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Boku no Hero Academia Season 7 – 03

Ah, this chapter.

Now that the anime has reached this point in the story, I thought once more about Season 4, Episode 17. The one time Aoyama Yuga was really at the center of the story. At the time (when I knew none of what I now know about him) I wrote this:

As Deku says he doesn’t really know Aoyama – and in fact, he’s one of the least explored of all the Class 1-A group.  As I’ve noted before he has a notable tendency of rising to the occasion out of nowhere in the big moments, but he’s the odd man out in so many ways.  That’s why his outreach to Deku is actually sort of touching, because we can see how much it means to Aoyama to finally meet someone who seems to be in the same boat as him (even if he doesn’t know the reason why).

One thing I can say about Horikoshi-sensei is that generally speaking he doesn’t pull plot twists out of his ass. There’s no literal equivalent of Knox’ ten commandments of mystery writing for battle shounen. But there are unwritten rules that dictate what it means to play fair with the audience (with a lot of crossover with Knox). Horikoshi is pretty diligent about foreshadowing most future reveals, to the point where I think it’s clear he’s had the major landmarks in HeroAca planned out since the beginning (or close). And so it is with Yuga.

We start off in fact with the villains. All For One is never less than fascinating to listen to, especially with Ohtsuka Akio voicing him. Shigaraki is suffering pretty badly, but AFO tells him that at least he’ll get the use of most of his quirks back eventually. He also gives Dabi a lesson in what sets the two of them apart. To wit, All For One is never in a hurry, and never leaves himself without options. His “routes” are part of obsessive nature, and his love of controlling others. One thing that stands out about All For One is just how much he seems to enjoy being a supervillain for its own sake.

After that, it almost feels like we’ve gone back in time. We haven’t had a carefree episode with the kids being kids in a very long time. And we didn’t have one here, either, but those few minutes of it was the most we’ve seen in a while. Even so, the sharper among the students understand that time is not their friend in this looming confrontation. Taking out Shigaraki gets harder the longer it takes to find him, and no one ever seems to be able to find All For One. And that, in part, is due to tall the “friends” everywhere he brags about. And in BnHA terms, he pretty much does mean everywhere.

That there was a traitor somewhere at Yuuei was not really in doubt. That it was a student was, though that was obviously always a possibility. It’s Tooru who stumbles on the truth when she spies Yuga talking with his parents in the woods, outside the reach of the security cameras. The reason Aoyama-kun felt that kinship with Deku becomes clear – he too was quirkless. And he got his quirk from someone intimately connected to the place where Deku got his. But All For One extracted a high price from Aoyama’s parents, and he was the one who ended up bearing the brunt of it (which is ironic, given that they made the deal out of concern for him).

Yes, the clues were there, and Izuku reminds us of them. This obviously constitutes a huge betrayal in addition to making the entire Aoyama family criminals. Aoyama truly is a victim here in my view – this fate was thrust upon him by his parents. But the world won’t view it that way, even if Deku does. He always sees the good side even in villains, as we know. Hell, he even sees it as his duty to try and save Shigaraki. But he can’t absolve Yuga of this sin, no matter how many tears he sheds. What he can, do, however, is come up with a way to turn this situation to their advantage.

“You can still be a hero”? I don’t know if it’s that simple. But Aoyama can certainly fulfil a role no one else can. For once, the good guys have at least one advantage – they know Yuga has been found out, but All For One does not. That makes him a potential weapon unlike any other, though it will still require some good fortune to get the opportunity to use it. Whether that amounts to redemption for Yuga is a matter of debate, but it at least offers him the possibility of evening out the ledger a bit.

The post Boku no Hero Academia Season 7 – 03 appeared first on Lost in Anime.

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