*Warning: Spoilers Ahead*
Episode 72, ‘Red Riot’ of My Hero Academia delivers a brief origin story to not only one, but two students from Class 1-A. The difference between thinking one’s strong, and actually being strong is the premise of the episode. At times, it’s easy to forget that the main characters are high schoolers, and the stress of being a hero can take its toll on those who are not mentally stable. Luckily the young heroes have their mentors to give them a reality check and shape them into gear for the coming struggles of the world.
Before all the battling happens, we get a brief moment with Suneater exhaustively trying to meet up with the others after defeating the villains from his fight earlier. As he falls to the ground from surpassing his limits, we cut back to Red Riot feeling worried for the manifesting hero. Fatgum tells him to not worry for his older classmate because he has faith in Suneater. As the heroes are running through the base, we catch up with Bubble Girl and Centipeder apprehending some members of the ShieHassaikai. This moment is interesting because up to this point, there has been no back lash to Chisaki and his plans. It seems like there are veteran villains who oppose the current status quo of the Hassaikai and are loyal to the old boss; Chisaki’s father. Chisaki must have his favorites within the Hassaikai, but ultimately only looks out for himself.
As the heroes are running about, they notice that Mimic is not warping the location they are at, but before they are scot free, he appears and tries to eliminate Eraser Head from the group; Since Eraser Head is the only one who could cancel his quirk. Mimic’s attempt fails, but he traps both Fatgum and Red Riot in an abandoned room where they are confronted by Rappa and Tengai. The real fight begins as Rappa approaches Red Riot and breaks through his hardening with ease via his quirk Strongarm. Fatgum tries to fight back, but Tengai protects Rappa with barriers that are indestructible. Poor Fatgum is just getting pummeled by Rappa, while Red Riot is at the brink of a mental breakdown. All this time, Red Riot thought he was getting stronger, but reality breaks through his tough exterior and he starts to question his abilities as he cries to himself:
Useless bastard! Your Hardening cracks and there’s nothing worthwhile underneath! Can’t I do anything?”
From there, Red Riot’s, for now we’ll refer to him as Kirishima, origin begins in his old middle school. He’s seen as always having a chivalrous heart and trying to do his best to help others. He tries to help out a schoolmate but is not taken seriously by other students. That is when Ashido comes to the rescue and diffuses the situation with some sick breakdancing moves. It seems like Kirishima feels inferior to Ashido’s hero like qualities, but despite that, he feels like he has what it takes to apply to UA High to become a great hero like Crimson Riot. After mentally pumping himself up to become a worthy hero, Kirisima sees two students being questions by a huge character who turns out to be Giganto Machia! This villain plays a crucial part in the villain’s scheme in the future, but for now he’s just a friendly Samaritan asking for directions.
Regardless, the villain is posing a threat to the young students, and as Kirishima hesitates to make a move, Ashido comes to the rescue once again. Kirishima’s hesitation gets the best of him, and at this point make the viewer questions his ability to be considered a hero candidate. As he confirms his motives for being a hero at home and reads up on a story where Midoriya saved Bakugo from the sludge monster, nice call back, Kirishima stumbles upon an old interview from Crimson Riot. After listening to Crimson Riot’s words of living without regrets, and facing one’s fears without hesitation, Kirishima decides what is most important for him. From the montage of him working out, studying, apologizing to Ashido and the girls, and getting accepted to UA High, we see Kirishima’s mind set change for the better. Ashido knows that the confrontation with Giganto Machia changed Kirishima for the better and promises to not reveal his lameness to the other classmates.
As we cut back to the battle, Fatgum is holding his own against Rappa, and secretly he’s been storing all the energy from each blow for one final strike. Fatgum tries to prepare his attack but can’t since Rappa is not allowing him a moment to catch a break. That is when Red Riot intercepts the blows and allows Fatgum to recollect himself. Rappa is appalled by Red Riot’s resilience, but one can’t help but cheer for the young red hero as he says, “If I crack, then I’ll harden again!” Red Riot’s final efforts were not in vain because we see Fatgum, in a skinny form, charge up his right fist and strike at both villains, breaking through the barriers Tengai creates, and evidently delivering the final blow. In the end, the villain’s underestimation of Red Riot is what led to their downfall and gave the heroes an opening for victory.
For the second episode depicting Red Riot as it’s center point, we get to see our young hero mature a little without having any flashy fight scenes. Even though Red Riot is the character undergoing development, Fatgum gets the MVP award for sensei and hero. Not only does Red Riot realize what it takes to be a hero, but we also get a glimpse of Fatgum’s tenacity and resilience. This episode definitely packs a punch, no pun intended, while striking at our heart strings a little.
True strength doesn’t always come from muscles, it can manifest in ways that are not visible to the naked eye as displayed by Red Riot and Fatgum.