Animation
Characterization
Story
Summary
Linking Bakugo's capture and UA's rescue efforts, "From Iida to Midoriya" combined strong dialogue with thematic intensity. While it was not quite the home run as several earlier episodes, it served its purpose incredibly well.
91 %
Great Transition

We’ve reached a point of great suffering and emotion in MY HERO ACADEMIA. As Midoriya and his friends rack their heads for a way to rescue Bakugo, they’re continuously confronted with reality. Not only are most of them somewhat weak, but they also know how experienced the pros are. It’s incredibly difficult to navigate the grief of a friend’s kidnapping. To add to that guilt and frustration, having literal superpowers but still being unable to save him is tough.

This is something that the past few episodes of MY HERO ACADEMIA have communicated incredibly well. Bakugo’s capture has multiple layers of importance that all compound together. The pain is more than just emotional. It’s also pain at the tarnishing of UA’s (and all heroes’) image. This episode wasn’t the best of the season by any standard. But, that doesn’t detract from its huge importance. Shows like MY HERO ACADEMIA need small scenes and episodes that bridge the gap between conflict and contextualization.

What a bad shonen would do in this scenario is rush the plot and dive right in. Even though this achieves more consistently action-heavy material, the material itself is worse. MY HERO ACADEMIA manages to be a fast-paced series by using exposition intelligently rather than lazily. The fights all have sufficient context behind them, allowing the show to move fast when needed and slow down when necessary. So, episodes like “From Iida to Midoriya” make the series better as a whole.

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Emotion and Objectivity

The episode involves nearly every member of the class. Rather than just the main group of guys doing a lot of action, “From Iida to Midoriya” has lots of dialogue. Everyone discussed possible plans for rescuing Bakugo after Kirishima suggested going out on their own. Broadly, there seem to be four positions people take. There are those who want to rescue Bakugo and believe it is the correct thing to do. This is where we find Kirishima, whose reaction stems from an inability to act at the training camp. Then there are people like Todoroki, who believe that the rescue mission is right but acknowledge it’s emotional, naive, and selfish. Thirdly are people like Uraraka and Tsuyu, who feel just as pained as everyone else, but remain realistic.

In MY HERO ACADEMIA, Tsuyu speaks her opinion on a rescue mission to retrieve Bakugo.
Tsuyu muses on the legality of a rescue mission | Image: Crunchyroll

Finally, there is Iida, the most outspoken. He doubts they would succeed in a rescue and also believes that the externalities are unjustifiable. He nearly got his friends killed after he chased Stain for revenge. The hero in charge of his internship was reprimanded and he threatened his chances of becoming a hero.

All of these outlooks overlap and interact. As the episode showed us, even Iida and Yaoyorozu, who principally disagree with the rescue mission, go along. Todoroki acknowledges how stupid the idea is, but goes anyway. Just like All Might has said time and time again, the truest heroes have historically been those whose bodies moved without them noticing. All the deliberation and debate over the practicality of saving him wasn’t enough for some to not try at all. The flimsy compromise of a ‘covert operation’ is proof of that.

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Heroic or Extralegal?

During this conversation, Tsuyu raises a pretty interesting idea. If, after being repeatedly told not to, the UA students ignore orders and choose to fight, aren’t those acts the same as those of villains? This brings in again the struggles of understanding what a hero in MY HERO ACADEMIA really is. Is the role of hero confined to pros like All Might or Eraser Head? When Iida left his internship to chase down Stain, was he still a hero in that moment?

Following the fight against Muscular, Midoriya’s body was destroyed almost beyond repair. His adrenaline and endorphin pumped body ignored its natural limits and he was able to draw on One for All to win. But the cost was high. Even his mother, who has always supported him, indirectly asks that he stop going to UA.

MY HERO ACADEMIA creates consequences for great power. Midoriya shows a frightened expression at the prospect of losing his arms.
If Midorya keeps injuring himself, he’ll lose all ability to use his arms | Image: Crunchyroll

Iida is worried that any selfish actions students take will reflect badly on teachers. Others are concerned for family and loved ones. I can’t imagine how heart-wrenching it must be for Midoriya’s mother to come to a hospital every other week to find her teenage son unconscious and suffering critical injuries. To her, UA Academy is synonymous with his constant risk of death. Is that what it means to be a hero? The answer is unclear. But Midoriya was able to save himself and Kota. If he hadn’t pushed himself, Muscular would have killed Kota. Then, Muscular likely would have killed other students. In this scenario, Stain’s ideology seems more and more correct. If ‘heroism’ is a bureaucratic and axiomatic respect for rules, it seems to be inconsistent in its logic if not completely wrong.

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The ‘Adult’ Response

This episode showed one of my personal favorite manga scenes: Midoriya, Yayorozu, Iida, Todoroki, and Kirishima dressing in disguises. Apart from being hilarious, this scene juxtaposes how students and pros react to Bakugo’s capture. Aizawa slicks his hair back and wears a suit rather than his usual hero costume while addressing reporters. While he represents UA as a hero, the public apology he delivers feels way more political than heroic. And in a way, it is. UA is the foundation for the hero industry, which in turn supports all crime fighting and stability in the nation. But UA is only as legitimate as its reputation. So, even nonchalant heroes like Eraser Head (who is notorious for hating reporters) must conform to public expectations.

In a rare moment in MY HERO ACADEMIA, Eraser Head appears at a news briefing in a suit.
Even Aizawa has to follow public pressure | Image: Crunchyroll

The other side of this scenario is the students, who are also in costumes. But recognize that the reason Midoriya and company wear costumes is due to their awareness of how out of place they are. They are different from the heroes and plainclothes civilians of the area. As such, they take reasonable precautions to avoid recognition either by other heroes or the League of Villains. In both scenarios, heroes are forced to constantly obscure their authentic selves in order to suit the whims of external agents.

This phenomenon speaks to the struggle of being a hero in this era. Even someone as childish as Shigaraki Tomora notes that UA’s response to the attack on the training camp was nearly perfect. Short of letting students be killed, what else were they supposed to do? But as we’ve seen time and time again, the public demands perfection. Anything less is inexcusable.

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Bakugo’s Resolve

Shigaraki tries to use this to convince Bakugo to join the villains. Like many true heroes, villains resist rules. They challenge the foundation of hero society and constantly question what it means to be ‘good’. Modern heroism commodifies the human life into something for monetary gain. Shigaraki made a crucial error though. He rightfully identifies the flaws in heroism, but wrongly characterizes the counterfactual. In fact, the kind of villain he describes in an attempt to impress Bakugo is someone he hates: Stain. This suggests two possibilities. Either he’s converted to Stain’s ideology, or he recognizes its truth and logic.

Either way, Bakugo reminded us he’s not stupid through his response. He sees right through this false narrative. The villains to him simply harass people for no reason and are looking for secondary reasons to justify their actions. What’s interesting about Bakugo is the bizarrely heroic form his narcissism can take. He wants to be the best, but not by his own determination. During the final match of the Sports Festival, he rejected a win wherein Todoroki used only his ice powers. Bakugo wants to be like All Might, seen by everyone as the symbol of peace. Like the villains, he wants to win. Yet unlike Shigaraki, the stardom he strives for is public acknowledgment and validation.

MY HERO ACADEMIA, in stellar animation, shows Bakugo's explosive attack on the villain Twice
Bakugo launches an attack on the League of Villains after hearing Shigaraki’s ideology | Image: Crunchyroll

It seems we might get some semblance of a fight out of Bakugo and the League of Villains. He has the most consistent destructive capabilities of anyone at UA and is probably the best at creatively using his Quirk. It’s good to know that MY HERO ACADEMIA isn’t going with the semi-cliche “best friend becomes a villain” trope either. Or is it?

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This episode set a good foundation for the next few. As I’ve said before, it wasn’t absolutely perfect. But the standard for perfection in a show this satisfyingly complex is very high. Fans hold the show to such a high standard because it so consistently meets it. In that regard, we certainly have a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks. Until then, we have a solid transition that makes us question our real-life conceptions of heroism and public good amidst great evil. In the end, it’s hard to know for sure who is ‘right’ in this scenario. It might not be anyone.

What was your favorite part of the episode? Let us know in the comments!

Featured image from Crunchyroll

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