My Hero Academia
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 48 of
My Hero Academia (TV 3) ?
All Might's villainous counterpart, All For One (not to be confused with "One For All", the Quirk), has arrived on the scene, looking to take the world's number one hero down a peg. I find the mystery behind All For One and Shigaraki's relationship to be especially interesting, since there are obvious parallels between them and Midoriya's relationship to All Might, but in particular All For One is like a rich dad funding his child's reckless entrepreneurial efforts over and over until eventually one of them takes off. It kind of makes Shigaraki seem that much more pathetic as his attempts to destroy hero society continue to fail, but we know the damage he's capable of nonetheless.
Both combatants have seen better days, but they're still capable of feats of strength far beyond anybody else on the scene. The main drama is the emphasis on All Might's diminishing power, with All For One's collection of stolen Quirks proving useful. This is the section of the episode that takes up the most screen time, and while it looks perfectly fine, it does bog the rest of the episode down a little. You can feel it in your bones that they're saving the flashiest stuff for next week's episode, so All Might vs. All For One comes across pretty conservative for the time being. The fight is a stall while the younger villains get teleported away against their will, and the standing heroes conspire a plan to whisk Bakugo to safety.
And that's what connects us to this episode's best scene. Midoriya and his crew have been waiting by the sidelines, unseen by the rest of the cast. They're technically not supposed to be there at all, so nobody expects them to fly through the air and save Bakugo in the heat of battle. It's a team effort of the kids' Quirks that launches them, and as per Midoriya's plan they make sure Kirishima is the one to offer Bakugo a hand, because he's one of the few fellow students who Bakugo likes and respects. This sequence where Bakugo sees the opening and then rockets himself through the sky with an explosion to catch Kirishima's hand is so funny and extra, yet weirdly exciting and cool at the same time. It looks just a little bit off, but that honestly just makes it better. It's the lone money shot of the episode, and it's memorable as hell.
Aesthetic bombast aside, I love scenes like this where everything comes together. I've been wondering what role Midoriya's group were going to play once the pro heroes showed up, and I love that it turned into this really showy act of heroism. It's fun to imagine what it would be like to have physically been there, watching. You would have thought All Might fighting his arch-nemesis on its own was pretty interesting, but no, there's a cherry on top and it's the next generation of heroes emerging with a surprise. Shigaraki's exacerbated "Why do you have to show up, every time?!" is delicious.
We're nearing My Hero Academia's most famous climax yet, and on our way there, the show continues to deliver solid entertainment. I think it's been long enough since the last truly impressive episode, but even when the crazy action takes a break, I'm more than happy with the story's steady confidence. I think what I've been the most impressed with in this season is how much it feels like a cohesive whole. Past seasons were met with a myriad of criticisms regarding pacing, but until now I never felt like the series had a lot of story momentum to pace out. But season three so far has been pitch perfect, getting through its material swiftly but deliberately. I wouldn't have it another way.
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