I’ve finally gotten caught up on the My Hero Academia Manga in the Shonen Jump app, and want to give my thoughts on where the manga is now. As a warning – this post will contain spoilers for content after the conclusion of season 5, up to where the manga is now and will include speculation on what will be covered in Season 6. Spoilers will begin below the cut.
First off, I can’t help but feel that with the breadth of the material covered in the first arc of My Hero Academia after season 5 concludes – the Metahuman Liberation War Arc – along with where it ends, that this is very much going to be the Avengers: Infinity War of the franchise. It’s going to end on what will unquestionably be a dark, and potentially dour, note. It’s setting up a potentially triumphant, though most likely bitter-sweet conclusion, but there’s still going to be some doom to get through in order to get there.
Secondly, while some members of Class 1-A were certainly tested in the Shie Hassaikai arc – not just in terms of combat skill, but also emotionally tested with the number of injured involved, plus the death of Sir Nighteye – the Metahuman Liberation War is the greatest emotional test they’ve faced. One of the pages features Ochako and one of the licensed full-time heroes facing a massive array of casualties from a disaster, and the professional hero, feeling overwhelmed, and ultimately deciding to pack it in.
Over the course of the ensuing time skip of several months from the end of the Metahuman Liberation War and the start of this arc, we get massive numbers of other heroes who also pack it up, but Class 1-A, does not – indeed, the only “loss” Class 1-A has isn’t from students dropping out of the hero course because they can’t handle it, but rather because of a student – specifically Deku, choosing to leave the school because of the tie between One For All and All For One, and the possibility that Shiguraki, who now possesses All For One (or, rather is possessed by All For One) could find him and seek him out, endangering his friends and those sheltering at the school.
It makes for something of a stark shift between the old and new generation of heroes – it sets up Class 1-A as a group that, ultimately, no matter their reasons for initially wanting to become heroes, has elected to stay in the course basically out of idealism. Consequently, when, after the time skip, Class 1-A is re-introduced when they ultimately try to get Deku to come back to the school (and succeed), it’s not just a “power of friendship” moment, it’s also an affirmation of what they are all choosing to be by staying heroes.
In an almost weird respect, it’s actually succeeded somewhat at achieving some of Stain’s objectives from earlier in the series. Stain’s motivation was a rejection of a superpowered society that was driven by those wanting to be “heroes” for fame, fortune, or personal power, and not out of a desire to help – though his methods were wrong (you know, murder), and he was a really bad marksman (including going after heroes that had the motivations he sought, like Engenium I).
On the other side, having Shiguraki getting possessed by All For One himself, and ultimately having to battle for control of his own body by his former father figure is an interesting choice, and my thoughts on it are complex.
On the one hand, it feels pretty clear that this is something that’s being done to provoke some kind of redemptive moment for Shiguraki – to set up that the person who reached out to him in his last darkest place was doing so out of purely selfish intentions. Presumably how this will play out will be All For One attempting to steal One For All using the power of Shiguraki’s hate, only for it not to work because of Deku and Nana Shimura.
That said, one of the themes of the story coming up to the Metahuman Liberation War arc was the difference between redemption and atonement, particularly where it comes to Endeavor, and it would be disappointing if the result of the story is that no, Shiguraki’s extenuating circumstances means that he doesn’t have to do the work and he doesn’t have to atone for his actions. While some of those he was manipulated and gaslit into doing by All For One, some of those were absolutely his own choice.
As far as how My Hero Academia will end – I see a few possibilities. The obvious one is that All For One finally manages to steal One For All, only for it to backfire with the now fully realized Vestiges, with Deku (not dead, but still a Vestage as a previous wielder) among them being able to fight and beat All For One in a Battle Inside the Mind. That, or the ultimate attempt to steal that quirk leads to a Battle Inside the Mind.
The other possibility is that Nana Shimura and Deku drive a wedge between Shiguraki and All For One, leading to their mutual destruction. Shiguraki never really is “redeemed”, but also has his last act be considered heroic, leaving him with a complicated legacy. In either case, the ending is going to be somewhat bittersweet. Unless Deku himself dies (possibly getting reborn or resurrected in some manner, possibly by Overhaul as his own act of atonement), I don’t see a lot of other high-profile heroic (or anti-heroic) character deaths, outside of either Endeavor, Hawks, and/or Stain (possibly saving either Deku, All Might, Ida, or Todoroki in the process). There’s one other one that I can think of, which I’ll get to in a bit.
Any teasing of All Might’s death feels like something of a bait-and-switch – yes, killing the Mentor Figure is very much A Thing In Fiction, and I doubt that My Hero Academia will be an exception. However, we’re also at a point in All Might’s arc where killing him violently now would actually have less pathos than letting him retire and succumb to his existing lingering injuries (remember, his current character ticks include coughing up blood.)
Other than that, we have the resolution of the ongoing family issues between the Todoroki family – with Shoto and Endeavor versus Dabi/Toya. With Dabi’s powers working the way they do, it seems unlikely that Dabi will be walking away from this fight. That said, it’s also possible that the ultimate hook of this fight is Shoto’s ice powers allowing him to overcome his older brother not only without killing him, but also to save him in the process. We’ve never had a proper Shonen Battle “Defeat Equals Friendship” moment in MHA (outside of Deku and Bakugo sparring), and if we’re going to get that, this would be where to put it.
The other big moment would probably be related to Himiko Toga – who is definitely going to end up fighting Ochako, though I can’t say if she’ll also end up fighting her alone, or teaming up with someone. If it does end up being a team-up, my suspicion would be against Ochako teaming up with either Tsuyu or Bakugo. My suspicion is that in either case, there will probably be a reveal that Toga took some blood from Bakugo while he was being held prisoner earlier in the series, with Toga turning into Bakugo to use his powers against Ochako, making this a semi-rematch of the fight from the Culture Festival. This will have the complications that, on the one hand, Toga hasn’t developed the same techniques that Bakugo has (along with not having the gadgets that he has), so she’s less experienced with those powers. On the other hand, as the My Villain Academia arc made clear, she has absolutely no problems with using deadly force, so she will hold back less than Bakugo did.
There’s also the vial (possibly two) of Deku’s blood that Toga has. That’s a pretty damn big Chekov’s gun to leave lying around, and I see it being fired in one of two (maybe three, depending on how you count) different ways. The first is, in a desperate gamble in the fight with Uraraka, Toga drinks the vial and turns into Deku – only she doesn’t have the accumulation of powers over the years (the quirk being a “Blank”, as Monoma explained earlier), so she has all the strengths and weaknesses of an ordinary 16-17-year old teenage boy while Uraraka has gravity manipulation and has been trained in Gunhead Martial Arts. The other possibility with this is she does get the accumulated power, but without personally possessing the physical conditioning, and she ends up disabling herself.
The other major possibility is that with the main core members of the League (Spinner, Toga, Dabi) being more loyal to Shiguraki than to All For One, and resenting AFO having taken control of their leader, there’s a possibility that when Shiguraki/AFO goes to claim OFA and kill Deku, Toga might use the vial to swap places and sacrifice herself to save Deku.
Those two possibilities are not, necessarily, mutually exclusive, especially if they establish a second vial of Deku’s blood, or if Deku has to fall back when injured, providing an opportunity for Toga to drink some of his blood in a disturbingly fanservicy manner.
In any case, it is very clear that we’re in the endgame of My Hero Academia now, and while we won’t have a Time Heist to look forward to, we do have some interesting fights ahead of us.
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