Hoo fucking boy am I behind! And I’ve missed a lot. There was an episode that made us all cry, an episode that happened without much incident, and an episode that made the whole internet (or at least the trending tab on Twitter) go bonkers! And all that is before we talk about today’s episode! There is a lot to talk about!
So let’s get started, nice and quick!
*Side note: this series isn’t going to be available for early reading on my Patreon, as I need to actually keep up with the show. As much as I wish I did, I don’t have a time machine to watch each episode in advance. I know you probably don’t care, but I needed to make it known. Now, on with the show!*
Episode 11: Mirio’s Emotional Slideshow
I wanted to love this episode really badly! This has one of the biggest emotional gut punches in all of MHA! Unfortunately, its abundantly clear that the animators either a) gave up or b) put all their resources into episode 13! As a result, this episode falls completely by the wayside and earns the title of ‘worst animated episode of MHA’! But in fairness: it’s one of the strongest in terms of the narrative!
Mirio finally catches up to Eri and Overhaul, exhausted but ready to fight. Despite having four enemies standing between him and the child, our hero leaps straight into action and quickly puts Chisaki into a corner. But when one of Overhaul’s goons turns a Quirk-erasing gun on Eri, Mirio charges to her defense, sacrificing his own Quirk to protect her.
In terms of story, I love basically everything about this episode! Mirio losing is Quirk to protect someone is totally in line with his character and serves as a huge emotional gut-punch! It’s easily one of the most dramatic scenes in the entire series! Plus, before we can even get over being sad, we get a healthy dose of hype as he leaps right back into the fight! It is simultaneously inspiring and tragic and I fucking love it!
The fight choreography is also pretty cool! Mirio employs some awesome tactics to gain the upper hand, from slipping around with his Quirk to using his cape for cover! Chisaki’s goons have really interesting and creative powers that force our hero to think fast on his feet, which makes the fight feel hectic and desperate as well as being super unique and engaging! If this episode were animated more than not at all, this probably would have been one of the sickest fights in the whole show!
Unfortunately, this leads me to my ultimate complaint. The animation. It’s basically non-existent! Every single shot is just a colored manga panel with some camera effect (if you’re lucky). It feels like you’re watching a slide-show presentation some nerd in middle-school put together about why this fight was awesome rather than watching the fight itself! It’s so disappointing that it’s painful!
Granted, it does hurt a little less when you know what is to come. But it doesn’t make the pain go away.
I honestly don’t know if I love or hate this episode. As a writer, I have to admit that it’s amazing! But as a huge fan of animation, I have to point out the obvious flaws that have presented themselves! It’s an infuriating episode that drives me up the fucking wall! It’s an emotional powerhouse that’s been completely neutered by lackluster visuals!
It’s a damn shame. Still, at least it gave me a lot to talk about. Unlike the next one.
Episode 12: Smash the Future
I’m gonna be honest guys. I kind of forgot this episode happened. There’s a high chance that I had accidentally deleted it from my memory after episode 13 happened.
After Mirio lost his Quirk and ultimately lost the battle, the cavalry arrives! Deku, Nighteye, and Eraser Head all charge in to help! But things quickly take a turn for the worse when Eraser Head is knocked out of the battle and Nighteye is left on death’s door! Now an inexperienced Deku must face-off against a super-powered Overhaul! Worse yet, the villain has managed to completely manipulate poor Eri, guilting her into returning to him! Can Deku defeat Overhaul while defending her?
Honestly, there’s not much to talk about here. The animation is a bit better than the last episode, but not by much. There are a few cool story beats here, such as Nighteye’s fight with Chisaki, wherein he uses his Quirk in small bursts to avoid locking himself in an unfavorable future, but none of them are given the time to breathe that they need to have a proper impact! This episode is almost entirely set up for the one to come.
Although to give credit where it’s due, this episode does effectively rack up the drama really quickly. Having Nighteye get taken out as quickly as he does, while it is underwhelming, does quickly cement Overhaul’s new power. It makes Deku’s struggle against him seem all the more hopeless, which makes it all the more satisfying when he takes the win!
Unfortunately, we had to wait a week for that win. All this one gave us was an unsatisfactory cliffhanger. One that would ultimately amount to practically nothing in the next episode.
Again: I don’t hate this episode. But I don’t especially love it either. It is far from a strong or memorable episode.
The next one, on the other hand…
Episode 13: Infinite 100%
Holy shit guys, this episode was amazing! Sure, the first seven minutes or so are a bit rough, suffering heavily from lackluster animation and ultimately contributing very little to the episode aside from filling time. But once you get past the mid-episode commercial transition? Everything takes a huge leap forward in quality! It becomes so good that I instantly started liking this arc a lot more!
Deku’s battle with Chisaki reaches its climax! Eri, with Mirio’s severed cape in hand, accidentally activates her Quirk, the ability to rewind people on a genetic level, and leaps into Deku’s arms. Overhaul, enraged by her defiance, merges himself with another one of his underlings and gives chase to Deku and Eri, who flew through a hole in the roof and high into the sky. After he spills the beans on Eri’s Quirk, Deku realizes what he can/must do. With the help of Eri’s Quirk, Deku charges his body with the full, unrestrained might of One For All and leaps into the final leg of the battle!
Alright, let’s get the negatives right out of the way. The first few minutes, starring Uraraka, Tsu, Big Three #3 (who has been so pointless that I haven’t even bothered learning her name) and dragon-lady (quick side note, her Quirk is the fucking coolest thing ever) is basically worthless. All they really accomplish is delivering a new minion for absorption to Chisaki and opening a hole in the roof. Even then, Chisaki absorbing this other minion basically amounts to nothing in the end. It certainly doesn’t help that the animation is pretty bad. You could cut them and all the scenes related to them out of the story completely and you’ll lose nothing.
Unless there’s a scene in episode 14 that changes that. But as of me writing this, we still don’t know.
That’s about all I have to say in the way of criticism. This episode was incredible!
The quality starts with Deku chasing after Eri. It’s a very quiet scene, with the only sounds being Deku’s desperate cries and internal monologue and the somber, emotional insert song Might*U (odd name but good song). The animation takes a huge leap forward as Deku wraps Eri in his arms and Mirio’s cape flows wildly around them. The timing with the music is flawless! It even ends with a twist on a familiar shounen trope!
See, in most shounen shows, there’s usually the reaction shot to the big explosion. The air rushes outwards, all the other characters brace themselves and scream, rocks shatter and go flying, so on and so forth. Practically every shounen show ever made uses this setpiece and it’s always very loud and dramatic. It’s a very familiar and overdone image.
Here though? It’s all quiet. Aside from the gentle notes of the piano, there is no sound whatsoever! All we get is the visual of the massive blast of air that sends Deku flying! It makes the scene feel all the more impactful!
And then there’s the final clash. Everything in between this is solid, don’t get me wrong. Seeing Chisaki reduce his massive goon to a cloud of bloody mist in an instant is bone-chilling! Plus, the effect of his Quirk has some super cool animation to it! I’m not a fan of his huge monster form’s design, but it is suitably menacing.
But come on. We all know that this is where it got good.
I love this powerup! It’s not just super bad-ass, both in terms of design and ability! But it feels incredibly cathartic on a narrative level! It perfectly uses both Eri’s Quirk and Deku’s signature crafty tactics! Plus, it’s the first time we get to see Deku at his full potential!
This also does a lot of great things for the future of the story! Showing how strong Deku will eventually become early on perfectly sets the power ceiling for the rest of the story! We had an idea of how crazy the fights would get in the end thanks to the All Might VS Nomu fight from season one. But now? We know exactly where our hero is going to go! It’s a fantastic sneak-peak of things to come and it’s amazing!
It also gave us this shot.
So that’s a win.
The fight itself is pretty underwhelming. Deku just punches Overhaul a few times and then he goes down. The animation is incredible, sure, but the choreography behind it is dull. Sure, it sells just how insanely powerful Deku is/will become. But if it weren’t for the narrative strengths, this would easily be one of the weakest battles in the series.
Granted, the narrative is the most important part. So I’d put it near the top of the ‘Best Fights’ list. Though I hesitate to put it above Deku VS Bakugo Round 2.
This is also the episode where Chisaki’s plan is finally unveiled completely. With this, his character has finally become complete and clear! We see what drove Chisaki to where he is now, what he had intended to do before our heroes intervened, why he was doing it, and even how he came to become the leader of the Yakuza (Hasaikai, I think it is?). It’s a great scene that gives Overhaul the finishing touches his character desperately needed.
Before, I didn’t care much for Overhaul as a character. He was intimidating, sure, and he was definitely more cunning than any other villain that came before him. But he didn’t have the depth necessary to put him next to villains like Stain or Shigurake. Now? I’d put him in my top three My Hero Academia baddies! He’s a great character, one that I’ll definitely need to go into more at a later date!
This episode got off to a rough start. But then it took a huge step forward and became one of the best in the whole series! The animation is gorgeous! The story comes to an incredible climax! This episode was so good that it made me retroactively like this entire season a whole lot more!
Even if it was still incredibly flawed.
Alright! I’m all caught up! And just in time for the final episode of the arc!
While I did have my fair share of complaints about all three of these episodes, I do feel that they were among the strongest from this season. Episode 11 could’ve been a masterpiece, if not for the animation. Episode 12 was solid but rough around the edges. Episode 13 got off to a rough start, then turned it around and became a masterpiece! All three were a bit messy, but they were a ton of fun to watch!
Hopefully, this will make for an upward turn in quality for the rest of the season. I’m willing to believe that the first half suffered from animation dips due to the production of Movie #2 (I’ll get around to that when it comes out on Blu-Ray in the US). Now that it’s all done and released, we’ll hopefully see a return to form in the ladder half.
Unless they fly straight into production of Movie #3. Or maybe I’m wrong and this is just what the show is now. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.