This My Hero Academia review contains spoilers.
My Hero Academia Season 4 Episode 1
“Now it’s your turn. No, it’s all of your turns.”
My Hero Academia has always underscored the importance of teamwork and friendship. Izuku Midoriya and his fellow classmates at U.A. have been pitted against each other through their training, but they always come together in the end. They know that they’re stronger as a team. As My Hero Academia season 4 begins, Midoriya and the fellow students of Class 1-A are about to be sent out into the world for their hero work studies. Soon they will all be split up. During this premiere, All Might poignantly revises his mission statement to young Deku: “Now it’s all of your turns.” Now, more than ever, they need to remember that they’re a team. “The Scoop on U.A. Class 1-A” doesn’t contain much—or any—group battles or courageous displays of heroism, but it does push this theme of selflessness and respecting your fellow man.
With new responsibilities ahead for Midoriya and the Class of 1-A, their lives aren’t going to get easier. Not only are their biggest challenges yet ahead of them, but also the forces of villainy that work behind the scenes have never been more intense. There’s always been an ebbing relationship between the Hero Society and the League of Villains, but it feels palpable this season. This tension is relegated to subtext in this premiere, but it can’t be long until an attack is underway. Now that Midoriya, his friends, and his foes have a better understanding of who they are and where their values lie, they can really let into their quirks and let the chaos begin.
When it comes to season premieres on My Hero Academia, the show tends to opt for quieter episodes that touch on recent events. This is again the case with, “The Scoop on U.A. Class 1-A,” but the beginning of the episode is particularly consumed with a recap approach. This doesn’t exactly make for the most thrilling premiere, but it’s hardly a surprise play for My Hero Academia. This has been the show’s agenda for previous season premieres, but at least the framework for “The Scoop on U.A. Class 1-A” is something unique rather than a premiere that’s entirely made of reused footage.
To the episode’s credit, this recap construct is presented through a newspaper that is looking for the right angle for their latest story on All Might. This allows the episode to lovingly mock exactly what they’re doing as several angles are deemed too boring or derivative of precious pieces. Tokuda, an opportunistic reporter (who also has an amazing quirk for a freelance journalist), decides that the smartest angle here isn’t on All Might and his past, but rather the character’s future and who is taking over his legacy. This angle allows this recap structure to actually get woven into the narrative rather than just be a framing device. Desperate for more details, Tokuda conceives a ruse to gain access to U.A. and its student body.
Tokuda’s thorough research at U.A. results in a particularly slow pace to this premiere. It’s also an episode that largely prioritizes humor over action, but even then it’s mostly light character moments. Tokuda’s efforts provide a look at Class 1-A’s top 20 students who might be All Might’s heir apparent based on the events of last season. This definitely feels excessive to some degree (the top 10 would have been a fair compromise) and it contributes to the lighter, emptier feeling that fills the majority of this premiere. More than half the episode goes by like this and Tokuda drives the action forward. This premiere is primarily concerned with Midoriya’s struggle and how he handles himself during Tokuda’s visit, but the rest of Class 1-A still get their moments to shine. Frequent sources of joy like Mineta and Uraraka never disappoint.
Tokuda has a few theories over who could be All Might’s replacement, but the only one that he really seriously considers is Midoriya. There’s a very touching scene where Midoriya and Tokuda discuss heroics over meat buns and just connect as two human beings. There may be a level of duplicitousness to Tokuda’s line of questioning since he does have an agenda here, but the two really have an earnest chemistry. Even the scene is composed in creative ways that captures this bidding friendship. Both of their lives have also been inspired and changed courtesy of All Might. In fact, if Midoriya were to grow up under different circumstances he probably wouldn’t be that different from Tokuda.
Such a spotlight on Deku only reinforces how he’s practically a different person in terms of where his heroic skills are now versus where they were at the start of the series. Midoriya has made tremendous strides with his growth in the department, but “The Scoop on U.A. Class 1-A” humbly reminds both Deku and the audience that his education is far from over and that he’s still got a lot to learn. He may now have his provisional hero’s license, but he learns better than anyone else that a fancy piece of paper isn’t what makes someone a hero.
Midoriya must think about what path he wants his future to follow and he gets pulled in different directions as the various mentor figures in his life weigh in. All Might has consistently been Deku’s sounding board on such lofty issues, but after All Might’s showdown with All For One, Midoriya has adopted a broader perspective on where his heroics should take him. The dust is long settled from All Might’s final, major altercation at U.A., but there are still whispers about what happened. My Hero Academia continues to expand its universe and accumulate more story, but it’s gratifying to see the past inform the present. There’s a very real sense of the series’ history and how every event has contributed to the current state of heroes and villains. In addition to All Might’s influence, Tokuda also makes a significant impression on Midoriya.
The whole structure to the episode is interesting because Tokuda is treated as a hero of sorts who just wants to get the best story possible to the public. At the same time, this story will put Izuku Midoriya at extreme risk if it happens to out him in the way that the episode implies that it will. It’s a delicate balance, especially with the bond that forms between Midoriya and Tokuda, so it’s comforting when the end of the episode neutralizes Tokuda as any sort of threat. Tokuda’s actually a much better guy than he’s given credit for and proves himself to be a true ally.
“The Scoop on U.A. Class 1-A” isn’t the most complex entry of the show and the majority of its action is reserved for flashback sequences. That being said, this premiere still highlights Studio Bones’ amazing animation work. It’s still a little too soon to tell, but it appears that this season has a higher animation budget, which is well deserved.
“The Scoop on U.A. Class 1-A” is an effective reintroduction into the world of My Hero Academia that will whet your appetite for what’s to come this season. However, this does feel more like a tease than a full episode and it’s practically over before it even gets started. It might have been a stronger strategy to pair the first two installments of the season together into an hour-long premiere. In spite of these minor concessions it’s very nice to have My Hero Academia back. “The Scoop on U.A. Class 1-A” begins to a slow start, but it looks like there won’t be any shortage of chaos during this transitory season of the anime. If Midoriya and his friends push All Might’s sage message that it’s now “all of their turns” to step up to the plate, then there’s nothing that they can’t handle.
Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, and Bloody Disgusting. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem, that Psycho II is better than the original, and that Hannibal is the greatest love story ever told. His perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.