While I don’t share the share the feelings I’ve read people online having that My Hero Academia has been on a steady decline since the second season, I feel it really took a while for me to connect to what was happening during this 4th season, and for it to find its feet. By the time it was over though, I was fully back under the series’s spell and looking forward to whatever might come next for the kids of U.A.
The majority of this episode details the fight between Endeavor and the new Nomu that’s shown up, with Hawks playing support. At the end of my previous episode review, I said something about feeling confident in Endeavor’s ability to deal with any challenge that might come at him, including this Nomu. As it turns out, the elder Todoroki has a much more difficult time dealing with this synthetic monster than I’d thought he would. By the end of the fight though, the show put the final stamp on what has been the ongoing message looming over the events of the entire season:
Society coming to terms with what the world will be like without a beacon as bright as All Might.
This battle that takes place between Endeavor and the Nomu is a harrowing one for Japan’s new #1 hero, further reinforced by the fact that his wife and children are watching it along with the rest of the nation. Since we saw him during the Remedial Course mini arc, Endeavor has begun the long and arduous journey of turning himself around as a hero and a person. Thankfully though, this episode opens by reminding us of exactly why his son hates him so much.
The abuse, the neglect and violence he has put his own family through is not something we should easily forget. I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for a redemption story, but the personal wreckage Endeavor has left in his wake is not something we should easily brush over. We mustn’t forget there are reasons Shoto refused to he his flame powers for the longest time, the wounds run deep not just for him, but his mother too.
It’s kind of worrying that his mother is the one telling her kids that Endeavor still does care about them, despite everything he’s done. From a writing standpoint, her comments about him remembering her favourite flower are there to signify that he isn’t a bad person to his core, that there can be a light at the end of the tunnel of his road to redemption. But upon watching it right now, it just seems like a dangerous example of her being indoctrinated as a victim and accepting their toxic relationship.
But. I’m not going to think about it too much, because at the end of the day this is a shonen anime. In reality there would be layers to just how problematic this all is, especially considering that Endeavor is only now being nicer after he’s already gotten what he wanted. But in the context of this story, he’s just on a redemption narrative. So rather than let it bog me down, I’m just going to take it at face value as the simple story beat I believe Horikoshi intends it to be.
But to get back to the episode itself; holy crap this is a good looking fight. It might not be quite as pretty as the battle between Deku and Overhaul that took place earlier in the season, but it goes on for much longer and looks great throughout. It’s more of an even fight too and not just a stomp, it seems like Endeavor is over matched. When the Nomu is shown to be able to overcome his pure firepower, we start to see the weaknesses of his quirk first hand, as he becomes overheated. It’s akin to the problem Shoto had when he overused his ice without his flames.
It gives us a first hand example of Endeavor’s reasoning behind trying to produce Todoroki with the quirks he has in the first pace, as both sides apparently counteract the weaknesses of the other. Already showing that Shoto is going to be come a greater hero than he father ever was.
Endeavor is dealt a pretty devastating blow, crashing into the side of a building as the series’s collective cast all watch on in varying degrees of concern. The purposes of which of obvious: Endeavor is recently announced the new #1 hero, and the apprehension of the public and the fellow hero community are already apparent. All Might was much more than just a powerful hero, he was a symbol of hope and aspiration for everyone. Seeing their new #1 getting taken apart already might be an even worse blow for society than All Might’s retirement was.
It becomes pretty apparent that this fight is a direct parallel to All Might’s final battle against All For One. And if you didn’t catch it on your own, the show “helpfully” states that outright rather than let the visuals speak for themselves, thanks anime. Only this time, it seems like the hero is going to fail. It’s only when the fanboy from the previous episode yells at everyone for giving up on Endeavor to qucikly, and points out that the Hellflame Hero is far from out of the fight.
Horikoshi goes all out for this fight. During the climax, Endeavor recognises the part of himself that was obsessed with power and overcoming rivals within the Nomu, and then symbolically kills that part of himself as he drags the monster high above the city and incinerates it in one giant final attack, while at the same time becoming a giant, literal beacon of light and flame in the sky to really announce his emergence as the true new #1.
All capped off by his victory pose of standing with a single fist in their air; the exact same pose All Might made after defeating All for One. It’s really good stuff.
The episode ends with Deku’s narration, stating that with All Might gone, a new generation needs to emerge, brighter and stronger than those that came before them. Looking around as his classmates as he does so.
This was a fantastic final episode of the season, much more eventful and dramatic than the ending to season 3, as much as I do love Mirio. Dealing with the loss of All Might has felt like something that has hung over this entire season like a shadow. I don’t know if the events of this episode were just one more step in the journey leading up until Midoriya’s emergence as his successor, or if this battle was the moment where Japan could finally move on and start relying on the heroes they still have. I’m sure there are some people out there who know, but I’m not there just yet.
Overall, Season 4 of My Hero Academia was another great one. From what I’ve heard, much of the great animation of the earlier seasons was absent from portions of this season due to them all being moved to work on the latest movie. But when it looks good, it looks damn good.
My only real complaint was that it felt like a very slow build, and for large portions of the series I was only partially invested. The final battle between Deku and Overhaul looked amazing, but the arc that lead to it only gripped me in fits and bursts. I spoke about that arc more fully just after it finished, a link to which you can find here.
The mini arc that followed involving Todoroki and Bakugo didn’t do all that much for me either. It wasn’t until the School Festival story line and Gentle Criminal showed up that I started to feel like My Hero was getting back to the kind of story with the emotionally charged stakes that made me love the series so much in the first place.
And these final two episodes exemplified that, by making us care and root for the most despicable character outside of the league of villains. I hope Endeavor’s continued redemption story line is handled well, it’s something that needs to be stretched out and built up really slowly over time. As I mentioned at the top of this review, there is some problematic stuff in there that could easily get mishandled.
The second half of this season felt much stronger than the first, as summed up by my feelings I already linked to above and this review of episodes 84 & 85. Going out, I feel really positive on season 4. My only real personal dilemma now is whether to finally cave in and catch up with the manga or simply wait for season 5, whenever that may happen.