We’re in the Endgame now – or rather My Hero Academia is.
In all seriousness – Season 6 of My Hero Academia feels like Avengers: Infinity War and the start of Endgame lumped together. At first glance, the first half of the series is all the threads from last season, with the Metahuman Liberation Front and the League of Villains allying, plus the Heroes putting together a counterattack against the League, and Shiguraki seemingly out of commission as he’s getting a medical power-up prepared by All For One.
Except, in the first half of the series, everything goes horrifically wrong, with the second half contending with the aftermath.
What this means from a practical standpoint is that the first half of the series is perhaps the biggest extended series of fights in the franchise to date, with significantly heightened stakes. So, this ends up making it like an amped-up version of the Shie Hassaikai raid. Except they lose badly. No, worse than that. None of Class 1-A bites it, but the Infinity War comparison is an apt one.
The second half, which is officially called the “Dark Hero” arc, and which I like to call the “Nomad” arc (as the second half has Deku leaving UA and going off more-or-less on his own to protect his classmates, putting him in a position similar to how Steve Rogers has operated as Nomad in the past) has superhuman society in Japan trying to pick up the pieces, as trust in heroes has been absolutely shattered and the lies that held it up have slowly but surely coming out – combined with the “Assist Items” manufactured by Deterat (the company that had been helping fund the MLF) having become widespread through the population. When I read this arc originally, it played very differently than it does in 2023.
On the one hand, what it feels like Horikoshi, the mangaka of My Hero Academia, is trying to do is trying to poke at how Japanese political figures (particularly in conservative parties) can have something of a holier-than-thou attitude as a more composed and polite society that couldn’t have unrest like those other countries (particularly the US), and that Japan could never have the level of civil unrest that the US has. The problem is as with all things in the analysis of fiction, context matters, and here the context is “This happened because the cops quit.”
Meanwhile, here I sit in the year 2023 CE, in the US, where across the country police departments appear to be basically engaging in “work to rule” strikes and not actually doing their jobs when it comes to doing the things that people generally agree they should be doing – like investigating murders and car thefts – because people are upset when police officers kill unarmed people of color like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and think that people who are addicts should be diverted to treatment programs instead of prison.
Now, these chapters were published after the death of George Floyd, and the 10 months of protests in Portland, but I legitimately don’t know how much coverage that had in Japan, and in what tone those protests took, so I don’t know how much Horikoshi could have been impacted by them. The part that makes me want to give him the benefit of the doubt is the inclusion of the character of Lady Nagant, and the reveal that no, the previous system was absolutely dirty – worse than the MLF knew – or was willing to reveal – with the fact that the organization that basically ran the metahuman police was engaging in extrajudicial murder by assassins in their employ – not because some superpowered criminals were a particular threat, but because they were just successful enough to erode public trust. Sort of like if, in Marvel Comics, the Scourge of the Underworld answered to Henry Peter Gyrich as a companion to the Project Wideawake program (as opposed to because Gyrich had been brainwashed by Hydra).
All of this said, there’s a lot in this season that is done really well. In particular, the animation here is great – especially when Shiguraki awakens and starts wreaking havoc. It does serve as a solid proof of concept as to how you could do destruction on the scale of Akira on a TV animation budget – if ever a planned TV anime adaptation of Akira ever gets off the ground. The character writing is also really excellent – the series really shows just how much of a good heart Deku has, still trying to – even if he has difficulty smiling – be the helper, not just the hero, people need under these circumstances, while also being aware that he’s hunted.
My one character complaint from this season is in this season and in this arc of the manga, we finally have a meeting between Stain and All Might. The chapter in the manga really gives it the gravitas it deserves, making it feel like when Neil McCauley and Vincent Hanna meet in a cafe in Heat, but with a different take where both are and are not on the same side. Stain is an escaped criminal, but he respects who All Might was, and ultimately Stain rejected the MLA back in season 1, and just was never in a position to dispute their view of events. However, the animated version of this scene feels rushed – like they had to fit it in this season, because the information contained in that scene was needed to set up next season’s events, but they didn’t have the time in the episode to let it breathe.
I did really like this season, and as I’m currently still reading the manga, I’m looking forward to seeing season 7 to see all of that (or at least a lot of that) in motion.
My Hero Academia Season 6 is currently available for streaming on Crunchyroll.
Please support my Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/countzeroor
Buy me a coffee at Ko-Fi: https://ko-fi.com/countzero
Watch my Live-Streams on http://twitch.tv/countzeroor
Check out my Let’s Plays at https://www.youtube.com/@CountZeroOrPlays