As a whole, My Villain Academia has been incredibly rushed and the visuals have been pretty up and down. But at least they managed to stick the landing. And hoo boy, what a landing it turned out to be!
The last of Shigurake’s memories return. With them, the last mental restraints he has placed on his Quirk are removed. Can the Liberation forces survive the full, unrestrained destructive wrath of All For One’s successor?
While the second part of Shigurake’s backstory is over much more quickly than the first part, it’s every bit as tragic. Seeing this little boy wandering the streets, alone and covered in blood, being ignored is a real punch to the gut. “A hero will be here soon,” they all say. They may as well have looked the poor kid in the eye and tell him “I won’t help you because I don’t want to bother, so I’ll leave it to someone whose job it is.” This simple and powerful scene establishes in no uncertain terms how Shigurake’s hatred of hero society first came to be.
A hatred that would be cultivated by All For One.
We get a true glimpse at just how truly evil AFO is through this scene. Not only does he present the young boy with the gruesome remains of his dead family, but he strongly pressures him to give in to his violent instincts while simultaneously driving away Tenko’s morals. On top of that, he twists the boy’s name into a symbol of tragedy and bloodshed, then slaps his own last name, Shigurake, onto the end. Not to welcome him into the family, but to claim ownership of him. Like putting your name and address on the collar of your dog.
This is symbolized perfectly with a shot of a butterfly still in its cocoon. A small and vulnerable thing that could soon become something beautiful. But as All For One speaks, blood trickles down from somewhere above, painting the cocoon crimson. Suddenly, that symbol of potential and beauty is turned into one of dread and horror.
All of this comes to a head back in the present. Shigurake, with the last of his memories restored, begins to smile. Then he takes the last hand clinging to him, the hands that had restrained his power and memories all these years, and shatters it with his power. He breaks his metaphorical chains and unleashes the full, terrible might of his power onto his enemies.
It’s in this act that Shigurake wins the fight against Re-Destro. Yes, he destroys Re-Destro’s armor and forces him to cut his legs off, but that’s not what wins him the fight. In the midst of the destruction and carnage, Re-Destro sees Shigurake grinning like a happy child. In breaking free of the bonds of his past, Shigurake has become the very ideal that the Liberation fights for: complete freedom in usage of Quirks. So rather than having Shigurake and the league simply slaughter them, the Liberation bows down to them, accepting them as their new, rightful leaders.
Thus, the mystery established in the Endeavor Internship arc is all cleared up. We now know who these people are and why they’re working for the League. All of the pieces to the puzzle are now in place and the stage has been set for the grand final battle to come. Was it perfectly done? No. But it came together in the end.
All of this is supported by some really strong visuals. The animation is stellar from beginning to end this time around and the music is excellent. And there are plenty more interesting and creative shots beyond the earlier mentioned cocoon example. This is a really strong episode in terms of presentation.
As a conclusion to the arc, this episode did a fantastic job. Yes, the arc itself was still super rushed from start to finish. But at least it stuck the landing!
And now, there’s only one episode. Then we can all start the wait for the explosion that will be season six.