I have been anticipating the ninth episode of My Hero Academia’s fourth season “Red Riot” for a while because it was this moment in the manga that propelled Kirishima to one of my favourite characters.
Thankfully, the episode did not disappoint, adapting both Kirishima’s backstory and his and Fat Gum’s fight with Kendo Rappa and Hekiji Tengai perfectly.
“Red Riot” picks up from Tamaki’s battle with three of the eight bullets of the Hissaikai and sees Mimic send Fat Gum and Kirishima into a dark room where they are meet by Rappa and Tengai for a battle of spear and shield vs shield and shield.
In this case, Rappa and Tengai make for the perfect combination, with Rappa dealing out devastating blows as the spear and Tengai providing an almost impenetrable shield for them.
As for Kirishima and Fat Gum, their status as shields puts them at an instant disadvantage from Rappa’s punches, especially Kirishima who is hit so hard that his hardening starts to come undone.
Que, emotional backstory to inspire him to save the day.
In all seriousness, Kirishima’s backstory is one of the best in the series so far.
Kirishima always tried to help people but he lacked something to dive in head first.
In comparison, fellow student Mina Ashido had all the qualities of a hero in the making, protecting her friends from a gigantic villain (who will be important later) by giving him the wrong directions to a hero agency.
Kirishima witnesses this but is unable to act and this causes a massive blow to his confidence.
It is then that, as if by fate, he happens to see an interview from his favourite hero, Crimson Riot, who tells the story of how someone died because he did not act and now his biggest fear is being unable to act, which drives him forward.
Inspired by this, Kirishima set out to completely remake himself into a chivalrous hero, apologizing to the girls he did not help, (even though they have no idea who he is but that is not important) and even dyes his hair red, prompting playful teasing from Mina.
The scene between the two is very sweet and is what made me start to ship them when I read the manga.
Back to the situation at hand, upon remembering why he set out to become a chivalrous hero in the first place, Kirishima leaps in front of Fat Gum to protect him with a burst of inspirational music.
This allows Fat Gum enough time to transfer his quirk from a shield to a spear as he stores the power of the blows Rappa is unloading on him into pure energy, which he releases, along with all of his fat.
It is here that we get our first look at him without this fat and I am sure a number of Squidward “oh no! He’s hot!” memes will be generated from this.
In any case, it is with this release of energy that Fat Gum defeats Rappa and Tengai with the help of Kirishima.
Kirishima’s growth during this episode is fantastic, with his self doubt transitioning perfectly into his backstory, which then leads to his heroic return to the fight at the end of the episode.
Likewise, Fat Gum also gets his moment with the reveal of his spear attack.
It is not just Kirishima and Fat Gum that shines in “Red Riot”, though, as Rappa instantly stands out as the only member of eight bullets who does not follow Overhaul blindly.
The reasons for this will most likely be unveiled in the next episode and make him the most interesting member of the Hissaikai, with the exception of Overhaul himself.
Overall, “Red Riot” is the best episode of My Hero Academia‘s fourth season so far with Kirishima’s character arc being particularly exceptional.