Anime

Review of My Hero Academia s4 ep69 – A Contentious Meeting and Alone in the Dark

Hi everyone! Irina (from I Drink and Watch Anime) and I are back again, this time to review My Hero Academia season 4’s episode “An Unpleasant Talk.” It’s almost Thanksgiving here in the States, Irina. Didn’t Canada just celebrate Remembrance Day? Is that a major holiday? Though I guess it’s not celebrated everywhere in Canada…

Our thanksgiving is in October. Remembrance day is not exactly a major holiday, we don’t get a day off anymore and there’s not celebration as such, but we do raise money for veterans and pretty much everyone wears a poppy. So it is very widespread.

You probably picked up on this, but Irina’s bold this week. I am! And there will be spoilers! Not many; it’s not a spoiler-rific episode. Still, we want to make sure you expect any surprises that may come your way. Which doesn’t make sense if I think too hard about it.

This episode had one small part, a big part, and a small part. I’d characterize them as “Really Good Anticipation,” “Generally Better than the Meetings I Have to Attend,” and “I’m Sure I’ll Recover from That.”

Irina, any thoughts before we dive in?

I may be in the minority but I’m really digging the slow burn this season. I love the effort and attention put to build up and  have a feeling it will really pay off when push comes to shove…

I probably gave the opposite impression, but I like how we’re getting so thoroughly reacquainted with the characters. 

The episode started with Mirio Togata and Izuku Midoriya leaving the dorms early to go to a meeting. They were surprised when Ochako Uraraka and Tsuyu Asui leaving, too. It seemed like a bit of a coincidence. When they headed for the same train station, they wondered at just how much of a coincidence it was. But the time they realized they were actually all heading for the same place, they started to get worried that something was the matter.

It only lasted a few minutes, but I thought the build-up was kinda fun. At least, it was more enjoyable than them all leaving the academy knowing they were heading for a big meeting. Because, let’s face it, who wants to go to a huge meeting first thing in the day?

There’s a big 500 pound gorilla sitting in the room with me, and I’ll get to him in a second. Mirio, Izuku, Ochako, and Tsuyu were amazed to find themselves in a huge conference room, filled with heroes great and small. They saw that Eijirou Kirishima was there, too, and they still had no idea what was up. 

I really like Ryukyu. Look how happy she looks to see Nejire! It’s like a maternal smile. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I mentioned last week that I really liked Ryukyu. She seemed like she was honestly trying to incorporate Ochako and Tsuyu into her team. Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks so, because I thought it was both endearing and odd that as soon as Nejire Hadou (who was apparently also invited) saw Ryukyu, she threw her arms around the dragon woman and hugged her. It was almost like a daughter hugging her mom. Did that strike you as odd, Irina?

Well, not odd, really. Nejire seems to be a hugger. We’ve seen her do the same to her friends a lot. But I thought it was a really sweet scene!

I mean it got kind of overshadowed by that one at the end there but I’m getting ahead of myself, please, do go on.

So by this time, we all know that a huge meeting is about to start. That 500 pound gorilla? 

Have you ever known a televised meeting to be exciting? Honestly, I was dreading it. But I thought to myself that this was My Hero Academia. I figured we’d at least get some interesting character interactions. 

OK, so I live under the tyranny of meetings. My work week is regularly 50 to 80% meeting and I deeply dislike them. This said, when I was there as a largely inactive member just meant to receive information, I thought they were boring and useless, now I only dislike them because they cut into my actual work time but they are often quite helpful. Getting everyone on the same page and brainstorming your next move is essential when you want to get a big project moving.

You know, Irina’s right. Meetings aren’t always evil. Only when the meeting is unnecessary — and this meeting was very, very necessary. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

l watch trials and parliamentary meetings and round table discussions. In concept I like the idea of a meeting, it’s a great way to get some exposition out. In practice, I thought sheesh, I hope no villain figures out all the heroes are out for a day….

Did you warm up to it Crow?

I’m happy to report that from that perspective, I think the meeting succeeded. Still, it took up ⅔ of the episode…

Okay, enough with me being impatient. Sir Nighteye led the meeting, which he convened to talk about Kai Chisaki (Overhaul). His team, which included Kaoruko Awata/Bubble Girl and her underboob (seriously, have you ever seen a less practical hero outfit? Yes … honestly Crow, that’s pretty tame. Heck, just this Halloween had more exposed breasts in real life. MHA is the one universe that has attempted a decent canon explanation for revealing costumes so I tend to be more forgiving, personally), laid out what they’d learned, which was everything we’ve seen in the previous few episodes. They even knew Overhaul had reached out to the League of Villains.

The most concerning topic was what was in the bullet that had shot Tamaki Amajiki. Remember — the shot disabled his Quirk? The heroes were understandably freaked out, but it seems that Tamaki recovered after a night’s sleep. Fortunately, the shot that would have disabled Kirishima just bounced off, so they were able to recover an intact specimen. 

And just what was inside the bullet? Human blood and human cells. 

Irina, what did you think of the hero’s collective reaction?

All of the heroes were freaked out — though the younger heroes tended to show it more. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I’m not sure why it made it worse….No wait, with what’s discovered afterwards I 100% get it but just the fact that it’s a human blood medium seemed like not that big a deal considering everything else. It’s a tiny bullet, no one’s bleeding to death for it…. Like I  said, it gets much more disturbing.

Yeah, I jumped the gun a bit there. But Izuku and Mirio caught me back up. They looked even more stricken than the other heroes. In fact, they seemed almost physically ill. They realized the implication before I did, because, well, I’m slow. The implication? Overhaul was using Eri’s body to make the bullets.

It was at this point that one of the heroes, Ken Takagi/Rock Lock really got on my nerves. Earlier, as the meeting got underway, he complained that the “kids” would just slow the meeting down. Now, he loudly proclaimed that if the kids Izuku and Mirio had done their jobs, Eri would already be safely in custody. 

Did you want to smack him as much as I did, Irina, or do you think he had a point?

You know what really got to me? The fact that Eri is actually Overhaul’s daughter. I was absolutely convinced that it was just a lie Overhaul had made up in the moment. I never would have thought she was his actual daughter. I just thought she was a useful quirk owner he kidnapped. 

These are two motivated young men who want to do the right thing. And now, in front of everyone, it looks like they did one of the most unheroic things possible. It’s not fair. It’s not accurate. But their sense of responsibility was almost as brutal as Rock Lock. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I’m not sure why that info freaked me out. Regardless of their connection, it’s a horrible thing to do to a child but there’s a sense of betrayal there I guess. Also she must have (or have had) a mom….

Like I said, it got really disturbing. 

Oh boy, did Overhaul suddenly shoot up to the top of the hated villains list. Good job show, I don’t think we’ve ever had such a dislikable antagonist! I’m now quite vested. Good thing I attended this meeting!

I’ll give Nighteye credit. He took responsibility for the incident. He even said — plainly and in front of everyone — that Izuku was ready to pull the trigger, but Mirio had forced him to take a more tactically sound path. Despite his words, Izuku and Mirio were both visibly upset by what they saw as their failure. 

I liked the insight we got into the divisions within the ranks of the heroes. As they talked about how they were going to find Eri now that Overhaul knew she’d encountered heroes, Taishirou Toyomitsu/Fat Gum argued for a quick strike. Many heroes agreed. Nighteye argued for caution, and there was a contingent present who agreed with him. Then Fat Gum said something that I thought was overly personal, though I get where he’s coming from. He said that Nighteye wasn’t living up to his previous role as All Might’s sidekick. He had become too timid.

While Nighteye defended himself well enough, it was Sorahiko/Gran Torino who said they had to be careful, or there could be unintended consequences. Before anyone could object, he reminded them that the incident with Stain had served become a tool that the League of Villains used for recruitment. Irina, remember how in our previous review you mentioned how much you liked when a show respected its own lore? I thought of that in this moment.

Gran Torino showed the wisdom that comes with age. Still, his words for hard to take — especially for Fat Gum, Mirio, and Izuku. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

One of the things I admire in My Hero Academia is that they are careful to keep the characters true to themselves, even when that doesn’t make them look all that great.

What I like less is the tendency to reward brute force and recklessness. The idea that it would have been better if Deku and Lemillion just attacked Overhaul right then and there sits wrong with me but it’s the message I got from this episode. 

It sure seemed that way! I’d actually prefer the narrative take a more neutral stance, since the discussion of what’s the best way forward is great.

Maybe the most exciting part came when Shouta Aizawa/Eraser Head asked Nighteye why he didn’t just use his power to see the future. The explanation was interesting: his power lasts 1 hour and requires a 24 hour regeneration cycle. He also said it was like watching a movie from the perspective of the person whose future he was reading. He only wanted to use his power after they’d found where Eri was being hidden, and only then to fine-tune their plan.

It was clear that the aftereffects of Nighteye reading Toshinori Yagi/All Might’s future had almost incapacitated Nighteye. He looked positively haunted — almost like he was suffering from a terrible flashback. Did you get the same vibe from that scene, Irina?

Oh yeah, the man’s got PTSD. Seeing the future seems like  a terrible deal on all levels. Even in the best case scenarios. I remember the Garden of Sinners character explained that when you know the future, you can’t really enjoy anything because life just becomes and exercise in waiting for the next thing to happen, nothing more.

Nighteye is obviously suffering. Irina’s explanation makes the scope of his pain even more clear. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

This said, working alongside people who risk their lives everyday means you’re going to lose a lot of friends. Nighteye gets to lose them twice, if not more. I would use that power sparingly too!

Ow. I hadn’t considered that angle. Now I feel bad for the guy!

Ryukyu effectively brought the meeting to an end when she said, “Anyway, let’s do this. There’s a girl in trouble. That’s the most important thing.” After all the discussions and disagreements, it was nice to have a moment of hero-clarity.

The “big part” of the episode was almost over. Izuku and Mirio were still emotionally shattered over what they’d let happen to Eri. I put it that way not because I think they are at fault. As Irina and I discussed in our review of episode 67 (okay, Irina really made the point that they did the responsible thing by letting Eri go), if they didn’t want a civilian-centric bloodbath, they had had to let her go. But they still blamed themselves. Mirio even had tears in his eyes!

Fortunately, Shouta (oohhh you guys are on a first name basis! Ssshh! Don’t tell him! I really don’t want to make him angry!) showed up and gave them a solid pep-talk. I thought it was pretty cool that when Tsuyu tried to call him Sensei, he told them to call him Eraser Head outside of school. 

The last piece of the “big part” was a short talk between Gran Torino and Nighteye. Turns out Gran Torino had had an ulterior motive in suggesting Izuku go to Nighteye. He’d hoped Izuku would help heal the breach. 

Wait wait, you just blew right past that. Aizawa’s show of restrained confidence in Deku had me tearing up. Eraser Head has always been vocal about disliking heroes like All-Might. Heroes that are about flash and propaganda. He is a very good teacher so that bias was never transferred to Deku, nevertheless, he would be the last person to encourage Deku’s wreckless positivity and blind pursuit of “justice”. To give him a tacit approval like that was a huge change in their relationship and for someone like Deku, who constantly needs to prove himself, it’s a huge deal!

Eraser Head is an outstanding teacher. He’s also an outstanding leader outside of school. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Good catch. I was suffering from post-meeting-ennui. I hear they have new treatments for it now! Ah, modern science…

What struck me about this scene is how Nighteye answered how he felt about Izuku. “I think they’re very similar… to the madness living deep inside All Might that I couldn’t understand… he’s very similar.”

The madness? Irina, do you think this touches on the conversation we’ve had on the nature of heroes? On the difference between Mirio and Izuku — or Nighteye and All Might?

Yes, I think so.

Now we come to the small part I’m sure I’ll recover from. That’s what I’m going to keep telling myself. Let me preface what I’m about to say by reminding you that I’m a dad, and my youngest is a daughter. Any threat to a child feels amplified to me, so that might account for some of my reaction.

This is not an expression a little one should ever be forced to have. Preventing this is what heroes are for. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The camera shows us Eri curled up on her bed, in the dark, alone. Some lackey comes in and tries to endear himself to her, mostly because Overhaul had told him to get her to trust him — or else. 

To the guy’s credit, when he saw he was making her upset, he left. I thought he showed an uncommon amount of sensitivity for a villain — even if it was driven by his sense of self-preservation! 

This was sad enough. What really got me, though, was that Eri was remembering when Izuku had touched her. It was unlike anything she’d ever experienced. She recalled how he had apologized for running into her. How he had offered to help her to her feet. How he had put his hand on his shoulder when he was ready to defend her against Overhaul — even though he had no idea what he was up against. 

Beginning to cry, she thought, “His hands… were kind… So kind…”

Enduring pain alone and in the dark sucks. Do you know what makes it worse? Hope. And a hope that’s denied might be the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced. Seeing Eri cry all alone in the dark was the most powerful moment in this episode — maybe in the season so far.

What did you think, Irina?

It was a sweet scene. Although to me it was that symbolic scene earlier of little Eri trapped under Overhaul’s mask that really struck me. I was more taken by the horror of the situation than the depression of it.

As far as damsels in distress go, Eri is a fantastic choice being  helpless child and all. I hope they rescue her soon.

She’s a perfect damsel in distress. And if the heroes don’t rescue her soon, my heart’s not going to be able to endure it. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Any final thoughts before we begin the wait for the next episode?

I’m just going to say one more time how I like that My Hero Academia is putting in the time and effort to lay down the groundwork this season. It shows a good deal of respect for the fan base and I appreciate that a lot.

And as you said, they take their own lore seriously, and it continues to play a part in the current events. I love that sense of continuity! And as far as laying the groundwork, I’ve remembered how much I like these characters, and now I’m dreading them going up against Overhaul. I guess that shows how effective these first episodes have been.

Reviews of the Other Episodes

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