My Hero Academia 4 Episode 4 sees Deku and Mirio first come face to face with the fearsome Overhaul in a nail-biting scene of tension that directly challenges their respective perceptions of heroism, before the confusion and regret stemming from the conclusion of that situation leads Deku to then seek out All Might and demand the truth, both with regards to Mirio’s apparent past candidacy as the Symbol of Peace’s successor and the nature of his strained relationship with Sir Nighteye – a truth which might just prove hard to swallow.
Structure and Adaptation: Back and Forth
In terms of adaptation, My Hero Academia 4 Episode 4 is once again very faithful to Kohei Horikoshi’s original manga. In fact, unlike episode 3, there aren’t even any anime-original scenes or additions worth talking about – provided that there are any at all.
The big changes that Studio BONES have made this time around come with regards to structure. Even then, they’re only very slight. We come in at the beginning of chapter 129, following the encounter between the heroes and villains of this arc up until its conclusion, whereupon the anime promptly cuts away to the beginning of chapter 130, where Nighteye and Bubble Girl are investigating the Shie Hassaikai headquarters.
All that this does is move the reveal of Eri’s importance to Overhaul’s mysterious ‘plan’ to the end of the first half of My Hero Academia 4 Episode 4, acting as a stinger as it transitions into its second half.
That second half then concentrates on the confrontation between Deku and All Might, as the former asks the latter for the truth regarding Mirio’s past eligibility as the successor to All for One, as well as to why All Might and his former sidekick Sir Nighteye are no longer associated with each other.
My Hero Academia 4 Episode 4 then cuts to the credits just as this scene, taken from about halfway through chapter 131 of the original manga, draws to a close. But then, right after the credits, the anime jumps forward yet again to chapter 132, utilizing the moment where Tomura Shigaraki and Overhaul start negotiations for an alliance as a tantalizing cliffhanger for next week’s episode 5.
My Hero Academia 4 Episode 4: Let It Breath
The net total of all of this back-and-forth cutting and skipping is that My Hero Academia 4 Episode 4 lets the key moments of the story featured in its runtime breath and achieve the desired effect in terms of emotional and thematic resonance.
Leaving off Episode 3 with the encounter between Deku, Mirio, Overhaul, and Eri was a bold choice that left me eagerly anticipating how Studio BONES might handle this nail-biting situation – anticipation that turned out to be more than warranted.
The scene is largely stationary, so there weren’t many opportunities for BONES to flex their animation muscles. It was therefore up to the voice actors to sell the tension of this scene in their performances, something which they achieved with flying colors. Whether it’s Daiki Yamashita’s quiet confidence as Deku, Tarusuke Shingaki’s false friendliness as Mirio, or Kenjiro Tsuda’s growling lilt as Overhaul that changes from friendly to malicious along with his growing suspicion, it’s obvious that everyone gave their all.
It was important for BONES to nail this scene as it furthers an idea that has been consistently raised so far throughout My Hero Academia Season 4, the idea that sometimes ideals find themselves in sharp conflict with reality.
Deku’s encounter with Eri and Overhaul challenges his heroic ideals as he has no choice but to leave the trembling girl to her fate as to not tip the villain off while Nighteye puts together the sting operation. This goes against everything Deku idealizes in the form of All Might, the all-powerful ‘Symbol of Peace’ who doesn’t hesitate to jump into danger and save the day. Mirio also acts as the voice of reason in this scene, trying to subtly tell Deku to drop it with his false friendly lilt.
Speaking of All Might, the second scene that My Hero Academia 4 Episode 4 focuses on begins to show us, and Deku, that the all-powerful Symbol of Peace might not be as perfect as it may seem, as we get a flashback to the aftermath of his fateful first clash with All for One that left him gravely injured.
Sir Nighteye begs All Might to retire as he cannot fight any longer, but All Might protests due to his indispensable role as the Symbol of Peace. As he puts it, even if he retires and manages to find a successor, how many will suffer in the meantime? That’s simply not an option for this man who has dedicated his whole body and soul to heroism and the pursuit of heroic ideals. That’s also despite the fact that Nighteye has seen a vision that All Might will die a gruesome death to a villain sometime in the future.
Again, here we see the same theme of ideals vs. reality play out – only this time bringing in the arguable personification of heroism itself in the form of All Might. It is starting to seem like Deku perhaps won’t be able to go down the same path as his hero, nor will he perhaps want to. The cinematography and sound design of this scene in My Hero Academia 4 Episode 4 evokes an incredible sense of loneliness for the number one hero, as he keeps his back to Deku, refusing to show his face while the sound of his footsteps echoes silently in the darkness.
Neither of these two important scenes would have been nearly as effective without the adaptational changes that Studio BONES made in the structure of My Hero Academia 4 Episode 4. By focusing the two halves of the episode almost entirely to these two scenes, they were able to really take their time in nailing every single part of them.
It’s not like they just followed the manga, either – not only did they move around scenes, but they also cut some dialogue to give some lines more importance than others. One particular example of this that I noticed was a line from Mirio’s inner monologue as he and Deku followed Overhaul into the alleyway. Cutting this line allowed Studio BONES to keep the aural soundscape relatively uncluttered as the scene ratcheted up in tension along with the change in locale.
Overall, My Hero Academia 4 Episode 4 was yet another fantastic episode of what is shaping up to be a fantastic arc. Subtle yet effective shuffles in structure didn’t introduce any noteworthy departures, unlike previous weeks, but all of this really let the key moments of the narrative within this episode breath and fully realize their potential.
So yes, it was worth waiting almost two weeks – the reason for which, I’ve been told, was programming for the Rugby World Cup. As a result of this, we’ll probably get a double episode at some point – something which I’m very much looking forward to.
You can watch My Hero Academia 4 Episode 4 via Crunchyroll.