I never ended up writing a review for My Hero Academia despite absolutely loving it, mostly because I never found the time. This isn’t going to be that review, but I needed to talk about the final battle, as nothing else this year was comparable.
It’s the end of episode 11. Villains have penetrated the school test environment, and the students who were simply training to be heroes were suddenly plunged into life-or-death fights against people with disturbing and monstrous powers, watching their friends and teachers get badly hurt and injured.
All Might enters. And he is pissed. He is furious. The villains broke into his school and attacked his students just to try and reach him?? His trademark grin that never leaves his face, the grin that makes him the beacon of hope and justice for all, has been turned into a grim snarl.
What follows next is an intense fight between All Might and a creature engineered to take him on at 100%. All Might is severely injured, he’s at his limit, and the rest of the teachers have still not arrived. So what does he do?
He goes beyond 100%
The raw power he outputs goes far beyond what anyone – even Midoriya, All Might fanboy – thought he was capable of. He had just never needed to before. And to top it all off, he quips afterwards that he’s getting weaker – that it took him 300 punches, when at his prime it would have taken him 5!
And this comes at great personal expense. He has a limit on how long he can use his powers now, and any great exertion shortens that limit further. And here he went to 11. To save the kids.
That episode-long battle culminating in that unbelievable climax was nothing short of awe-inspiring. That is what a superhero should look like! Wounded, vulnerable and afraid, but not hesitating for one second to sacrifice himself to unleash pure, righteous anger on those who would harm innocents, and display incomprehensible power while doing so. Superman ain’t gonna do shit like that!
But there’s so much more to it than that. While the series doesn’t build up to that moment directly, all the character development up to that point made the students really likeable and engaging and established just how strong they are, and therefore just how powerful Noumu was and how utterly weak they were in comparison. All Might’s strength – in terms of raw power, courage and sense of duty – looks yet greater still.
There was not a single moment all year more epic or whatever word you want to use. Shit was inspiring. Nothing got my blood pumping and boiling as fiercely, nothing got me feeling more ready to take on the world and punch it in its stupid face, and nothing has come quite so close to that sensation of sheer, intense joy at watching the scrappy underdog good guys thoroughly wreck the truly evil bad guys on an impossible scale that I experienced so perfectly watching Gurren Lagann. My Hero Academia was fucking awesome and this sequence was the goddamn peak and I adored it.
Roll on season 2!