Anime, My Review Academia

My Review Academia S4 E4: A Bitter Taste

That was the most painful week of waiting I’ve ever been through.

This is a strong episode. It makes fantastic use of creative visuals, simple but effective animation, and recurring themes through the cinematography and color pallets. It also sets the stage for the season, setting up some new characters, answering some mysteries that have hung over us for a little while now, and it even brings All Might back into the limelight! Sure, it isn’t action-packed and the animation isn’t going to make it into the halls of Sakuga history. But this episode excels in one crucial aspect: storytelling!

We pick up right where the cliffhanger from the preview episode left off, with Deku and Mirio meeting Eri and Overhaul. After Overhaul intimidates Eri into coming back with him, leaving Deku no choice but to leave the terrified girl in the hands of the villain, Deku falls into a slump. Unable to focus on anything, Deku confronts All Might, demanding to know why he didn’t tell him about Nighteye and his relationship, or that Mirio was originally intended to be his successor. In response, All Might gives Deku a hard truth: Nighteye had predicted everything that had come to pass, and predicted one more terrible event: All Might is to die brutally at the hands of a villain within this or the next year. Meanwhile, Overhaul moves forward with mysterious experiments regarding Eri, and Shigurake moves forward in forging an alliance with the new villain.

Holy shit, this episode is dense! It packs so much into its runtime that I can hardly believe I’m watching a Shounen anime! Each event is given proper time to breathe and settle in, delivering the perfect impact on both the characters and the audience. They give you enough time to recover from the first emotional punch to the gut before moving right on to the next one. In terms of pacing, this episode is damn near perfect!

The visuals here are also spectacular! There are a lot of subtle details here that help visually communicate how the characters are feeling/ what they’re thinking without so much as a word. When Deku is confronting Overhaul, Mirio silently begs him to let it go. However, given that his eyes are always hidden behind his visor, it’s safe to assume that he’s as upset as Deku is and that he wants to leap to Eri’s rescue right there and then. It’s a small detail, but it goes a long way in increasing Mirio’s character.

And then there’s the scene everyone is raving about: Deku’s confrontation with All Might. Not only is this the first time that these two have a genuine conflict with one another, but it’s also a fantastic callback! Near the end of the episode, we are treated to an absolutely stunning shot of All Might, back to the sunset, facing Deku. Deku is framed to be as tall as the shrunken All Might, standing tall. The wind rustles both of their hair to the side as leaves fly by in the autumn wind. ‘You Can Be a Hero’, one of the most emotional tracks in the whole series, plays in the background.

This is, of course, a callback to the iconic scene from season one. However, they use the visuals to perfectly communicate Deku’s character development! He’s no longer a small, kneeling, weeping child. He’s a tall, standing, and powerful young man. He stands tall next to his role model rather than shrinking in his shadow. And given where this is placed in the story, it’s safe to assume that Deku isn’t just going to match All Might’s legacy. But he will far surpass it.

God damn this shot is good! It’s one of the most emotional scenes in the entire series, perfectly capturing the relationship between mentor and student! We’re only a few episodes in, and season four has already delivered a powerhouse of a scene! One that stands tall as one of Hero Academia’s best!

Production-wise, this episode doesn’t push the boundary. The shots are certainly pretty, and the animation is smooth and effective. But there are no mind-bogglingly amazing shots where the animators had to put their big-boy pants on. Given the story this episode covered, having one really wouldn’t have fit. It’s effective, but it’s clear that the mind-blowing animation will be saved for later.

All in all, this is a fantastic episode! It has fantastic character moments, spectacular cinematography, and enough power in the emotional scenes to draw a tear from even the most hardened audience members! It is a rock-solid episode through and through!

But I’ll admit: I’m a bit more excited for next week than I am for this one. Because next week’s episode promises to be one of my favorite kinds of Shounen episodes: a side-character focused adventure! Starring best boy (fight me) Kirishima!

Please don’t delay this one…

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