The bond between Izuku Midoriya and Katsuki Bakugo has been a topic of fascination ever since My Hero Academia’s series premiere. Bakugo might have spent his youth terrorizing a meek Midoriya, but the two have blossomed into eternal allies who are more than likely to sacrifice themselves for the good of the other, if necessary. Every shonen series offers its own version of the Midoriya/Bakugo friendly rivalry dynamic where these powerful characters’ accomplishments become the ultimate motivator to push the other past their previous limits.
Midoriya has even shared his One For All Quirk with Bakugo during a moment of true hopelessness where the trust that he has for his best friend has never been greater. The climactic heights of My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising seemed like it’d be the apex of Midoriya and Bakugo’s friendship and a courageous display that would be difficult for the series to top. My Hero Academia has finally topped this achievement with “Katsuki Bakugo: Rising,” the new gold standard when it comes to My Hero Academia’s fiery hero and his connection with his oldest friend.
“Katsuki Bakugo: Rising” is a patient installment that doesn’t immediately dive into its main course. The episode’s first-third examines Gigantomachia’s deadly demolition and the helplessness that it elicits in My Hero Academia’s supporting heroes and society at large. This first act isn’t pointless, but it does bide its time more than necessary. The pacing in “Katsuki Bakugo: Rising” could be more egregious, but it still makes it feel like it’s just gotten started by the time that it starts to wrap up. There’s a better version of this episode that’s more focused on Shigaraki, Midoriya, and Bakugo’s fight where time is passed on internal reflections instead of passive detours across the city as everyone checks in on Gigantomachia’s carnage.
Gigantomachia reverence aside, “Katsuki Bakugo: Rising” does eventually make the ticking time bomb that is Tomura Shigaraki its priority. Shigaraki’s aura of evisceration spreads, which forces Midoriya to decide if he’ll retreat or valiantly take on All For One’s second coming without any real plan. Midoriya has walked away from easier conflicts, but there’s too much at stake when it comes to a reckless Shigaraki. It’s genuinely captivating when Midoriya debuts Nana Shimura’s Float Quirk and combines it with his Blackwhip power.
Midoriya’s no-nonsense intensity and the animation’s exaggerated visuals are sights to behold. This outburst unlocks a newly aggressive side to Deku that might be essential in winning this war. This altercation digs even deeper into Shigaraki’s subconscious since Midoriya’s new power is an indicting reminder to Shigaraki of the one member in his family who he revered above everyone else. Shigaraki’s destruction of Midoriya now also means that he’ll have to kill Nana all over again.
My Hero Academia’s sixth season has been quite vocal about how Shigaraki’s awakening is synonymous with the villains’ victory. Up until now, this bold claim has carried a depressing truth to it. The catalyst in “Katsuki Bakugo: Rising” is that Midoriya understands that Shigaraki’s body–like his own–is highly temperamental and that his Quirk use also has its limits. Midoriya recognizes that Shigaraki’s body is breaking because he’s spent seasons recovering from the same physical trauma.
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