MY HERO ACADEMIA returned this week with the most well-done episode of the season. For those who haven’t read the manga, every episode is an incredible burst of new content. From a manga reader’s perspective, however, the story of each episode is not entirely new. As a result, the impressive parts of the episode tend to be improvements upon the manga. From visuals, to sound, to additional details, every improvement radically enhances the story such that it almost feels like something new. This is an incredible burden that the anime is consistently surpassing; they have to delight an audience that knows every detail of the story. This is how episode 45 “What a Twist!” carved a path to the best episode of the season. While the visuals on paper communicated events, this episode’s music, movement, and voices deepened emotions moment by moment.
Episode 45 follows the immediate aftermath of Fumikage Tokoyami and Katsuki Bakugo’s capture. The Villain Vanguard Squad led a coordinated assault with the express purpose of collecting Bakugo. But this episode made it clear that his capture wasn’t the most impactful moment of the arc. Rather than literal action functioning as a climax, “What a Twist!” became a thematic and emotional one.
Episode spoilers for MY HERO ACADEMIA episode 45 “What a Twist!” follow.
The Battle Converges
The final scenes of the Training Camp arc occupy a remarkably short amount of time. In addition to that, they mainly take place in and around the classroom building. Following Bakugo and Tokoyami’s capture by Mr. Compress, Midoriya throws out an impromptu plan. This quickly lets him, Mezo Shoji, Shoto Todoroki, and Tokoyami catch up to Mr. Compress and make a stand in front of the Vanguard Action Squad. Important to note, however, is the massively different climate of the final phase of their showdown. Rather than merely defeating a villain and calling it a day, the students have to try and recover someone. Interestingly, this is the kind of ‘heroic’ duty they have the least familiarity with. Up to this point, their studies have mostly been on fighting villains.
But the villains made it quite clear that their goal this time wasn’t an all-out brawl. They were even willing to leave their own members behind to face arrest and capture. Muscular, Mustard Gas, and Moonfish were all abandoned on the battlefield. And given how versatile Warp Gate’s Quirk is, it seems reasonable to believe that he could have at least retrieved Muscular since there was literally nobody guarding his unconscious body hundreds of meters away from the action. From Dabi’s words to the heroes, it quickly becomes clear that the war being fought is an ideological one. And rather than a war specifically against the students, this is a war against all of hero society. ‘Victory’ and ‘loss’ mean different things for both sides. Indeed, the villains can safely abandon a few fodder soldiers here and there while a single loss for the heroes spells complete defeat.
What it Means to Win
This idea is somewhat central to the episode but a bit new to the series. In the past, fights were not struggles for mortality and survival. There was always a decent chance that a pro was close by to save everything. During the fight against the Hero Killer Stain, the students knew pros were on the way. Midoriya, Iida, and Todoroki’s goal was merely to stall. During the villains’ first attack at UA, pros were all around the simulation facility. Now, death is not just a thought, but a harsh reality.
The villains revealed their true, broad goal within all of these attacks. Villains, as a subset, are people who want to overthrow or challenge the fabric of hero society. Whether it be critics like Stain or sadists like Muscular, villains want a revolution. But in the world of MY HERO ACADEMIA, the bastion of stability is the vocation of superhero. By showing the public that UA is not totally secure, or invincible, the villains make themselves known. The heroes begin to seem powerless to defend themselves. Converting Bakugo would be the ultimate blow to hero society. For the villains, every act that breaches UA’s image trigger public outrage.
In the same way that these sorts of events are wins for villains, they’re losses for UA. Heroes are valorized as the embodiment of perfection. That bodes well for their status in society, but also makes them targets for scrutiny. The very moment heroism ceases being deified, the symbols of peace become mere humans again. This episode showed us the height of that public reaction. News media crowded in front of the gates of UA, and the Training Camp incident became a political talking point. Public scrutiny and outrage is the most real-world aspect of MY HERO ACADEMIA.
The Struggle of Budding Heroism
Following the Vanguard Squad’s escape with Bakugo, the students once again find themselves struggling to place themselves in a hierarchy. Every member of Midoriya’s class is constantly split between the roles of hero and student. During the Vanguard Squad’s attack, they were briefly granted permission to act in self-defense, but even this moment of agency was brief. Class 1-A has learned that as heroes they need to take the initiative. But as students, they can’t do that. This creates a profound stress that “What a Twist!” capitalized on. The moment Bakugo was taken, we can hear him tell Midoriya not to chase after him. But his eyes and voice betray him.
Midoriya’s anguished screams and the music throughout the scene brought it to another emotional level. Seeing every character in full color, shedding real tears in real time, was a different level of emotion. Fear, anger, and sadness are present in every character. For Kirishima and a few others, who were trapped in a classroom throughout the fight, there are feelings of uselessness. Everyone feels that there is something more they could have done. But the reality is, they probably couldn’t’ve, and they know it. Midoriya laments over his body’s failure; in the final instant, he was unable to reach Bakugo. His passion was powerful, but his body simply wouldn’t, or couldn’t, move fast enough. The fledgling heroes now have an impossible choice. Accept their powerlessness and trust in the pros, or act on their morals and try to save their friend. Either way, the road will be hard and arduous.
Dismal Catastrophe in MY HERO ACADEMIA
Following the attack, 15 students are in critical condition. 13 suffered injuries. Both Bakugo and Ragdoll were taken from the battlefield. Public scrutiny is hyper-focused on UA, and it won’t be fading anytime soon. The mere existence of the League of Villains is becoming an existential threat for UA and superheroes writ large. Ironically, the same public that scrutinizes UA would likely be worse off if not for them. Even though villains now are quite active, villain activity, on the whole, is at an all-time low. Heroes like All Might crush the morale of organized criminals, making them afraid to organize or keep committing crimes.
This episode is likely the setup to a retrieval segment of the series revolving around Bakugo. Every new episode this season has built itself upon strong combat and action. This episode, despite largely lacking both, was one of best, if not the best, episodes of the series. By building itself upon strong emotional ties, it heightens the pain of Bakugo’s capture. This episode will be an amazing foundation for the remainder of the season and MY HERO ACADEMIA as a whole.
What are your thoughts on the episode? Let us know in the comments!
Featured image from Crunchyroll.