk. So seeing a situation where Todoroki used both his ice and fire willingly — and just for fun at that —  showed the Shoto has come a long way to accepting his quirk, and by extension himself, and putting those difficult memories behind him. On the other hand, Bakugou avoided using his quirk or even taking the spotlight which tells me that this spoiled brat is finally maturing just a bit.

Remember when Todoroki was using his flame to help the kids warm their hands? That’s a great example of what you just pointed out. The Todoroki we met years ago would not have done that! We’d seen hints of that before, so what really blew me away in this episode was Bakugou’s restraint. Very impressive!

All of this development was great to see but there’s still one elephant in the room for me. I cannot forgive Endeavour, and I really dislike the series trying to sanitize him without any proper character building in that sense. Like I said, I thought it was interesting and gutsy to have an openly despicable “hero”. That’s something truly original as even the anti-heros we are used to are usually noble at heart. Endeavour was just a bad selfish and cruel man. But he was strong and wore the right colours. That conflict was fascinating to me. When did he become a tragic misunderstood soul who just wants to make the son he loves so much proud? Where did the guy who beat up that son when he was 5 years old, so badly that the boy threw up? You can’t just go from one to the other like that. Am I the only one bothered by this?

No. Two things bothered me about the scene where Endeavour reached out to Todoroki. First, you’re right — nothing he did in the past has been forgiven, if for no other reason than he has done nothing to atone. He did nothing to heal the damage he’d done. But what bothered me even more was that I found a small part of me hoping that Todoroki would make up with him. To see father and son reunited. 

Why would I want to put Todoroki through that? Sure, he’s conflicted, but wanting him to reestablish a relationship with the exact cause of that conflict is a really, really cruel thing to do! Do even I feel social pressure to conform to an ideal of family? 

I did say “a small part.” The rest of my brain was adamant in rejecting the notion completely. In fact, I suspect now that Endeavour has realized once and for all that he can’t step into All Might’s role — ever! — he’s reevaluating his life. I don’t know that he feels guilty, but he knows the strategy he had employed failed him. And of course it did. It was a terrible strategy. 

I have to give the show points for creating a situation that supported such a conversation, though!

The latter half of the episode started off rather mundanely. A time jump brought us to September and we learn through still scenes that the kids attended Nighteye’s funeral and the the internship program was being reevaluated. Duh! For the time being, everyone is back at UA and things are slowly going back to normal. More or less…

Aoyama has always been a fairly minor supporting character. I mean he’s always been around, but he’s just one more type of comic relief and hasn’t had many opportunities to distinguish himself. So when he starts to apparently stalk Deku, through cheese at that, I was really taken by surprise. I honestly said out loud, what exactly is going on here?

It was well done, constructed as an old school Hitchcockian suspense, with jump cuts and shadowy nighttime scenes and all those allusions of I know…. I really liked this turn. I was baffled as to where it was all going but I really liked it. I hoped we would have gotten a few episodes of this unsettling and yet hilarious atmosphere. The creative use of cheese was a great touch!

It was so unexpected that as the scenes played out, I was trying to come up with explanations. But we know that Aoyama doesn’t have an evil bone in his body, so whatever he was up to couldn’t be hurtful — unless he was actually a Himiko Toga replacement, but that couldn’t be because she’s more direct in her attacks. To be honest, I couldn’t figure out what was really going on.

In the end, it turns out that what he knew was simply that Deku was struggling with his quirk on a physical level and he felt a kinship with him because of that. An unexpectedly sweet reveal if a little cheesy.

I’m sorry…

Should I feel guilty for laughing so hard? I really like puns… I thought Aoyama reaching out to Deku was a sign of how much he had come to trust and respect him. The relationships within the class aren’t static, and I like that.

All and all, this episode was distinctly optimistic in tone, positioning most of the main cast in hopeful situations. It seems like a high before a low or a calm before the storm, but I’m happy to take it. It made me smile.

I’m really looking forward to seeing Kyouka Jirou play her guitar! We haven’t seen much of her since the League of Villains invaded UA. I’m curious if she’ll be her own guitar amp!

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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10 Responses

  1. I like mild cheese. Cheddar, Colby, Monterrey Jack, Gouda, Edam. A mild cheese sets easily on the palette and allows you to draw the subtleties out.

    I think Endeavor now realizes that he can’t be All Might. He is a fundamentally angry and unstable person. When he was young he took his frustration out on his son. Since he now realizes what he can’t be, hopefully, he can move towards what he can be.

    I’m not interested in making him atone for anything, just as I would never ask my own parents or the school bullies of my own childhood to atone for their misdeeds. The past is gone and cannot be undone. To live in it is to be trapped by it. Being a better person is enough for me.

    • Irina says:

      I still find it a complete personality overhaul out of nowhere. As for attoning. He almost killed his wife and children, last we saw the wife is still in the hospital, so maybe the law will catch up to him?

      • I don’t have the same feelings about anime behavior as I do about the real world. If I did there would be some very good anime I’d be very angry with.

        My personal belief is that nobody atones for anything until after they are genuinely sorry for what they did. Punishment is a different thing entirely. In that world, either domestic violence isn’t taken very seriously or being a major hero changes the rules.

        • Irina says:

          My only point was that the narrative presented it as a major conflict in the previous seasons and insisted on it as an important factor in several character arcs and seem to have abandonned it without narrative resolve. Obviously you can’t apply real world morality to MHA. They all do unspeakable amounts of colladeral dammage without an after thought. It’s the narrative itself that was dictating those rules and now seems to be dismissing them and I missed the part were the new rules were set up. This may just be my lack of attention or intuition but that’s why I thought maybe there was some chara evolution that had been left on the cutting room floor when it went from manga to anime. That’s what it seemed like to me but O could be completely wrong. Still I think it’s a shame to change such a unique characterization for a much more mundane one.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Abuse is a touchy subject at the best of times, and usually not conveyed properly in fiction. I was scared to see how this plot point would be handled and was left stunned a mainstream shonen manga is able handle the topic so delicately and without glorifying the abuser through his heroism this plot line dives deep into the victims and abuser and ends in the most mature way possible

    • I’m still on the fence, and I think it’s because I need to see how it plays out. But I agree with you that so far, the writers are handling it well. It’s clear Endeavor is still, well, Endeavor. And I like how Todoroki’s recovery has been dramatized.

    • Irina says:

      So far this season seems to be going the glorifying route but we’ll see. Mostly I just think something may have been lost in adaptation as it just seems like there’s a lot of character development that wasn’t shown or even really implyied which is just a little jarring. Not that I didn’t enjoy the episode mind you, it’s more that one aspect is a little less smooth to me.

  1. February 17, 2020

    […] an inspiration from a character I didn’t expect, from a scene I’m still not sure I understand: Aoyama and the cheese scenes from episode 80. He wanted to give Eri a surprise! He asked Aizawa, who immediately warmed to the idea. And what […]

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