This My Hero Academia review contains spoilers.
My Hero Academia Season 4 Episode 13
“If I can’t protect the one girl in front of me then how can I become a hero who saves everyone?”
Power boosts, transformations, and tiered limits of strength are deeply dangerous territory for anime. Ever since Frieza declared in Dragon Ball Z that “this isn’t even my final form” or that he’s only been fighting at 1% of his full power, the idea has turned into more trouble than its worth. In the case of Frieza and the other worst offenders of this shounen anime trope, this is merely a way to prolong a battle and suddenly give an already exciting situation even more stakes. When My Hero Academia first introduced Izuku Midioriya’s One For All quirk, it was treated with the major caveat that the more of this quirk that Midoriya utilizes then the more his body will be ravaged in the process.
Midoriya adopts the One For All: Full Cowl technique and begins at the 5% mark, but is able to push it to 8%, then 10-15%, and finally 20%. My Hero Academia’s previous episode saw Midoriya unleash 20% of his quirk without being any worse for wear afterwards, but as the title of this entry indicates, Midoriya takes a warp pipe all the way to 100% here. My Hero Academia has actually been rather patient with its characters and power scaling in general, where strength has moved at a believable pace. However, if there have ever been extenuating circumstances for Midoriya to get a sudden burst of power, it’s in this fight against Chisaki.
There is arguably more emotional baggage to this showdown than all of Midoriya’s previous fights combined and it deserves a worthy finish. The big question is whether the way in which My Hero Academia allows Midoriya to achieve One For All: Full Cowl 100% is justified and if it “breaks” the series. Not only is that not the case, but it’s also easily Izuku Midoriya’s best moment to date. This might be a perfect episode of My Hero Academia.
A few episodes back there was a lot of praise over how incredible Mirio Togata is and what an impressive job he singlehandedly does against Chisaki and the Shie Hassaikai before they get the better of him. Mirio’s moment in the sun is so powerful that at the time it seemed difficult that Midoriya would be able to top him in terms of emotional catharsis and sheer awesomeness. Much like Midoriya himself, “100% Infinite” stops holding back and just goes for it. It successfully taps into that energy from Mirio’s fight and makes sure that Midoriya finishes on a note that’s worthy of this heavy arc and everyone that it’s affected.
The beginning of the episode turns the clock back a little as it details the big fight between the vitality-stealing Rikiya Katsukame and the U.A. heroes that interrupts the end of the last episode. It’s not really necessary to show this fight in full, especially when another more pressing fight is already in play, but it’s a forgivable move here. It’s very satisfying to watch these heroes work together as a team and it’s nice to see some of the heroes who have been looked over in the shuffle of this season’s structure get a few brief moments to shine. This also provides more fodder for Toga’s growing obsession with Deku, which in this case includes masquerading as him. Toga’s side narrative continues to delight and her team’s satirical motto of “Plus Chaos!” is pretty fantastic. This material helps quickly relieve some tension before heading into the heavier territory of the episode.
On that note, “100% Infinite” reveals that Eri’s quirk is the ability to rewind—not time, but humans. She puts this into play with Deku when she becomes so deeply moved at how far everyone is willing to go to save her. She understands that people are going to keep dying against Chisaki to help give her freedom, so her quirk activates and allows Deku a major advantage. The scenes between Deku and Eri are genuinely beautiful and the operatic score only accentuates their impact. These two characters haven’t actually gotten to spend a lot of time together, which is exactly what makes their reunion so powerful. It doesn’t hurt that Mirio’s sacrifice also heavily hangs over their dynamic.
When Deku understands how Eri’s quirk works, he realizes that she can immediately heal the damage that his body endures when he taps into One For All 100% or Full Cowling. In a way, he uses Eri as a human power-up that allows him a one-time advantage where he can exert his body beyond its natural limits. It’s a brilliant solution for the whole power scaling problem and it’s been hinting at it all season with the specifics of Eri’s quirk. The transformation that Deku undergoes is really amazing and becomes the new benchmark for the character. It’s the character in prime form giving a peak performance and the animation looks incredibly on top of everything else. It’s the new standard that fans will hope Deku has to resort to with each new big fight that he encounters.
As determined as Deku is to provide Eri with safety, Chisaki is just as set on obtaining Eri and never allowing this dilemma to happen again. He has an agenda and he’s committed to staying true to it. On top of this, it’s also significant that Chisaki has always viewed Eri’s quirk as a curse, but as soon as Deku learns how it works he refers to it as a blessing. Immediately he accepts Eri and it’s that difference in perspective that changes everything for Eri.
This culminates in the final battle between these two and Deku has never been better equipped to face off against Overhaul, who is basically an Akira-like monster at this point. The fight between these two is honestly on the same level of the climax of the series’ first feature film, Two Heroes, and there’s wonderful production value here. Chisaki’s mutating body goes through many forms as Deku’s superlative attacks decimate his body in eye-popping ways. It’s such a gorgeous finale and Deku makes sure that the point of all of this is to show what it means to be a hero.
The most curious thing about this episode is that it temporarily seems like it tries to build sympathy for Chisaki during his final moments. His formative moments with Eri are shown, as well as his connection to the Yakuza boss, Eri’s grandfather. Chisaki’s motivations have always been clear, but “100% Infinite” reiterates how he truly believed he was trying to improve upon society by giving it such a drastic genetic facelift. His manipulation of Eri is terrible, but it’s almost as if he doesn’t want to do these things to her, but rather believes that he has to because it’s the most efficient application of her quirk and the one way to restore the Yakuza’s glory.
It’s interesting that My Hero Academia reveals these moments from Chisaki’s past during his defeat and not earlier during this season. This approach conjures many complex feelings during “100% Infinite’s” conclusion, but the episode’s ending theme kicks in so quickly after that there isn’t a lot of time to truly consider them. In the case of My Hero Academia’s manga, this structure might have been simply because Kohei Horikoshi hadn’t completely figured out Chisaki’s past, but the luxury of anime adaptations is that they’re able to remix the events of a narrative arc in a way that can improve upon the original storytelling. Letting the audience know that Chisaki has deluded “daddy” issues and what better drives him obviously humanizes the character. He nearly becomes My Hero Academia’s version of Kylo Ren, right down to the mask.
The route that the series takes instead takes with Chisaki turns him into a much more enigmatic villain that’s supposed to be terrifying. It’s Michael Myers in the original Halloween versus him in any of the sequels. That’s a strategy that worked here during the beginning of the season, but it feels like My Hero Academia could have perhaps gotten the best of both worlds if this information was dropped in maybe the eighth episode. Again, clearly they wanted to go the ruthless villain route with Chisaki, but all of that context will still be present on a re-watch of these episodes.
The episode continues to hammer in Chisaki’s iconoclastic point of view, only to then illuminate how much the Yakuza boss was against his proposal! He balks at the idea of using a human being as an experimental guinea pig and chastises Chisaki for thinking such a way—and this is the head of the Yakuza showing disdain. This disapproval ignites a psychotic desire in Chisaki where he believes if his ends justify the means, then none of this will matter and he’ll earn back his boss’ respect. He traps the head of the Yakuza in a torturous, comatose state and usurps his position, all of which only speaks further to Chisaki’s extremely skewed view of loyalty, family, and relationships. In a way, this does provide Chisaki with a more “human” motivation than any other antagonist in the series. The strongest villains are often the ones who see themselves as the heroes in their own story and Chisaki is a major case of this.
If there’s any sort of cliffhanger here it’s that Eri doesn’t know how to properly control her powerful quirk and that she could haphazardly rewind Deku back to the state of a baby, a Neanderthal, or even primordial goo. It’s unlikely that My Hero Academia will go in this direction, but if Eri does stay in the picture I’m curious as to what kind of role she may play. I’d love to see Deku form a co-dependent relationship with her where he’s addicted to using her for power boosts, almost like she’s a drug, but I also doubt the series would move into territory that complex for its protagonist. That being said, with the places that this Shie Hassaikai arc has gone, I’m willing to trust that My Hero Academia isn’t against more dark storylines and letting its material mature with its characters.
“100% Infinite” doesn’t just hit the necessary emotional and action highs, but it surpasses them. This episode makes for the perfect way to conclude what’s easily been the best story arc that My Hero Academia has ever done. Deku’s win may be seen as a bit of a cheat, but it’s a victory that’s steeped in loss and consequences. The heroes may technically succeed here, but they’ve seen the depravity of mankind in a whole new way. The new powers that Deku unlocks may help him defeat a strong opponent, but they’re not any good for when he has to sleep at night and think of the world that he’s in.
Speaking of which, hopefully Aizawa is doing okay, wherever he is…
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.