My Hero Academia Episode 8 Review: Bakugo’s Start Line

Lessons and reflection are the name of the game as the rest of U.A. High show off their skills and Bakugo throws a temper tantrum.

“Whether you win or lose, you can always take something away from an experience like this…”

Jeez, Kacchan, learn how to take a compliment. Am I right?

“Bakugo’s Start Line” reinforces a number of principles that will be important for any future hero, but its most important lesson is how “losing well” is superior to being an ungrateful winner. The entry begins with the words that Izuku shouted at Bakugo back during their battle continuing to ring in his ears and haunt him. The only reason that Izuku was able to defeat Bakugo is because he admires and respects his ability and strength so much. Bakugo’s endurance is what pushes Izuku to go past his limits and as ironic as that is, it’s a drastic event that finally breaks through to Kacchan and pushes him to open his eyes.

This episode tells a similar story to “Rage, You Damn Nerd,” only now it’s from Bakugo’s point of view. This isn’t a bad premise for an entry, especially with the relationship that he and Midoriya share and the major change in their power dynamic that goes down in the previous episode’s finale. Honestly, the tension between Midoriya and Bakugo canperfectly be boiled down to the moment towards the end of the episode where Midoriya tries to have a chat with his friend. The way in which Bakugo snarls “What?” out at Midoriya says everything. He can’t even stand to look at the guy, but he’s even angrier with himself.

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Bakugo finds himself finally humbled after his and Iida’s defeat by Midoriya and Uraraka. It’s a major blow to Bakugo that Midoriya can so effectively predict his moves, but it doesn’t change the fact that Deku’s big victory is once again bittersweet. There’s minor evidence that Izuku has a slightly better grasp on his quirk, but his One For All ability is so out of control that he finds himself back in the nurse’s office getting kisses to heal his battered body post-battle.

It’s also satisfying to see that Iida is currently leading the pack at U.A. High. He performs the strongest on this last training exercise and even though he and Bakugo don’t win the challenge, Iida does the best job at embracing his role, understanding his place, and being in the strongest overall shape when everything’s said and done. 

This also speaks to the idea that at U.A. High there’s a whole lot more in consideration than who simply wins. Superheroics are a layered, complicated field and it appears that the “winners” in challenges will often be surprises when based on the results alone. More of Iida is also never a bad thing.

Bakugo uses this moment of clarity to take a step back and process the work of his fellow classmates. He’s well aware of just how much Izuku has improved, but he begins to size up the rest of his peers and figure out where the other true threats lie. 

Funnily enough, Midoriya’s response to all of this is to try to console Bakugo! He feels bad that their battle has left his rival in a funk and instantly pushes from his mind that this is all Bakugo’s fault in the first place. All that Midoriya wants here is to make his childhood friend feel better and that’s such a deeply human idea, even if it exists around all of these crazy powers. 

In fact, Izuku proves just how deep his friendship with Bakugo actually runs when he contemplates coming clean to him about the circumstances around his quirk and how he acquired it in the first place. It’s an act of honesty that Bakugo would absolutely use against Midoriya the minute that it could benefit himself, so it’s comforting to see that while Midoriya gets swept up in the emotion of all of this, it doesn’t trump his common sense.

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Honestly,anyone who knows about the situation surrounding Midoriya’s quirk and his connection to All Might is a liability. All Might hammers all of this in, but it doesn’t seem as if Midoriya understands just how important this is. It’s a relief that there isn’t a steadily growing number of U.A. High students who are hip to his secret. 

“Bakugo’s Start Line” allows a bunch of new talent to step up this week while Bakugo and Midoriya largely heal and observe. This episode also features a generous introduction to Shoto Todoroki, who has the supreme quirk of “half-cold, half-hot.” This is a pretty fantastic combination of powers that really allow a lot of versatility on his part. It’s no wonder that this student apparently got into U.A. based on a prestigious recommendation. He kind of kills the challenge in a way that leaves the rest of U.A. High in awe. 

Neither Midoriya or Bakugo need to go up against Todoroki this week, but for the moment they’re both pretty lucky that he’s one of the good guys. What follows is a rather playful sizzle reel that shows flashes of what the rest of the teams bring to the table during their challenges. This makes for an efficient, exhilarating way to highlight a lot of new powers and characters. Out of all of these oddities, the girl with the headphone quirk is definitely the most unusual, creative power at this point. I’m sure a lot of people wish that they had magical, regenerating ear buds as a super power.

Finally, it looks like a bit of My Hero Academia’s larger arc begins to reveal itself as the news that All Might is a teacher at U.A. High makes its way to the corrupt Legion of Villains (and that incredibly designed enemy with the many severed hands). These guys have been biding their time for All Might to drop his guard and it’s starting to look like these guys might bring all-out war to All-Might and his heroes-in-training on campus.

“Bakugo’s Start Line” gets a lot accomplished and it allows the show’s fundamental relationship between Midoriya and Bakugo to grow a little more. Bakugo finds inspiration in the same way that Midoriya did last episode, which further shows how alike these two are, but it also pushes their rivalry to a more interesting place. 

My Hero Academia’s past few episodes have had such a focused, minimalist perspective, so it’s nice that “Bakugo’s Start Line” further expands the boundaries of U.A. High and reminds the audience that there’s a lot more to this show than the relationship between Midoriya and Bakugo. This episode helps set up what’s on the horizon, while it also allows the core cast to take a bit of a breather from the action. It’s an example of how much can get accomplished in an episode of this show when the proper motivations and themes are in place.

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4 out of 5