Anime Expo 2019
My Hero Academia Season 4 Premiere
by Lynzee Loveridge,
The heroes of UA returned to Anime Expo this year, following up last year's My Hero Academia film premiere. This time the Main Events hall brimmed with fans ready to yell "Plus Ultra!" for the first episode of the hit anime's fourth season. The room was high energy, myself included, but I walked away from the premiere a bit disappointed. After all that hype and buildup, the episode didn't feel "big" enough. It was more concerned with laying the groundwork for the primary story thread than giving its returning cast special moments.
The kids of U.A. are given the opportunity to enroll in work studies programs under a hero agency. At first, this seems like an expanded rehash of Deku and Company's previous internships under Pro Heroes, like Gran Torino. In fact, I'm not entirely convinced it isn't. This time Deku wants to work under Sir Nighteye, All Might's former sidekick who can see one hour into a person's future provided he previously touched them and holds their gaze. Deku's classmate and U.A. all star Mirio Togata is already working under Sir Nighteye and decides to bring Deku to the office to try his luck at winning the former sidekick over.
Deku runs into a hurdle, though. Sir Nighteye greatly respects humor despite his no-nonsense appearance. Mirio is naturally jovial and had no problem winning over Sir Nighteye but Deku isn't funny. He does his best All Might impression and attempts to wow is potential employer with obscure factoids about the former top hero. It wins over Sir Nighteye enough to offer Deku a chance if he can manage to swipe Sir Nighteye's signature stamp from his hand, thus overcoming the pro's foresight ability.
Over at the League of Villains hideout, a new baddie shows up with the intention of filling the evil vacuum left by All for One. He attempts to negotiate with the league to join him while claiming he has a real plan to do away with heroes. The league doesn't take too kindly to the approach and after much destruction, both parties separate with their respective casualties.
The episode's plot covers roughly three manga chapters with very few omissions. It sets the stage for further conflicts within the League of Villains and the challenges Deku will face after he discovers that Mirio was considered (and in Sir Nighteye's case preferred) to inherit All Might's ability. The League's fight with the new villain Overhaul was well choreographed and quickly established Overhaul as a real threat with real consequences. However, the battle takes place within the first third of the episode while the majority of the run time is centered on Deku's quest for an internship. That part feels redundant. I understand that a "training arc" comes with the territory here, but I'd like to have seen something other than another pro hero internship.
Sir Nighteye himself is an interesting contrast. His power is pretty uninspired but he's an interesting foil to All Might as a mentor. His interest in humor isn't that far from All Might's insistent smile but cranked up a notch to where he employs tickle torture to sidekicks that aren't funny. He's also the polar opposite in appearance. Whereas All Might could be best described as a series of triangles, Sir Nighteye is a slight man with glasses. Horikoshi wrote in a manga extra page that Sir Nighteye is the "intensely Japanese counterpart to All Might's intensely American image."
Funimation also brought Kaori Nazuka, the Japanese voice actress of heroes Mount Lady and Tooru Hagakure, to the stage along with English dub actors Ricco Fajardo (Mirio), Patrick Seitz (Endeavor), David Matranga (Todoroki), Jason Liebrecht (Dabi), and Kellen Goff (Overhaul). The actors shared behind the scenes anecdotes and character insights. Fajardo mentioned that dub director Colleen Clinkenbeard cast him as Mirio because they're exactly the same in personality, demeanor, and hobbies. Goff shared that he tried out for two characters while recovering from bronchitis. After he was successfully cast as Overhaul, Goff has continued to try to tap back into that same vocal tone. Nazuka added that she hopes Tooru Hagakure's skills can be highlighted in battle more often even though her character is invisible.
The fourth season of My Hero Academia will premiere in Japan on October 12. Funimation has licensed the series for release in North America.