It's without question, My Hero Academia has become a juggernaut. A franchise with a global market and reach beyond its own fandom. Garnering fame outside the Otaku circle, its reach has gone beyond expectation, welcoming a newfound love for Anime and Manga as a medium that is highly regarded, and headlining box office attractions. For the last five to six years now, we've seen the series dominate, with an outpour of adaptation to creativity off its 30 Volumes which Studio Bones have been able to translate a wondrous multiverse from, including an original telling of their own. Much like all series, there's a wind down period and thus comes Season 4 of My Hero Academia. While not the final chapter - far from - the expanding comradery between hero hopefuls is lamented by their teacher's exit.
Introductions of new mainstays that make an instant presence foreshadows more-or-less, a season that could spell a concluding arc or complete phase within My Hero Academia's universe. Whether this leads to a series close out or not is yet to be determined, as we're deep into "Boku No Hiro's" fifth televised series as it is, but something sinister looms for the kids formerly of Class 1-A, and without their leader to guide them directly this puts the group to the ultimate test of working in tandem. Divisive as they are inclusive, the group's reluctance to accept the next chapter shows growing pains of becoming a relied member of civilisation, but questions their perseverance. Season 4 streamlines its adaptation from the source's 14th Volume right up to its 21st, retelling Deku's path in becoming the new leader of 1-A, and adopting All Might's One For All.
⚠ Main Plot (Warning: Spoilers)
It’s been quite some time now since All Might had retired from his duties, but the possibility of the golden maned superhero’s return had never wavered. Local newspapers were keen on getting the scoop in which young hopeful was heralded to be All Might’s successor. Juko News’ Editor-in-Chief demanded his writers get an exclusive on the new class, assigning the task to Freelance Journalist, Taneo Tokuda – an original character of the television series, never seen in the serialised novel format. Further investigating All Might’s final message, he deciphers the hero’s warning but has determined that it’s not for the possibility that there may be a rise in crime or appearances of more foes, but telegraphing his hopeful students that a successor has been chosen to take his place.
Suspecting that one of The Big 3 may have been hand picked by their superior, eyes were firmly gazed on Mirio Togata, as the young, confident and boisterous hero not only resembled his mentor, but his character and wit were on key with assuming leadership. Arriving to Heights Alliance, Taneo interviews the entire class with Shota introducing him to each of his students. Shota is informed by the principal that he is not to interfere with Tokuda’s report, warning each student that it may be good to get permission from each of their parents. Essentially interrogating each up and comer with ulterior motives, the investigative reporter deduces his findings to the one and only, Deku.
While concerns linger over Tenao’s presence, the students are met with a surprise visit from All Might, who brings his former group a ensemble of snacks to share. He bumps into Midoriya while training outside the facility, with the teen greeting his mentor. Informing Deku that he had just swung by the hospotal for a check up. Tenao’s ominous presence is felt as he discovers the duo discussing the on-goings of UA, while the two are deep in conversation over the Symbol of Peace, ultimately giving away Deku as All Might’s successor. Tenao requests Deku’s company as he explains to the youngster that he is concerned over the rising evils in the absense of the Symbol of Peace, however reveals that he is forever in All Might’s debt over the rescue of his father from an attack over 18 years ago. After seeing his father survive the traumatising event, the young Tenao accidentally takes a snap of the blaze, inspiring him to one day become a investigative journalist. Praising Deku, and expressing his underlying admiration for his teacher, Taneo takes a selfie with Midoriya before returning to Juko TV, covering his story with a false headline disclaiming that he failed to find All Might’s Successor, in an effort to hide Deku’s true identity. While this plays out, Twice leads Overhaul to an abandoned warehouse to meet the league of villians.
I was confounded by where Season 4 was initially heading. Primarily, My Hero Academia has always demonstrated high octane intensity right from the onset, but this introductory arc essentially feels like a new gateway to Class 1-A’s next chapter. It’s a tedious start that escalates quite fast as the series continues but does stall a fair few instances – but this is with reason. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. The finish line may be in sight, but the steady build-up to this tumultuous ride has some legs to wear before counting its final days. Deku’s resilience, and leadership is put into question, whether the young hopeful deserves to take the mantle of leader, and entail One for All. Beginning to twist the narrative from passionate to ambiguous, the circumstances of All Might’s departure begin to set in some doubt and anxieties between Deku and his cohorts.
While the pot boils over, a new synthetic drug is made available with the Yakuza which erases quirks with experiments ran on a little girl that harnesses similar powers to that of 1-A. Dispelling quirks from the young teens was certainly an alluring prospect that had me on the edge of my seat. Who would be first to have their identity stripped? I was not expecting to have my temperament toyed with, tying the benevolence of one’s aspirations and having them crushed – it was a little much for me to bear at times, probably the most emotional I’ve ever been watching My Hero. The malevolent Overhaul’s resolve to destroy UA, while unoffically adopting the tortured girl, Eri, had been one of My Hero’s darkest tales so far. It touched a theme almost unimaginable in this medium and one I thought was unique. Certainly a redeeming arc within this season, but it was a weird, almost unfitting storyline that I was not expecting to have me ponder and ruminate for a week.
While I wouldn’t say it was the best Seasons, My Hero’s fourth escapade has made headway in leaving behind labels and expected tropes for a robust presentation of action that takes the best of what its class has learned, but amalgamates it into an intense drama that seeks to cause more havoc and hurt than giving the audience that thrill – at least until its climax. It does entail a filler episode here or there, but a great portion of this series is unequivocally set on preparing its fanbase for the endgame. I know for a fact that I’m not ready to say goodbye to the ragtag, troublesome troupe as they scour Japan in hopes of eradicating evil, but this season was unexpectedly entertaining. I was a little let down from episode one, but there was a reason for its slow bearings that ultimate grease the wheels for an expeditious campaign that is on par with My Hero’s first season. Almost a homecoming – a “back to roots” sort of momentum that cascades into twists and perilous turns. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into Season 5, and discover how UA recoup from these events and where the team are off to next. What a season.
Noteworthy Mentions (Warning: Minor Spoilers)...
Season 4’s OP Slaps. “Polaris” by Blue Encount is my absolute favourite opening theme since “Odd Future”. It expresses the season’s tempered pace excellently with trademark heroes leaping through the clouds.
Overhaul is a freak of nature. I felt threatened by just his appearance on-screen. Quite possibly My hero’s most eerie foe created. Hated him from the moment I laid eyes on him. That’s incredible character design for you.
I’m still trying to work out Mirio, and how much of a goofball he is. I love his character, I love his resolve but I feel like there’s something about him that’s a total secret. Whether that comes to fruition later in the series is to be seen, but I place him in the maybe pile for now.
I do miss All Might. While the old man spends his days in retirement, watching over the youngsters battle out the threat of never ending enemies that come out of the woodworks, his departure was truly felt this season.
Uraraka/Uravity is still best girl.
VERDICT: HELL YES🔥
Middle school student Izuku Midoriya wants to be a hero more than anything, but he's part of the 20% without a Quirk. Unwilling to give up his dream, he plans to take the exam and be accepted into a high school for budding heroes. Through a series of serendipitous events, he catches the eye of the greatest hero, All Might, who agrees to train him.