My Hero Academia S02E20: Listen Up!! A Tale from the Past
Starring: Daiki Yamashita, Kenta Miyake, & Nobuhiko Okamoto
Director: Kenji Nagasaki
Review by: Bee Sigler
With their internships quickly receding in the rear-view mirror, Class 1-A reunites. Izuku, Tenya, and Shoto are still keeping the truth about their battle with Hero Killer Stain under wraps. Denki Kaminari brings up a controversial point: Hero Killer Stain seemed “tenacious” and “single-minded” in the videos he saw. “Doesn’t it almost make you think he’s cool?”
I really appreciate how My Hero Academia is taking the time to posit another point of view. Too often in fiction—especially in shounen anime—there are two very apparent sides to each conflict. One is right, and the other is wrong. The people who are right are Good People who do Good Things. The people who are wrong are Bad People who do Bad Things. This episode never ventured into apologism or hand-wringing over Hero Killer Stain. Instead, it provides a succinct and powerful counterpoint from Tenya, whose brother was injured by the hero killer: “It’s true that he was tenacious. I understand how people could think he’s cool. But he chose purging as a result of his beliefs. No matter what he thinks, that part is definitely wrong.”
Next, Class 1-A finds themselves in a hero basic training rescue race with All Might at Field Gamma. Izuku gets a chance to show off the Katsuki-inspired new moves he learned while under Gran Torino’s tutelage. All of his classmates are blown away—except for Katsuki, who’s miffed that he’s one-upped by his childhood friend yet again. Izuku’s loses his lead in the race when he slips, proving that he still has much to learn.
While Izuku might have learned a thing or two over the course of his internship, Resident Gremlin Minoru Mineta hasn’t changed a bit. What better place to be an unrepentant creep than the boys’ locker room, which conveniently shares a wall with the girls’ locker room? Minoru tries to get in some non-consensual peeping action, but thankfully Kyoka Jiro is able to give him a swift stab to the eye with her Earphone Jack Quirk.
With about half of the episode’s runtime over, we come to the promised event in last week’s promo: the origins of All Might and Izuku’s Quirk, One For All. All Might explains that the battle in which he sustained injures against the holder of All For One: a Quirk that allows its user to forcefully take and give Quirks. The holder of All For One, known as The Symbol of Evil, was the first to unify society after the appearance of Quirks. They became the leader of a mass group of Villains. In an attempt to bring his sickly younger brother around to his side, The Symbol of Evil forced a power-stocking Quirk onto him.
Unbeknownst to him, the younger brother had a Quirk which allowed him to pass on Quirks. When combined with the power-stocking Quirk, this useless Quirk became One For All. Cultivated across generations, this Quirk finally allowed All Might to defeat the immortal holder of All For One. All Might reveals that The Symbol of Evil survived the battle and that someday Izuku will have to defeat him. But, there’s something All Might isn’t telling Izuku…
Watch it! This episode is just beginning to unravel the One For All saga. As somebody who isn’t caught up on the manga, I’m super excited to learn more as things slowly unfold. I suspect that The Symbol of Evil was a politician at some point. I also wonder if parallels will be drawn to any real-life history, whether in Japan or elsewhere. Don’t forget to stay after the end credits for a brief scene involving The Symbol of Evil! Next time, Class 1-A takes their final exams!
Until next time: Plus Ultra!