This My Hero Academia review contains spoilers.
My Hero Academia Season 6 Episode Episode 6
“I will destroy everything.”
Shigaraki and Midoriya have been on parallel paths where they’re destined to clash for far longer than either of them have realized. Last season adeptly set up the showdown that’s about to be in motion and Shigaraki is finally back in action and ready to make up for lost time. “Encounter, Part 2” follows the events of last week’s “The Thrill of Destruction,” but it’s also just as much a continuation of My Hero Academia’s season two finale, “Encounter,” where Deku and Shigaraki first share a foreboding meeting. “Encounter, Part 2” begins to cash in on seasons’ worth of tension, but it fails to meet the potential of its title as it spends more time on setting up what’s to come than actually putting Shigaraki and Midoriya together.
“Encounter, Part 2” promises a lot, which only becomes an issue when it fails to deliver. This is by no means a poor episode of My Hero Academia and it’s more so endemic of this season’s structure that currently looks like it’s just going to be one sprawling war. Some episodes are going to function as bridges towards bigger ideas and “Encounter, Part 2” is an example of this. Shigaraki isn’t immobile through the episode, but he’s not nearly as close to Deku as the episode’s title indicates.
“Encounter, Part 2” is still at its best whenever it focuses on Midoriya’s quiet moments of fear. He can sense that he’s in danger, which can sometimes be even scarier than the danger itself. Shigaraki’s single-minded hunt for Midoriya turns him into a dangerous force of nature who has nothing to lose. Shigaraki has a literal voice in his head, but he’s metaphorically invaded Midoriya’s mind and left him terrified. These reflective scenes hammer in just how difficult the incoming battle with Shigaraki is going to be and they’re easily the most successful moments from the episode. Midoriya is desperate to do whatever he can to avoid a meeting with Shigaraki that’s reminiscent of the first “Encounter.”
My Hero Academia has slowly returned to Midoriya after several episodes where other Pro Heroes and villains have done the heavy lifting. At this point the novelty of more Midoriya hasn’t worn off on this season, but it’s even better that Bakugo joins him on this journey to minimize casualties. It’s a touching encapsulation of how much these two have grown as friends and heroes. However, Bakugo addresses that he has his own vendetta to settle with Shigaraki that stems from his kidnapping and what it subsequently did to All Might’s reputation. It’s always nice whenever Bakugo has Deku’s back, but it’s important that this fight can be personally cathartic for him in ways that have nothing to do with his friend. They’re both equally motivated to overcome this tyrant.
“Encounter, Part 2” flourishes when Shigaraki’s strength is at its peak. The one major caveat that this rejuvenated villain faces is the psychic connection with All For One that comes along with his stockpiled Quirks. At the moment, this mind infiltration isn’t a significant cause for concern in Shigaraki, especially when he has so much power at his disposal, but a larger struggle for Shigaraki’s autonomy is absolutely on the way. Before this schism strikes he manages to absolutely dominate his surroundings as he cycles through all of new abilities. It’s intimidating power, but it’s thrilling to see the Pro Heroes successfully dish it back just as well.
Another really effective detail that comes out of Shigaraki’s experimentation with his new Quirks is that it briefly touches in with All For One’s victims to help remind the audience of what tools are now in Shigaraki’s enhanced skill set. “Encounter, Part 2” revisits Tomoko Shiretoko of Wild, Wild Pusscats, whose Search Quirk was stolen by All For One. The episode attempts to spend a little time with the individuals who have personally suffered from All For One’s intense plan that’s forever been in motion. “Encounter, Part 2” allows a similar level of reflection for Himiko Toga as she continues to process the loss of Twice in real-time. She really comes alive during this episode’s fights and it’s appreciated that My Hero Academia doesn’t prohibit this villain from the grieving process. Toga’s grief and the malaise of All For One’s past victims are just some of the compelling, but half-developed ideas that “Encounter, Part 2” throws into the pile and pledges to do something with later.
Midoriya is Shigaraki’s primary target in “Encounter, Part 2,” but a lot of this episode pits the evolving villain up against the current Number One Pro Hero, Endeavor. It’s a beautifully choreographed piece of combat and Endeavor learns the hard way about the wealth of new Quirks that are now at Shigaraki’s disposal. It’s an effective way to highlight that extremely powerful moves like Hell’s Curtain are completely useless on Shigaraki and it’s going to take something extra special to destroy him. Each season six episode has given some of the more neglected Pro Heroes their respective moments to shine and “Encounter, Part 2” celebrates Mt. Lady. Gratuitous fan-service does occur, but she also gets to genuinely prove herself. There’s some extremely creative teamwork between her and Cementoss against Iceman that culminates in an exciting elemental clash.
“Encounter, Part 2” is a glimpse of greater things to come this season in My Hero Academia. It’s not an empty installment, but it’s guilty of a listlessness and the fatigue of this season’s structure is starting to set in. It’s very difficult to pace an ongoing spectacle that needs to continually get bigger. It’s inevitable that some episodes will feel more subdued or less vital to the bigger picture. “Encounter, Part 2” is a bit of a tease since there’s no actual confrontation that occurs, but it’s still very reliant upon All For One’s–and now Shigaraki’s–obsession with Midoriya and his Quirk. Much like Shigaraki himself, “Encounter, Part 2” just takes too long to adjust to its changes and find its target.