Animation
Characterization
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Summary
This episode gave fans another set of villain fights to enjoy, this time against Himiko Toga and Moonfish. Additionally, we got more exploration of the Vanguard Squad's unique ideals. Great episode overall!
90 %
Excellent episode

MY HERO ACADEMIA has been relentless in its display of fights! Episode 44 “Roaring Upheaval” captures a battle with three sections: Himiko Toga’s sneak attack, Fumikage Tokoyami’s rampage, and the villain’s pursuit of Bakugo. Following Midoriya’s cinematic defeat of Muscular, the young hero quickly dashed back to camp. Midoriya revealed to all of the classmates the Vanguard Action Squad’s ultimate goal: to capture Bakugo.

This particular line of plot is one that many have hinted at. From the first episodes, Bakugo has always seemed more like a villain than a hero. In part, this is because of his incredibly dogmatic mindset and antagonism toward Midoriya. He also has rather, well, explosive fits of anger at even the slightest provocation. His incredible intellect and Quirk notwithstanding, the Vanguard Squad isn’t far off in thinking he could be one of them.

As for Toga and Tokoyami, the battles involving them slowly have been moving toward a single massive cluster. MY HERO ACADEMIA is incredibly gifted at this sort of spatial grouping of conflict. Even when battles happen in different places, movement between them implies proximity and motion. Even in the massive forest, the show used Midoriya’s relatively high altitude fight and subsequent travel to give us an idea of where everyone is. That really helps with mentally cataloging all of these battles. On top of that, since all of these fights are chock full of action, it brings all the excitement together! This episode truly brought its many fractured parts together to begin the end of the Training Camp arc.

Episode spoilers for MY HERO ACADEMIA episode 44 “Roaring Upheaval”  follow.

MY HERO ACADEMIA Episode 43 Recap

Dark Shadow Goes Berserk

If this episode didn’t prove to you that Tokoyami is quietly one of the strongest students at UA, I don’t know what will. His Quirk has incredible utility and can fight independent direct control. As an offensive Quirk, this is great for mobility and strikes. Defensively, it can prioritize guarding Tokoyami against attacks. The Quirk’s power is directly tied to the level of light around Tokoyami. In the light, Dark Shadow is relatively docile and controllable. In the dead of night, however, Dark Shadow is so powerful that Tokoyami struggles to contain it within himself. This, combined with Tokoyami’s own anger at losing a battle, released a monster.

Tokoyami's Quirk, Dark Shadow, rampages against a wall of Todoroki's ice. MY HERO ACADEMIA
Dark Shadow is nearly uncontrollable in complete darkness | Image: Crunchyroll

In terms of thematic importance, we don’t often focus on the externalities of Quirks besides Midoriya’s. In fact, the mere presence of drawbacks is part of why MY HERO ACADEMIA is better than a lot of other shows. Generally, powers in anime have limits but not absolute drawbacks. Instead, specifically strong super attacks will carry the risk of personal danger while standard use only depends on how much energy or time a protagonist has.

MY HERO ACADEMIA improves upon this standard conception of power by keeping viewers aware of how Quirks affect the body. Midoriya’s extreme strength shatters his bones, Uraraka’s Zero Gravity gives her vertigo, Todoroki’s ice slowly freezes his body. In this way, MY HERO ACADEMIA reminds fans of another purpose of this training camp. Endurance is not just about Quirk use for a long period of time. It’s also about significant use without resultant harm to a hero.

Additionally, the connection of a hero’s mindset to their injury is important. It creates a negative connotation of pride, conceit, and emotions generally befitting of villains.

Passing Connections to Villains

Our heroes-in-training are consistently forced to have the villains as foil characters. In fiction, a foil is basically a character used to bring out somewhat unapparent aspects of another character. In this case, MY HERO ACADEMIA is continually explaining how the evil of the villains and the good of our heroes are often based on the same basic feelings. Mustard’s scholastic intelligence was a great example of this, but Himiko Toga makes it a bit more clear.

Himiko leans over a pinned Tsuyu. MY HERO ACADEMIA
Himiko has a permanent lovestruck expression and is super intent on ‘making friends’, even while murdering someone | Image: Crunchyroll

Himiko expressed a desire during the Stain arc to make the world an easier place to live in. She finds it difficult to evoke her authentic self and instead turns toward idolization of others. But this rather benign adoration is corrupted in Himiko, becoming a sadistic desire to literally become someone. After Uraraka makes use of her newly-learned martial arts to apprehend Himiko, the villain remarks that they are similar. In a sense, she’s somewhat correct. The adoration Uraraka feels toward Midoriya drives her to become a better person. Rather than be her past, Uraraka wants to embody Midoriya’s within her future. But in Uraraka’s case, that desire is to make herself better, not to make the world easier or more appealing for selfish reasons. This demonstrates the overlaps between heroes and villains, especially those around the same age.

Himiko’s powers allow her to act on her abnormally strong desire to bond with those she likes. Characterizations of villains as misguided youngsters are quite common in MY HERO ACADEMIA. As with Shigaraki Tomura and Mustard, these youthful misgivings are amplified and twisted by the ability to act on them before they’re resolved or naturally subdued by society.

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Bakugo Captured!

Perhaps one of the more shocking parts of the episode was how easy and brief its climax was. The villain Mr. Compress wordlessly and quietly snatches up Bakugo and Tokoyami. We don’t yet know the exact mechanisms behind his Quirk, but he apparently can compress people into small spheres. Seeing as the League of Villains wants Bakugo for their own, it’s safe to assume that Bakugo and Tokoyami are relatively unharmed within their respective marbles. Mr. Compress is yet another example of someone with real mastery of their Quirk and familiarity with combat. He was able to even sneak past Mezo Shoki, whose Quirk allows him to create extra limbs and enhance his senses.

Mr. Compress with the captured Tokoyami and Bakugo. MY HERO ACADEMIA
Mr. Compress with the captured Tokoyami and Bakugo | Image: Crunchyroll

Mr. Compress leaves the heroes with some passing wisdom, stating that their morals are already decided for them. Villains obviously don’t appear with the dominant mindset of hero valorization, but this is a unique idea. By making such a simple statement in the context of Bakugo’s capture, Mr. Compress echoes the sort of attitude we’ve seen in villains like Stain. These villains don’t all appear to act on mindless wishes for destruction or wealth; they have genuine gripes with hero society and want to change it. They feel that on top of being wrong, the heroic mentality is coercive upon society. Villains in MY HERO ACADEMIA with the strongest and most striking values are often also the most powerful opponents. The series continues to build up the background and personality of every character, not just the heroes or main characters.

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Training Coming to an End in MY HERO ACADEMIA!

With the capture of Bakugo, the Vanguard Action Squad completed their goal. That likely means we’re in for a few episodes of pursuit and rescue. I doubt that Bakugo will take being captured well. Even so, it will be pretty interesting to see his reaction to the values and opinions of the League of Villains.

In terms of the overall arc of the series, this is yet another in a series of failed attempts at UA trying to just exist. It seems that removing people like All Might from the equation wasn’t enough to keep away villains. Episode 44 did well in its own right, but, like any episode between major fights, it’s noticeably less of a wild ride than, say, Midoriya’s battle against Muscular. That aside, the episode showcased plenty of strategic cooperation across the Hero class and moved the plot further into UA’s longstanding conflict with the League of Villains.

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

Featured Image from Crunchyroll.

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