With the grand finale out of the way, we can finally relax and enjoy the festivities. But… do finale’s usually come in the second round?
Up to this point, My Hero has always been a tried and true Shounen story. Thus, you’d expect that Midoriya would at least make it to the semi-finals, right? I mean, he’s the protagonist! Those always lose in the semis, so they learn a valuable lesson! They don’t get knocked out in the quarter finals!
Unless you’re Ash from Pokemon. In which case, you don’t even make it past qualifiers most of the time.
Knocking Deku out early is a masterstroke in storytelling. Not only does it subvert the audiences expectations, but it leaves the end result completely up in the air. With our hero out, who’s going to win the Festival? Todoroki and Bakugo are the clear favorites, but it’s no one’s game yet! This makes the rest of the arc tense and fun, despite the main story having concluded early.
On the subject of which, we see some incredibly strong character moments from both Deku and Todoroki after their battle. Todoroki holds a tense but polite conversation with his father for the first time, and his eyes are finally free from the cold hatred that’s been seething within them for so long. Anger and determination have given way to clarity and thought, sending Todoroki on his way to further growth in the future.
Meanwhile, Deku is crushed by the defeat. He confides in All Might, telling him that maybe another student would be a better successor. But this only furthers All Might’s belief in him, and he reveals a major bit of info to both Deku and the audience: he himself was Quirkless way back when. Not only does this humanize All Might a bit more, but it greatly deepens the relationship between mentor and pupil. It’s an incredibly sweet moment.
However, that isn’t allowed to last. Shortly after this, we join Iida’s older brother as he confronts the next villain of the series. The best one, if I may add. The Hero Killer. Though this won’t be paid off for a little bit.
But boy howdy, is it fun when it does! Stain is introduced to spectacular effect in this episode in just about every way! His brutal defeat of Iida’s brother communicates just how powerful the villain truly is. Him being picked up by Kurogiri adds an air of mystery, leaving the audience wondering what’s going to come of this interaction. However, while many things are still vague, one thing is clear: Stain is on a crash course with our protagonists. And it’s going to be their toughest battle yet.
As well as one of their best. But we’re not there yet, unfortunately.
We also get plenty of short but satisfying battles to fill the time. A particular highlight being Bakugo’s fight with Kirishima, which is quick and brutal. This is followed by Iida VS Todoroki, an incredibly fast paced, brutal and gorgeously animated fight.
The rest of the tournament leading up to the final match passes in a blur. The battles are quick, brutal and beautiful to look at. Though they certainly lack in the narrative weight backing the other matches. Still, they’re fun and well worth the time.
Still, this episode is an undeniable cool down and set-up episode. It’s fun, yes, but it lacks any dramatic weight beyond the occasional cute moment. It adds some depth to the characters, and it sets up the next arc really well. Exceptionally fun with an extra bit of depth.