I’m all caught up on the manga now! I can write this with confidence! Don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything.
I know that I reviewed every episode of season four already. But today, I’m going to look at the season as one, complete package. Specifically, I’m going to look at why the narrative felt lacking.
Season four of My Hero Academia had a very mixed reaction from the fans. An incredible amount of criticism has been thrown its way for just about everything. The mostly underwhelming animation with only a few peaks, the lackluster pacing, and forgettable action scenes have all been brought up time and time again.
But worst of all: this season, in many ways, felt like a waste of time.
All the previous seasons of My Hero Academia has massive events, all of which had clear consequences on the story going forward. These are what made the story so interesting and engaging. Every single major event was built off of what came before and perfectly set the stage for what was coming next.
Let’s break it down, season by season.
Season One is the introductory chapter. It introduced every major character and set up the conflict perfectly. I feel like I shouldn’t have to explain why this one is important. Without it, the rest of the story literally could never happen.
Season two had a few major events that permanently changed things. The UA Sports Festival introduced our characters to the world, the consequences of which were still felt for ages, even now. In both the Summer Training Attack and the Provisional License Exam of season three, our heroes were put at a disadvantage because of the Sports Festival. Even the most recent arc in the manga has had consequences connected to the festival!
The far more important one, however, was Stain. His presence made for a dramatic change in the world of MHA. Not only did he sow the seeds of doubt around heroes, but he was responsible for bringing several new characters into the League of Villains. Not only that, but his presence caused a major change in our main characters, mainly Ida.
Season three has the most obvious, biggest changes. The events of the Summer Camp led directly into the All For One fight. This led to the biggest event in the entire story so far: the retirement of All Might. The consequences of this one should be obvious. With the Symbol of Peace gone, the stability of society that we’ve seen up to this point is at risk of total collapse.
Now, with all that in mind, let’s break down the major changes that occur in season four. Don’t worry, it won’t take long.
- Eri is introduced
- Nighteye is introduced… and dies within the same arc
- All Might is prophecied to die
- Mirio loses his powers
- Nighteye discovers Deku can change the future… moments before his death
- Shigurake gets the Quirk-erasing bullets
- Endeavor steps up as #1 hero and proves himself
Note how those are only a few of the events that occured this season. And note how I didn’t mention any of the Culture Festival or Gentle. As much as I enjoyed those things, it’s clear that they didn’t have any real consequence on the world itself. Both of them were practically forgotten one episode later.
Unless Eri smiling is somehow going to alter the fabric of reality later on.
The biggest problem is with the final episodes. In the manga, this isn’t the end of an arc. It’s the beginning of one! They had to cut out a lot to make it fit into those two episodes! It murdered the pacing and made the finale look more like a sneak-peak than a proper conclusion!
It certainly doesn’t help that these events seem to have very little effect on the characters. Mirio and Eri are the only ones who are affected by any of these events, which is certainly something. But none of our previous characters have really grown or changed. Deku’s learned how to control his powers better, but that’s about it. Bakugo and Todoroki couldn’t change because they were only in two episodes. All Might’s former sidekick dies, but that doesn’t do much to change him. The only real differences are that Mirio is now powerless and Eri is now a member of the cast!
Things don’t really start changing until the final episode, when Endeavor fights the Nomu. This marks a clear turning point for both the heroes and the villains. Villains are getting bolder in their attacks and Endeavor has now proven himself as the new leader for the heroes. These events are clearly going to have large consequences on the world at large.
But like I mentioned earlier: the cut the story off before it actually got going!
Still, cutting it off wasn’t the worst decision in the world. As frustrating as it is, it does make anime-only fans ask some tantalizing questions! How will Endeavor’s newfound respect affect the attitude of the heroes and villains? How will the League respond? In that vain, how will the heroes react to the League’s new boldness? How will either side’s actions affect our main characters? Dozens of new possibilities have opened up, leaving the audience curious and engaged.
(By the way: the answers to those questions are all great. But my lips are firmly sealed.)
Which is what we were sorely lacking in season four. The whole battle with Chisaki and the others didn’t have much consequence beyond Eri, Mirio, and Nighteye. The school festival had no consequence beyond Eri. Gentle literally did nothing because Deku stopped him before he could! None of the important characters of old developed and the world didn’t change until the very end.
I’m sure that Eri will have a long-lasting impact on the story. Why waste so much of the story focusing on her if she didn’t? Unfortunately, it’s clear that her’s is a seed that will bloom in the far future. As such, the story in the short-term wasn’t all that interesting. The stories we got this season weren’t bad, but they felt noticeably less important than what we got in prior seasons.
Maybe future seasons will prove me wrong. Maybe they’ll bring up some of the events I didn’t mention here and make me go “Oh yeah, that happened!” If that were to happen, then season four would become much more palatable in retrospect. But as it stands, it suffers as one of the least interesting seasons of the show so far.
But at this point, My Hero Academia has my pretty firmly by the balls, so it’s not like I’m dropping it anytime soon.