Don’t underestimate Yaoyorozu.
Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.
With only a few episodes left of Season 2, “Yaoyorozu: Rising” steers us toward the impending finale with a thrilling continuation of the practical exams, rich with character development and beautifully animated action.
After seeing a more confident side of Yaoyorozu last week as she helped her peers study for the written exam, “Yaoyorozu: Rising” pulls back the curtain on her insecurities, adding a new layer of depth to her character that I’ve been hoping to see for quite some time. It’s made clear that her performance during the U.A. Sports Festival damaged what confidence she had, and so she gives Todoroki full lead during their battle against Aizawa, believing his plan must be far better than her own.
This setup made for an emotional and empowering end to their exam, as Todoroki realizes he should have consulted with Yaoyorozu before deciding his own strategy was the best course of action. Perhaps my favorite moment of the entire episode is when Todoroki reveals to Yaoyorozu that he voted for her to be class president, giving her the confidence to rise to the challenge and use her brilliant mind to lead the two of them to victory.
I especially appreciated how, during the fight, Aizawa expresses a desire to help build Yaoyorozu’s confidence, reminding us that while Aizawa can be tough on his students, he truly cares for them. Since boosting her self esteem in the middle of her final exam isn’t the appropriate time for Aizawa to be doing such a thing, I love how Todoroki was able to do so instead by turning the reigns over to Yaoyorozu and putting his faith in her plan.
Even in victory, Yaoyorozu doubts her abilities, believing Aizawa may have allowed himself to fall into her trap on purpose. Regardless of whether or not that was the case, the way in which both Aizawa and Todoroki respond by praising her brilliance was touching. I get the sense a romantic relationship between Todoroki and Yaoyorozu could be on the horizon, and based on the dynamic between them in this episode, I really hope we see that develop as the series continues.
While Yaoyorozu and Todoroki’s battle was the standout from an emotional perspective, Asui and Tokoyami’s fight against Ectoplasm made for a captivating start to the episode. Todoroki heating the shape memory alloy to restrain Aizawa was a brilliant display of teamwork, but nothing trumps Tokoyami’s Dark Shadow throwing Asui only to then be grabbed by Asui’s tongue and hurled to a safe position high above Ectoplasm. The sweeping camera and fluid animation add a thrilling sense of momentum to their movements, and Asui’s genius use of her abilities to hide the restraints within her stomach and regurgitate them at the opportune moment was brilliant.
I also really enjoyed the handful of brief scenes with Deku, Uraraka, and Recovery Girl. Not only was it adorable to see Deku and Uraraka cheering on their peers, we also got a few bits of insight from Recovery Girl, who praises Asui’s ability to remain calm and provide emotional support in the heat of danger. She also emphasizes the importance of communication, which I found particularly noteworthy, as it may foreshadow the hurdle Deku and Bakugo will have to overcome in their fight against All Might.
While not quite as memorable as the other practical exams, Iida and Ojiro’s fight against Mr. Power Loader delivered a brief and humorous display of teamwork that served as a nice reprieve between Asui and Tokoyami’s tense battle and Yaoyorozu and Todoroki emotionally charged showdown. Iida continues to be a fantastic source of comedy, thanks to his serious and earnest disposition. Seeing Ojiro embarrassed piggybacking on Iida was hilarious, as was seeing Iida helplessly stuck in the ground during their moment of victory.
I also loved the post-credits look at Uraraka and Aoyama’s battle against Thirteen. Not only does it end the episode on a fun, comedic note, it teases the Uraraka-Deku romance that My Hero Academia has been hinting at for quite some time.