Setting Up For… Something?
We’ve been launched into the story proper this week with Midoriya still worried about his work-placement after getting turned down flat by Gran Torino and the League of Villains clashing with yakuza (or ex-yakuza, it wasn’t the clearest explanation ever). All of which would have made for a pretty compelling first episode except for the fact that this is actually the second episode and then we end the episode on a really bad joke that falls deliberately flat but it is hard not to walk away with a sinking feeling (I skipped the preview having learned in previous seasons that it kind of gives away the next episode and ruins all the fun of speculating).
Now I did actually really like the initial introduction of the yakuza guy and his pointing out Shigaraki’s weaknesses as an organisational leader just felt like it was overdue. And he wasn’t all talk given he was well and truly prepared for the fight when it broke out. However, I realised after the scene was over I couldn’t remember his name or whether he was strictly speaking a villain or yakuza. Not to mention, in an anime already overcrowded with characters to the point where most of the classmates (all introduced by name last week remember) don’t even get to make an appearance outside of one classroom shot, do we need yet another faction and organisation running around (it’s kind of blowing out to Bleach proportions at this point)?
All Might knocking Midoriya back initially was also a nice moment and I liked how clear he was in his reasons. However, if the answer just ends up being ‘no’ why raise the question and so after Midoriya makes it clear he’s resolved All Might grabs Togata and now Midoriya has his potential introduction to the agency run by All Might’s former side-kick Nighteye. And I guess we know it is going to work out because otherwise we wouldn’t have had a million and one images of Midoriya and Togata side-by-side leading up to this season.
It was also nice to see that Todoroki and Bakugo are still working on getting their license after their failure last season. Though once again I am noting that almost none of the class get to speak and yet we still have time for Mineta to brush his teeth, in the dining room for some reason. Does that character have some mandated screen time or something because he served zero point in being there and pretty much the same conversation could have happened without him?
Pretty much, outside of the final few minutes where I could see exactly where they were going and it was making me cringe and no matter how hard I shouted at Midoriya not to I just knew he was going to do something stupid, I really did enjoy this episode. It felt like a nice return to My Hero Academia with self-discovery, analysis of what it means to be a hero, and a steady build up of things that we know will culminate sooner or later into a fight worth watching.
Now hold on there, Karandi. What’s the issue with having a new faction to oppose the League of Villains when a large chunk of the hero class don’t even get any lines? You see, the author is adding by subtracting—cut out all of the hero characters we’ve grown fond of and replace them with a bunch of vague supervillains who likely won’t get as much development! That’s proper population control.
Now then, I will describe the episode by way of waves, as in the quality of it dipped and spiked in near-regular intervals. The beginning was a dip. Lots of recapping and exposition clearly set to establish what is to occur. Then cut to the League of Villains and thus the wave rises. This entire scene, sans the part where cut-girl had to have everything explained to her in the most blatant way imaginable, was the highlight of the episode for me. Someone from the group that’s been around since the second (or third?) season (though their development was minimal) actually dies (they can’t revive people, right?). Power has been established and now the fight for control begins, almost as a parallel to the plight of Midoriya and co. striving to be the best hero now that All Might has retired. I thought it was really well-executed.
Dipping slightly with the return of the hero class, there doesn’t seem to be as much emphasis on fulfilling character interaction. The plot moves forward by the words of the adults and the kids react in the way they’ve been established to. Midoriya won’t give up, Bakugo swears and screams, everyone else exists (in image only). All Might continues to be an interesting character far too concerned with his image, and I actually thought Mr. Mic teasing him for it was humorous. I just think All Might’s a cranky dude too concerned about the events that led to his own demise and doesn’t want the same to happen to Midoriya, evidenced by his past recklessness.
Much of the rest of the episode was like a stagnant middling trance in which I watched on autopilot. Okay, Midoriya’s establishing his identity of a true hero, he’s gonna meet Nighthawk or whatever, All Might, Jr. is gonna be a prominent character this season as evidenced by all the preview images; plot continues forward pretty quickly. And then we’re given the “bombshell” that Nighteye actually values humor on a near-religious level. Seeing him close in on “Bubble Girl” made me squint… what exactly is she backing away for? What could he possibly…?
The last two to three minutes of the episode unearthed such… ripe emotions out of me. I was… so genuinely confused. Intrigued, baffled, alarmed, and almost deliriously amused. What the hell is Nighteye doing with a tickling machine straight out of the fetish art section of Deviantart? In what universe is it okay for him to do this to, uh, underlings? Bubble Girl could probably sue him for that, assuming this world functions the same way as ours. That’s straight up harassment. And then Midoriya does his best All Might impression and I’m sitting there thinking, “What the hell is this show becoming?” I… just… alright, yeah.
It was… uh… better than the last episode. I’ll take one pretty good scene and a really, really bizarre end to an episode over a bland recap episode anyday. Now I’m just concerned about the direction this series will take now that Nighteye has been established as a lunatic. Maybe Nighteye will unveil an entire assortment of weird shit and indulge the audience in some Fifty Shades of Hero fun? I hate that that’s even a possibility following this episode. Oh well. At least the League of Villains has an interesting plot trajectory.
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Images from: My Hero Academia Season 4. Dir. K Nagasaki. Bones. 2019.