Friday Flotsam: Traveling, Pollution, and ‘My Hero Academia’

1. I’m currently on the road visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Alabama.

2. On the way we’ve been listening to A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, about the author’s attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail, which alternates between oft-hilarious anecdotes of him and his degenerate, but strangely lovable friend struggling along the trek and dollops of history and factual information about the trail (one of the author’s main theses is that the National Park Service is, as an institution, appallingly incompetent).

3. Incidentally, the author makes something of an issue of acid rain. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard that particular horror story brought up. It was one of the standbys of my public-school youth (along with deforestation, global warming, the hole in the ozone layer, and so on), but seems from my admittedly uninterested perspective to have fallen by the wayside.

The pattern that I seem to see is that the environmentalist playbook had a bunch of causes back in the day, but now it’s as if they’ve decided to bet everything on global warming and either forgotten about the others or reduced them to also-ran status to the big burn.

4. Back to My Hero Academia at last, and just finished Season Four of the anime before I left. Yep, it’s still really good.

This season we did have a bit of the ‘endless chase’ trope I’ve seen in other shounen series, where a story arc revolves around pursuing a bad guy and characters drop out one-by-one to have their own episode-long battles. This is one part of the format I do not like, as it always feels drawn out and badly paced, as well as frustratingly repetitive (Naruto had a few particularly bad examples of this where the characters spent multiple episodes chasing a villain through endless copy-paste environments). This one wasn’t too bad as these things go, especially as they kept the chase portion relatively short, but I thought it was noteworthy.

On the other hand, the second half of the season is an immensely satisfying ‘ordinary school stuff’ arc, though one that tied in with and built on the previous one in a really beautiful way. So again, well done to the writers!

5. On the other other hand, it’s been a while since I’ve run into a group of baddies I find as repulsive and vile as the League of Villains. Not just because they’re evil, but because they’re also various degrees of grotesque, insane, and disturbing, and not in a fun way; they’re like the bottom of the barrel of an inner-city flophouse dug up and given superpowers. They make for good antagonists, but I have to admit that when one of them got messily blown apart by another villain early in the season my reaction was “Oh, thank God!”

This, by the way, I think is a good thing; you want you audience to fear and hate your villains, to want to see them taken down. They did that here in spades.

6. Thought of the week:

It’s not so much that the machines are getting smarter as that the people are getting dumber. For instance, they think intelligence can be ascribed to a machine.

7. Very tired, so that’ll have to do for now.

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