Okay, plot is happening now. We can finally talk about something with some merit to it.
*Quick note for transparency’s sake: a few months back, I caved and binge read the manga, so I already know where the story is going to go. However, I’ll be looking at the anime on its own merit. So, for the sake of these reviews, I’ll basically be pretending that I haven’t read the manga and that this is all-new for me. Differences between the anime and manga will not be held for or against the anime’s favor.*
After Endeavor’s battle with the Nomu, he and Hawks are confronted by Dabi. After the villain makes a hasty retreat and a brief flashback exploring Hawks’ actions, motivations, and backstory, Endeavor has an… awkward dinner with his kids. Meanwhile, Deku has a strange dream in which he witnesses the origins of One For All, during which the founder of the power gives him a cryptic warning and assurance.
First and foremost: everything with Endeavor. The conflict between him and his family is nothing new. But it is nice to see him taking strides to fix the mistakes he’s made. He isn’t searching for forgiveness. Rather, he’s out to correct his mistakes and protect the futures of the children he spent so long abusing. It’s incredibly sweet to see him trying so hard to grow as a person.
At the same time, it’s equally nice to see that the story isn’t shying away from it. Healing a broken family and correcting so many years of abuse and neglect isn’t something that happens quickly. It’s long, it’s hard, and it comes with a lot of arguing and resentment. Endeavor saving the day once doesn’t fix all of that. This makes the struggle feel all the more real and compelling.
Also, this Shoto is straight cold-blooded in this scene and it’s equal parts dark and hilarious.
Now, on to Hawks. I’m a sucker for a good double-agent storyline. And I’ve got… mixed feelings on how it’s executed here.
On one hand, the little hints we get into Hawks’ backstory and motivations are incredibly interesting. It’s obvious that his childhood was far from normal or pleasant. The brief flashes we get really make you wonder. What’s going on? What’s with his fixation on Endeavor? What does this dude really want?
However, I don’t like how quickly they reveal which side he’s really on. Part of what makes a good double-agent storyline is the tension of wondering who they’ll ultimately side with in the end. Plus, you get that wonderful feeling of worry whenever they’re working with the side they’re deceiving. But all of that potential is immediately thrown away, as the story wastes no time showing you exactly which side Hawks is truly working for.
I still like Hawks. He’s interesting and he’s got a great design. But I do feel like they’ve already missed some potential with him.
Also, can I get more Mirko? For… reasons? She only gets about a minute of screen time in this episode and I just really feel like she deserves some more.
Okay, that covers the first half. Now we can talk about the other half. You know, the one that actually has our protagonist in it. Kind of.
There is a lot to chew on in this flashback/dream sequence. We get another brief look at Deku’s successors, all of whom have exceptional designs (except for the two that are still silhouettes, but I’m sure we’ll get to those eventually). But forget all those. This is all about the First and All For One.
I love how All For One demonstrates his power in this scene. It sheds some light on how he became the ultimate force of darkness that All Might built him up to be. He didn’t beat everyone into submission. Rather, he used his power to earn the respect and loyalty of his followers by giving them exactly what they want. He makes use of their fear and desires in a time of chaos and confusion, giving them stability. In doing this, they see him like a messiah figure.
Which is far more terrifying than if he had just used force.
There’s a strange moment here where both All For One and the First OFA user reference a comic they read when they were younger. AFO sees himself as the villain of that comic while his younger brother tells him that said villain was defeated and he will be too. Honestly, this scene kind of took some of the mystique and fear from these characters. They come across more as a pair of children than the ultimate evil and a defiant hero.
Thankfully, after that, we get something actually interesting to think about. See, as the dream is ending, the First warns Deku that they are, quote, “well past the singularity”. Which begs the question: is he referring to the Quirk Singularity, which was hinted at last season (remember the episodes where Bakugo and Todoroki had to deal with the kids)? Or is he referring to something else? It’ll be interesting to see where this thread goes. Hopefully it amounts to something huge and dramatic.
Then the episode ends on the same shot we left off on at the end of season four. Which is kind of lame.
Animation wise, this episode was pretty impressive. There are some pretty badass looking action shots early on, especially with Dabi. It’s definitely a step up from the last episode in both quality and consistency.
Overall, this episode was pretty strong. It had its faults, but they weren’t completely infuriating. This has a lot of strong story beats and some good animation. I got so into it by the halfway point that I was actually startled by the ED. It’s been a while since I lost track of time while watching anime.
God, I’ve missed this show!