This was the arc I was most looking forward to this season. And right off the bat, it feels rough around the edges. But hey, at least the ending scene from the last episode has sound effects in this one.
Flash back to October, to before anything from this season began. The League of Villains confronts Gigantomachia, the most powerful servant All For One left behind. After earning the aide from the doctor behind the Nomus, Shigurake is given a test: to make the giant submit. However, after a month of effort, he has made no progress. Not only that, but the Meta Liberation Army reveals itself to the League and challenges them to a battle. Can Shigurake overcome this obstacle and prove himself the next King of Darkness?
Right off the bat, everything feels strangely out of order. We’re dropped right into the League’s first meeting with Gitantomachia with little to no set up or context. Then the doctor, whom they all act like they already know, summons them to introduce himself to everyone but Shigurake, whom he does already know. It feels like starting a book, but someone has ripped out a few random pages from the first chapter! It feels odd and jarring!
Still, this opening has a few things that I like. For one, we finally get to see where the Nomus are made and it’s really creepy. Then we get a brief flashback of Shigurake’s first meeting with AFO and the doctor, which is also discomforting and sets up the later, darker flashback pretty well. And at the end of the scene, it establishes the goal for our currently protagonist-antagonists to accomplish: make Machia submit.
Except for Dabi. He goes off to make fun of Endeavor in the first episode of the season.
Fast forward a month and a half, and the arc proper gets started. We’re re-introduced to the Meta Liberation Army, who challenge the League to a fight. Which I have mixed feelings on. While I do think they have a good reason to face the League, the reason given for the League to face them feels really weak. “We kidnapped Giran! Remember him? From… season two? He introduced everyone to Shigurake and AFO? He had all of three lines of dialogue? What do you mean you don’t know him?”
Luckily, Shigurake doesn’t act like rescuing this dude we barely know is a top priority. Instead, the sees the fight as an opportunity to make Machia fold. Which is much more interesting and serves as a much more organic reason for the League to bother getting involved.
Yes, I know they don’t have much of a choice, but that doesn’t always make for the most compelling character motivations, okay?
Overall, this was a very rough start to the arc. It got back on its feet in the latter half, but the first half felt rushed and disjointed. Still, they might be able to salvage it with the later episodes.
How annoying would it be for anime-only fans, to have this arc hyped up by us manga readers for ages, only for the anime to butcher it?