Kohei Horikoshi’s global hit manga My Hero Academia’s anime hits its fourth season, with this “Part 1” release containing the first 13 episodes of Season 4, or Episodes 64 – 76 overall. The world of My Hero Academia is still reeling from the loss of its Superman-like central hero figure All Might, and many villains are licking their lips at the prospect of an easier time with their chosen line of work. At the end of the previous season our main protagonist Izuku “Deku” Midoriya managed to pass his Provisional Hero License exam (along with most of the large cast of would-be heroes) and has his sights set on doing his “Hero-Work Studies” at the hero agency ran by All Might’s old sidekick “Nighteye”.
Nighteye already has a student working under him: the UA High’s top student Mirio “Lemillion” Togata, someone the former sidekick always thought of as All Might’s rightful successor. This leads to him treating Izuku, All Might’s actual successor, rather harshly and doing everything he can to make Deku getting a place in his agency impossible… but is eventually impressed enough to accept him (as a member of his agency, not as the next inheritor of All Might’s “All For One” power).
While all this is going on, the now-infamous League of Villains are greeted by a mafia boss and villain in his own right known as “Overhaul” under the guise of wanting to join, but really he wants them to become new members of his crime family, directly challenging the League’s leader, Tomura, and his ability to lead. A rather grisly stand-off between the two factions ends in a truce being called. Overhaul ends up coincidentally becoming the focus of Nighteye and his agency thanks to the villainous mafia releasing a drug that enhances people’s abilities, and soon Midoriya and Togata end up bumping into him and a little girl named Eri, who is clearly frightened and in need of help. Deku wishes to do just that, but Lemillion knows the two were just supposed to be on patrol and attacking Overhaul would just ruin the case entirely, so manages to talk him down and the two leave.
This sets up the big story arc for the set, as a group of heroes assembles to take down Overhaul after his mafia gang begin to be responsible for not just people’s powers going out of control but also a type of drug that can take people’s powers away entirely. Along with some great scenes for Deku, this arc focuses on Mirio and Nighteye’s relationship, with a big emotional pay-off at the end of it revolving around Nighteye’s ability to peer into the future (although the real tear-jerker happens in the first episode of the next set…) There is also a reasonably big focus on Midoriya’s classmate Eijiro “Red Riot” Kirishima, who is doing his “Hero-Work Studies” with a Superhero agency run by “Fat Gum”. Eijiro has always had a rather generic “real tough man” attitude (despite being a teenager) and it really shocked me how just a couple of episodes layered on so many more parts of his personality that I genuinely liked him as a character by the end.
Altogether this is an extremely well told 13-episode story arc (well, 12 really… Episode 1 of the set is a bit of a non-starter that’s not so much a recap episode as it is a “reintroduction to the cast” episode) with the series’ trademark stunning animation and both emotional and action-driving soundtrack by Yuki Hayashi. Your opening theme for this batch of episodes is “Polaris” by Blue Encount, while your closing comes in the form of “Kokai no Uta” by Sayuri. The extras include interviews with the English voice actors for Deku and Overhaul, four “Inside the Episodes” features showing the English actors in-studio, and clean opening and endings.
My Hero Academia Season Four’s first half reaffirms the series’ ability to tell great dramatic stories with emotional heart and great animated fights to go along with it. Although a little slower to get going than previous arcs, it’s once again nearly entirely filler-free and therefore once it starts, it never lingers or kills the pace with flashbacks, it’s full-on action and storytelling right until the end of Episode 13, and what a great story it tells too. Highly recommended.