To say that the tide has turned on our heroes would be to say that the Pacific Ocean is damp. They haven’t just been pushed back or suffered a setback – they’ve stepped on the skull with a steel chair and are about to fall down a 50 foot flight of stairs with a spike pit waiting at the bottom. When Shigaraki awakens and calls the Gigantomachia into action, there are now two walking apocalypses out there headed for complete annihilation, and neither front has much hope of stopping either.
This is where we come in at the start of this episode, and even though the laws of narrative flow necessitate that the good guys take some sort of stand, it still feels like the fate of the world hangs in the balance by the end of this episode. . Throwing together everything they have left, combining powers, and exploiting Shigaraki’s goal of stealing the One For All to distract him all add up to juuuuuust enough to keep him busy and make this a fight rather than a slaughter. That tension continues to build throughout the episode, knowing that any slip-up, surprise, or even the slightest outside disturbance could topple this wobbly house of cards. Combined with great animation showing the intensity of the new and improved Shigaraki’s powers vs Endeavor, it makes for some of the most exciting action this season, in an episode that just flew by.
It also helps that our main characters are finally getting into the fray for real. With most of the raid force either turned to dust or scattered to the winds in Shigaraki’s wake, there is no longer a buffer between Deku and the impending doom his successor represents. It makes for a welcome return of the story’s jittery, green heart. Deku has always been self-sacrificing, ordering it to an abandoned area the second he realizes the enemy is after him, but this time he’s not alone, as Bakugo comes blasting along with him in probably my favorite scene of the episode. He may think of it all in practical terms – and then internally rationalize by insisting that this is just to prove that he’s still capable of fighting on Deku’s level – but it’s clear that Bakugo is here to protect Deku from their own self-destructive instincts, and that is incredibly encouraging. Both of these kids have come a long way through the series, and it’s nice to have that highlighted before they join the fray and start risking life and limb alongside their mentors.
Speaking of which, I’m interested in including both Eraserhead and Gran Torino here. Torino is the last real connection to the Shimura family, so I’m curious how he’ll feel facing his old friend’s grandson as the new incarnation of destruction. Meanwhile, Aizawa has come full circle, turning Shigaraki back down as he acts as the only real barrier between the students and horrific targets. His determination to pay it forward all the times others have saved him is, to quote Shigaraki himself, very cool, and through just one short scene, he manages to give the characters this whole fight all over again.
That’s probably what I’m most excited about next week. It’s been fun to see this larger-scale battle play out, and the show has taken time for more intimate story beats like Twice’s episode, but with the scope firmly established and the active cast nailed down, it’s time for the real battle to begin. I’m especially interested in seeing Deku and Shigaraki interact now that we have so much more context about who our practical villain is and where he came from. (Side note: it’s kind of crazy that this is only the third time they’ve had direct interaction, huh?) While the action of MHA is always fun, it’s at its most impactful when they’re in the service of character drama, and it’s time standing in the center.
My Hero Academia currently streaming on Crunchyroll.