This My Hero Academia review contains spoilers.
My Hero Academia Season 4 Episode 24
“Who’s the strongest?”
Part of the fun of being a fan of comics, anime, or superheroes is the inevitable debates that friends break out into over who could win in a race between Superman or The Flash, or if Goku would beat Naruto in combat. This level of curiosity is natural and encouraged by the respective storytelling mediums and this new episode of My Hero Academia successfully taps into that inquisitive passion. There’s been a lot of doom and gloom in this season of My Hero Academia and while the second half of this year has been considerably more upbeat, “Japanese Hero Billboard Chart” creates a playful energy that’s a lot of fun and the right reward for the end of this season.
The hero rankings are the focus of this installment, but there are still some significant character moments that really resonate. First and foremost, Eri is now officially at U.A. High since she has no family or proper guardians to look after her. Additionally, those at the school can help her learn how to properly control and live with her powerful Quirk. Eri quickly begins to fit in well with the girls of U.A. and there’s a fun “little sister” dynamic that’s already forming between them. However, with the news that Eri’s horn has slowly started to grow again, there’s a tiny fear that Eri may once more become a loose cannon if she’s not given the right encouragement. All of U.A. High seems devoted to help Eri through this transitory period for the young girl, but Mirio in particular steps in to monitor her and become her temporary mentor.
The team affectionately known as the Wild Wild Pussycats also stop by U.A. High to see how they fare on the latest hero rankings. They mostly just reconnect with Class 1-A over the downtime, but they bring along with them Kota, who’s quite happy to see Midoriya again. This is yet another smaller moment, but it’s very heartwarming to see how Kota has come to idolize Midoriya since their last encounter together. It speaks to how all of these characters have likely made huge impacts on many lives, whether the series brings attention to it or not.
Kota’s inspiration through Midoriya is not unlike the feelings that Midoriya developed towards All Might after he was able to use heroics to save his life. It’s nice to be able to catch up with Kota and these other characters, but there are likely dozens if not more of other individuals out there who are going through a similar journey towards heroism because of the actions of Class 1-A. It’s also wonderfully juxtaposed against Eri, who is another innocent person whose life has improved thanks to U.A. High. “Japanese Hero Billboard Chart!” doesn’t hammer this message in too hard, but it’s a nice aspect to reflect on as the season comes to a close.
On the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, the appearance of the Wild Wild Pussycats also draws some attention back to All For One. He remains powerless and incarcerated, but he still has many heroes’ Quirks locked away. My Hero Academia treats this like these hidden Quirks are the buried bodies of a serial killer, which is such a deliciously twisted angle to play this. So many shows like to riff on the Hannibal and Clarice dynamic from Silence of the Lambs, but to operate like All For One is Ed Kemper or Ted Bundy as they desperately question him on where the Quirks are is so much darker. I don’t necessarily want All For One to escape and become the primary villain again, but I’d absolutely love a one-off episode where Centipeder and Bubble Girl from the Nighteye Detective Agency just interrogate him for an episode and try to give some Quirk-less heroes closure.
After “Japanese Hero Billboard Chart” does its due diligence with these character reunions, the bulk of the episode is the results of the hero rankings. This ranking system has been referred to numerous times in the series before in regards to how All Might held the top position, with Endeavor set as number two, but with All Might’s retirement and the many surprising events that have taken place there’s potential to be a major shakedown in the rankings in a way that there hasn’t been for years. For that reason, this is the first episode to really spend considerable time on the ranking concept. For a minute this degree of focus seems exciting because at last Midoriya and company have an honest shot to be included since they’re in the big leagues now. That being said, it explicitly refers to the Kamino Incident as the marker for these rankings, so it’s possible that the events with Overhaul may not be considered until the next billboard charts take place.
The stakes here aren’t that high since this entire episode revolves around what’s essentially a popularity contest and a matter of reputation, but My Hero Academia finds a way to make this more superfluous content have significance. Furthermore, so much has gone on this season where unexpected characters have proven themselves, while other major contenders have fallen into the background. It seemed like Todoroki was primed to be one of the top heroes out of 1-A, but he was a silent player against Overhaul and others like Kirishima stepped up in his place. It’s the perfect time to check in on how everyone stacks up.
In spite of the strong work that Class 1-A’s heroes have done, they’re still not on the same level of the professionals who have been doing this for years. It’s a sobering reflection that Midoriya’s work is really just a piece of a much larger picture. Accordingly, he and his friends mostly sit out the ranking portion of the episode as the previous generation steps forward.
If there’s any downfall to this episode is that it spends a good deal of time on just introducing heroes, which is fine, but it brings to light just how disposable most of this episode is. The interactions between all of the heroes are great and the new characters who are put in the spotlight look entertaining, but there’s plenty of this episode that runs the clock. In that sense, it strangely simulates the experience of actually being at the Japanese Hero Billboard Chart event where there’s a lot of time spent waiting around for what’s ultimately very little content.
Hawks is the hero that by far makes the biggest impression out of the top five talents that the rankings single out. The winged hero is an arrogant, young hotshot who’s seen unprecedented success at an early age, yet rocks the boat pretty hard at the billboard charts as he vies for the spotlight. Hawks quickly aligns himself with Endeavor even though they have hero styles that greatly contrast, but there’s already an engaging dynamic between the two of them. The sequence where Hawks casually aids a bunch of strangers as he has a conversation with Endeavor is a really perfect moment that says everything that’s needed about the character.
Hawks has plenty of talent, but he doesn’t want to knock Endeavor down at all. He just wants him to be the best hero possible. He’s put together some very useful intel, but it’s all in service of improving Endeavor’s performance as the new Symbol of Peace. He just wants the new Number One to be as prepared as possible for the next big threat. That danger immediately reveals itself when the rumors that Hawks has heard turn out to be. The League of Villains is building an army of Nomus and setting them loose across the world. This is a chilling direction for the series to take and it continues My Hero Academia’s growing fascination with genetic experimentation and manipulation.
As these rumors become a reality, it appears that the season’s finale will deal with Endeavor’s ability to handle this threat, inspire peace in the public, and prove that he’s up to this massive responsibility. “Japanese Hero Billboard Chart” cleverly shows Endeavor’s deficiencies as a hero and reiterates how he’s always been an emotionally cold character, despite his fiery Quirk. Now this finale is going to put him to the test and not even give him a chance to process any of the lessons from this episode. He immediately has to prove himself, which includes a lot more than just winning this battle.
“Japanese Hero Billboard Chart” is an interesting episode that has some issues with pacing, but is still part of the enjoyable conclusion of this show’s hectic year. The show’s core cast aren’t entirely absent, but it’s helpful for My Hero Academia to shift its perspective over to a higher grade of hero and approach a problem from a unique point of view that also allows Midoriya and company the rest that they deserve. This episode is essentially all character development for two heroes who have never been the series’ focus, but it’s another encouraging entry that fleshes out this world and shows the bigger picture. With only one episode left, it looks like My Hero Academia is ready to close the season out with some outrageous action, but also establish a new status quo before the anime heads into its fifth season.
Also, here’s hoping that the washing machine “Laundry Hero” becomes a main character next season. That’s clearly where the drama lies.