Oh boy! My favorite family drama!
This is a very mixed episode. The first half is almost entirely made of flashbacks centered around the Todoroki family drama, so the plot only really gets started in the ladder half. It feels like the studio is dragging their feet, trying to pad out this material as much as possible. Which, speaking as a guy who really wants to get to the villain arc this season, is starting to scare me.
Endeavor’s training of Deku, Bakugo, and Shoto continues. Even after a few weeks of effort, none of the three boys have managed to outrun him. One night, upon Fuyumi’s request, he brings the three home for dinner. Now Deku and Bakugo end up caught right in the middle of the Todoroki family drama.
The first half of this episode is mostly a waste of time. Seven to eight minutes of it are spent on flashbacks to seasons two and four. The only scene that doesn’t feel like a waste of time is Endeavor’s dream, which perfectly illustrates how distant he feels from his family; he feels that the easiest way for them to become happy again is for him to leave, but he’s still determined to fix the gaps that he opened between them.
When the second half and the actual plot starts, things pick up a bit. We get a really clever shot of the main three covered in bruises with dirtied uniforms, showing how hard they’ve been working without directly telling us. It relies on the visuals, showing just how rough they’ve had it while they talk about what they plan on working on to achieve their goal.
I also love the intensity Endeavor has when he decides to bring the three over for dinner. While he’s on the job, he’s calm, calculated, and confident. But when it comes to his family, he’s nervous, reluctant, and intense. The contrast between Endeavor the hero and Endeavor the father is a great contrast that makes him all the more compelling.
Fuyumi is also a treat this episode. Not only does she have some cute interactions with Deku (two sweet beans become even sweeter), but she gets some strong development here. We learn that she hates Endeavor just as much as Shoto and Natsu, but she is still willing to give him a chance to earn forgiveness and support him out of her kindness. Plus, there’s an incredibly clever transition shot, one that fades in from the Todoroki kids’ mother to Fuyumi; it perfectly and subtly demonstrates how the eldest sister has had to become the mother of the family in the absence of their real mother. Plus, she’s an elementary school teacher! In half an episode, she went from a kind-hearted and cute side character to a highly fleshed out and intriguing member of the cast!
This episode also perfectly captures the awkward intensity of the Todoroki family’s issues. It’s so uncomfortable that even Bakugo is struck silent by it!
Also, I think the animators made a mistake. In the flashback, we see the back of Toya’s head as he plays with Fuyumi and Natsu; in that shot, his hair is red. But at the end of the episode, when we see his portrait on the memorial shrine, his hair is white. It’s either that his hair changed color, which makes no sense, or the animators forgot. Sadly, the ladder makes more sense.
Not gonna lie: this episode was rough. There was no impressive animation to blow the viewer away and almost all of the first half is a total waste of time. It does have some really strong direction and great character development. But it definitely feels like they’re padding for time.
Please, let this arc end next episode. I just want to get to the villain stuff!