Alright everybody, it's time for Round 2! We begin this episode with some requisite wrap-up, since this is technically still a school activity, as the teachers debrief the students about where they faltered or succeeded in the last round. This also reminds the rest of the class that oh, yeah, they should probably start coming up with plans too instead of just standing there adding color commentary. At least so far, it seems like one side spent that time a lot better than the other.
Don't get me wrong, Yaoyorozu is a smart cookie, and since the midterm test against Aizawa she's shown she's great at thinking under pressure, but through the entire opening act of this fight she and her team are simply reacting, and that can only get them so far. Sure, there's only so much they could have done to prepare, considering nobody knew Kuroiro could take control of Dark Shadow, but so long as they're focused solely on the fight in front of them, they're inevitably going to be dancing to the tune of their opponents for this whole match. Kendo made a declaration right at the start of this round, and she's sticking by it.
Tokoyami is also having a rough time of it. Just when he thought he'd found a kindred spirit, he discovers that Kuroiro isn't the honorable duel-to-the-death kind of edgelord, but rather the scheming, laughs-evilly-while-reading-Death-Note kind. Not only does Tokoyami fall prey to his opponent's quirk, but we quickly learn even their fated chuuni rivalry was all a trick by Vantabl- sorry Vantadark. That's definitely his real Hero Name, nothing to see here Mr. Kapoor, you can go back to trying to steal some pink paint. Anyway, this was all a dastardly trick to put everyone's favorite bird boy on the back foot and scoop up Aoyama instead, and it nearly works until Tokoyami reveals his new supermove: Dark Fallen Angel!
Which, okay kid, first off? That name is redundant. A Fallen Angel is already going to be dark – otherwise they wouldn't be a fallen angel. Just putting “Dark” in front of something doesn't make it cool any more than putting on a studded leather jacket makes any random teenager cool. More pertinently it's a neat use of the more ancillary parts of Dark Shadow's powers. Tokoyami and the rest of the kids have been so focused on offensive power that they all overlooked the fact that it kind of breaks physics just by being corporeal. One of the neat parts of MHA's power system is that new skills usually come from characters learning to use their quirks in new ways, and this is a prime example. Granted, it's only thanks to some aloof advice from Hawks that our landlocked bird son finally takes flight, but he still pulls off a fantastic rescue. Yet it would seem even that was within Kendo's calculations, as she launches her fungal fallback strategy in the closing seconds.
Overall this is a solid enough opening to the new round – unlike last match it seems we'll be seeing some new abilities from 1-A on top of being introduced to all of these 1-B kids, and that should hopefully make for a more dynamic back-and-forth. Speaking of dynamic, the real star of this episode is the direction. I'm used to MHA saving the big guns for Deku and Bakugo, with everyone else getting by with isolated flourishes for the big attacks, but this episode pulls out a lot of stops to show off the scope and speed of the action. In particular Kuroiro gets a ton of rotating POV shots integrating 3D environments to really sell his presence, and it makes for a great watch. This obviously isn't on the level of MHA's arc-ending fights, but it's pretty exciting to think that this could be the baseline for the season's less “important” showdowns.