Just as the title of the article states, it’s time to delve into controversial territory. With the fourth season debuting this Fall, I think now is the best time to address the issues that have been ongoing around the insanely popular series.
The My Hero Academia anime has been ongoing for roughly three years now and the popularity has only continued to skyrocket. With a rapidly growing popularity over the course of a few years it has been easy to lose our reason for falling in love with the show in the first place. For me, I fell in love with the show because it was different than all the DC and Marvel shows that cluttered the Western media. Instead of focusing solely on one hero versus a plethora of villains, My Hero focused more on the society around the super-powered students learning to become heroes. How the society viewed and embraced those with quirks. It was this system that cast aside those without quirks and brought forth and interesting perspective on super-powers in general.
An interesting premise that is still tied to the core of the series and could lead to interesting arcs but, instead, the series has fallen into a formulaic and predictable cycle. There is always one serious arc then followed by a training arc that comprises of the heroes developing a new move or skill to use in the next fight, rinse and repeat. The other element in these training arcs is that they are constantly pushing their quirks to new limits, growing even stronger. This is typical in almost every Shounen but when it is this frequent it can get stale really quickly. The entire premise of the story at its core is to follow Deku as he becomes the number one hero but the story at some point also stated that as first years, they had a long way to go. The Third Years that are introduced in this current season are far more powerful than them and even then there is a gap between their power and a pro hero. If My Hero wanted to stay true to that story then the best bet would be to let them graduate from being first years or provide a time skip.
My Hero seems to have abandoned that concept in pursuit to make all the first years prodigies. Now, the biggest issue with that decision is that even four seasons in the main characters are still in their first year. Between this time so much has happened that it no longer realistically makes sense. How is it possible that they aren’t second years yet? Each arc takes place over a set amount of time and there is only a certain amount of days within a year. The series started with Midoriya acquiring his quirk and now he will be fighting against the yakuza in this current season. It is that internal pacing that has been leading My Hero off the rails, diverging it from its roots that set it apart from other shows of the same genre and kept it grounded in its own realm of realism.
Season four’s pacing has been rather slow to start off and also sporadic which has made a supposed intense season hold its punches. From the perspective of a manga reader, this arc will be the darkest one yet and make the the All Might vs All For One arc look like child’s play. There is a lot of character development, and plot build up. In the most recent episode, the main villain, Overhaul is introduce and we see that his quirk is a frightening one. The entire scene packs intensity and takes the dark undertone of the series to another level. Where the manga greatly illustrates this, the anime falls flat. By introducing this segment at the beginning of the episode then switching perspective to the UA students going about their lives and applying for work studies, it makes the entire Overhaul segment lose the serious and dire tone that it originally created.
This creative direction also does the series no favors when despite My Hero entering its fourth season, it continues to start with another recap episode. Recaps being used as filler have never been welcomed or embraced by the anime community, look at One Piece, Bleach and many other Shounen series. The difference between this series and others is that My Hero loves to recap the very basics of the series. Another Shounen anime continuing this season, Fire Force, is somewhat similar in terms of recap but unlike My Hero, this series’ weekly recap is very short, coming in at around the first 20-30 seconds of each episode and adds to the tone of the show. Shows like One Piece recap the previous episode. My Hero though, starts off every episode with Midoriya’s monologue of how he attained his quirk and why he is attending UA.
Similar to Fire Force, this was fine during its first season but now that the series is in its fourth season, it has just become a nuisance that has no place in the series. Pair that with the series always starting each season with an entire recap episode that explains the exact same information along with all of the story up to that point. Personally, this would only be okay when it comes to series like DanMachi when it had its second season this Summer. It had been several years since the first so in that case it is okay. But My Hero has had a new season every single year. At that frequency it is not necessary. It is also an issue when it literally takes up the first episode of the season. This is different than say DanMachi‘s recap episode that was titled “Episode 0” and came out prior to the first advertised episode for the season. The first episode that actually makes up the season and is advertised as such is never new content. Recently it has become cleverly disguised recap with anime original content mixed it that plays absolutely no importance into the rest of the season.
These problems that continue to plague an otherwise great series are easy fixes but sadly will never be addressed since there is still a fandom that raves about the recap episodes. Those aren’t true episodes and shouldn’t be regarded as such and they only hinder the overall pacing of the series and the engagement of other fans. If Studio Bones really wanted to make this series just as great as its source material or even better then they would simply need to cut the recap and not follow the manga chapters so religiously. It can still be a faithful adaptation even if segments are reorganized like having all the UA scenes happen first then ending the episode with the Overhaul segment. It would make the episodes pack more of a punch to them that way.