Holy crap, All Might–that was a great episode!
Last week, I criticized lacking animation in the climactic battle between All Might and Nomu. The recap for this, the season finale of My Hero Academia, goes a long way to summarizing that battle to some of its key moments, such as the glowing blast tearing into Nomu’s body that sends him crashing through the clouds themselves a la Team Rocket.
This condensing of the action to that abbreviated recap is paralleled by how this episode, “In Each of Our Hearts,” condenses the emotional impact felt by the characters–effectively reducing to its essence the students’ shock upon learning of the injuries All Might, Thirteen, Aizawa, and now Izuku have suffered. And that reduction makes the comedic moments of this episode as well more concise and all the more hilarious, such as Police Officer Kitten–I mean, Sansa. (If only other stories would figure out how to edit down a joke to be concise and hence funny rather than dragging.)
Actually, as a denouement to the previous episode’s climax, there is a lot of new content introduced, and elements that were in the previous episodes–in terms of animation, acting, even sound editing–seem to be condensed to their most effective qualities, making for an excellent finale that makes up for the flaws in this story arc. Coupled with the recap during the closing credits, and “In Each of Our Hearts” makes up for so many flaws present in the earlier episodes of this Hero versus Villain arc.
That the episode focuses its teasers not only on the introduction of a new villain, but also on All Might’s physical recovery, and Ochako and Iida waiting for Izuku’s medical release, emphasizes that this show, even as it happens to have superpowered bouts, is still invested in its characters’ development. That the reunion of Izuku, Ochako, and Iida is paired with Izuku’s narration, warning of a major incident coming, is a reminder to the audience that this show is not just about seeing heroes and villains beating the crap out of each other: you need investment in the characters’ relationships with each other if you want the fights to mean something. Otherwise, you’re stuck with a Batman v Superman situation–or Bleach.
That All Might interrupts his friend on the police force to ask first about the safety of his fellow teachers and of his students, then praises his students’ endurance and skills, is a message to the viewers that they should be watching for these characters, not for the battles alone. In just its first season, My Hero Academia has done great work at respecting its audience: there are no cheats to let the characters overcome adversity through unrealistic means. And it is a show that wants to keep its focus on where these characters move from this battle.