And now, we finally get to talk about the episode that everyone remembers. When people talk about their favorite moments from season one, there are two major scenes they bring up. Those being Deku VS Bakugo Round One and the topic of today’s episode: All Might VS The Nomu. And I’m going to come right out and say it.
This may be the weakest fight in the whole series.
Now don’t misunderstand me. Weak doesn’t mean bad. But in comparison to some other fights in the series, this one is really rough around the edges. The choreography is simple, the animation is very up and down, featuring some of the worst art in the entire series and some of the best, and the motivations behind the characters butting heads isn’t super great.
Let’s start with the choreography. In a fight, creative moves and use of powers can make it all the more entertaining. This is why many Dragon Ball Z fights are fun, despite them all blending together after a while. Watching Goku flip around his enemies and delivering well placed punches and kicks before they escalate into recycled footage is thrilling. And in terms of a show like My Hero Academia, the choreography has always been simple yet thrilling. For example, watching Bakugo use his explosions to flip around Deku and blast him in the back is a creative moment that makes the fight unique and thrilling.
All Might VS Nomu on the other hand is as simple as a Dragon Ball Super fight. All Might and the Nomu enter an intense exchange of blows, then All Might overpowers him and sends him flying. And while the cutaways to the other characters being blown away (as well as the environment around them exploding) really sells the extreme power behind every punch, it really doesn’t do much creatively.
Then there’s the art and animation. There’s really not much to say here. Some of the characters, both in motion and standing still, look really bad and hastily drawn. And while some of the shots look absolutely stunning, there are five bad shots for every good one. This may seem like a minor complaint, but bad art and animation can quickly suck you out of the moment and can sour the taste of a fight.
And finally, the motivations behind the fighters. While All Might does have a perfectly good reason, that being that he’s the Symbol of Peace and he needs to protect his students, Nomu is literally incapable of having motivation due to him being a mindless killing machine. As such, this fight isn’t a clash of ideals, personalities or motives, which are what make a thrilling fight. It’s two blocks of unstoppable power bashing into one another until one breaks.
Is it a bad fight? No, it’s still hype as hell. But in comparison to the fights that come after it, it gets left in the dust pretty hard.
Outside of this fight, the episode is really rough around the edges. The art is incredibly up and down, the facial work is a step down from other episodes (although the expressions of shock on everyone’s faces during the fight is pretty excellent), and everyone moves with a surprising lack of urgency most of the time. For example, when All Might gives Deku, Tsu and Mineta Aizawa’s broken body and tell them to run, they don’t book it for the exit as fast as they can (as they should, considering that he’s broken and bleeding). Instead, they just casually walk back while cheering on All Might.
Leaving them open to be attacked by any of the three remaining villains or be taken hostage, thus making the situation even worse.
Now, despite all my criticism, this isn’t a bad episode. It’s still really entertaining to watch, and it has one of the most iconic moments from the series in here. Still, it isn’t exempt from criticism just because it’s the action climax of the first season. If you’re revisiting some episodes while you wait for season four (October has never felt so far away), then it’s really a coin toss whether or not to skip this one.