This My Hero Academia review contains spoilers.
My Hero Academia Season 4 Episode 16
“What you lot are missing, in other words, is ‘heart.’”
Something that can be occasionally frustrating with a series that has as unruly of a cast as My Hero Academia is that some characters will get pushed to the sidelines while others rise to the forefront. The first half of this season has featured some of the best storytelling that My Hero Academia has ever done, but it also meant that certain characters who are arguably pillars of the show didn’t appear for a dozen episodes. Following the chaos of the Shie Hassaikai incident, everyone has been reunited at U.A. High, but it still looks like some individuals will get more to do than others. The show’s previous episode hinted at the big journey that lies ahead for Bakugo and Todoroki as they head into the training course for their provisional hero licenses, but “Win Those Kids’ Hearts” lives in that space and shuffles Bakugo and Todoroki to the top.
The lengthy break from spending time with Bakugo and Todoroki definitely makes their material feel more satisfying. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Another interesting dynamic to this provisional license material is that Bakugo and Todorki are exceptional on their own, but they don’t usually get a chance to play off of one another. “Win Those Kids’ Hearts” has a lot of fun as it establishes a catty relationship between Todoroki and Bakugo that’s full of banter. It’s also a smart move on My Hero Academia’s part that Bakugo and Todoroki aren’t the only ones in this training course and that they have to test alongside two other familiar heroes from Shiketsu High, Camie Utsushimi and Inasa Yoarashi (plus Seiji acting as moral support and roast master for U.A. High along the sidelines). There are a total of eleven students in this remedial license exam program, which adds even more of an unpredictable nature to the proceedings as Bakugo and Todoroki have more to worry about than just each other.
It’s a smart move to reintroduce Camie and Inasa into these proceedings, not only because they have history with Bakugo and Todoroki, but it’s also a helpful reminder of how large My Hero Academia’s world is. The series barely focuses on the events that take place on Shiketsu High, but there are likely all sorts of quirk-based shenanigans happening over there, too. Camie and Inasa get to act as the ambassadors of that side of the world and hopefully this hints at a little more of these different ecosystems of heroes meshing and working together. Camie’s inclusion is the most interesting because it comes with the development that the League of Villains’ Himiko Toga actually drugged Camie, impersonated her with her Transform quirk, and then took and failed the test in her name. It’s a strategy that the show is far from finished with, but it’s merely teased this week.
A lot of the professional heroes also join these trials in simply a spectator capacity. It’s nice to see so many powerful people show up and offer their takes on what they see. The most important detail here is that Gang Orca is the one who leads the testing and he has an admittedly unorthodox means of inspiring students. A bit of the bigger picture of this season is also hinted at as Endeavor and All Might have a tense conversation over how crime has slowly started to rise after his retirement and that his actions are beginning to have negative consequences. This adds to the wealth of guilt that All Might is already feeling this season, but it emphasizes how a new “Symbol of Peace” is necessary now more than ever.
Bakugo and Todoroki’s skills and teamwork will presumably be tested in different ways throughout these training course episodes, but their first major test throws them together with a mob of chaotic kids. It’s the perfect wild card element to add to what’s already an entertaining dynamic and it’s actually a valid test for these heroes. Gang Orca explains that there’s no disputing that individuals like Todoroki, Bakugo, and Inasa are strong, but it’s just as important to exhibit empathy and an inviting aura that makes people want to trust you when they need help. These individuals are lacking in this area, so they’re thrown together with the wild children of Masegaki Public Elementary School to test their skills in unexpected ways.
“Win Those Kids’ Hearts” really plays up the humor of this situation and how out of their depth each of these heroes are with children. Everyone struggles to connect and experiences hilarious difficulties as they attempt to break through to these kids. The way in which all of the young girls try to neg and ignore Cammie is a particular highlight. All of the heroes struggles here, but as soon as they see the students’ teacher in all of this pain and anguish they’re able to pool their efforts together and figure out some strategies. It’s really beautiful that as uncomfortable as everyone is here that the sight of someone in genuine need is enough to snap these individuals into action. It underscores how they really are heroes at their core.
Bakugo and company develop a number of smart approaches, like an attempt to weed out the ringleader child that is inciting the rebellious actions in the first place as well as an effort to show off their various quirks to the children. To the audience it may be clear that the one preppy kid is the mastermind of these grade-schoolers, but Bakugo and company end this episode with an incendiary battle about to break out. The heroes don’t make much progress and they’re arguably pushed into an even more difficult situation as they’re about to engage in combat with these children, but this still makes for one of the more exciting challenges that have been faced.
“Win Those Kids’ Hearts” is another leisurely installment of My Hero Academia that feels like one episode’s worth of content spread out across two entries. Even though not much ground gets covered in this half of the story, it still makes for an entertaining episode. It’s a relief to see the series get to play around with some different characters after the Shie Hassaikai arc and all of them are used quite well in this atypical setting. “Win Those Kids’ Hearts” prioritizes comedy over action, which is kept to a minimum here, but the conclusion of the Masegaki Public Elementary School chaos will definitely make up for that. Hopefully these heroes will be able to instill some proper values into these children and it won’t come at the cost of Bakugo roasting some grade-schoolers alive.
Where’s Eri and her Rewind quirk when you need her?
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.