Anime

Review: My Hero Academia s4 ep85: Repurposing the Dream and the Power of Love

This episode surprised me. For the first 8 or 9 minutes, I was a bit underwhelmed. I had resigned myself that My Hero Academia Season 4’s episode “School Festival Start!!” (the 85th episode) was going to give us a lackluster ending bereft of the show’s trademark Meaningful Fights™ — fights where the theme is every bit as important as the action. I figured Danjuurou Tobita/Gentle Criminal would give Izuku Midoriya/Deku a decent fight, Manami Aiba/La Brava would use her surprise Quirk, there’s be a bit of action, and we’d get to see Yuuga Aoyama/Shining Hero become a human disco-ball, and everyone would be happy. But then some interesting stuff happened, and by the ending, I was pleasantly surprised!

There were two things really liked about this episode: Deku’s growth as a tactician and My Hero Academia once again showing us that Hero culture has some cracks.

Before we get into the episode, do you have any opening thoughts, Irina?

I’m increasingly feeling like the lone man out. I quite liked this episode including the first half. In fact I may have preferred the first half. Both Gentle and La Brava are very recognizable characters that have just a touch of fridge terror to them. Meaning that we have obviously seen way more formidable adversaries in My Hero Academia. Arguably they all were but that’s what makes them so special.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Also I’m not sure what the 9 minute mark was. 

Sorry — bad habit of mine. That’s about the time we got to see Gentle Criminal and La Brava sneak away from a police officer. The scene really struck me was funny, in a good way.

I guess all I have to say is that I didn’t realize it was slow to begin.

Irina will be in bold. There will be spoilers. 

Oh yeah! I am, there will….

We had what seemed like an unusually long recap in this episode. After that, I have to say that I was impressed by how Deku analyzed where Gentle Criminal placed his elastic air. This was the first example of Deku’s growth. He used that information to dive between them, knowing that his opponent would put up a protective barrier. Deku used the position of the other “membranes” to ricochet a shot that slammed Gentle Criminal to the ground. Our hero was able to pin both of them to the ground.

It looked like things were over for our hapless villain-lite characters. The first clue I was wrong was that the narrative dove right into La Brava’s back-story, which was actually pretty sad. Back in high school, she had worked up enough courage to send a love letter to her crush, but she included so many details about his life he concluded she’d been stalking him. She overheard him making fun of her with his friends. She had really big tears for someone so small.

“Hapless villain-lite…” ouch…

La Brava’s back story gave me Watamote vibes. Maybe it’s the dark circles (a character design element I’m a big fan of by the way). I might be wrong, but I think that it’s a story pretty much everyone that has been a little girl can relate to. Maybe not the actual events but that general feeling. Heck, maybe little boys can relate to it as well… I went to all girls schools, I don’t know much about boys that age.

I remember moments like that, too. On the bright side, I learned a lot about reading a room! As in, “Oh, that’s what ‘despise’ looks like…”

She shed such big tears for being such a little girl… It’s a wonder any of us made it out of school. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

She remembered how gently Gentle Criminal had treated her when she’d shown up at his door. She remembered how he’d given her the nickname “La Brava.” She she decided to use her Quick, the Quirk she’d only used to help in their escapes. She told him, “I love you.”

Irina, what’d you think of La Brava’s Quirk?

It made me unironically tear up. Not that I ironically tear up, I haven’t gotten to that level or irony mastery. But I did sort of sniffle at the scene then feel silly for getting so emotional and then I teared up again. 

I’m going to really reach here. There is a trend of ridiculing what young girls “love”. Like whatever gets popular off that specific demographic usually gets bad representation. It’s often considered less or silly, not as engaging, smart or well made as other forms. So there was something fun and subversive to see a young girl weaponize her “love” in such a concrete and direct way. What La Brava loves matters. 

It also reframes her earlier backstory. If that silly boy had given her a chance he may have become super strong. Then again, he wasn’t mean on purpose and I bet she totally did stalk him and freak him out. The young man did nothing wrong. This went in a lot of different directions. Sorry about that.

At first, I wondered if I should recoil in manly horror. I mean, love having such a powerful expression could challenge every Guy thing I believe in! But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered why we hadn’t seen this Quirk before! It makes perfect sense in the context of this world. Then, even as the action continued on screen, I wondered what would happen if Ochako Uraraka/Uravity had the Love Quirk and confessed to Deku. That’d be fun to watch! 

If Deku survived, anyway.

What an interesting Quirk! Her love can actually grant a power up! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Wait really??? Maybe it’s a Canadian thing cause the men I know are waaaayyyyy more romantic than the women. Like I was watching this and thought, ok, a man totally came up with this quirk. 

Mind you, despite what I said in the previous paragraph, it may have been more interesting to give that quirk to a big macho man character.

I actually like your “fun and subversive” interpretation a little better, but can you imagine Katsuki Bakugou with that Quirk? That could be amazing…

After La Brava’s statement of love, Gentle Criminal glowed with a pink (because, you know, love) aura and flung Deku away. The Mustached One was aglow not only with La Brava’s love but with confidence. Apparently, after powering up like this, he and La Brava had never lost.

Well, in the second demonstration of Deku’s growth, he continued to adapt his attacks and defenses, all the while making excellent use of the new gloves that Mei Hatsume had made him. As Gentle Criminal got more and more frustrated with Deku’s persistence, he made it quite clear that he was willing to crush any one’s hopes and dreams, even those of the UA students, to make his own dream come true. We find out what that dream was in a second. 

Deku’s response is one of my two favorite moments of the episode. Expressing outrage, Deku asked how he could possibly justify stealing “the smile of a girl who doesn’t know how to smile yet.” Of course, he was talking about Eri. She’s otherwise known as She Who Evokes Maximum Defense at Any Threat, so it’s pretty clear why Deku would want to give her a fun school festival.

Deku was utterly determined to give Eri something to smile about. And Gentle Criminal and La Brava were obstacles. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Irina, at this point in the episode, what’d you think of Gentle Criminal’s perspective?

Had we gotten Gentle’s perspective yet or was he just saying it was his dream? I mean before his flashback I didn’t really know what to make of his stance other than he seemed to care a lot about La Brava. I also just like the character by default, which seems to be an unpopular opinion. 

I was under the impression that Gentle was an older gentleman. Like in his 50s at least, and that La Brava was a high school student, so the entire relationship gave off Lolita vibes which I wasn’t entirely sure how to feel about. Like it was simultaneously super sweet and endearing and creepy and uncomfortable, to me.

I had an impression that Gentle Criminal’s dream had to be something pretty astonishing, because if it wasn’t, I wasn’t feeling very charitable towards him. Even as he and Deku hurtled at each other, the show jumped into a flashback to when Gentle Criminal was just Danjuurou Tobita.

I was the opposite. The simpler the better!

Surprisingly (or not), he was a student at a hero school Not UA — even the principal went out of his way to stress they weren’t at one of the more “prestigious” schools. Tobita had failed the provisional licensing exam 4 times, and the principal suggested he should quit. Now, Tobita was trying to be upbeat and positive, and he vowed never to give up on his dream to become a hero. That is, until he was sitting in a tea/coffee shop and heard someone yelling for a hero.

Tobita heard someone calling for a hero. It might have been better for all involved if he’d just stayed and enjoyed his tea. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

A window washer’s platform had suffered a cable snapping, and the poor window washer’s grip was about to fail. Tobita didn’t see any help coming, so he thought he’d use his Quirk to catch the window washer as he fell. Unfortunately, as soon as he cast it, a winged hero flew over the roof and tried to catch the washer as he fell. The hero ran into the elasticized air, and the washer barely missed it. The platform didn’t, and when it bounced, it landed right on top of the washer.

Apparently, the washer survived (though I have no idea how!). 

Boy, that scene freaked me out. Yes, they decided to make it bloodless because this is still a children’s show, but that bit of voiceover did nothing to wash the image from my brain. It was so visceral. 

It was a disaster. Tobita felt terrible about it, and the police lectured him on having hurt the washer. But what seemed worst of all, from the perspective of the police, was that Tobita interfered with a hero. They charged him with that crime.

Guess Good Samaritan laws don’t apply in this world!

Irina, did that strike you as slightly unfair?

No it did not. He really could have killed someone. A lot of people actually!

Let me make it clear, I probably enjoy Gentle as a character a lot more than most fans and seeing his downward spiral was very sad. I would have preferred to see him a hero and still would like to see that no matter how trite it is. But there should absolutely be consequences for acting recklessly in a world full of super powered people and I was downright thrilled that the show thought about it and showed us what those consequences are.

Tobita’s attempt to save the window washer actually blocked the hero — and landed the platform right on top of the washer. It’s a wonder no one died. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

If anything, this was my favourite part of the episode as it was substantial world building. It defined an underlying social foundation to the hero system that is missing from way too many superhero stories.

So no. That was clearly reckless endangerment that was just one lucky break away from involuntary manslaughter. There’s a reason hero’s need licenses.

That’s a good point; I would have felt better if they’d charged him with reckless endangerment — putting the focus on harming the poor window washer. Tobita’s reaction was devoting himself to a life of villainy. The show’s willingness to demonstrate that this society’s devotion to heroes actually creates villains is, I think, an interesting comment. Why did Tobita’s principal suggest he quit and not move into a support role? Why did not mom prioritize her feelings of humiliation at having such a “terrible” child over counseling him on other ways to succeed? She was quite a contrast to Deku’s mom, by the way. 

I’m just going to rewrite this a little. Faced with his own limitations, Tobita figured out an alternative path to securing a legacy. If you can’t join them…

He’s nothing if not dedicated, I’ll give him that! 

My second favorite moment in this episode reminded me of why I think Deku is the real deal when it comes to heroes. As Gentle Criminal’s flashback wound down, he lamented that Deku was probably going to dismiss or ridicule him, too.

“I won’t mock you, Gentle Criminal,” Deku said. Even though his foe was trying to upend the festival, with everything that such an act entailed, Deku was sticking to his principles. All the while, he continued showing off fighting moves that were a lot better than he’d been capable of doing before.

Deku wouldn’t mock Gentle Criminal. That’s because Deku takes heroism seriously. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I think he actually won the fight when Gentle Criminal played his last card. He couldn’t afford to lose because his dream wasn’t for him alone. It was for La Brava, too. Any hope of gaining the moral high ground vanished when Deku listed off all the people he was fighting for — and it was an impressive number of folks! He ended by saying that his goal as a hero was to “become someone who can show them a bright future!”

What did you think of that resolution?

Just like last week, the episode relied heavily on parallels between Gentle and Deku but I still think that Gentle is way more… well, docile than Deku. Gentle is just not that smart. His demeanour and character design all point towards the wise man stereotype, so there’s a major dissonance there but he’s an air head. A kid that couldn’t pass his classes and just sort of goes along with whatever happens. He is drastically different from Deku, and from any other character in the series.

Gentle is basically incompetent and minimally ambitious but with an actually powerful quirk. A combination we have not seen and that yields tons of possibilities. 

That didn’t really answer your question. I guess I think they should have explored the character of Gentle a bit more/better.

I say all this but I teared up again watching Deku give it his all for his friends. Look, I just liked the episode. So there…

Deku didn’t know how to react to an attack like La Brava’s. I’m not sure he even felt it. He might never had known she was hitting him if he wasn’t looking at her. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

It may not have come across, but I liked the episode, too. It bordered on endearing, if you can believe that. The image that will stick with me was La Brava, tears just pouring from her eyes, pounding Deku with her little fists as he held Gentle Criminal down. Deku looked like he had no idea what to do about it. She wasn’t hurting him, and I think his instinctive response was to protect people who were crying. It was a wonderfully confused moment.

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4 thoughts on “Review: My Hero Academia s4 ep85: Repurposing the Dream and the Power of Love

  1. “Gentle is basically incompetent and minimally ambitious but with an actually powerful quirk. A combination we have not seen and that yields tons of possibilities.”

    What I like is that his Quirk isn’t actually *that* powerful. It’s not like he’s super strong or super fast with laser beam eyes… But it’s the parallel with Deku that makes him powerful, he’s also a natural born tactician. But where he fails is that he doesn’t seem to think his actions entirely through or foresee the consequences of his actions.

    Which makes me wonder why he failed the provisional licensing exam. Did he act rashly? Did he become hyperfocused on a singular goal and lose the big picture? Both Gentle’s backstory and what we’ve seen onscreen of the exam offer tantalizing hints.

    1. “Did he become hyperfocused on a singular goal and lose the big picture?”

      That’d be my guess. And/or not being able to handle panicking or hostile “victims.”

      “Both Gentle’s backstory and what we’ve seen onscreen of the exam offer tantalizing hints.”

      I wonder if we’ll see more of him and La Brava? The hints they gave us were almost intentionally open ended, like they intended to give us more later.

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