Animation
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Summary
While this episode wasn't quite as close to perfection as last week's, it was still great in its own right. New villains and an in-depth look at the mindsets of this Seasons' characters made the episode a great next chapter for the Training Camp arc.
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Steady Progress

Our hard-hitting heroes have done it again! MY HERO ACADEMIA Episode 43 “Drive It Home, Iron Fist!!!” explores the many battles around UA’s training camp. Like nearly every episode this season, those battles are incredibly formative for the students. But unlike earlier episodes, episode 43 showed us that Midoriya and his friends are slowly becoming more hero than trainee.

Rather than view them as victims who are occasionally saved by a deus ex machina squad of pro heroes, they’re mostly on their own. Many pros weren’t aware of where each student went, and barely anyone was aware of the camp’s existence in the first place. As a result, this entire arc has put Midoriya and his classmates in truly life or death situations. For many of them, this is the first time they’ve pushed their Quirks to the limit.

Additionally, throughout the entire series, there has always been at least an implicit separation between the pro heroes and even the most skilled students. Despite Todoroki, for example, having power surpassing tons of pros, he’s still treated as a trainee. This is an incredibly important and continuous detail in MY HERO ACADEMIA. The hero landscape is not one in which heroism functions without limitation. Even though the general public in MY HERO ACADEMIA idolize heroes, the government imposes bureaucratic restrictions upon them. This episode really brought out the intricacies of how this subtle regulative mindset takes effect. However, that mindset also proves too cumbersome for many, resulting in plenty of villains.

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New Villains from the Vanguard Squad

This episode introduced us to two additional villains and clarified the abilities of a third. The newest revelation, Mustard, is a younger villain. His uniform suggests he’s in middle school, and his stature, build, and attitude somewhat confirms this. His Quirk, Sleeping Gas, is the main obstacle facing the students trapped toward the deeper parts of the forest. Mustard is able to control the flow and strength of the gas to a certain extent. But the further the gas gets from him, the thinner it gets. On top of that, his Quirk in large quantities generates a spiral-like flow of gas that indirectly reveals his location. However, he is able to sense those who move within his gas, and it knocks them unconscious when inhaled.

The second new villain, Twice, has the ability to create semi-durable clones of someone. He uses this to create a clone of Dabi briefly. While this is one of the more intriguing Quirks we’ve seen, we don’t yet know much about its limits yet. As for the third villain whose powers are explored, we have the death row convict, Moonfish. The way he fights, talks, and looks are incredibly unnerving, somewhat reminiscent of Voldo from SOUL CALIBUR. He is able to harden, sharpen, and lengthen his teeth to use as sharp blades. As his straightjacket binds his arms, he mainly relies on his teeth to navigate terrain and to stay mobile.

Teeth as sharp as swords grow from a villain's mouth in MY HERO ACADEMIA
I’m simultaneously impressed and incredibly uncomfortable | Image: Crunchyroll

All three are a bit different from the calm demeanor of Dabi or the youthful sadism of Himiko Toga. These additional characters are slowly revealing some neat contrasts in personality even amongst evildoers.

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The Villains’ Unique Mentalities

With each villain, we’re seeing a little bit more about what kinds of people turn to crime. In contrast to the hero killer Stain, these villains seem to be incredibly chaotic and self-serving. It makes it hard to even consider them villains in the same group as Shigaraki Tomorura. But, as seen when Magne abandons her fight to pursue Midoriya, they still have a sense of their goal. This suggests a bizarre sense of duty similar to the ideology Muscular espoused a few episodes back. These villains have a mindset of “I’ll commit to your rules as long as I can go wild within them.”

But even amongst the villains who form their own mutually beneficial social contracts, there are schisms in ideology. Spinner, opting to mimic Stain, disobeys orders and saves Midoriya’s life. In an instant, his and Magne’s views collide, giving the Pussycats the opportunity to take them out. Both figuratively and literally, their internal inconsistency tears them apart. This isn’t something totally new to MY HERO ACADEMIA. Shigaraki Tomura and the League of Villains were at odds with Stain.

The villain Spinner speaks after throwing a knife to stop Magne in her tracks in MY HERO ACADEMIA
The moment Spinner’s personal beliefs contradict his orders, he breaks ranks with the other villains| Image: Crunchyroll

Villains use their Quirks to act upon evil desires that otherwise remain suppressed. Mustard Gas is naive and draws most of his combat knowledge from movies. He’s incredibly smart and diligent, going as far as to carry a gun. But, when he berates the students, it’s for a lack of intelligent planning. His actions reveal a lack of legitimate combat experience and understanding. He represents the kind of person who is frustrated with the world but ultimately submits to it. In MY HERO ACADEMIA, a young person like that can take out his resentment through a strong Quirk.

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Rules vs Heroism

Eraser Head quickly reminds Midoriya in this episode of the real world consequences of his saving Kota. Midoriya, who is running on endorphins and adrenaline, is scarcely aware of his devastating injuries. He hardly has the presence of mind to remember he isn’t allowed to fight without permission. And like Midoriya, fans are so excited that most forgot about those rules. This clash between the strong desire to save someone and the need to follow the law is a crucial one. Japan established laws in MY HERO ACADEMIA for public safety and order. Without them, people would use their Quirks in random and dangerous ways. What then is a hero to do when the ‘heroic’ choice violates a ‘heroic’ rule?

Aizawa scolds Izuku in MY HERO ACADEMIA
Aizawa briefly admonishes Midoriya for breaking protocol before ultimately sending him onward | Image: Crunchyroll

This is one of the central concerns of the episode, and the same one that painted broad swaths of the Stain battle. Midoriya, as a true hero, never breaks the rules for his own benefit, but still abandons them when necessary. He is selfless in that way because he is drawn to protect people without a second thought. If a hero were to strictly follow rules to favor themselves in this situation, many would suffer. Kota would have been annihilated by the very villain who slaughtered his parents.

Because of this, Aizawa’s decision to authorize his students for combat has a lot of significance. Not only is he revealing himself and his students to be true heroes, he’s chipping away at their hierarchy. This episode felt very little like a battle between students/teachers and some villains. Instead, it was simply heroes vs villains. UA’s hero track classes are beginning to act like professionals before even getting their licenses.

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The Plot Thickens in MY HERO ACADEMIA!

Overall, while this episode is certainly bridging the gap between some of the more major fights, it was quite enjoyable. The villains are making their move but losing to the UA students. However, we also got a sneak peek at Tokoyami’s dangerous side toward the end of the episode. Dark Shadow grows so strong at night that Tokoyami loses control, and dusk is drawing over the camp. In addition to that, the villains have shown they’re willing to kill students. Someone strong like Midoriya was even listed as one to kill indiscriminately. The life or death struggle for our fledgling heroes is getting darker, deeper, and way more enjoyable. Next week’s episode should bring fresh conflict and plenty of action!

What did you think of the episode? Let us know in the comments below!

Featured image from Crunchyroll.

One Comment

  1. Nikolaos Skordilis

    May 10, 2018 at 6:57 am

    “Because of this, Aizawa’s decision to authorize his students for combat has a lot of significance. Not only is he revealing himself and his students to be true heroes, he’s chipping away at their hierarchy.”
    Or, you know, he might just rather not see half of them die. That “rule” does not make a lick of sense if it also involves defense.
    I thought they were scolded after the Stain battle because one of them attacked Stain first – despite them also saving that tribal hero in the process. Now he hear that the junior heroes are not even allowed to defend themselves (let alone, god forbid, save anyone) without explicit permission, so apparently they would have been equally scolded if Stain had attacked them first.

    On top of that bizarre rule completely lacking common, uncommon and any kind of sense, the person that… authorizes them to defend themselves (I would never think it was possible to read such a phrase anywhere, but I just wrote it) is usually expected to be punished for doing so! So both the letter and the spirit of that rule literally commands unlicensed heroes with no permission to defend themselves (since persons able to give them such permission do not hover above their heads on standby) to simply, er, die. No, that wasn’t “chipping away at their hierarchy”, that was simply the lowest point of writing, by far, in the entire run of the show. I was utterly disappointed by that part of the episode.

    The rule -and that part of the episode- also contradicts the first time they were attacked by the League of Villains, when they were all split up into multiple groups and Aizawa almost lost his eyes. I do not recall anyone giving or needing to give the students permission (assuming it was possible) to defend themselves. Could that be because this happened in a private property while the Stain event was in public space? That does not hold any water, since it was mentioned that the entire area of the camp and the forest that surrounds it is a “private land”, so the circumstances are the same.

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