O-kay! So! This episode may turn off some people. From the very beginning, we are treated to the high-octane heroism of breakdancing! “Filler” is a word we tend to throw out somewhat often, and here, it fits spectacularly well. This is a filler episode, with only gradual indications that it will mean anything to the whole of the story.
Establishing this, I will admit (if that’s the appropriate wording) that I liked this episode a lot. More than that, I think this might be my favorite episode in the entire season. Why? Spirit. Never at any moment in eighteen episodes had I felt like it exhibited the same spiritedness and exuberance as that of previous seasons, whether in learning to be a hero or just goofing around with classmates. Karandi and I were reluctant to become comfortable with an overall lack of screentime from the entire U.A. body. Huzzah! This is the first episode where the writing complements the usage of every voice within the class, even Koda, whom I completely forgot had a very tiny voice for their gargantuan form. For the first half of this episode, it felt like the class was an actual class and the antics among them were… enjoyable?!?!?
It could’ve played out harmlessly, but then they decided to incorporate Eri into the picture. A glimpse of meaning has invaded the filler! Even that was cute! Using the school festival as a means of providing relief for a small child, who apparently can’t even smile from the tortures pressed onto her, is a quaint, but nice proposal. This seems to be a two (maybe three?) part episode, so it only promises more filler time to come.
Yet said filler can’t be left without a little conflict. Some stupid dude named Gentle and his little cohort in La Brava are on the loose among the city and… they don’t seem threatening in the slightest. Their only reason for existence seems to be a possible curveball thrown into the plans of the school festival, which I expect to see next episode. Really, this whole bit could be a two-episode OVA thing and it wouldn’t remove anything from the main plot, except perhaps the moments with Eri. That’s where I believe some will chastise this.
I’m sold, though. I don’t think the series has been this fun since the end of the second season. I’ll take a lack of consequence if it means the students of U.A. are back to being prominent. Just seeing Ashido dance without warning to open the episode, with others viewing it in their own ways, was incredulous. “Are they really doing this?” As it continued, I found myself accepting it, which gradually became that rare ecstaticism that came with watching My Hero in ye olden days. For me, it’s always been the characters. When they’re being cute, I’m smitten. Whether they drive the plot or are lazily enjoying life, that’s what I’m here for.
Kapodaco is right. This episode brings back some of the old spirit from My Hero Academia. While from a narrative point of view this episode seems largely meaningless outside of reuniting Togata with Midoriya and Eri and their plan to take Eri out of the hospital (nothing could go wrong with that), just getting to hang out with the whole of class 1A and seeing them bounce off of one another reminded me of when I actually enjoyed watching the episodes of My Hero Academia unlike most of this season where I’ve just kind of endured them.
Where I am a little less thrilled is that it does seem decidedly pointless. When they announced a school festival coming up I was hopeful the League of Villains would have some ambitious plan and we’d end the season on a reasonably dramatic note and yet instead we’re apparently introducing what feels like another throw away villain into the mix who will probably end up being the focus for the time. Now he could end up being another Stain, an independent villain who actually had major narrative consequence, but I’m not seeing Gentle being anything but filler and I’m so far not particularly impressed by him as a character.
Still, the bulk of the episode is taken up by the class meeting about what they will contribute to the festival and that does give each of the students a chance to share their idea, returning their voice and personality clearly into the series. Seeing Iida leading the meeting was actually really fun and in small doses I find his character to be very entertaining, particularly when balanced by the voices of the rest of the class.
Overall though, this episode isn’t exactly a massive turning point for the show. We’re still just kind of puttering along without really getting anywhere and after feeling like the story has been locked in neutral for a season, seeing that not changing as we head towards the final episodes is a little on the disappointing side (though it isn’t unexpected at this point).
That said, I’ll take it. This episode was pleasant, seeing the class interacting made me smile, I loved the scene where Midoriya and Togata visited Eri, and the festival looks like it will be reasonably fun as far as school festival arcs go. If Gentle turns out to be even a half-decent antagonist for the sequence this could be a reasonable way to close out the season but again, I’m keeping my expectations low.
Keep up to date with Kapodaco and I as we cover the latest season of My Hero Academia!
Images from: My Hero Academia Season 4. Dir. K Nagasaki. Bones. 2019.