This My Hero Academia review contains spoilers.
My Hero Academia: Episode 6
“From now on, Deku is the name of a hero!”
A lot of My Hero Academia has presented situations where Izuku has gotten by thanks to the help of others, whether it’s Uraraka in battle, U.A. High’s nurse after the use of his quirk, or even his mother when it comes to his costume. Izuku’s homeroom teacher, Aizawa, makes this point explicit to him and demonstrates how important it is to not rely on the abilities of others. However, this life lesson follows right after Aizawa helps out Izuku in a major way and gives him a second chance at U.A. High.
Izuku has succeeded for as long as he has because of the help of others and forming friendships, but it’s important that he also learns how to be independent otherwise he’ll always be an extension of someone else. This series is largely about Izuku finding his independence and coming into his own as a hero and “Rage, You Damn Nerd” takes some great strides in that department.
The last episode’s series of strength-measuring trials did a good job to illustrate how Izuku conquers his fears and gets Aizawa’s attention at the same time. Izuku proves that he’s not completely useless and that maybe he does belong here at U.A. High after all. It’s enough to knock out his opening jitters and give him a level head for what’s to come, but what’s even more interesting here is just how much Izuku’s quirk knocks Bakugo off his mark.
Bakugo’s blind rage towards Izuku on the topic of his quirk initially comes across as a little thin, but the character is definitely driven by his ego and vanity during these moments. Bakugo is convinced that Izuku was either lying to him about being quirk-less for all of these years or that his quirk is somehow less important than his own because Izuku didn’t develop it when he was a child. You’d think that the topic of “late bloomers” would come up a little more often in this universe, but perhaps it is as rare as Bakugo makes it out to be.
It just feels like most of Bakugo’s rage towards Izuku is misplaced here, especially when he hasn’t done anything wrong. Maybe Bakugo’s just worried that his personal punching bag is finally going to surpass him. The episode also fans the flames a little more towards the idea that perhaps Bakugo is actually headed on the path towards becoming a villain. It plays into this angle just enough and it’s a nice way to generate suspense in each installment.
If Bakugo ever does turn to the dark side, it’s still something that’s quite a ways away from happening. It’s also rather telling that both Bakugo and Izuku spend a lot of their pre-battle time talking to their partners about their rivals. If the situation weren’t so very, very different it’d look like these two were in love with each other.
My Hero Academia is always quite happy to hand out rankings to let both the audience and the U.A. High students know how everyone stacks up. As it currently stands, Izuku is at the bottom of the class at number 20, however Bakugo is ranked third and the yet-to-be-seen Momo Yaoyorozu is at the top. Other familiar faces like Iida and Uraraka are in fourth and tenth place respectively.
None of this is too surprising based on what has gone on so far. Plus it’s a bit of a relief that even though Bakugo is in the top three, he’s not number one, which would feel a little unearned. Now even though Aizawa said that the student in last place would be expelled, he admits that this was a motivating “rational deception” and no one’s going home. This might seem a little convenient, but All Might grills Aizawa on this and it’s revealed that the teacher was more than ready to expel the student who came in last, but he just happens to see Izuku’s potential and decided to keep him in the running instead.
The superhero game really begins to come into focus as U.A. High’s students not only finally get to design their own hero costumes, but two-on-two mock battles between students also begin. Izuku’s rabbit-donkey-esque superhero costume is considerably lame, but it very much fits with the tone of the series and Izuku’s journey.
This could have been a great opportunity for Izuku to finally re-brand himself as the powerful superhero that he dreams to be, however this new costume only reiterates how much of a beginner he is here. It’s pretty damn cute that Izuku’s mother is the one that sews together his costume, too. It’s very Peter Parker-like and it once more reminds the audience of how special Izuku’s bond is with his mother. These past few episodes have slowly pushed away from their relationship as Izuku heads off to school, but it’s nice to see that the series hasn’t become so big that it no longer has a place for her.
When it comes to the battle portion of all of this, it looks like Izuku must be praying to the right Gods because his partner for this latest trial is Ochako Uraraka, the female student who has managed to already help him a few times through his start at U.A. High. Uraraka and Izuku prove to be a strong, compatible team and it’s a good thing that they are because fairly early into the proceedings Midoriya finds out that they’ll be facing Bakugo.
Bakugo always has an ax to grind with Midoriya, but he’s particularly angry with him lately after the progress he’s made at U.A. High. Uraraka might get Izuku’s spirits high and make him temporarily feel invincible, but Bakugo knows how to bring him down like no one else does. It’s definitely a case of one step forward, one step back for Izuku this week, but the entry ends with Izuku brimming with pride and ready to win. It’s also surprising to see these two face so early in the series rather than drawing out this showdown until the end of the season.
For what it’s worth, in the original translation of the series, Izuku’s childhood nickname, Deku, is meant to translate to “You can do it!” That gets re-interpreted a little here due to the nature of accommodating a dub’s lip movements, but they still more or less make the exchange work. “Deku” kind of becomes a catch-all nickname for “hero,” but I thought some people might be interested how Midoriya’s unusual nickname actually comes about in the original Japanese version.
“Rage, You Damn Nerd” features the beginning of this battle and Izuku’s intelligent enough to know that he can’t quite use his quirk again and put his body back in danger so quickly. Accordingly, he uses his smarts and tactical knowledge of Bakugo to turn the tables on him in battle. This showdown is only getting started, but it’s pretty awesome when Izuku flips Bakugo to the ground. You can practically hear the cocky guy’s ego shatter into a million pieces. Not only does this major humbling incense Bakugo for what’s to come, but all of this takes place in front of the entire class and is supposed to act as the the example for what all of the future teams should or shouldn’t do when they’re up.
There’s a lot to enjoy in this episode of My Hero Academia and as the season more or less reaches its midway point, it’s comforting to see how successfully all of this has been coming together. “Rage, You Damn Nerd” continues to build this show’s world in creative ways and it takes small steps forward that feel appropriate and exciting.
The action delivers here and Izuku and Bakugo’s rivalry becomes more interesting, plus the dynamics between Izuku and his friends (Iida especially) continue to feel natural. It’s also nice to just learn small details like how U.A. High has a number of non-hero classes so these kids can still get a normal education in addition to their hero training. There are also some great non-sequiturs throughout this entry, like All-Might’s persistent unpredictable, random nature. The character’s abrupt “Coming through the door like a hero!” entrance is probably the biggest laugh out of the episode and it’s entirely due to this character’s bizarre attitude.
The episode isn’t nearly as jam-packed and frantic as previous entries, but it still fits in enough for the episode to feel satisfying. A weaker version of this episode would have gone to the credits right when Izuku and Bakugo learn that they’ll be competing against each other, but the fact that some of their battle gets shown only makes the anticipation for the next episode even stronger.
Hopefully Izuku’s mother is quick with a needle because her son’s costume is already in dire need of repair.