This My Hero Academia review contains spoilers.
My Hero Academia Season 4 Episode 19
“Sometimes extreme and violent actions fascinate people.”
Okay, so I can understand the whole “it’s about the journey, not the destination” mentality of storytelling, but the title for the newest episode of My Hero Academia really feels like it’s trying to convince the audience that this school festival stuff is pure gold. “Prepping For the School Festival is the Funnest Part” looks at Class 1-A starting to really figure out how to bring their rock band performance to life. In that sense, this episode is a success, but it’s also fair to say that very little actually happens in this installment. It’s a lot of fun to kick back and goof off with these characters, but “Prepping For the School Festival” continues the slower paced, lighter trend of the past few episodes. That being said, the episode’s title is accurate in the sense that this entry is the “funnest” part of the arc so far.
Now that Class 1-A has decided that they’re going to wow the rest of U.A. High with their musical abilities and natural showmanship skills, their next task is to figure out who’s going to be responsible for what. 1-A wants to go all out here so these roles don’t just include band members, but also a dance troupe, and an effects team (which delightfully includes Aoyama as a human disco ball). The students go through a rather entertaining process to determine who should handle what. Bakugo winds up on the drums and it’s kind of perfect that the way they get him to play is to provoke him and question his abilities in the field.
Everyone in Class 1-A is excited about the school festival because they want to entertain and give back to the other classes, but Bakugo is the one person who’s driven by more vindictive motives. Bakugo’s investment in the drums is linked towards his resentment towards the other classes at U.A. High. Bakugo’s been carrying a heavy burden since last season and it’s exciting to see My Hero Academia explore some of that stress in displaced ways. He’s turning this performance into an opportunity to showcase his strength because there’s nothing else for him to channel his aggression into. This episode also contains a brief look at how the other classes negatively view Class 1-A. It’s helpful to get out of the show’s bubble for a little bit and it gives more context to Bakugo’s frustration over not being appreciated.
Class 1-A treats every aspect of this performance as important, but there’s definitely a focus placed on who will be crooning in front of everyone. This leads to some wonderful comedy from everyone’s poor attempts at singing. Mineta really steals the show here with his acknowledgment of the faults in his character design in a gloriously meta way. This not only depresses Mineta, but it takes the mention of a harem and the reminder of his character stereotype to pull him out of his funk. It’s definitely a very humorous episode and each stage of the process contains many solid gags, even if the stakes are low here. After all of the chaos and death that’s been present, it’s gratifying to get a reminder of just how funny this show can be.
Much like in the prior episode, one of the highlights here is the extended focus on Jiro as she literally takes center stage. All of the time spent with her is worthwhile, but the song that she sings is particularly great. The way in which Jiro’s song both astounds everyone as if it’s the voice of God, as well as how she quickly changes the subject and wants to move past her talents, are great little character moments. Jiro’s quirk may not be the most powerful in battle, but hopefully she finds a way to stay involved once this is over and she doesn’t just recede into the background again.
It’s kind of a relief to see Deku step back during the school festival proceedings and not turn out to also be some kind of musical prodigy. It’s very believable that he wouldn’t excel at everything. As Jiro steers the ship, there’s a tiny interlude between Midoriya and All Might that goes a long ways. Midoriya expresses his frustrations over his development as a fighter and that his powers have reached a plateau, so to speak. All Might offers Midoriya a major tip by showing him how to manipulate his power into a decent projectile attack that will seriously change up his strategy in battle. It’s a great bonus to this episode and hopefully Midoriya won’t have to wait until next season to put this skill into practice.
Finally, some more context is provided on Gentle Criminal and La Brava, who continue to steal every scene that their in. The two made a flashy entrance in their convenience store robbery last episode, but this episode clarifies that they only target businesses or people that behave in “ungentlemanly” ways, which makes them more akin to Robin Hood-like vigilantes than a straight-up villains. Gentle prepares to sets his sights on a larger goal as he targets U.A. High’s school festival (although they don’t really fit with his M.O…). Until then these two may just lurk in the background until the festival occurs, but hopefully they’ll both be provided with some more depth before then.
Perhaps the most revealing detail of “Prepping For the School Festival” is that Gentle has been at this routine for six years now, yet no one seems to take notice of him. The fact that this character has been pulling heists since the start of the series holds some interesting potential. It’d be fun to get some flashbacks to his previous antics that are taking place concurrently to big events from the first three seasons of the show. Gentle’s struggles to find fame both online and in real life adds a very compelling wrinkle to his character. Gentle is essentially a nobody with delusions of grandeur and while the character so far has mostly been played for laughs, there’s something very powerful in the idea of a character who’s lost in his own fantasy. There’s a much larger probability of that kind of character snapping when they’re forced to face reality and the payoff with Gentle Criminal could be seismic.
My Hero Academia cleverly presents most of Gentle’s scenes through his own unreliable perspective and even though La Brava occasionally pipes in with the truth, there’s a real energy to his scenes since they do exist in this detached vision of the world. Gentle is not the focus of this installment, but his scenes are easily the most entertaining parts of the episode. It absolutely won’t happen, but it’d be amazing if this season did an episode that was entirely one of Gentle’s YouTube uploads or a compilation video that La Brava has put together.
“Prepping For the School Festival is the Funnest Part” is an entertaining time, but it’s also a very unimportant installment of the “School Festival Arc.” Besides the material with Gentle and La Brava, it feels like all of this material could be neatly contained to a solo OVA. Then again, there are some viewers who are likely burnt out from this season of My Hero Academia’s doom and gloom and are grateful for this change of pace. The enjoyment of these episodes will still likely come down to what one expects and wants from a shounen series of this nature. It will be very interesting to see if the anime decides to stretch this arc out for the remainder of the season, or if it wraps it up within a few episodes. It’d be a real shame if what’s arguably been the show’s best season decides to end on such a frivolous note. Much like the pop-y musical number that Class 1-A wants to put together, this episode is amusing fluff, but not much more. But that’s okay.
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.