My Hero Academia
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 30 of
My Hero Academia (TV 2) ?
The children's fight with Stain continues—and even concludes—as the action kicks itself up a notch this week in My Hero Academia. I think my internal rhythm might be off with this show, since I expected the Stain arc to last the rest of the season, but that's probably okay because I feel no less compelled to offer a standing ovation as we're delivered another stellar episode, one that's so crazy up my alley that it's kind of scary.
I would break this episode into three parts: the final blow against Stain, Endeavor's fight with the Nomus, and the finale as Stain gets one last big moment despite already being captured by the heroes. All three of these parts are electrifying and oozing with dramatic weight. Iida's finally back in the fight as Stain's power has worn off of him, but the story is still pushing down on his shoulders for succumbing to vengeance. Todoroki tries to tell him not to listen to a crazy serial killer's ramblings, but the most threatening part about Stain is that even someone like Iida agrees with him a tiny bit. I doubt any sane person in real life would ever give a serial killer that much credit, but in a work of fiction, it's pretty interesting.
The remaining action with Stain simply looks great. Is there a name for that pseudo-sketchy, bold outline look? It's pretty common in anime these days and on our villain here it looks as fantastic as ever. I can't get enough of Stain's posture and movement, and the amount of impact that's felt when the kids finally land their finishing team-up attack is impressive. MHA continues to prove that it's the undisputed king when it comes to putting the viewer in the middle of the fight, hot-bloodedness and all, with this being a prime example of that. There's a point where words just can't describe how an action scene feels, so you can only recommend people go check it out. I loved it.
Next up is Endeavor's fight on the other side of town against Shigaraki's Nomus. We get to see exactly why Endeavor is the number two hero in the ballpark of All Might, but as always he's going to be that person you don't want to like, even if you're relieved that he's on our side. This scene mostly speaks for itself, but I appreciate that they threw a cool insert song in there just to make this episode feel all the more eventful. It feels like a victory lap for the great Stain fight.
Stain's raison d'etre is the the kind of thing that grabs you and doesn't let go, compelling you to explore further. Like I said, we would never in a million years take his philosophy seriously if he were a real life serial killer, so without much of a backstory he's a character and a thematic beat that could easily exist just because the author thought it would be cool. The ethical conversations over how right and wrong he is are about as deep as they were when it was about Kira from Death Note. That's what he is until proven otherwise, but in the meantime his presence does a phenomenal job bringing the best out of the story around him. Because of Stain, something like the Endeavor fight following his defeat has a new tinge of sadness to it like, "what if Stain's failure means that the fake heroes are a problem?!" This is punctuated further when Stain escapes, just to kill a Nomu because Stain doesn't like fake villains either. What's this going to lead to?
I really love how the last scene is executed. In his surprise kill of the Nomu, he saves Midoriya (a hero he seems to approve of), but to the others it looks like he's taken a hostage. There's just enough ambiguity that you could believe it either way, and we don't get to find out for sure in this episode because he falls unconscious in the middle of his big, passionate villain speech. Him claiming All Might is the only hero who has permission to kill him is also a great hook. Stain is presented as menacing and terrifying as ever, but thanks to the context of the moment we're allowed to feel a little bit bad for him. The fight is over, the good guys have won, but now there are so many unaddressed emotions for the story to tackle within the coming episodes, and I absolutely looking forward to it doing so.
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