My Hero Academia: Season 4, Episode 3 Review

Season 4, episode 3, “Boy Meets…”, begins with a worthwhile bit of narrated exposition from Midoriya, making clear his current goals as a student hero and what has changed for him since facing off against Hero Killer Stain back in Season 2. Deku now has his provisional licence and, with that, can use his quirk in public to assist pro heroes in battle and to avert disasters. This is the next big step in becoming a pro hero’s sidekick. And Midoriya’s work study is under the tutelage of All Might’s former sidekick: Sir Nighteye. Or so he hopes.

Sir Nighteye himself, while very briefly introduced in Episode 2, really shines in Episode 3 from the beginning. The two disparate halves of his persona – the hyperbolic, serious, and scary salaryman on the surface, and the diehard child-like All Might fanboy underneath – fold together to create an incredibly fun and alluring character right off the bat. And the fact that these two sides of him are established within two minutes shows off the strength of writing and characterisation that’s almost always consistent in My Hero Academia. In fact, the characterisation is so solid here that Sir Nighteye can be clearly understood with the sound off. From his office – with one wall of grey shelves and folios and another covered with colourful dedications to All Might – to his bland suit of grey and white, spiced up by a clownish necktie.

The second act of this episode is a real lesson in tension. Despite every moment being set in a cramped, static office of paperwork and fluorescent lights, there is an incredible, amount of nail-biting tension that is palpable for an extended scene as Sir Nighteye challenges Midoriya to prove his worth by snatching a stamp from his hand. To do so, Deku must somehow bypass Sir Nighteye’s quirk – Foresight – which allows him to see every move Deku will make before he makes it. The setup is anxiety-inducing, and the action that follows is a miniature thrill ride. It’s simple action, with little bombast, but it plays out like a contained explosion of emotion. Its tone is more akin a game of chess than a battle royale, with the strain of the moment becoming more and more taut as the minutes tick away. All the while, we become frustrated and fascinated by Sir Nighteye in equal measure.

The episode doesn’t end without getting a look-in on Class 1-A, including Aizawa, and a little tease of what’s to come for them as well as a look at what’s coming up next with regards to Overhaul and the League of Villains. While the episode’s ending does feel a little too cliff-hanger, it’s a welcome one after a satisfying introduction to Sir Nighteye and an exciting – almost draining – middle act that did more than just introduce Sir Nighteye’s character; it also raised the stakes for Midoriya. While he as a character and a budding pro hero has faced challenges and defeats until now, and many of them have been truly gruelling, this is the first time his worthiness has been called into question and tested. That’s what makes “Boy Meets…” such an important episode. The consequences of this seed of doubt being planted in Midoriya’s mind may not become clear immediately, but they will eventually. It’s a meaningful shift, though a suitably subtle one.

This season has gotten off to a strange start, with a first episode that was enjoyable but inconsequential, and a second episode that could have been expanded into two. But this third episode is masterfully executed in so many ways. Sir Nighteye was given a clear and thorough introduction, although how his character arc will play out has been left brilliantly ambiguous, and by extension so has his relationship with Deku going forward. The traditional three-act structure of the episode also allows for some excellent pacing, as well as some strained and exhilarating moments that lead to catharsis with a caveat: the promise that a knock to Deku’s self-assuredness will ripple out into subsequent episodes in some interesting ways.

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