Today, we come to the end of my favorite battle in the whole series. So actually critiquing this one is going to be really hard. But I’m gonna try my best to be fair here.
After a brief recap, we pick up right where we left off. Stain is pushing our heroes further than ever before. Despite Deku and Todoroki’s solid teamwork and planning, he still manages to keep up, further upping the intimidation factor of the villain. Even when Iida leaps back into the fray, further pushing Stain into a corner, you get the sense that our heroes are still in danger. This tension makes the fight a complete nail bitter right up until Stain is tied up and beaten. At no point does this fight become boring or drag for too long.
This also has one of my favorite Iida moments in the whole series. This is the episode that shows us just how close Iida and his brother really were. This not only endears us more to Iida as a character, but it builds up perfectly to his return to the fight. As he slowly rises, engines flaring and theme music blaring, it’s nigh impossible not to get hyped. This marks an important and thrilling turning point in the fight, as the whole dynamic that was build in the last episode is completely transformed.
The choreography and strategy of the fight completely changes with it. Stain is panicked and starting to make mistakes. With Iida in the fray, Deku can afford to be more level-headed and place his attacks strategically. Thus, we build to the final clash of the battle.
And oh god is it a satisfying hit! The animation is on point, as per usual, and the music is doing a killer job as always! Watching Iida and Deku charge Stain together, striking true at the same moment, is easily one of the most exhilarating events in the season! And it brings the fight to a surprising yet satisfying end. Anyone would think that the kids would be saved by the pros. So then, when they deal with it themselves, it subverts expectations in a great way. We’re just as surprised as our heroes.
We then rejoin Gran Torino and Endeavor in their battle against the Nomus. In this scene, we see just how disturbing one of these guys can really be, as he throws out numerous gross Quirks in the fight. Plus, we see how Todoroki got involved in the Stain fight, making the arc’s plotting feel very tight and well connected. And Endeavor gets a pretty short but satisfying fight sprinkled in there, just to show that the #2 hero is a pretty big bad ass after all.
All plotlines converge for the final scene of the episode. All our characters reunite, and Iida finally lets go of his contained feelings. But, just as everything seems resolved, another great moment occurs: the Nomu strikes, capturing Deku and leaving a blood trail behind him.
Here, we see one of Stain’s most defining moments. Breaking free from his bonds, he shows his heroic side by slaying the Nomu and saving Deku. But not to be confused for a good guy, he turns to face down all the heroes gathered to take them on as well. It’s an intense and chilling scene, one that shows off just how terrifying Stain can really be. The cinematography and use of color all paint the picture clear: Stain is a massive, bloodthirsty force, one far greater than anyone around him.
Which makes it all the more relieving when the killer finally goes down. Thus, the curtain falls on the greatest villain in the series.
It’s an incredible ending to an incredible story arc. Everything is on point, from it’s animation to it’s pacing and character development. In terms of pure excitement and engagement, I can think of few episodes better than this one.
Though the next major, story defining battle also makes a very strong argument. But we’ll get to that later. First, we need to talk about the cool down, as well as one of the best filler episodes in a Shounen series. Unfortunately, as much as I’d like to talk about those all at once, we can only do one thing at a time.