I’m pleasantly surprised! I was wrong in my prediction for how the next two or three episodes would go. Instead, we have something of a mishmash of all sorts of things that barely come together coherently. Some early-episode flashbacks, a surprising continuation (sort of) from the last episode, and character development… from members of the League of Villains? What in the world is going on? I kind of like it, but am also very confused.
Early compliments I had for this series was that it generally avoided the Shounen tropes that made series like this difficult to watch/take seriously. Since probably the third season, and continued in full force this season, there has been such a drastic increase of slow, talkative fight scenes and barely any meaningful progression with the main narrative. I’m not going to say it’s quite at the level of the worst parts of Dragon Ball Z… but it’s starting to flirt with that fine line. Watching this series knowing the viewer is being subjected to this makes me hesitant to continue past this season.
It’s probably the intent of the writer to have the viewer empathize with the members of the League of Villains. Even so, why is it that I care about the members of the League of Villains more than the heroes right now? It might come back to that emphasis on “stakes” and having a reason to fight. Heroes fight for justice and because it’s right and yadda yadda. Yet these villains, who seem to have more complex moral compasses than simple villains in children’s cartoons, are holding a grudge over their fallen member. Why is that so sweet to me, to think that, despite their standoffish way of putting it, they’re holding onto grief from losing one of their own? Like a dysfunctional family? The end of this episode made me excited for a completely different reason: I wanted to see more of Toga and Jin.
So… I’m not really sure how I stand on this episode. It broke my expectations! Then it meandered around for quite a bit and didn’t have a lot happen. It made me excited for the next episode! Just so I can potentially see more Toga and Jin. I’m beginning to not care about any of the heroes, even Midoriya, because of this constant focus-shifting between hundreds of different characters (though Fat Gum seems cool). There was much talking and much reacting to things happening; and there goes Togata, still running, still not being stopped. You’d think they’d care about a hero slipping through, unless they can sense how little of a nuisance he would be.
Yeah, I’ll go ahead and plant the flag now: If this season doesn’t improve dramatically by the end, I’m just gonna drop the series. The quality degradation is apparent and it’s beginning to fall into everything about Shounen that is not for me. A collection of “decent” episodes isn’t going to change what’s been a pretty mediocre outing after ten attempts at gripping storytelling. Is there anything left that will “wow” me here? I can only shrug.
I can only agree with Kapodaco on this episode and the series in general. That spark and general enthusiasm that My Hero Academia had during seasons one and two is definitely waning and while season three gave us some stand out moments it was definitely not overall as solid as the previous two seasons. Now we are ten episodes into season four and I’m relieved by this episode largely because it made me slightly interested.
That might seem harsh but I’m just not into long running shounen stories and things like Bleach are the exception where for whatever reason I put up with a lot of middling episodes for the ones where the audience gets those big pay-off moments. Previously, My Hero Academia had managed to have enough charm and a cast I cared about, kept the pace moving, introduced enough commentary and social issues to give me something to think about, and general was just a solid piece of storytelling even with the shounen flavourings to make me truly love the story but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.
However, as Kapdocao mentioned, episode ten of season four gives us a bit of a look at what is going on with some of the characters from the League of Villains. Seeing villains that we had met before this season, who have some personal connection with Midoriya, and who aren’t one episode wonders, instantly made the conflict more interesting. Throw in the fact that we find out a bit about what is currently motivating them and the relationships at play within the League and honestly this is perhaps the best season four has given us since the recap episode it started with.
Outside of this, the episode is very piecemeal. We are wrapping up the fight with Kirishima and Fat Gum and get yet more flashbacks there and some basic exposition about Overhaul’s plans that will probably turn out not be quite accurate given the source and their level of knowledge. We also get more tunnels twisting and walls growing around the heroes and police as they race forward. Honestly, this is getting old given it clearly isn’t a successful strategy or much of a threat. And while Midoriya once again gets to break some walls it isn’t exactly compelling. His teacher saving him from a rising wall was a nice moment as it once again allowed us to see the difference that comes with experience but otherwise the villain controlling the walls is pretty boring even when he has his little temper tantrum toward the episode finale.
I did enjoy this episode more than the previous two. There’s certainly moments that look great or are cool. The problem I’m having is that overall my interest in the cast in general is diminishing and my willingness to it through set up in hopes of a later pay-off is starting to dwindle, largely because a lot of what made it worthwhile early on such as the enjoyable character interactions seem to be gone and have been for most of this season. I’ll finish season four but whether I continue on past this point will really depend on whether My Hero Academia starts feeling fresh and fun again rather than feeling like I’ve been put on hold and am stuck listening to the same music over and over again.
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Images from: My Hero Academia Season 4. Dir. K Nagasaki. Bones. 2019.