Anime

Review of My Hero Academia s4 ep71 – A Tough Decision and Those are Bad Odds

Hey, everyone! Hey, Irina (from I Drink and Watch Anime, but everyone already knows that, don’t they?). How’s your week been, Irina? We actually had a few sunny days just south of the Great Lakes. Don’t know how to react to that!

It’s clearly winter here. There may have been sunny days but since the sun rises at – I dunno, 10 or something and sets at 4, I don’t really get to see it much. It’s relaxing though! I’m still in the way too much work mode, but I’m seeing light at the end of the tunnel. And I’m glad to have a bit of weekend time for good friends and anime!

Last week, Irina tried to make her “episode reviews a bit more concise.” Well, I enjoyed reading both styles, which was a huge relief! However, she reminded me of a quote I’d read that went something like, “Sorry for writing such a long letter. I didn’t have time to make it shorter!” The challenge is to be concise and not lose meaning. So, challenge accepted! I’ll try to be more concise, too. 

I say this as I’m writing longer and longer sentences…

Irina’s bold this week, which is as it should be. There will be spoilers. Irina, any thoughts before we get underway?

Yes! That is the best quote! I’mma gonna steal it and sound fancy. It’s absolutely fantastic and yes, being concise is an art!

This said, I’m rambly and in need of boundaries, your style has always been very pleasant. I hope you don’t feel obligated to follow suit.

It’s not an obligation — it’s an invitation to improve my craft! So let’s see what we can do.

This week, we review My Hero Academia’s 71st episode, “Suneater of the Big Three.” This episode introduces us to two thematic hearts. They might as well be the binary stars around which the entire series orbits. I’ll point them out as we describe the episode, but for me, they are what make this series so special. And both have to do with what motivates the heroes and the villains. Though in isolation, it’d be tough to know which was which!

The title, “Suneater of the Big Three,” tells us who’s the focus this episode: Tamaki Amajiki, who is one of the school’s Big Three, along with Nejire Hadou and Mirio Togata. In the opening flashback, Tamaki is just starting what looks like middle school, and it looks like he has crippling social anxiety. He can barely get his words out when the teacher asks him to introduce himself! 

Young Tamaki had never encountered anyone like Mirio. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Later in the day, he’s sitting alone, feeling sorry for himself. Mirio walks up to him and just starts talking. They bond over a mutual admiration for heroes, and Mirio’s personality nearly overwhelms Tamaki, to the point were he thought his new friend shone as bright as the sun.

What did you think of their first talk, Irina?

I think I mentioned it already but I really relate to Tamaki. Out of all the MHA characters, he’s the one that speaks to me. I get it! So when Mirio came to talk to him that first day, Tamaki’s relief and gratefulness reverberated through me… I got it. 

And so now, I’m also a Lemillion fangirl. How can I not be He’s the type to make awkward weirdos feel like they have a seat at the table.

I wonder what Deku would have become had he met a Mirio of his own.

That’s a very interesting question! You know, that might make a good article for your site! 

Back in the present, key heroes and police officers storm the compound. I thought it was humorous how, as they burst into the house, Fat Gum (Taishirou Toyomitsu) said it was an emergency and apologized for not taking off his shoes. 

I respect that level of politeness!

I have to respect not only Fat Gum’s dedication to his heroism, but also his politeness! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The villains’ strategy starts to become clear: delay. As our heroes opened the secret passage that Nighteye’s Foresight had shown him, a villain burst out of the door and tried to stop them. I have to admit I was impressed with how Bubble Girl (Kaoruko Awata) used a bubble with some kind of blinding agent to slow down her attacker. Then she used effective martial arts to put him on the ground. Nice to see one of the sidekicks get screen time!

After getting through a couple of other barriers, Joi Irinaka, one of Overhaul’s (Kai Chisaki) lieutenants, injected himself with the Quirk enhancing drug. Before I could even finish the thought, “Wonder what he’s up to?”, he disappeared into the wall. His Quirk lets him control whatever he can enter, and now, to delay our heroes, he was twisting and remaking the corridors.

Tamaki realized that not only could Joi Irinaka delay them. He could make as many escape routes as he wanted for Overhaul. What did you think of this tactic, Irina?

To be honest, I was a little distracted by hearing my name in My Hero Academia. Despite how common it is, I rarely hear my name if not addressed at me in general, so it’s a little jarring.

Other than an arrangement of letters, I don’t think that Joi Irinaka and Irina have very much in common. She’s a lot less villain-y, for example. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Th tactic was fun and interesting in concept and visuals. However, Quirks are getting a bit out of control. With every season trying to one up the last, and so many characters, it’s tough to keep on coming up with new skills. That’s what Irinaka seemed like to me. Just a touch too much.

I think that’s a real possibility — Quirk fatigue! And now you’re making me wonder how unleashing so many conflict Quirks could really have a devastating impact on a city…

Mirio’s Quirk lets him pass through matter, so he went ahead of the rest — plunging through walls as he did so. More on that in a second. As he left, the floor literally dropped out beneath our heroes, and they found themselves plunging into a large concrete room. Three villains waited for them there: Soramitsu Tabe, Toya Setsuno, and Yu Hojo. They all realized that these three intended to delay them to give Overhaul time to escape with Eri. But the heroes, even the professionals, didn’t seem to know how to disengage. 

You know, I really liked the bit about Mirio’s suit being made out of his own hair. It’s those geeky little details that make me feel like the author loves this work.

That was really cool, wasn’t it? Added some realism, too. 

Remember how the episode started with Tamaki’s flashback? Well, now the episode turns its attention mostly to him. Knowing every second of delay decreases the chances the mission ends with Eri safe, Tamaki tells Fat Gum he’s got this. Fat Gum and the other heroes need to get on with the mission.

Tamaki insisted that Fat Gum take the rest of the heroes and move forward — delay just played into their enemies’ hands. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Fat Gum hesitated only an instant before ordering the rest to move out. Many of the heroes objected. Deku (Izuku Midoriya) even freezes for a moment, torn between wanting to save Eri and not wanting to leave a colleague to face three enemies alone. 

Tamaki said something that I’m afraid — very, very afraid — will be important later. He tells Izuku, “Please take care of Mirio. He’s definitely going to try too hard, so please help him.”

Irina, did you get a sense of foreboding?

I’ve been getting a sense of foreboding since episode 2. Instead of his hair, that boy’s costume might as well be entire made up of flags. I don’t think they’ll kill him off but right now he’s my top choice for losing his powers to the drug. Which will add another layer of bitterness and complexity to the fact that he was a One for All contender that wasn’t chosen.

At least that sounds like a decent story to me.

Another way though would be for Nighteye to lose his powers and Mirio to blame himself. Almost as devastating and it takes care of the fact that Nighteye’s power is plot threatening and they keep having to find excuses to limit him.

For some reason though, I don’t think we’ll lose any of our heroes this time around. With the police there and everything. Seems like it would be too big a scandal…

Izuku heard Tamaki’s plea to take care of Mirio. I have a bad feeling about this… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Let’s hope you’re right. 

Tamaki apparently ate octopus or squid earlier in the day, because he manifested huge tentacles and held the three villains. As the heroes left, Eraser Head (Shouta Aizawa) nullified their Quirks, but his nullification wouldn’t last for long. Tamaki needed to knock them unconscious before their powers came back. He tried to knock Toya Setsuno unconscious, but the man had a knife underneath his plague mask. As Tamaki recoiled from the pain, Toya began to introduce us to the villain’s side of the thematic poles. He said that all three of them had given up on life. Yu Hojo picked up on the idea and said that Overhaul had given them a reason to live. 

“The young head picked up that trash and found a new use for it. Even trash has its pride.”

The fight had more or less switched to slow motion, as Tamaki had another flashback. This time, he remembered how in the Quick equivalent of gym glass, he had a terrible time using his Quirk. Even Mirio failed because he didn’t have precise control! Yet, when Mirio failed, he still remained upbeat. 

He and Mirio were walking home, and Tamaki was saying how much he admired Mirio for being cheerful even if he failed. Mirio even seemed to encourage the people around him simply by being so positive.

What Mirio said next blew me away. It’s what will make him such a great hero (if he survives the next episodes!). It’s one of the ideas that makes this show so interesting. Mirio said, “You’re making me sound so great, but it’s not like that… I can do my best because you’re here, Tamaki. It’s not like I’m mentally strong. It’s just that, seeing you do your best without running away even though you get super nervous makes me feel like I don’t want to lose to you.”

Tamaki could not believe what Mirio said to him. Yet, Mirio was obviously earnest. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Irina, can you imagine what kind of impact that would have had on a young Tamaki?

Something like what Bakugo is to Deku, except Mirio is obviously way more likable. But the basic dynamic is the same. Two people spurring each other forward through pride and example.

The only thing is, we know Tamaki thought heroes were cool when he was a kid, but he never actually said he wanted to be one. So why would Mirio lose to him? What makes him think they are even playing the same game? Tamaki seems like the type of guy to rearrange his whole life based on that statement even if hero work doesn’t appeal to him at all.

This is one of the perks of collaborating with you — you have such a keen eye for character. I didn’t see that in Tamaki, but now that you pointed it out, it seems to fit. 

That’s the first of the two thematic hearts. It’s no coincidence that we get a full picture of the second just a moment later. As is often the case in shōnen anime, Tamaki’s flashback gave him a power boost, which he used to good effect. Trouble was, the villains had exceptional teamwork. Soon, they had him pinned against the wall. 

Trying to buy himself some time, Tamaki said they’ll be arrested soon and that they have no future. Yu Hojo dismissed his taunt, saying that they were societal rejects anyway. Soramitsu Tabe was literally an eating machine and wasn’t able to fit in. Toya Setsuno’s lover betrayed him and forced him to assume their debts. Yu Hojo, the speaker, could create gems with his Quirk. But when those hoping to profit from his powers learned the gems were not worth anything, “he was called useless and beaten half to death. To us, that man said, Come join us.”

When the rest of society rejected Yu Hojo, Overhaul reached out a hand. Even though there were conditions, he accepted Yu when no one else would. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

“That man” was Overhaul. 

Mirio was driven to be a better hero because he found inspiration in Tamaki’s courage. The three villains facing Tamaki had become villains because the choices of the people around them forced them first to the fringes of society, then over its edge. 

Irina, do these ideas resonate with you as much as they do with me?

I’m afraid they don’t. I mean Mirio may have found some inspiration in Tamaki but, ultimately he chose his path and put in the effort. He also now travels ahead. The choice was his own.

To me, it’s the same for these guys. They chose to react to difficult situations and unpleasant experience by going down this path. I can’t blame it on other people. Overhaul is a charismatic leader obviously, and I suppose one can get charmed by him but that doesn’t absolve them of responsibility.

Also, these are sort of boiler plate bad guy backstories, so I admit I didn’t pay that much attention to them. I just wanted Tamaki to be o.k.

Maybe I stated it too strongly, but I’ve seen too many situations in real life where one faction will set up laws or customs to cast another in a bad light, then ridicule that other faction for being in a bad light. This has a similar feel. Plus, freedom of choice is sometimes more elusive than it first seems. I’m going to have to think about how to better frame it…

Another fascinating aspect of this situation is that Tamaki just didn’t get it. He had first assumed they were following Overhaul out of fear. He begins to think they were brainwashed and tries to reason with them by asking if they’d like to be used up and discarded.

In a dismissive tone, Yu Hojo said, “A hero can’t understand!”

Yu Hojo said that that Tamaki, as a hero, wouldn’t be able to understand him. I think he underestimated Tamaki. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

A hero like Fat Gum, as cool as he is, certainly doesn’t get it. A hero as arrogant as Lock Hero (Ken Takagi) wouldn’t get it. I’m not even sure All Might (Toshinori Yagi) understands. They’re so focused on being heroes that they don’t seem to question why heroes are needed in the first place.

All Might would never get it. But Eraser might, Endeavor (Enji Todoroki) probably does, so would Deku. Then again, I’m not sure the guy who eats everything got it either, he seemed singularly focused.

Good call on Eraser Head and Deku? Another reason that I think Deku’s take on One for All might be very different than what we’ve seen before. Though I’m not convinced Endeavor understands anything except Endeavor! Okay, I admit that was too strongly worded…

Tamaki, though, started to understand. Now knowing that they weren’t driven by fear or even a desire to do evil, he came up with a plan. He kicked a stray crystal into Toya Setsuno’s eye. Then, then Yu Hojo tried to pummel him with a gem-encrypted fist, he manifested his own gems — having just ingested a crystal himself. Finally, as Soramitsu Tabe charged, ready to eat Tamaki, our hero threw Yu Hojo into him. Tamaki now knew they were actually friends, so they couldn’t eat each other.

The villains ended up in a heap on the ground.

Tamaki won the fight, but he took considerable damage. He’s going to keep Recovery Girl quite busy! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

What did you think of the fight, Irina?

It was lots of fun and recalled Kirishima’s episode. I like these “fights of the week “episodes. I know I’m not supposed to since they’re shonen clichés and considered out of style, but they always get my adrenaline up.

I’m a sucker for classic fighting shonen. I really dig that My Hero Academia is reprising the style.

I also like how the series is exploring the motivations of heroes and villains. I think that Tamaki’s earlier underdog status (crippling social anxiety) helped him better understand the villain’s perspective. Izuku, too, seems to have a heightened sensitivity to the plight of others — hero or villain. 

I’ve mentioned something similar before, but I would love to see the series show how Izuku’s One for All is different than All Might’s — namely, that Izuku’s expression of power is less overtly focused on individual heroism and more focused on collaboration. Kind of the anti-Endeavor. He could still be heroic, but maybe he’d be more inclined to root out the causes of villainy! 

Realizing that the three villains weren’t following Overhaul out of fear was a major revelation to Tamaki. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Irina, what do you think?

I actually wrote a post about it – it’s not published yet though….

This just occurred to me, but do you think that All Might’s Americanization has a part to play in this? 

I’ll keep an eye out for your post!

As far as All Might goes, I sure hope they do something with it. It’s been staring us in the face since day one. Not only does he look decidedly American, his over the top style is cliche American. They’d be missing an opportunity not to do something with it!

And now we have to wait a week to see what happens next! I hope Mirio waits for backup before engaging the enemy. The guilt’s weighing awfully heavy on him, though… 

Reviews of the Other Episodes

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