This episode doesn’t waste any time. We leap straight into the action, instantly creating a feeling of chaos and confusion. We’re put right into Deku’s shoes; lost, confused, and thinking at a thousand miles an hour. It’s only after he’s pieced together Iida’s intentions that he finds clarity, and things begin to calm down.
The episode just started, and it’s already being amazing.
After things start to calm down, we finally get an insight into Stain’s head. He reveals that he kills because the ideal of what a hero is, someone who saves people without reward, has been corrupted. He scolds Iida, telling him that his thirst for vengeance is the farthest thing from a hero that you can be. If Iida were a true hero, he’d save Stain’s would-be victim rather than try to defeat him for selfish reasons. In this moment, Stain becomes an incredibly deep and interesting villain. Easily the best we’ve seen in the show thus far, and he’s still the best to this day.
This ideology carries over into his conversation with Deku. Shortly after his arrival, Deku reveals to have the qualities of a hero that Stain is looking for. After our hero gives a typical and suitable heroic speech, our villain does something completely unforeseen: he smiles. Not a condescending smile, as would be worn by a villain like Freeza or Orichimaru. This is a genuine smile. And in this moment, Stain decides not to kill Deku.
Then, at last, the battle begins. Stain and Deku immediately show themselves to be mirrors of each other, as they both use their quick wits on top of their physical abilities. Plus, Deku shows his growth by outwitting the Hero Killer. For a moment, all seems to be going well. But the tide quickly turns in the villain’s favor.
Only to be turned right back when Todoroki arrives, having followed Deku’s distress call.
With his arrival, the ground for the true battle is officially set. The pros will arrive at any minute, putting a hard time limit on the fight. The question in the audience’s mind is clear: will they survive long enough for the pros to save them? Or will Stain manage to claim a victim and escape? This question immediately raises the intrigue in the battle, and the tension shoots through the roof.
On top of this, the choreography continues to be insane. Stain’s quick and creative tactics against Todoroki are both insane and super fun to watch, especially since we see him genuinely struggle to keep up for the first time. And things only get more intense when Deku rejoins the battle, and the true limits of Stain’s Quirk are revealed. Thus, even more, smaller time limits are introduced into the fight.
We also get to see the fruits of Todoroki’s growth as a character in this fight. After Deku saved him from himself, he noticed that Iida had fallen into the same darkness that he had lived in for so long, and thus became determined to save him. Not only does this add depth to his and Iida’s relationship, but it also proves Stain’s flawed ideology wrong. Our villain doesn’t think corrupt heroes can change and become better, but Todoroki being there, and using his fire powers to boot, proves him wrong.
And it serves as the fuel to flame Iida’s development. But that, as well as the rest of the fight, will have to wait until next time.
This episode feels too short in all the best ways. It leaves you desperate for more, as if you were stranded in a desert searching for water. Everything is on point, from the action to the writing. This is the first half of my absolute favorite fight in all of My Hero Academia, and one of my absolute favorite episodes of the entire show.
When people ask me if they should watch My Hero, I point them to this fight. Sure, there are plenty of other scenes that I’d gladly gush about. But if I’m going to sell someone, then I feel that this is the best possible point of the plot to go with. It’s My Hero Academia at it’s absolute best, embodying everything that makes this show so damn great!
Though it does sort of leave out the cute and funny aspects of the show. Though I can easily see why that’s the case.