Anime

Review of My Hero Academia s4 ep79: An Overwhelming Onslaught and The Crumbling Symbol

In the intro to our review of the previous episode, Irina spoke of the re-contextualization the series has undergone in the last several episodes (particularly episode 77). Those words loomed large over this episode, “Win Those Kids’ Hearts” (episode 79). In fact, it drove at least half of the episode — and it managed to cast a deepening shadow over the series as a whole. Despite the upbeat OP, I think we’re in for some rough sailing. There may be spoilers, so be careful!

Hi, Irina! You’re in bold this week, which is, as I’ve said before, as it should be! Any opening thoughts before we dive in?

Actually, I haven’t read ahead so I’m really curious to see where you’re going with this. I think I have an idea but we’ll see if I’m right. Either way Crow, great opening paragraph. You sure got my attention!

The show pushed forward on two fronts. One had to do with the idea of preparing the next generation of heroes, which has been a theme of the series since day one. The other front was more ambitious, and I’ll talk about it second. It’s the part that continues the show’s contextual maturation; it’s the part that asks a very important question which comes from a quarter I completely did not expect.

At the end of the previous episode, Shouto Todoroki and Katsuki Bakugou were on their way for some more remedial training when they ran into Inasa Yoarashi and Camie Utsushimi, both from Shiketsu High School. All four joined several other students on the field. 

The instructor for this class was Kuugo Sakamata/Gang Orca. He had some really harsh words for Bakugou, Todoroki, and Yoarashi, and those words shouldn’t come as any surprise to us since we saw how they behaved in the Provisional Licensing Exam — they seriously know how to fight, but that’s all. They didn’t know how to connect to people who were panicked and terrified, and it’s hard to be a prickly hero.

Just ask Enji Todoroki/Endeavor

Before starting the practical training, Gang Orca told all of the students except our four heroes to head to the classroom for academic training. He had something special in mind for the four who remained. 

And what was that something special? The teachers had come up with the perfect training. How do you teach unempathetic heroes to be empathetic? What’s the most demanding audience known to humanity? What group senses fear, is utterly relentless, and can tear down almost any defense?

A huge class of Masegaki Primary School students. Even their teacher, Komari Ikoma, had lost control.

I think that poor Ikoma has got to have one of the hardest jobs in this universe — excepting front-line combat, of course (most of the time!). Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I know you have kids Crow, so maybe your perception is way different than mine on the subject, but to me this seemed like their biggest challenge yet and bordering on unfair. How many would have passed the first time around if this was part of the original test? Much fewer I would wager.

Parenting changes a person! I am so much more capable, especially around little ones, now compared to pre-kids. I think you’re right that fewer heroes would have passed the test!

Also, just because I’m not sure if I’ll get a chance to sneak it in later, I’m going to say they didn’t quite manage to make Camie work. I really love a good bimbo character and I think one was missing in MHA, but they just threw too many stereotypes together and I think the character doesn’t hold up, which is a shame. I had been so eager to see the real her ever since we saw Himiko as her. Sadly, I liked the Himiko version much better. Oh well… Sorry for the random aside, I was just a little disappointed, so I needed to get it out of my system.

Camie’s performance felt more forced the longer the episode went on. I saw a Tweet (I wish I could find it!) that said “Himiko/Camie > Camie,” and I think there’s some truth to that. Himiko has an abundance of personality that came through even when she was mimicking Camie. 

It was really interesting to see how the four heroes approached the “problem.” Bakugou wanted to get violent with them and even made one kid cry. Todoroki initially made good progress, but one of the vials on his belt looked a bit phallic, and the kids started calling him the Five Wees hero. Utsushimi tried to be maternal, but she almost smothered one of the boys in her cleavage, and a group of the little girls started calling her “the wanton woman.” Yoarashi did about as well as Todoroki. When he said they shouldn’t make things hard for their teacher, one of the kinds pointed out that he, too, was making things hard for the teachers by failing the Provisional Licensing Exam. 

I think Irina’s right. As it stands now, these heroes don’t stand a chance. Unless… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

It dawned on the four that they should probably work together, and they started to compare notes. I was really, really pleased that Bakugou figured out the core issue: there was a ring-leader who had basically usurped the teacher. Unfortunately, his plan — take out the ringleader — seemed to freak out the primary school’s teacher, who was still very, very frazzled.

You know this was a little off. Baku mentioned that this is how he was raised but we’ve met his family. His mother certainly is forceful but they were both rather loving parents. And Baku has had it easy all his life, in a way that’s his tragedy. I have a feeling he was simply exaggerating with that comment but it felt a little off. They seemed to have made his character a bit shallower in the past season, I hope he regains some of his early complexity because I think there’s a lot of potential there.

Your observation reminded me of the confrontation between him and Deku near the end of last season — which was a great character moment for both. You’re right — the complexity of character isn’t there. Unless… maybe the writer’s making the point that Bakugou can’t be himself unless he’s with someone like Deku? 

I thought Todoroki’s response was interesting. He said, “There should be a better way to do this,” but he didn’t seem to have anything. There’s something that continues to prevent him from engaging — and today, it might be that his father, Endeavor, was sitting in the stands. 

Todoroki was sure there’s a better way than the path of violence. But just what that might be, he couldn’t say. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

By this time, the ringleader had decided to assert himself, and the entire class of kids went weapons hot. They were ready to assault the four heroes. One of the observing teachers noted the four heroes had the strength to defeat the kids, but that would crush the kids’ spirits. If they let the kids win, that would further encourage their ringleader and embolden them. The cliff hanger for this episode was when the kids attacked.

And that’s where we jump back and look at the second front as dramatized by Toshinori Yagi/All Might and Endeavor. As Bakugou and the others were taking the field, Seiji Shishikura, a classmate of Yoarashi and Utsushimi, was already sitting in the bleachers with one of his teachers. The teacher said, “The predictions of the police and the heroes were wrong. We must really take measures promptly to deal with the absence of a Symbol.”

That doesn’t sound ominous or anything, does it?

They’ve been saying exactly that since last season so I wouldn’t worry too much…

Endeavor and All Might entered the bleachers. All Might wanted to be as inconspicuous and non-disruptive as possible. Endeavor, though, took a deep breath and shouted for his son to prove to everyone that he was on a different level. How the other students reacted was telling. They shifted uncomfortably. They wondered why Endeavor was there. It was clear the now number 1 hero made them uncomfortable. 

But then one of them noticed that the emaciated figure beside him was All Might, and the mood changed. They all smiled and waved. It was clear they were happy to see him. As All Might returned their waves, Endeavor didn’t say anything, but I had to wonder how he felt about that.

Endeavor was now the number 1 hero. You’d think he’d happy, having achieved his life’s goal. But he’s clearly not in a celebratory mood… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

But I didn’t have to wonder for long.

I had thought that Endeavor, in his desire to be above it all, was oblivious to everything. But he surprised me. In the last few episodes, we’ve seen that the Villains have seen an opening that they thought that they could exploit. That opening was One for All leaving the stage as All Might retired. The teacher talking to Shishikura had noticed it, too. And so had Endeavor.

“I can hear it. The sound of something unseen that you built up… crumbling away,” he said in a statement that shocked me. He went on to ask, “What is the symbol of Peace?”

He went on to explain that by the age of 20, he’d become the second strongest hero. But even as he achieved that goal; even as he honed his combat abilities; he knew that was his peak. He knew he’d never reach the top as long as All Might was there. And now that he was ranked number one, he sensed in himself and from those around him that there was within the hero community a terrible lack. He hadn’t risen to the peak; the peak had vanished.

To me, that admission was astonishing. On one hand, it bodes well for the future of hero society, because the absolute first step to fixing a problem is to admit it’s there! Unfortunately, it highlights something that previous fights (and Nighteye!) made clear: Izuku Midoriya/Deku is not ready to replace All Might’s status as the Symbol of Peace. 

I completely agree with everything you said and it’s a fantastic conflict for the series. Unfortunately, I couldn’t enjoy it. Maybe it’s in my head, but it seemed to me as if the episode was painting Endeavor in a sympathetic light. He was there to encourage his son and was supportive and vocal. He understood his limitations and failures and wanted to correct them. But the guy is a monster.

The students awaiting remedial training seem to share Irina’s opinion of Endeavor. The very sight of him evokes dread in their hearts. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

He beat and abused his family, including a very young Todoroki, for years. He is awful. Without some show of great effort, there is no way he’s earned redemption just because he finally managed a drop of self-awareness. No way. I’m not going to sympathize with Endeavor and that really barred me from accepting his viewpoint.

And on a narrative level, I happen to think it’s much more interesting to have the current number one hero to be an objectively unlikable character. One with flawed morals who’s only redeeming quality is that he happens to get his salary from the side we are told to root for. It’s interesting and rather unique to MHA. It’s sort of what I like in Baku as well. His idea that terrible people can do great things. Sort of a personification of “never meet your heroes”. I really hope we won’t lose that aspect for another bland hero in the gallery.

Leave it to you to restore my sense of perspective! I’m such a sucker for redemption arcs that Endeavor’s past slipped my mind. Now I wonder if Endeavor’s motivations are like those of a serial abuser who wants to make up — only to abuse again. To be sure, nothing’s really changed in terms of what would limit his behaviors. 

I’m also curious how Bakugou in particular is going to not wound any children in the next episode! 

To me, the ending was actually the more resonant part of the episode. The idea that a world of super-powered children, raising them and teaching them well takes on a whole new layer of consequence. Children can go through these stages where they are ruthless and devoid of empathy. Some of them need more help than others to get passed that. Now, what do you do when a kid is in that phase and can also explode your skull, throw you out of a window, imprison you in your own memories… It’s inconceivable to use the same force with small children as you would with bonafide villains. But what happens when those children have the same powers as said villains?

I am really curious to see how our heroes deal with this threat. And I have to wonder: would this be a thing if All Might were still active? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Just look at Stain. And he was one of the good guys, really. He cared too much. In many ways he was a more moral and respectable character than Endeavor. Now imagine what a kid with powers who never had a teacher that managed to get through to them and whose parents didn’t have time to take care of them could become. Shigaraki I suppose. But he had a parental figure in All for One. So worse than that. Scary.

You know, I nit picked a bunch of stuff and was all grumpy about Camie and Endeavor, but I actually really liked this episode. It was fun. I like the enclosed setting and the clear task structure and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it works out.

You don’t suppose Bakugou will discover he has a tiny heart that grows hundreds of times its original size in response to the kids? Nah, that’d be too cliche.

Reviews of the Other Episodes

3 thoughts on “Review of My Hero Academia s4 ep79: An Overwhelming Onslaught and The Crumbling Symbol

  1. After reading this, I’m really glad I quit the show.

    First, for me All Might was always a horrible hero. There is no “symbol of peace” anymore? Good riddance. That sort of strong-man romantics is indistinguishable from fascist speak. You don’t take responsiblity and demand other people take you for you, so they get to call the shots. That’s not what All Might, the person, is like – and there are checks and balances in place with the police and such. But give me a “symbol peace” that’s behind a military coup, and in a few years we have a couple of stunned people wondering how this could happen. The whole “symbol of peace” talk is dangerous, and the show seems to think it’s a problem that there’s no number one hero? No Peak? Give me a break. The problem was All Might all along, and now the sheeple have idea what to do. MHA wants me to be a villain.

    I pretty much gave up on MHA ever getting on my good side again after the Stain arc’s conclusion. The show can’t conceive of All Might being a major problem. It’s not that they disagree with me; they don’t see the possibility. Endeavor, a horrible person, has always been a better hero than All Might, IMO. But even then… trying to be the best…

    And then this: “One of the observing teachers noted the four heroes had the strength to defeat the kids, but that would crush the kids’ spirits.”

    Are you kidding me? Is the show really so hung up on Deku’s fools-rush-in mentality? If being defeated crushes their spirits then go right ahead. Let them run into an angered Bakugo. Because, you know, next time they’ll run into a villain, and then they’re either dead, maimed or recruited. You don’t glorify violence into a hero position. Violence is scary and should be presented as such.

    Finally:

    “Children can go through these stages where they are ruthless and devoid of empathy. Some of them need more help than others to get passed that. Now, what do you do when a kid is in that phase and can also explode your skull, throw you out of a window, imprison you in your own memories…”

    Shin Sekai Yori

    Not an easy situation, is it?

    1. “First, for me All Might was always a horrible hero. There is no “symbol of peace” anymore? Good riddance. That sort of strong-man romantics is indistinguishable from fascist speak.”

      Only All Might’s personality prevented him from becoming a dictator — though in the world of MHA, I’m not sure if One for All would have worked that way. Do some Quirks have ethics and a will? Still, your point about cult of personality, which is another way of saying Symbol of Peace, rings true.

      I keep hoping that Deku’s inability to step into the role as Symbol of Peace, along with his reliance on everyone else (as he did by relying on everyone’s feelings during his battle with Overhaul), might signal a change in direction. I kept hoping One for All would no longer be a solitary figure, but be expressed by a group of heroes. From a disaster recovery perspective if nothing else, that made sense.

      I hoped that, but your next observation proves why that can’t be: “Are you kidding me? Is the show really so hung up on Deku’s fools-rush-in mentality?”

      The show’s clearly positioning that mindset as something praise-worthy, and it’s not. I think Irina made that point clearly back in our review of episode 67, when she made the point that Lemillion’s self-discipline really kept them alive.

      “If being defeated crushes their spirits then go right ahead. Let them run into an angered Bakugo. Because, you know, next time they’ll run into a villain, and then they’re either dead, maimed or recruited.”

      This is where the school motif begins to break down, and I’m glad you put it this way.

      If I put on my educator hat, crushing kids’ spirits is, generally speaking, a negative. It’s hard to continue a creative education process if they’re angry and resentful.

      But is the very concept of a school applicable here?

      In essence, heroes are military or at least para-military. There may have to be academic aspects, of course, but the combat training is important, and the way it works is very different from a liberal arts-style education. As you said, in a fight with a villain, there are only a handful of options, and none of them are warm and fuzzy.

      “Shin Sekai Yori”

      I really need to make time to watch that…

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