My Hero Academia: Season 4, Episode 11 Review
This review contains spoilers for My Hero Academia Season 4, episode 11 (episode 74 overall), titled "Lemillion." See where we left off with our review of MHA Season 4, episode 10.
With a genuinely chilling piece of backing music that sounds like it was ripped straight out of a Tom Waits song, Season 4, episode 11, “Lemillion,” opens on a gothic note, with close-up after close-up obscuring its dark location and creating a rather distressing atmosphere that speaks to Overhaul’s tone and personality. The title of the episode, the name of UA’s most powerful student, makes a very big promise that, for the most part, “Lemillion” does indeed deliver on. Or, at least, the character himself does.
After the initial staging of the episode, with a reminder of the breadth and scope of what Overhaul is plotting, we’re thrown back into the chess game that episode 10 set up, which turns out to have been a three-sided game all along (who could’ve seen that coming?). This is, admittedly, quite rushed. We get a short scene focusing on Twice and Toga, two pawns from the League of Villains who were placed on their designated squares last episode, but their roles are skimmed over for the most part to make way for the start of the big showdown: Mirio vs Overhaul.
This confrontation fills up the episode’s second half; but before we can get there, we are properly introduced to two Shie Hassaikai mambers: Shin Nemoto and Deidoro Sakai – with Nemoto having really gone all-in on his dedication to the Overhaul aesthetic, to excellent results. He’s a lackey with a lot of intrigue surrounding him. In this episode, he plays a pivotal role that demonstrates not only his sharp wit and measured approach to combat but also his narrow and religious fixation on Overhaul. This cultish mentality, in an odd but intriguing way, doesn’t fog his vision; and Nemoto proves himself to be a man of exuberant cunning in this episode. In fact, he is arguably Episode 11’s strongest aspect.
Lemillion is still our leading man here, though. And he’s certainly a force to be reckoned with. Soon enough, he comes face-to-face with Overhaul, all while Eri is in harm’s way. And while we know that she is central – pivotal – to Overhaul’s master plan, Overhaul has remained just enigmatic and unhinged enough for us to question his actions regarding her. Thus, her safety really does remain up in the air for the entire episode; there are no guarantees here and that keeps the stakes elevated throughout.
The encounter itself is satisfying enough, but it certainly has a few shortcomings in terms of execution. For one thing, the animation and direction leave an itchy sense that the show might have been trying to cut some corners. At certain moments character animation lacks fluidity; there are no real moments of sakuga-infused bombast (those always seem to be saved up for Deku’s strongest moments). In fact, one particular later scene plays out as a literal slideshow of stills that frame Mirio and Overhaul in both close-up and full-body action poses. What should come off as a stylised and unique directorial choice instead falls flat and even looks a little cheap.
Another issue with this encounter comes with the setting. To a large extent, there’s little that could be done to avoid this issue: Overhaul’s headquarters are underground, and so long grey corridors, fluorescent lighting, and a lot of concrete are to be expected. But it’s still, ultimately, a shame. Overhaul’s fantastic and truly terrifying quirk – the ability to deconstruct and reconstruct matter – has limitless potential for great fight scenes; and having a battlefield that would allow the director and animators a chance to flex their imaginations would be welcome here. Unfortunately, what we’re given is an awful lot of concrete for Overhaul to shift around, break apart, and turn into big spikes. It leaves Overhaul’s first ever real bout feeling flatter than it could have done.
My Hero Academia Season 4 has been a season of highs and lows, with a lot of teasing out the plot. The highs have been some of the highest in the show, and Overhaul is a fantastic villain in so many ways, but his first real fight – against Lemillion, no less – unfortunately isn’t the explosive, bombastic showdown it could have been. Luckily, the fight isn’t over yet – but as the episode to lead that charge, episode 11 certainly doesn’t offer many thrills or chills – except for the moments concerning Nemoto, who proves to be a stand-out character.