This My Hero Academia review contains spoilers.
My Hero Academia Season 4 Episode 5
“The age of heroes is about to be over…”
The desire to be stronger—to be more than what you are—has been a core theme of My Hero Academia since its very first episode, but it’s a concept that’s beginning to be explored in complex ways this season. Last week saw Midoriya grasp with the concept that being stronger sometimes means to take a step back and not be impulsive and this week the desire to be stronger fuels some very destructive impulses. This need to be more influences, Kirishima, the villainous lackey of the week, and both of the evil organizations that function in the shadows. My Hero Academia has often treated this desire to be more as a healthy motivator, but “Let’s Go, Gutsy Red Riot!” looks at the crazier things that this urge can make people do.
The previous episodes of this season have played around with the growing animosity between The League of Villains and the Shie Hassaikai. These are two highly deadly, dangerous organizations and as much as they resent each other, they find themselves in a unique scenario where they require each other’s help. Chisaki’s Shie Hassaikai is eager for the brand name recognition that comes with acquiring the title, “League of Villains,” while Shigaraki requires more manpower for his operation.
It continues to be thrilling to watch Chisaki and Shigaraki deal with each other and attempt pleasantries. Based on both of their previous behavior, either of these two could just switch over into murder mode at a moment’s notice. It’s fascinating to see that as much as they require the other’s assistance, they’re both extremely stubborn and unwilling to hand over any more than is necessary of them. They’re very clear that they want this to be a partnership of sorts and not for one side to simply absorb the other. I know that My Hero Academia has turned out sillier spin-off manga series, but I’d love an offshoot that just examines the bureaucracy of these evil organizations.
This episode tips its hat to Chisaki’s larger plan to gain supremacy on the heroes of the world. The Shie Hassaikai has engineered a formula that seems to boost, disable, and possible even steal an individual’s quirk. I’m always for a healthy injection of Cronenberg-esque antics into my anime, especially if My Hero Academia can adopt a light body horror aesthetic as it explores the genetic underpinnings of quirks in a creative, new way. The possibility of these heroes’ greatest assets being turned into their weaknesses is a horrifying and exciting direction for this series. Chisaki reveals that he’s put this plan into motion in various degrees all around the world, but Kirishima gets to U.A.’s guinea pig when he directly faces this new danger.
My Hero Academia season 4 has struggled a bit from its tunnel vision on Midoriya and his growth in the workforce. This has provided the beginning of this season with a good deal of focus, but it’s also oddly made the show feel smaller than it ever has before, right when its world is opening up in big ways. “Let’s Go, Gutsy Red Riot!” is the first episode of this season that really tries to remedy this as it gives Midoriya a break from his progress and instead looks at another hero’s journey through the work-study process.
Kirishima (or “Red Riot,” the new hero moniker that he uses) begins his work-study program in Kansai alongside Fat Gum and Amajiki of the Big Three. It’s satisfying to see another member of the Big Three paired up with one of our heroes because the series really hasn’t gotten a chance to show off the other members of the group or their skills aside from their initial debut appearance. Amajiki’s quirk is a “Manifest” ability where he’s able to weaponize on his body whatever he just ate. It’s a pretty awesome quirk and it’s a nice contrast to the more methodical quirks that Midoriya has been around.
Kirishima is excited for bigger responsibilities and what the future holds for him, but he also expresses doubt over the difference that can exist between experience and ability. Kirishima may be incredibly strong, but he still freezes up or doesn’t spring into action as effortlessly as he’d like. He’s still improving, but he’s determined to iron out these wrinkles in his routine and not be held back by his own thoughts. Some thrilling battles play out that initially leave Kirishima feeling useless, but it’s when a darker obstacle presents itself that “Red Riot” is able to spring into action.
Kirishima’s work-study happens to intersect with the Shie Hassaikai’s latest quirk-boosting schemes in a very suspenseful manner. Kirishima’s struggle here is interesting because the villains that he face comes across as quite empathetic. He’s just a lost soul who’s embarrassed by his quirk and hungry to become something bigger. Kirishima even sees some of himself in this antagonist, which unfortunately leads to him lowering his guard enough to temporarily lose the upper hand.
“Let’s Go, Gutsy Red Riot!” deserves some credit for how it makes this quirk boost demonstration actually frightening. This guy gets a power leverage, but it also looks like this genuinely hurts him. This battle turns into a huge spectacle and features some beautiful animation that’s the best of the season so far. There’s also a powerful symmetry present in its resolution where Kirishima defeats his enemy by also increasing his quirk, but through pure grit instead of artificial means. It’s a powerful conclusion and Kirishima looks more like some sort of Kaiju or a rejected Shin Godzilla design in his “final form.” Between the transformations that both of these characters experience, it’s exciting to think about how other characters may also boost their quirks in new ways, too.
This is very much Kirishima’s episode, but there’s also a brief glimpse of Ochaco Uraraka and Tsuyu Asui’s first day at their work-study together. These two are working under the third and final member of the Big Three, Negire Hado, along with impressive newcomer Ryukyu, the “Dragoon Hero.” Uraraka and Asui’s quirks effectively compliment the rest of their team and it makes for a good example of how important it is to properly pair together heroes. The strength of a hero doesn’t mean anything if their abilities don’t also assist the rest of their team. Similarly, there’s no need for a team to have three members whose quirks all ostensibly do the same thing. Negire’s team already clicks together and they complete their mission in stunning, precise fashion.
As formidable as Negire’s team is on their own, this episode also introduces the idea that a grander collaboration is inevitable. Negire discusses that several work-study teams may have to pool their efforts together to handle more volatile situations, such as the escalating threat of the Shie Hassaikai. It seems likely that this season is heading to a place where the various work-studies of Midoriya and his friends will eventually align into one giant group to extinguish this season’s threat. If that’s what this is all building towards, it’s appreciated that this season is slowly letting each individual work study team have their own time to shine to help establish their strengths before everybody later comes together.
“Let’s Go, Gutsy Red Riot!” also contains a fun epilogue where Kirishima, Uraraka, and Asui all experience public acclaim for the work that they do, hinting at the heroes’ first real taste of fame. Meanwhile, Midoriya is still lost over his contemplative first day and Bakugo is about to explode over just how much he’s been pushed to the sidelines and seemingly forgotten. Don’t worry, buddy. Hopefully you’ll get a solo episode soon. Or not.
“Let’s Go, Gutsy Red Riot!” is an entertaining, exciting installment that has a great message, provides some wonderful character development for Kirishima, and also helps introduce some powerful, new characters. The episode’s focus on Kirishima is a lot of fun, but in some ways it admittedly still succumbs to issues of having too narrow of a focus. The brief visit with Asui and Uraraka goes a long ways here, but there’s still such a wide berth of heroes that this series has at its disposal.
That being said, this is still more refreshing than another entry that solely focuses on Deku. There are still better ways for this season to spread its focus and highlight more of its huge cast, but at least “Let’s Go, Gutsy Red Riot!” hints at an awareness towards this and that it’s moving in the right direction.
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.