This My Hero Academia review contains spoilers.
My Hero Academia Season 4 Episode 14
“Who’s going to be the next leader again?”
The big problem with when a series, especially a shounen anime, concludes a major arc is that the following episode tends to just be the aftermath of it all. It’s the paperwork and comedown from all of the excitement. In many ways, this kind of episode is a necessary beast. There are ways to still make these episodes rewarding and still push the story forward. “End of the Beginning, Beginning of the End” from My Hero Academia’s third season is a strong example, but “Bright Future” faces another tough task because it follows “100% Infinite,” which very well might be the series best episode. Anything is going to feel lacking in comparison, but “Bright Future” is a satisfying follow-up that allows the dust to settle.
After the circumstances of Eri’s quirk and how she can “rewind humans” was explained in the last episode, I was mildly worried that in this stage after combat that Eri would simply rewind every character back to perfect health. With characters who are at the brink of death, but not there yet, like Nighteye, this feels acceptable (there have been plenty of mass healings post-battle before). However, I was more concerned that Eri would also be able to rewind Mirio’s body to the point where he still had a quirk. My Hero Academia has been unclear if her powers work that way, but it very much feels like the kind of move that they’d pull and that they’ve done more implausible things in the past. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen, which is hopefully the end of the matter. If in ten episodes from now Mirio conveniently decides to hit up Eri to rewind him back to quirk status, this will be even more awkward of a transition. Also on the subject of quirk erasure, Aizawa thankfully gets saved by the police before any real damage is done to him.
After so much time with Chisaki and his dark motivations, “Bright Future” returns to the terrifying nature of Shigaraki and his League of Villains. The first half of this season might have showcased how organized and efficient the Shie Hassaikai are, but with Overhaul’s defeat it looks like My Hero Academia is ready to pivot back to its OG group of villains. It was definitely in the series’ favor to mix things up and give My Hero Academia’s older villains a bit of a breather. For one, it makes Shigaraki’s glorious return in “Bright Future” all the more powerful, but it’s also a smart way to make these old foes feel fresh and exciting again.
There’s such a gleeful sense of fun to the League of Villains’ highway heist to retrieve Chisaki’s body as it’s en route to the hospital. They pull off their mission with swift ease, but they’re temporarily interrupted by “Sand Hero, Snatch.” It’s honestly kind of cool to have some random new hero deal with these guys while the A-team is all occupied with the fallout of the Shie Hassaikai. It’s a clever idea and it again helps illustrate how large this show’s world is and that the series only focuses on a select few of these special people. There are plenty more other incredible heroes out there and so it’s appreciated that “Bright Future” lets some nobody get to shine for a few moments.
My Hero Academia also deserves credit for how it actually creates a modicum of empathy for Chisaki in this episode. There are more flashbacks to his childhood, but his look of sheer stupefied surprise when Shigaraki “destroys” him and renders him useless is devastating. Even though this season has extensively shown how twisted and evil Chisaki is, it still makes his pain sting. There’s also some poignant symmetry here between Chisaki and Shigaraki. These two are in each other’s way, but they have remarkably similar backstories that both stem back to a painful childhood. It makes sense that Shigaraki and Chisaki would aim for the same position and try to eliminate the other one to take out the competition. However, if circumstances were different and these two could actually cooperate and work together then they’d have an unbeatable team of antagonists.
It’s ironic that the alliance between the Shie Hassaikai and the League of Villains was all just an elaborate ruse, but had it truly been legitimate than maybe they would have come out on top. As much as this season of My Hero Academia has made its heroes face very difficult decisions, these episodes have done remarkable work with the show’s villains and made them more complex and interesting than ever before.
Shigaraki and the villains’ portion of this episode is heavy on action and vengeance, but what follows with the heroes is much more personal and emotional. It creates a helpful balance in the episode as it illustrates how these different sorts of people respond in the aftermath of war. Nighteye’s death and his final moments with All Might, Midoriya, and Mirio, which turns into one of the more emotional scenes that the show has done in a while.
During the moments of Chisaki’s defeat he accuses Midoriya and his ilk of being “hero pretenders,” but the events of “Bright Future” prove otherwise and establish how much these young individuals have truly grown into the rank and role of actual heroes. Nighteye couldn’t be prouder of his protégés as he passes away. It’s always upsetting to lose a character, but the bond between Mirio and Nighteye is immense and the way that they say goodbye to each other is really heartfelt. It’s an entirely different kind of emotional catharsis than the conclusion of Shigaraki and Chisaki’s stories.
“Bright Future” is an entertaining episode, but unfortunately about half of it is just spent covering the final events of the previous installment, albeit in a more expanded form. It looks great, but it does feel like it’s trying to cover up for a lack of story. Half the amount of time could have been spent on Chisaki’s defeat before the episode decides to move on, or at least the last entry could have ended on more of a cliffhanger so there’s more merit to “re-watching” the final beats of this battle. That’s really the biggest and only drawback in “Bright Future,” which otherwise pushes this story to compelling places and surprisingly decides to focus on the villains during a temporary moment of calm.
My Hero Academia emphasizes that Midoriya’s indomitable force of will helps craft a surprising new future where on some level it seems like anything is possible. While that means that no one is conscripted to some predetermined fate, it also means that loss can strike at any time. As much as this episode marks the heroes’ biggest victory, “Bright Future” concludes on an incredibly morose note. This release feels necessary for these characters and with the final demons of the Shie Hassaikai now exorcised, Midoriya and company can finally move on.
And hey! It looks like Bakugo’s in the next episode! Remember him? He’s a main character!
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.