My Hero Academia Gives Uraraka the Showcase She Deserves

“A Young Woman’s Declaration” begins with some lengthy exposition that takes up a quarter of the episode as Principal Nezu explains the stakes and endgame strategy to U.A. High. It’s a slow way to ease into the episode’s conflict and My Hero Academia could be a little more efficient with this material, especially since the audience has been able to connect these dots for several episodes now. It’s not an egregious display, but one that still overstays its welcome. The big takeaway from all of this is that U.A. High is reinforced in extreme ways that put Tartarus prison to shame. U.A. High has an intricate system of underground tunnels at their disposal and there’s even a bit of a Mortal Engines style security protocol where the school turns into a mobile target.

It’s all very convenient that Principal Nezu is financially insulated in a manner where he can easily help U.A. High rather than treat these precautions like risks that the school will struggle to recoup. It’s not the most eloquent of plot developments, but U.A. High’s surprise support doesn’t feel particularly grating because it remains secondary to Midoriya’s current struggle. If nothing else, the beginning of “A Young Woman’s Introduction” just underscores the fact that U.A. High can take care of itself and no longer needs to be viewed as a liability or place of ambush.

Nezu’s speech pushes U.A. High’s student body to hit the streets and face the judging masses. The public’s approval for heroes has steadily declined since the start of season six and it finally reaches a breaking point where rebellion breaks out. Angry and in need of a target, Midoriya takes on the martyr role as he bears the brunt of society’s blame for the heroes’ shortcomings. This is heartbreaking to Deku and tantamount to failure since all he’s ever wanted is to promote heroism and make the public feel safe. It’s very likely that Midoriya defeats Shigaraki and restores some sense of lawfulness to the world, but until that happens he faces an uphill battle from the public who remain burnt out on heroes and their empty promises.

There are some genuinely frightening moments in “A Young Woman’s Declaration”  as the public lash out at Deku. Inspired and exaggerated decisions in the sound design transform this civil unrest into a cacophonous echo chamber. The visuals and audio make these scared civilians come across as rabid demons. Deku has accomplished a lot since his “dark” turn, but he’s become quite stoic through these actions. Deku’s strength has spoken for itself and while he remains mum for most of “A Young Woman’s Declaration,” these heightened fantasies highlight just how troubled Deku is in this moment even if he doesn’t verbalize his feelings. He’s paralyzed in fear, which makes Ochaco Uraraka’s rise to action all the more inspiring.

It’s extremely touching that Uraraka explains Deku’s special power to the public because as much as she’s talking about his One For All Quirk, she’s also just referring to the glory that is Deku in general. The subtext of this emotional speech is that she’s always gravitated towards Midoriya’s inner beauty ever since they first met in the third episode of the series, long before she even knew he had a Quirk. Deku’s swiss army knife-esque Quirk is essential for his defeat of Shigaraki and All For One, but who he is as a person is just as crucial of an ingredient. Quirks are important, but it’s the person underneath that counts the most.

The past few episodes of My Hero Academia have emphasized that Midoriya will succeed where previous One For All bearers have failed simply because he is Midoriya. This is something that those around Midoriya have gradually clued into, even if he hasn’t himself, but Uraraka’s passionate declaration finally opens Deku’s eyes to what he represents–to himself, to Uraraka, and to society at large. It’s the necessary pep talk and re-grounding that Midoriya requires before heading into what might be his doom. It’s unclear how long My Hero Academia will continue after All For One and Shigaraki’s defeat, but hopefully any sort of epilogue will include Midoriya and Uraraka spending some time together. The two have finally reached a point of maturity where a first date wouldn’t be destined to be an awkward mess.

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