Oh snap! Deku, Todoroki, and Iida are all fighting together against Stain! Oh and there’s apparently more than one Nomu I guess.
In all seriousness, I was kind of stumped at how secondary the reveal of multiple Nomus was. They were sort of a big deal in Season 1, especially since the first Nomu introduced was designed to defeat All Might. I suppose the alterations and multiple quirks are worth noting but for the most part, these two episodes were all about the fight with Stain. We at least get Endeavor showing off his skills against the Nomus and while the man is a terrible husband and father, he’s undeniably a beast.
There’s a lot to love about the Stain fight. As an action scene, it’s easily one of the most intense fights we’ve seen to date. Even with Deku, Iida, and Todoroki (all three of whom are terrific fighters), they barely managed to incapacitate Stain. Much of what makes the fight so tense lies in how deadly Stain is. His Quirk, Bloodcurdle, lets him immobilize anyone who’s blood he’s licked and while the recovery time varies (Deku recovers the fastest), Stain is still a force to be reckoned thanks to his agility and swordsmanship. The three managed to work together with Deku and Iida severely injuring Stain long enough for Todoroki to use his Left side to burn him. But it was also incredibly lucky that they succeeded, what with Deku barely recovering from Stain’s Bloodcurdle and Tenya needing Todoroki’s Right side to regulate the temperature of his engines so that he could even attack Stain again. HeroAca has been really good at making every victory against a Villain incredibly earned and boy was that the case in these two episodes.
But like any good action scene, it’s not just the crazy powers and strategies that make the Stain fight so enjoyable. There’s a lot of character development at play here too. The fight seemed especially designed to really push Iida and his perspective on heroism. When Deku and Todoroki show up to protect him, Iida appeared more stressed than thankful. Naturally, Iida doesn’t want his friends involved in this fight but I think at first, Iida was more insistent to be the sole Hero to defeat Stain. As he realizes how selfish he is being and how selfless his friends are, I think we see the more passionate side of Iida take hold again. After recovering from Stain’s Bloodcurdle, he admits he was acting on his self-interest but he still refuses to back down because a Hero has to stop Stain and he must carry the “Ingenium” name.
I was a little surprised to see Todoroki as the one person to respond to Deku’s SOS signal. It certainly suggests that Todoroki sees Deku as a friend now (and boy will Tododeku shippers jump on that). When I really think about it, however, I think it is important that it is Todoroki to tell Iida to stand up and fight. After recovering from his own cycle of self-pity, it’s fitting that Todoroki would be there to help Iida with his own inner conflict. Admittedly, things could’ve been better executed. It was a little silly seeing the same flashback of Tenya silently walking away from Deku and Ochako, only to now pan to the right to show that Todoroki was also concerned at the time. I also wish that when Todoroki referred to his reconciliation with his mother as his first step to self-acceptance and recovery, the whole conversation was shown. Still, I really like that Todoroki was added not just to spice up the action but also to push character development.
And now about Stain himself. I’ve generally liked the villains in HeroAca but I think Stain is the first villain in the show who’s ideology is so fascinating. He has a curious view on both Heroes and Villains. For Stain, a lot of Heroes come across to him as “fakes”, people who do are Heroes for self-interest. It’s largely why he is so insistent in killing Tenya because he recognizes that Tenya wants to beat him to satisfy his revenge. In a strange way, Stain knows he is a criminal but he views his actions as a means to “help” the world by weeding out the “fakes” from the “true” Heroes. The fact that Stain even kills a Nomu at the end of the episode suggests that Stain wants to make the world a better place. He may be the Hero Killer but it’s clear that he is not fond of the presence of villains.
I think Stain’s views on Deku and All Might interesting. He considers All Might to be the only “true” Hero in the world (as opposed to Endeavor who runs a Hero Agency and pays a lot of attention to being the #2 Hero). I think he even sees All Might’s heroism in Deku. Stain is amused that Deku is similarly selfless and kind and unlike Iida, does not commit to killing him. The fact that he even inadvertently saves Deku from the Nomu also suggests that Stain takes a strange liking to Deku. If Deku was eliminated by the Nomu, that would’ve meant one less true Hero in the world and even more fakes to come take his place.
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