My Hero Academia
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 29 of
My Hero Academia (TV 2) ?
One of the more difficult things to understand right now is why somebody might choose to be a villain in this world at all, at least for the main villains we've met so far. Stain especially raises this question, since his motivations appear to be entirely philosophical. Even for a man called the "Hero Killer", you can't imagine he finds genuine altruism offensive, it's just the phonies and the world that celebrates them that he wants to take down a peg, right? At the very least there's a scene in this episode where he spares Midoriya, congratulating him on such an effort. I guess it's hard to ask for some nuance out of a blood-themed Ninja Turtle but, you know, broken clocks and all that.
This episode is all about the kids' fight against Stain. Last week left us off the Iida confronting the villain, and this week throws Midoriya into the mix along with Todoroki. The coincidence button is getting pressed a little hard here for my liking, since the kids aren't currently in school and yet their hero internships all happen to bring them into the same conflict, but it is nice to have someone like Todoroki functioning as a cozy, reliable big shot. His entrance where we learn he's using his fire power more liberally is pretty cool. There's also that contrast between Iida and the others, where the normally uptight straight arrow of the class is the one becoming a victim to his own immature desire for revenge.
The real star of the show this week, however, is definitely Stain. His design and his movement really pop, and when you see his jagged, over-used sword you can't help but feel a little shiver up your spine. We learn this week that his Quirk is "Bloodcurdle", meaning if he tastes any amount of your blood we can freeze you in place and stop all movement. This fight does that very shonen thing where the opponent's power has some sort of arbitrary rule, just to offer the conflict some strategy to work with. You see, the amount of time that Stain can freeze you in place depends on your blood type. Midoriya has the luckiest O-Type Blood, whereas Iida will remain stuck a little while longer.
As we enter the second half of this episode, there is unfortunately a noticeably drop in detail with the art. This is the first time in the show's run that I found myself thinking, "Oh, they'll probably redraw that for the Blu-ray", which is pretty impressive in its own right, but this series has been so tidy so far that it's almost jarring. It's not that it looks janky or off-model, it just feels a little worse. This is barely a criticism, since the show still looks good, but it stuck out to me.
I'm still interested in how much the show wants to explore Stain as a character, but the moment we have to throw him into the path of our leads, it's hard to imagine a world where his goals really offer any pathos. This episode submits a few interesting comparison of ideals, but right now I'm worried that the reality might be a little more shallow than I expected. I'm sure people are going to find Iida's struggle and Todoroki's development relatable, but so far this arc isn't saying anything all that surprising, which is kinda of what I'm looking for at the moment. It's hard to judge on just this episode alone, though, as the Stain fight looks to be continuing a few episodes more.
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