Episode 42 "My Hero"
Episode 42 "My Hero" combined incredible action and superb character growth. Midoriya surpassed his limits and became a true hero this episode. MY HERO ACADEMIA truly knows no limit!
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Explosive Action

Bring on the action! MY HERO ACADEMIA episode 42 “My Hero” chronicles the descent of villains in UA’s training camp. But in its typical style, these fights are seldom just slugfests. Rather than simply focus on action and satisfying visuals for the viewer MY HERO ACADEMIA incorporates thematic elements into its battles. We saw Midoriya show the true fruits of his labor in a one-on-one fight, sure. But within that fight was his constant internal dialogue and a moment of understanding for Kota.

The episode gave us a better look at several antagonists from the League of Villains as well. One thing often overlooked in the series is how many villains and heroes know about one another. Season 1 showed us Midoriya’s rather fanatical obsession with data and information, but that was for his own satisfaction. For professional heroes, massive amounts of data on villains’ Quirks and tendencies is even more important to make sure every fight is an informed one. However, even when lacking this data, heroes are still brave enough to dive into danger. By mixing up Class A and Class B again, we began to gain a better understanding of the series’ relatively neglected characters. Juxtaposing that characterization of Class B with that of Class A makes for even more great observations though. All of this came together to make an episode as complex as it was visually appealing.

Episode Spoilers for MY HERO ACADEMIA episode 42 “My Hero” follow.

MY HERO ACADEMIA Episode 41 Recap

The Soul of a Hero

Up until now, the difference between Class A and Class B has mostly been logistical and not much else. While we know that they’re in separate classrooms, they broadly have a similar curriculum. Those in lower classes, however, are able to advance to a higher class with superb performances in events like the Sports Festival. This created a sort of implied hierarchy of strength between the two classes that were at times questioned but never explicitly denied. The strength of the Quirks of the two classes isn’t really that different. In some cases, as with Tetsutetsu Tetsutetsu and Eijiro Kirishima, their Quirks are almost exactly the same. Then why are their abilities as heroes considerably different?

Tetsutetsu activates his Quirk and prepares to strike back against the Vanguard Action Squad
Tetsutetsu steels his resolve to fight back against the villains | Image: Crunchyroll

The answer is simple. Class A has the soul of real heroism. They seize any opportunity to help and protect not just because they want to, but because they almost have to. This type of behavior is the kind of drive that got Midoriya into UA in the first place. Given the last arc’s focus on the hero-killer Stain, this shift in mindset for all of our characters is even more interesting.

Beyond just saving people, there is an increasingly important aspect of a hero’s mindset that seems to translate into power. So it’s not just the case that people only acting as superheroes for vain reasons are fake, they’re weaker too. When the time comes to save someone and act, they are the type to turn their backs and run. This is also a sort of callback to the early episodes of the series when multiple heroes nearly abandoned Bakugo in his time of crisis. It’s also a brilliant segue into Kota’s struggle to understand the rapidly evolving hero world.

Kota’s Acknowledgement

As we’ve seen in past episodes, Kota is entirely pessimistic about heroes. He sees their relentless fixation on becoming powerful and strong pointless. After his parents’ death, there was always a painful asymmetry between their absence in his life and prevalence in the media. Despite having died and, from his perspective, left their little boy behind, they were idolized in the media. To Kota, the most painful moment of his life was valorized and made into fuel for the news cycle. It’s totally imaginable for a young boy far beyond the age of understanding heroes and crime to suffer from this. The concepts of life and death don’t make sense at that age. There is only a world where your loving parents come home each day and one where they do not.

Kota hugging his knees in front of a television while the news discusses his parents' death.
Kota was confused as a 3-year-old watching news coverage of his parents’ murder | Image: Crunchyroll

For Kota, the missing link in his personal conception of what it means to be a ‘hero’ was the invisible part of the job. But experiencing danger changed his abstract conception of heroes into a correct and tangible one. Muscular was about to literally crush Kota like an ant. Midoriya risked his life and saved him, taking the blow in his stead. Until Kota understood how terrifying it is to be helpless, he didn’t understand why heroes are important. Now, this doesn’t make his critique of heroics any less valid. But it does designate Midoriya as the kind of person with the qualities necessary to become a real hero rather than a fake show-off.

Midoriya Breaks his Limit

This is the first time in quite a while that we’ve seen Midoriya go past his self-imposed limits. But interestingly, he didn’t ‘break the microwave’ nearly as much as he did in the past with this fight. One For All ‘Full Cowling’ is only 8% of full power, and it barely phased Muscular. One For All is a very simple physical enhancement type Quirk, but we’ve seen from Midoriya’s injuries that it doesn’t do much for defense. Since Midoriya has yet to train his body enough, he’s a glass cannon. Full power devastates him and already has left him with permanent scarring.

Midoriya struggles to block Muscular's punch.
Midoriya was nearly crushed by Muscular’s rock-rending attack but pushed through | Image: Crunchyroll

But this time Midoriya had no choice. There is an incredible internal dialogue wherein Midoriya weighs his chances of fleeing. The camera alternated between his determined expression and panning across his injuries. From this, it was as if his broken arms and scars were literally speaking to him. Nevertheless, he overpowered that fear. In a fight against the very villain who slaughtered Kota’s parents, Midoriya became a stand-in, meaning Kota was essentially watching his parents’ final fight post hoc. This then allows the show’s narrative to cross-apply the same praise Kota’s parents received after their defeat to Midoriya, except with different results.

Heroes have to be unreasonably just and fixate on strength precisely because there exist villains who just love killing people. Midoriya was able to break past his limits because he needed to save Kota rather than in spite of needing to save Kota. MY HERO ACADEMIA did a superb job with the structure of this fight and with the Atlas-esque depictions of Midoriya striking through Muscular’s defenses.

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A Saga of Danger for MY HERO ACADEMIA

This arc is one of the first times that our heroes in training are in mortal danger without much assistance. During Season One, the villains the heroes were dealing with much weaker than the Vanguard Squad. On top of that, there were several pro heroes including All Might in the immediate vicinity. Since they were confined to a school space, there was little doubt about who was where; it was really a matter of what pro hero to send in order to save students. This time, in a dark forest with an unknown number of villains and even some without documented Quirks, the risk is real.

Mandalay knocked out on the ground.
These villains are strong enough to defeat pro heroes easily. | Image: Crunchyroll

The inherent possibility of a student dying aside, this is an interesting shift to the way the Villain’s Alliance operates. Shigaraki Tomura typically just swarms a field with enemies like a child playing a video game. This attack is strategic, coordinated, and planned to the smallest detail. Muscular even indicated that they were planning to kidnap Bakugo. This could be linked to a variety of goals, like weakening the offensive capabilities of the class or converting Bakugo to the dark side

An Action Packed Episode

Overall, this episode brought the action fans have been craving for weeks and showed off the new villains. Once again, Kota was a highlight, although this time it was to resolve his hatred for heroes. Midoriya pushed himself to new levels once again, but this fight will certainly have consequences. Unless he wants to destroy his body every time he fights a villain alone, he’s going to need to work on his durability. Plenty of enhancer type Quirks are out there, so he’ll have to learn how to counter them.

Where this episode excelled was an area in which MY HERO ACADEMIA has always been strong. The series always keeps the important scenes exciting. Far too often in shonen anime, important scenes for character development are marred by lazy flashback and explicit exposition. MY HERO ACADEMIA shows rather than tells and achieves these same connections to older episodes via elaborate callbacks rather than flashbacks. When Midoriya incapacitates Muscular, the pose he strikes mirrors his stance after clearing the beach of trash. In winning a one-on-one fight and saving a child, he’s taken another step in the hero’s journey. And this is only one of many exciting fights to see this arc! The coming weeks will certainly build from today’s excellent standard and keep the season going.

Featured image from Crunchyroll.

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