My Hero Academia Season 6 episode 9 aired on Saturday proving to all of us, once again, that this season is in the running for the best one out of the entire series. And no, a few key frames from an entire animation sequence lacking in detail compared to the manga is no good excuse to call the episode garbage, let alone saying stuff like “this season is falling off.” This episode was almost perfect in more ways than one. So instead of letting Twitter dictate the quality of this episode by posting some random keyframes of Shigaraki, let’s talk about why this episode was so fantastic.
Bakugo’s Hero Journey
Bakugo’s version of the hero’s journey differs greatly from the one Deku has. And in this episode, it came around full circle. Whether it was talking to All Might in a surprisingly normal tone for once or literally saving Deku’s life, Bakugo has officially become a hero, not just of the day, but in the series itself. Bakugo is My Hero Academia‘s character development personified. Not a single character, even Deku, has had the character development that Bakugo has. There is absolutely no arguing about who has come the furthest in terms of personal development and this past episode proved that to the furthest extent.
It’s the reason why Bakugo did what he did at the end of the episode that was important and the execution on the production side for it was flawless. I couldn’t care less about how flat the composition looked compared to the manga. I truly feel sorry for anyone if one of the biggest moments of the entire series felt lame to them because the staff didn’t slap a lens flare on it and draw harder shadows or more blood. Even as someone who has read the manga, that emotional impact Bakugo’s moment had wasn’t deterred in any way just because it didn’t look like Horikoshi drew it. What I cared about was the scene itself and the significance it played at one of the most crucial moments in the series—one that defines the type of hero, and person, Bakugo has become. And most importantly, studio Bones actually added more flashbacks to this scene than Horikoshi did in the manga, making the final scene of the episode that much more impactful.
The Presence of Fear and Anger
It may have felt a little off to have the rest of Class-A just standing around trembling in fear at the beginning of the episode but it captivated just what they’re dealing with perfectly and it was panel for panel adapted straight from the manga. Actually, the anime added more dialogue to the scene making the emotions felt that much more. They’re a bunch of high school kids who are thinking about how they couldn’t stop their universe’s version of Hulk, who went on to continue to wreck every city in his path. The haunting music courtesy of Yuki Hayashi’s composing genius simply amplified that terrifying feeling of “A lot of people’s lives are destroyed and it’s because we couldn’t stop him.” Throw in Mineta questioning the hero philosophy they all believed in the first place over a track that makes you feel like you’re losing hope as well because you’ve seen their side of the war and the despair it brought and it couldn’t have been executed any better. Oh, and let’s not ignore that Bones decided to throw in more shots of fallen heroes in this scene as well, which the manga didn’t include as much of.
What The Anime Did Better
Since critics loved to pick the simplest of keyframes from animation sequences and compare them to still shots in the manga, let’s go over a couple of things the anime did better than the manga. That’s not to say the manga didn’t have its upsides over the anime, but this is to quiet those in the back a little bit. And if I were to make a full list of what the anime did better, we’d be here a while.
Let’s start off with the beginning of the episode that takes place halfway through chapter 282. In the manga, you see Aizawa cut off his leg from a distance toward his side with no dramatic effect. Meanwhile, in the anime, he was front and center and so was his disassembled leg. The red background and everything made it that much more gruesome compared to the manga. And moments later when Shigaraki attacked Aizawa, we never saw Shigaraki from Aizawa’s perspective after he scratched his eyes, only a quick moment before. So seeing Shigaraki through Aizawa’s eyes with blood running down them was a nice replacement for not being able to animate all of the blood flying off of Shigaraki as it does in the manga.
Fast forward a little bit more to Bakugo and All Might’s conversation. And this is where the production really shined because the anime managed to change things just a little bit yet made everything that much better. This conversation takes place a little after the beginning of chapter 284 for reference. Some of the shots in the anime were exact replicas of the manga. But a lot of their conversation had frontal camera angles compared to the manga, where it’s from the side. But rather than show Bakugo and All Might from the side like they do in the manga when All Might says, “It’s not only evil people who want power”, it’s a close-up of Bakugo’s eyes while he says that. Again, doing so with the soundtrack underneath it made those words that much more powerful to the point I got chills. And at the very end of the conversation, the transition from Bakugo’s face at that moment, to where he’s on the battlefield now—flawless. It was something we never received in the manga.
People have this weird tendency to think that the anime needs to be as detailed as the manga. But if you’re one of those fans who wanted to see Horikoshi’s detailed art drawn frame by frame in this episode, then this wouldn’t have come out as good as it did and it would run short on screen time. I think sometimes fans have this image of manga perfection that is easily replicable in animation when they fail to realize that anime has its own perfect way of adapting the source material they’re taking from. Episode 9 of My Hero Academia Season 6 wasn’t a flop, it was a perfect way to show what an anime can do to uplift its source material but also show there needs to be a line drawn somewhere between what’s realistically obtainable and what isn’t in an allotted time frame.
But it wasn’t just this episode’s production that made it amazing. The voice acting in this episode alone could’ve carried the episode. Daiki Yamashita shined brighter than ever as Deku in this episode yet I’ve noticed hardly anyone talking about it. And, quite honestly, it may have been his best performance as Deku to date. And this just adds to the growing list of wonderful performances this cast has given us this season. Bones is doing a stellar job on the production front and it’s time for purists of the My Hero Academia fandom, and any critics, to realize it. Stop nitpicking. Kamitani Tomohiro did a wonderful job of directing and storyboarding this episode and he deserves praise for it as well.
My Hero Academia Season 6 Episode 9 Wrap Up
I could’ve also included how many of the impacts during this episode were beautifully animated and composed but that’s a conversation for another day. The point of this is that the episode received an unfair amount of criticism for a few still keyframes in a fast-paced animation sequence, totally ignoring the gigantic amount of wonderful things added to make everything that much better. Thanks to Tomohiro, we received that beautiful moment between Bakugo reaching out for Deku’s hand right before the big moment in the end and it was the utmost heartbreaking, yet perfect, way to end the episode. The final moments of Episode 9 hit a lot harder than they did in the manga and that’s what matters most.
Episode 9 rating: 9/10
If you enjoyed My Hero Academia Season 6 Episode 9, be sure to vote for it in our weekly poll! Episode 10 will air on Saturday, December 3.
Images via Crunchyroll
© Kohei Horikoshi / SHUEISHA, “My Hero Academia” Production Committee