The Unforeseen Repercussions of the Symbol of Peace

A Guest Article Written By Eddie Henderson

When examining the society of My Hero Academia that we have seen thus far, it is beyond dispute that one figure comes up in discussions of the security and support of the populace, astonishingly more often than any other; a figure whose importance to the survival of the very fabric of society can not be overstated; a figure who has not only saved a countless amount of lives, but may doom countless more. This figure, of course, is All Might, the Symbol of Peace, more than the number one hero, but the number one hero by miles, I’m sure most would agree. With his strength and ability seemingly only matched by his altruism, All Might had more than sufficient potential to quell the forces of evil while simultaneously building up an indomitable, morally righteous and just society, and likely could have done so if not for the one final attribute he has equivocal to the others: his arrogance. I know I’m probably on the verge of losing half of those reading with that claim, but it is not without merit, and I ask only that you hear my argument out before deciding. Give me a chance to prove that All Might, the status he’s been given, his good intention-ed conceit, and his prodigious level of ability could be heading towards a perfect storm that will destroy the society he has tried so very hard to save. Please do not mistake me, however, I’m not trying to “bash” All Might, I’ve actually got mad love for All Might, which makes the words of this argument taste bitter on my tongue.

I first mentioned All Might’s status as the symbol of peace, a status detrimental only for its usage of ‘the’ with a capitol TH; that is to say that, rather than a position as ‘A’ symbol of peace, he is unarguably the only symbol of peace. A symbol that is, unfortunately, mortal and subject to the same constraints of life as you and I. I’m sure you see the trouble in this? When the symbol of peace and sole defense against the creeping darkness dies, as all mortal men do, suddenly society becomes no more than a frightened child, whose night light just became snuffed out, defenseless against the nightmares it had, moments ago, repelled. [That is not to even mention the inherent flaws in having such a title bestowed to any mortal figure, rather than a more intangible, unkillable concept such as an idea or philosophy.]

It is said that anything that is worth doing, is worth doing to the best of your ability; doubtlessly All Might had the heart to live true to this, but lacked the nuance to realize when it was time to stop. When you compare All Might’s level of ability to the number two hero, Endeavor’s, there is no question that All Might far surpasses Endeavor, to a frankly humiliating degree, and Endeavor isn’t exactly a pushover, himself. That humiliating degree of separation only serves as an insurmountable task for up-and-coming heroes, that results in a probable low aspiration level, with those such as Bakugo and Deku being most likely being the exception, rather than the rule. Because when the hurdle is so high that you can not see the top, then realistically, who is going to bother attempting the jump at all?

To have allowed himself to be elevated to legend status, and worse, to entertain the delusion of actually being able to fill the requirements of his position, I believe results from a sense of self-importance so inflated it could serve as the parade float to his arrogance. Even worse is his unalterable view that his power must be passed down to another because there is nothing else powerful enough to fend away the darkness for good, even if doing so only serves to perpetuate the cycle of inevitable failure such a single-minded idea created to begin with.

Rather than accepting the manacle of the symbol of peace with a capitol TH, All Might should have used his inconceivable level of power as the collective goal in training an entire populace made up of symbols of peace, and laid the foundation of the future upon the shoulders of those innumerable symbols. Had he kept his arrogance in check, All Might could have established a society where “professional” heroes wouldn’t even consider the thought of denying help to a citizen that needs it because they were a bad match for a villain, one in which they realized the best match for darkness is simply light, and acted as such. He might have made a world in which an unbearable burden needn’t be placed on one who is quirkless in order for them to be a hero, but a world in which that same individual already is.  

A Sunday Morning When You Wake Up and it’s Raining: A Fooly Cooly Retrospective

A Guest Article by Eddie Henderson

The first anime I remember watching was Fooly Cooly. I was twelve or thirteen, in the seventh or eighth grade, and if you have seen FLCL, you most likely agree that this was the prime age to first experience all of its sexy, chaotic splendor. Being completely new to anime, and weird Japanese shit in general, I had no idea what was going on, but it captivated me with its fighting robots, selection of best girls, and pseudo-nostalgic soundtrack. Sharing an age with the protagonist, Naota, also made all six episodes relatable on a profound and uncomfortable level to me. Fifteen years and countless watches later, I have only a marginally better understanding of what is going on narratively; but I realized a while back that FLCL was best enjoyed on a thematic and conceptual level, a level that would see Naota placed side-by-side with Holden Caulfield and Oliver Twist, as benchmark protagonists in the coming of age genre.

I’m not going to make some boring analysis of the similarities between FLCL and Catcher, not yet anyway, because I feel that, in doing so, I would be contradicting my opening paragraph’s entire point; that, and I’d probably have to BS a lot of it, and this is my first article, so I lack the amount of Reader Trust necessary to pull it off. Instead, I’m going to discuss how the characters and themes shaped FLCL into the anime that would affect me at the most intimate and personal levels. These six episodes, or rather my perspective on them would grow and mature (I use this word in a very generous manner.) as I did, continuing to resonate on those same, and some different, emotional chords long after I had expected it to lose its sense of wonder when, in actuality, my immense love for the series has considerably deepened over the years.

Never Knows Best

One thing I’ve always found myself loving while watching FLCL is its tendency for what I’ve termed Profound Nonsense; the scenes, or dialogue within them that seem to hold such weight, yet lack the philosophy or substance to back it up. i.e. The words ‘Never Knows Best’ written on Mamimi’s cigarette during the ‘Panda with a mean face’ scene. Words with only as much symbolism in them to go up in smoke, yet perhaps in a sort of self-aware, super meta kind of way.

Never Knows Best

If you couldn’t tell before this point , I didn’t exactly have a clear goal or outline for this article, in fact it was originally planned to be about anime in general , not Fooly Cooly specifically, but I think before I could explain what anime is to me, I had to explain the first anime that was something to me., and I feel as though I did so in a very chaotic and unorganized manner, fitting of FLCL now that I think about it. Maybe I can’t put my finger precisely on what it was about FLCL that hooked a 12 year old me, and still has not let go. Maybe it was all the dick jokes and sexual imagery, or that its protagonist was as intolerable as I was. Maybe it was the balls-to-the-wall pacing or action-packed, chaotic plot, robot fights or hot alien girls. Maybe it was a perfect outside example of how confusing life was for me at that age. Maybe it was an amalgamation of these things, and more. I don’t know if it can be put into words just how FLCL made me feel, but it was those short six episode that opened the door to an entire medium for me. Without FLCL, I might never have found interest in anime, and it is through anime that I have experienced my favorite moments in fiction, as well as moments that have stricken me to the core and helped me come to terms with life, and myself, and my sometimes dark thoughts and personal demons. I owe a lot to anime honestly, to my boys Naruto, and Mugen, Edward and Gohan, and even the up and comers like Deku. The complete lineup of best girls, too. (Here’s looking at you Jakuzere and Mako.) But first and foremost, I owe the most to Naota, for sticking with me through that confusing time, and for teaching me how to swing the bat.