WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for My Hero Academia
I’ve only very recently got round to watching My Hero Academia, but I can already tell you that All Might’s battle with Nomu in Season 1 is one of my favourite scenes in the whole show (possibly a contender for my favourite scene period). Which is impressive considering that, on paper, it technically shouldn’t be that good.
Let me explain. When you break down this scene to its bare essentials, it comes across as really lazy writing. What does the weakened All Might do to beat this seemingly unstoppable enemy? He just hits them harder. That’s a Dragon Ball Z Abridged joke, not an actual conclusion to a climactic battle. However, this is an occasion where it’s actually kind of justified and there are multiple factors that help elevate this scene to the level of greatness it’s at.
For starters, All Might isn’t just weakened from the battle. As the show established in the second episode, it’s now a struggle for him to maintain his hero form for extended periods of time. Not only that, but he shows up to the fight pretty worn out due to fighting some random villains earlier that day. He’s already at a handicap and now here’s Nomu with his Shock Absorption and Super Regeneration Quirks – it’s a being created to specifically counter All Might. But it’s at this moment where All Might shows that it’s not just the powers that make him the world’s greatest hero – it’s also his spirit. So, in order to protect his students and stop the villains, he breaks past his own limits. It further damages his body but the fact that he manages to pull it off is amazing.
There are so many details about this fight that I love:
- The music – You Say Run – being perfectly timed with the action (I think this may be the best use of the song in the whole show)
- All Might’s response to being reminded of Nomu’s Quirk – “Yeah? What about it?!” – with a smile on his face (it’s a little thing but, God damn, that is so cool, further highlighting his determination and drive)
- Christopher Sabat’s whole performance (I actually chose to watch the dub specifically because of Sabat)
- The way All Might and Nomu’s faces lean in towards each other before they do their respective barrages
- All Might figuring out that Nomu’s Quirk means there’s a limit to how many punches he can take, meaning there’s an actual strategy behind the “keep punching harder” idea
- Nomu slowly but gradually taking hits while All Might also visibly takes damage too, followed by All Might taking a few steps forward to push Nomu back as he gains the upper-hand
- The shot of All Might charging at Nomu while the latter is falling through the air, grabbing him and then throwing him down into the ground
- The slow-mo shot of Nomu bouncing off the ground as All Might suddenly appears in front of him
And then to cap it off, the Plus Ultra attack. All Might symbolically grabbing the various coloured orbs of light (each one representing the previous holders of One for All), before driving his fist into Nomu, causing the monster to expand slightly as he absorbs the attack, almost exploding, before being blasted away and smashing through the roof, flying through clouds until he’s nothing more than a twinkle in the sky is immensely satisfying to watch.
The fact that I have watched this scene so many times already and always feel the same amount of hype and excitement says a lot about its quality.