Maybe it took a little while. Maybe we followers of “My Hero Academia” have just become spoiled. Either way, season 4 has got its episode to make anime fans stand up and take notice.
Compared with past seasons, season 4 got off to a bit of a sluggish start. While we did get great fights, such as Tamaki Amajiki’s battle with three of the Shie Hassaikai’s Eight Bullets in episode 71, as well as some character growth and development with Eijiro Kirishima/Red Riot in episodes 68 and 72, there wasn’t a standout moment. And season 3 had quite a few of them, such as Izuku Midoriya/Deku’s battle with Muscular, All Might’s climatic last stand against All for One, and Midoriya and Katsuki Bakugo’s brawl after the Provisional License Exam.
That’s changed with episode 74, “Lemillion.” While there was a curious production choice near the end of the episode (more on that later), the episode is the first “can’t-miss” moment this season, thanks to a deeper look at U.A. Big 3 member Mirio Togata, what drives him to be a hero and the abilities he showcases to fulfill that goal.
While the episode doesn’t start with the focus on Togata, it doesn’t take long to get there. During the raid on the Shie Hassaikai’s facility, he managed to overcome Mimic’s ground-shifting quirk to move on ahead of everyone, in the hopes of catching up with the leader Overhaul. He does so, but it’s no small matter in getting the young Eri away from the evil villain.
Despite being under the influence of quirks from some Shie Hassaikai members, including Deidoro’s Sakaki’s Sloshed, which causes a loss of equilibrium equivalent to being drop dead drunk, Togata is able to use his quirk, Permeation, to avoid their attacks and take them out with relatively little fuss. He then takes on Overhaul and Chronostasis, phasing his leg through Eri only to take out Chronostasis with a kick to the face a split-second later, showing the masterful use of his quirk. As well as the masterful animation by Bones that we are so used to seeing in this series.
Togata emerges with Eri in his arms, promising to be the young girl’s hero. The fact that he had let her go earlier in the season ate away at him, but Togata has made good on his promise to save her. And with the skills he has displayed, we feel pretty good about his chances.
Overhaul and Chronostasis go on the offensive, with Overhaul using his quirk to turn the floors of his hideout into a spiky deathtrap and Chronostasis taking potshots from a safe distance, but Togata is able to repel their attacks. He appears to be well on his way to winning, until Overhaul tosses a Quirk-Killer bullet to henchman Shin Nemoto. We saw these bullets at the beginning of the episode. Produced with help from Eri’s quirk, these bullets can now permanently erase someone’s quirk, rather than just a day or two like we saw before.
Nemoto, playing on the young hero’s soft spot, aims his gun at Eri, knowing full well the bullet won’t really do anything to her. However, Togata, determined to rescue Eri from further pain and despair, takes the bullet for her. His quirk is gone. His will to fight, however, is not.
Without a quirk, Togata continues to get some good blows in on the Shie Hassaikai, showing his steadfast resolve to be a hero. Togata only stops fighting when Overhaul manages to impale him with his quirk. But even injured, Togata continues to protect Eri.
This is where that flaw I mentioned comes into play. It is during this scene, a very pivotal scene in the episode, that the animation reduces to a slide show of sorts. I get that this technique was most likely used to produce dramatic effect, especially when complimented with looks into Togata’s childhood. But when compared to the great animation we saw in season 3, as well as, say, ufotable’s consistently fantastic work on “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba,” you can’t help but feel Bones dropped the ball here.
Still, this is a fantastic episode, and one that stands on top of “My Hero Academia” season 4. And the best may be yet to come, as the episode formally ended with Deku joining the battle. I’ve seen many reaction videos to this episode, and this scene brings forth many a cheer.
At any rate, I’m glad to have finally witnessed season 4’s standout episode, and look forward to being pleasantly surprised and satisfied once again.