This episode was okay. The first half was pretty boring, but the ladder half was cool. It has some strong highlights, even if it was just okay overall.
After reflecting on the last match, the classes move on to match #2. Team Kendo of class B faces off against team Yaoyorozu of class A. To start, Tokoyami faces off against someone who can freely manipulate and move through shadows. In order to win, he’ll need to bust out a move he invented off-screen during his internship and work study!
The biggest problem with this episode is that it’s very flashback heavy. Some of them are centered around scenes from previous seasons. Others, the previous episode. Either way, they’re all very long, add nothing to the story aside from a brief reminder of events, and hurt the pacing of the episode. It’s very obvious and annoying padding.
It’s especially frustrating because it keeps interrupting our characters as they reflect on the last match. This simple scene shows the more mature and thoughtful side of our characters, which highlights just how naïve the cocky Kaminari still is and how inexperienced yet mature Shinso is. Plus, it highlights how Aizawa and Vlad teach differently, which is a fun little detail.
This is followed up by another fun scene where all the kids gather around to plan. This is a great highlight for all the different teams. It shows how they work together and it puts their unique personalities on full display. We even get some setups for future reveals, like Iida alluding to something regarding his powers.
All the while, Midnight fawns over the majesty of youth and All Might tries to keep her in check, which is a cute little gag.
Now, onto the match itself. Firstly: it’s fun to see Kendo and Yaoyorozu together again. They bring out the best in each other, like how Kendo brings out the clueless rich girl in Yaoyorozu. Their rivalry is decent and its set to take center stage in the match. It’s good to see characters aside from Deku and Bakugo getting rivalry development.
Speaking of rivalries, Tokoyami gets one too. Although this one is more of a gag than anything else. It’s two shadow-power-using edgelords facing off. While it’s definitely fun and entertaining, it doesn’t bring much in terms of depth. Especially since the kid from class B has never so much as spoken before this episode.
Although their matchup is interesting. As his enemy can control Dark Shadow, Tokoyami needs to bust out some new tactics. Which, apparently, includes being able to fucking fly! This is sick as hell; even Deku takes a moment to nerd the hell out over it!
Around this point, we get a flashback centered around Tokoyami and his time spent training under Hawks. This is a good flashback. It’s nice to see more of Hawks already. Combining that with a fun mentor-student relationship only makes it better. His dynamic with Tokoyami is an interesting one, completely distinct from Deku and All Might’s or Shinso and Aizawa’s. It’s more like a bird showing a baby bird how to fly and saying “Go on, do it.”
Tokoyami is definitely the spotlight this episode. The other kids get almost nothing to do. Hagakure shines a light and Aoyama makes it rain lasers. But that’s about it, really. Although, with that cliffhanger ending, we’ve still got hope.
Presentation wise, this episode is okay. It’s got some good looking shots, but none of the action is as smooth or expressive as we’ve seen before. It’s far from ugly, but you can tell that they’re still building up towards something.
All in all, this was an okay episode. It had a lot of strong moments, but was bogged down by some pacing issues. Not the worst of the season, yet not the best either.