This 5 Point Discussion features My Hero Academia Episode 35: “Yaoyorozu Rising!”
1. This episode features more of the term finals, with the two ensemble dark horse characters, Tokoyami and Tsuyu, going up against another of the teachers, Ectoplasm. One of the better things about this season is how it’s chosen to flesh out characters that aren’t apart of its central cast—Deku, Bakugou, Todoroki, Uraraka, and Iida—so they become more than just faces. Battle shonen series so often tend to create massive casts but never really do anything with them, which leads to characters losing in popularity polls so the writer does less with them because they’re not well-liked, and it becomes a cycle.
But since the beginning of this season, with the athletic competition and now here at the end with their finals, it’s obvious Horikoshi has put a lot of thought into each of these characters—their backgrounds and the strengths and weaknesses not just of their powers, but as people. It’s unfortunate then that they paired together two of the most likable, but still static characters. They go up against Ectoplasm—a guy who makes a lot of clones and can shut down a long-range attacker like Tokoyami and his Dark Shadow powers—but there’s really not much for either of them to overcome. They’re both characters that haven’t had flaws highlighted to overcome, and it’s even pointed out that they’re excellent all-around fighters who don’t have many weaknesses, so they just use the most basic teamwork and sneak the cuffs onto Ectoplasm to end the match.
2. The next group focused on winds up being Tenya Iida and Mashirao Ojiro, up against Pro Hero Power Loader. Since there’s so many people in Class 1-A, this one goes quick, but it’s still a good showcase of where Iida’s at mentally and how much he’s grown since the Hero Killer story arc. After his brother’s encounter with Stain, Iida gradually allowed himself to become consumed by vengeance. He forgot the meaning of being a hero—saving others—and became something of a self-sacrificing dope, needlessly injuring himself when he finally tracked Stain down.
Here we are several episodes later, and he wins the day for the team by catapulting Ojiro out of the arena, past the reach of Power Loader, all without injuring himself. Though the growth might have been a little quick, Iida’s a long way from the stupid teenager who recklessly sought out a vicious murderer to fight all on his own.
3. The main focus of this episode, though, is the battle between Yaoyorozu and Todoroki against their homeroom teacher, Aizawa/Eraserhead. In the discussion for the last episode, I talked about how it was funny to watch Bakugou slam up against the limits of his abilities in comparison to other, equally talented people. In Yaoyorozu’s case, it’s just as heartbreaking watching her fail as it’s funny seeing it happen to Bakugou.
Yaoyorozu has been dealing with self-confidence issues since her early knock-out in the tournament by Tokoyami. Though they point out this episode that Tokoyami’s weakness is someone getting in close—she was incapable of doing so and thus easily eliminated. Since then, she’s gradually lost confidence in her abilities. She and Bakugou are mirror images in terms of how you deal with realizing that you’re not the only amazing person in the world: either you get angry and work harder or you get depressed and give up on yourself. Whether you turn to anger or depression, the reasoning’s the same for both: they think this should be easier than it is.
Having said that, it’s a stroke of genius on the writer’s part in this episode that Yaoyorozu overcomes her weakness by having Todoroki overcome his. More than any other character in the series (even Bakugou), Todoroki has been characterized as the lone wolf—his intelligence and incredible powers make it easy for him to handle any task on his own. But doing that against an experienced opponent like Aizawa leaves him captured and helpless, and it’s only when he can admit that and ask for help that Yaoyorozu starts to believe in herself again, and it’s her plan that leaves the best strategist in Academia captured.
4. After Yao and Todoroki manage to win, they make a big deal about Aizawa’s last-moment hesitation being what turns the tide of battle, but really the two of them never should’ve stood a chance in the first place. This episode, we learn Eraserhead’s powers have become drastically weaker since the events at the end of the first season, where he suffered a brutal beat down at the hands of Noumu, wrecking his eyes. Now he’s able to use his abilities for shorter lengths of time without blinking, and even seems to have to rest his Quirk-erasing abilities between uses.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s exactly the problem All Might had to deal with. Yao and Todoroki take advantage of this to catch Aizawa off-guard twice, the last time leading to him getting captured in a material not unlike what he uses to wrap people in. The thing to take from this is that being a Hero is probably the most dangerous career anyone could ever work in—it’s all the dangers of being a cop merged with those of a boxer or a football player. Being caught off-guard by villains has lead to major injuries that people never fully recover from, and can cut a career as a hero short.
Making an educated guess, I’d say all of this is heading towards an eventual, forced changing of the guard, where many of these Pro Heroes will have to retire and allow some of the newer guard to take over.
5. The battle of the students versus the Pro Heroes continues! Yuga Aoyama (stomach laser boy) and Uraraka face off against the living black hole, Thirteen! And we waste time wondering whether Uraraka likes Deku or not, which hopefully doesn’t suck up too much time. Shonen (particularly battle shonen) is always at its most boring when they focus on romance.