Season 6 is nothing short of a triumph for My Hero Academia. After a lackluster fifth season it introduces two new story arcs, Paranormal Liberation War and Dark Hero, match the best moments of the entire show to date – and even surpass them at times with stunning action animation and some emotional character moments that show how much these young heroes have come. That’s all while fulfilling the promise of a world full of heroes and the consequences that would have on society by deepening the lore and worldbuilding of the anime. This is My Hero Academia at its peak.
Based on the best-selling manga by Kōhei Horikoshi, My Hero Academia has always thrived when presenting Horikoshi’s unique take on American superhero comic books and illustrating the small and large ways having 80% of the population become superpowered would impact society. Heroes as complacent celebrities who care more about sponsors than saving people (but without the depravity of The Boys) and a public that treats them as idols or just cops are ideas that have always been slowly brewing, and season 6 brings every plotline and theme to an explosive boil.
After a promising premiere that teased an Avengers: Endgame-style team-up of every single hero we’ve seen (and some we haven’t), season 6 essentially delivered two big stories with different tones that succeed in equal measure: an all-out assault on the League of Villains and the Meta Liberation Army, and the aftermath of that battle as superhero society crumbles and peoples’ faith in heroes disappears.
The first half of the 25-episode season contains some of the best action My Hero Academia has ever delivered, with stunning visual compositions and fluid fight scenes that display a wide variety of powers — whether that is Shigaraki pulling his best Tetsuo in Akira impression, or Dabi and Todoroki pulling a new version of Zuko versus Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender. The return of the popular song “You Say Run” and some old characters helps highlight just how far the story and the characters have come since 2016, which only makes the deaths hit harder.
This is the darkest My Hero Academia has ever been, with brutal deaths and irreparable damage done both to our heroes and the world they inhabit, and season 6 pulls off those emotional moments masterfully. We get scenes with the emotional payoff of All Might’s last stand at least two or three times throughout the season, with huge repercussions like Dab’s reveal to the world, and they work because the story has spent over 100 episodes building up to this. By the time we get the second opening theme of the season, Bokurano by Eve, it is clear there is no turning back to how things were.
This season deepens the mythology around One For All – its origin and its consequences – with some big revelations that give the story a sense of urgency and also make Deku a more special protagonist. His development this season is a joy to watch and the standout element of season six; Midoriya finally goes full Spider-Man with some new powers before turning into a Batman-like vigilante who keeps the city together but scares everyone who comes into contact with him. Daiki Yamashita does his best work yet voicing Midoriya, going from young and eager hero to burdened, tired, angry vigilante in the span of a single season.
Not to be left behind, this season also does a lot to grow the supporting cast in exciting ways. It makes up for the lackluster attempt at deepening the villains in season 5, giving them nuance and time to breathe, while also shining a light on the rest of class 1-A and how they’ve been forced to grow up during a time of crisis and step up into becoming heroes of their own. Of particular note is Bakugo, who gets his own much-deserved hero moment during a particularly great fight scene, and also an emotional confrontation with Deku that works wonders for both of their character arcs.
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Then there’s All Might, the former Number-One hero, the Symbol of Peace. This season makes it clear he is at least partially responsible for heroes becoming complacent and for civilians dehumanizing heroes and turning them into idols. To see his sense of guilt and regret, and his powerlessness – despite having been the most powerful man in the world – results in a complex character story and one of the best Superman stories in years that doesn’t feature Clark Kent. And yet, the finale makes it clear that All Might is no failure. He is the biggest hero not because of what he does, but because of how he inspires others to follow him.
We’re headed into the final act of My Hero Academia, to the moment where the story becomes global and the fate of our heroes is decided. This show has been full of highs and lows, but season 6 reminds us of why this anime is so popular and proves there are still many reasons to be excited about its conclusion.