Last week I said Yaoyorozu was being a largely reactive leader, and it seems MHA heard that and saw fit to respond with a determined and defiant “nuh uh' this week. Between the episode title, multiple lines from her teammates, her classmates, and even her opponents, the show is trying its darnedest to convince me that actually, YaoMomo was thinking ahead the whole time. Sorry guys, I'm not buying it.
For one, while Momo may have thought up counters to their opponents' various quirks, that's not the same as knowing how to implement them, or communicate those ideas to her teammates. Don't get me wrong, she does a great job thinking on her feet and getting valuable tools to her teammates under pressure, but the titular foresight would have been a lot more useful if the team had actually known about these potential contingencies in advance. More importantly, Team A still got massively outmaneuvered by Kendo, who was able to both predict her opponents' behavior and effectively use her less combat-oriented teammates in clever ways to give them the advantage. Team B had been on top of their game from the outset, and were able to successfully implement some of the classic arts of war: divide & conquer, cut off the head, and choke with mushrooms.
Seriously, Kinoko is absolutely the MVP of this round. While not super powerful in an offensive sense, she immediately gives Team B the terrain advantage, creates a constant distraction to the other team, and in general is just god damn terrifying. Tokoyami and Hagakure do a solid job implementing Momo's counter-strategy, but they spend the entire fight trying to gain squishy, spore-infested ground that they just can't. And that's before she decides to stop playing nice and straight up choke out everyone's bird son. That's what happens when you underestimate fungus, Tokoyami: you get a throat full of split gills. Don't worry though, they're nonpoisonous…this time.
Tracheal infections notwithstanding, this episode feels like kind of a letdown. In theory all of this action is good stuff, and while I don't buy the show's overtures that this was actually a great showing for Momo, I do think her plan provides some solid back-and-forth. But in practice it all feels too drawn out to leave a proper impact. After how ambitious last week was with Kuroiro's quirk, this episode feels lacking, functioning mostly on timing and posing rather than any standout animation, and without that flourish, the actual combat isn't very engaging in the moment. The pacing is the bigger issue though, as there's a good amount of superfluous recap that just slows down the fight when it's supposed to be heating up. There are some fun moments, like finally seeing what a threat trying to fight somebody you can't see can be with Hagakure, and Kinoko's a delight every time she's on screen, but as a complete episode it feels like less than the sum of its parts.
Typically that wouldn't be too big of a deal – the Gentle and La Brava fight last season had its share of padding to fill out an episode and it was one of the highlights of that arc – but in this current tournament-lite structure the energy and impact of a fight means everything. MHA has an extensive list of powers to bounce off each other, but at its core the series uses fights to detail and punctuate character development. With that factor being downplayed, these battles need to be rock solid in execution to still be gripping, and that just isn't the case for this episode. If the anime can't figure out how to better balance its runtime, it risks making the rest of this arc a drag.
Nevertheless, the fights continue on! Next week:
1-A Team 3
1) Shoto “Shoto” Todoroki – Quirk: Half-Cold Half-Hot – Special Skills: Darkest character backstory in the anime to-date
2) Tenya “Ingenium” Iida – Quirk: Engine – Special Skills: Still well-loved despite consecutive seasons of irrelevancy
3) Mezo “Tentacole” Shoji – Quirk: Dupli-arms – Special Skills: Literally born to rock cool sleeveless shirts
4) Mashirao “Tailman” Oshiro – Quirk: Tail – Special Skills:
1-B Team 3
1) Tetsutetsu “Real Steel” Tetsutetsu – Quirk: Steel – Special Skills: Kirishima Echo Fighter
2) Pony “Rocketti” Tsunotori – Quirk: Horn Cannon – Special Skills: U! S! A! U! S! A!
3) Juzo “Mudman” Honenuki – Quirk: Softening – Special Skills: Genuinely horrifying smile
4) Sen “Spiral” Kaibara – Quirk: Gyrate – Special Skills: His own personal powerdrill
Not gonna lie, this one seems pretty weighted in 1-A's favor. Not only do they have a heavy hitter in tritagonist Shoto, you just know Iida is itching to reassert himself after sitting in neutral since season 3. Meanwhile the only character from Team B we know anything about is Tetsutetsu, a close-range defense-oriented fighter who's not exactly known for his brains. There's of course room for surprises, but somebody on Team B is going to need to step up to pull off this upset.