My Hero Academia may be about a school, but lessons regularly go unlearned. From the freshly mended students of Class 1-A, to the faculty charged with their education and defense, to the villains crowding to oppose them; no one learns much from their mistakes. No one learns much from the mistakes they watch others make.

Plotting a valiant rescue of his best friend, Kirishima (Toshiki Masuda) is desperate for assistance from his classmates. Most find a reasonable excuse to avoid this dangerous folly, whether it’s a simple respect for following the rules, or Uraraka’s (Ayane Sakura) thoughtful observation that Bakugo (Nobuhiko Okamoto) would be humiliated by a rescue attempt. Izuku’s (Daiki Yamashita) bond with Bakugo runs deeper than most though, and Kirishima knows he can leverage this. At nightfall, he and Todoroki (Yuki Kaji) will swing back to the hospital to (hopefully) pick up a tracking device from Momo (Marina Inoue), and to enlist the aid of Izuku.

Before he can sign on to this daring escapade, Izuku has to check in with his doctor. While the worst of his injuries have healed, the situation with his arms is far beyond his past injuries. While, before, overuse of his Quirk would leave his bones shattered as if they’d exploded, the depth and extent of his recent injuries are far worse. By pushing his body so far past its natural limits, he has practically worn out the ligaments in all of the joints in his arms. If he pushes himself like that again, he may lose use of his arms entirely.

As the sun sets, Izuku’s mom (Aya Kawakami) gives him a call. In his usual chipper way, he lays out a lie about needing to stay in the hospital a night longer. As he lies to his mother, obscuring his intent to rush right back into danger, she asks through audible anguish, “Do you need to go to UA?” Is this risk really worth it? What she forgets is that Izuku is a teen. Not just a teen, but a teen with super powers. As such, he knows everything and expects to work his way out of every tight spot. What’s more, All Might granted his one wish in life, and Izuku can never turn his back on that.

Night falls and Todoroki and Kirishima wonder if their classmates will join their quest. Momo and Izuku come out together, but before their intentions can be made known, Iida (Kaito Ishikawa) bursts from the shadows to ambush his peers. For all the turmoil Iida’s friends feel over Bakugo’s capture, he is being consumed by frustration at their recklessness. How could they do this? With so little time passed since he launched into his own illegal crusade against Stain, how could these friends who tried to stop him be so obstinate, now? Surprisingly, it’s an easy circle to square.

Kirishima and Todoroki super promise that they have no intent of using their Quirks against the villains. That would be foolish, right? This is a stealth mission! They’re all going to use their super stealthy Quirks, like punching craters, turning hard as stone, and conjuring glaciers to silently slip into the League of Villains headquarters and super extra silently rescue their always-screaming-and-exploding friend, Bakugo. Relenting more to his shared frustration at the situation than to their flawless scheming, Iida joins the group. But, he warns, if there’s even a whiff of fighting from these boys, he’ll turn this car right around!

Momo–the only girl in the group–is well aware of the ridiculousness of her classmates’ expectations. She trusts Todoroki, and doesn’t want to turn her back, but also carries no illusions about how slick and painless their task will be. Putting aside the eventuality of conflict, she suggests they all take measures to blend into the city crowds: disguises! While Momo opts for a cocktail dress, the boys take on a variety of lowlife personas, fake facial hair included. Their efforts to look all grown up are cut short by a news broadcast on a large building-side monitor.

In response to their recent spate of villain incursions, the Principal of UA (Yasuhiro Takato), Shota Aizawa (Junichi Suwabe) and Sekijiro “Vlad King” Kan (Shuhei Matsuda) host a press conference to atone for their failure, and to promise more comprehensive protection for their students in the future. All around the incognito students, strangers turn their noses up at UA’s apology. While the League of Villain has no clear victory under their belts, their ongoing clashes with UA are enough to shake the public’s confidence in the faculty’s capabilities. Are they really Heroes if they can’t keep their students safe? Are their students really going to become Heroes if they need this much protecting?

It’s a devastating public relations failure that reaches all the way to Shigaraki’s (Koki Uchiyama) villain dive bar. With his cohorts gathered around, watching the press conference, he lays out the best case he can make to a shackled Bakugo. Rules suck, man! That’s more or less it. Like so many before him, Shigaraki saw Bakugo’s relentless fury on display at the Sports Festival and assumed, “This kid’s a villain.” He believes that by excoriating all of the bureaucracy and capitalism that prop up the professional hero industry, he’ll open Bakugo’s eyes to the galaxy brain logic of the League of Villains. They don’t play by the rules, and if there are no rules… you can always win! They’re winners!

My Hero Academia

For all his faults, Bakugo recognizes a winner.

Shigaraki is so certain of the strength of his case that he orders Dabi (Hiro Shimono) to unshackle the boy. Dabi, rightly, doesn’t want to chance catching an exploding palm and coerces Twice (Daichi Endou) into doing it. Bakugo, a huge jerk though he may be, does not want to surpass All Might out of some deep-seated jealousy or hatred. He wants to be a winner. He wants to win like All Might (Kenta Miyake). While Deku watched the same video of All Might rescuing people over and over, Bakugo watched All Might winning fights. Thought the standards these boys wish to surpass are different, they were both set by the same man.

The moment Bakugo’s shackles fall free, he lays an exploding palm directly into Shigaraki’s chest. As happened when All Might landed a hit on Shigaraki, one of the many disembodied hands gripping the creep falls free. Katsuki Bakugo isn’t here to hear some villain’s empty philosophy–he’s here to surpass the #1 Hero.

Tom Laurie
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