The crux of the ‘My Hero Academia‘ franchise has never shined so brightly. In a time where everything we’ve come to know has been turned upside down, the show not only approaches new mature themes in its ever-growing superhero environment but also reminds everyone why they started watching. In its sixth season, the stakes have never been higher as the promises from the past seasons start coming to fruition with a real consequence-driven story that puts our beloved heroes through the wringer. The show’s morality and its heart have never been quite so apparent. As both the manga and the anime enter the story’s ‘Final Act’, it cannot be overstated just how far away we are from where we started as the truth is not only set free but the obliteration of black and white ideals and the prophetic roles of One For All and All For One explore a nation undone by the facade of the superhero.
spoilers for all six seasons of ‘My Hero Academia‘ are featured in this review.
The first three seasons of ‘My Hero Academia‘ feel very much different from the latter three that have come out. The arcs spread out in the earlier seasons were given an appropriate amount of time to be fleshed out and have that room for character moments to reach a satisfying emotional climax. As the story started to progressively expand its scope, the arcs would start following a pattern for better or worse. The pacing in the fourth season was quite awful, from the rushed mess of the ‘Overhaul’ arc to the incredibly long ‘School Festival‘ arc, it’s some of the show’s worst pacing to date. The fifth season chose to return to adapt multiple arcs in a single season and it flowed much better. The ‘Endeavor’s Agency‘ and ‘My Villain Academia‘ arcs feature some of the best emotional highs the show has seen. The show is at its best when it explores these deep-cut relationships and backstories. The League of Villains’ backstory was haunting and tragic. The character work and dynamics in ‘The Hellish Todoroki Family‘ is some of the best writing this show has provided. That being said, the timeskip at the end of Season 5 leading into the ‘Paranormal Liberation War’ arc made for an overwhelming, action-packed 12 episodes that ran into a few familiar problems namely presentation, pacing and structure.
The first half of Season 6 pits Shigaraki against most Pro-Heroes along with Deku, Todoroki and Bakugo. The journey with Mirko to getting Shigaraki out of the tube took multiple episodes and quite frankly, it didn’t need to be stretched out that thinly. It also has to be said that unfortunately, the presentation of the show is incredibly uneven. The shine of the earlier seasons is rarely ever present in the newer arcs. Sometimes, it saddens me to say but the animation just isn’t pleasant to look at, it feels cheap compared to other shows. It makes the show feel less exciting to watch at times. If the show looked as good as it does in the opening credits, it would be unstoppable. Fortunately, the high-octane action sequences and clever writing make Season 6 one of the best seasons to come out of this show, maybe even the best. Despite its flaws, the ‘Paranormal Liberation War‘ arc is up there with shows like ‘Demon Slayer‘ and ‘Attack on Titan‘ in terms of knowing how to utilize its characters and amp up the intensity. Even with a rocky start, the pacing eventually picked up and made for an incredibly entertaining albeit overwhelming battle.
In terms of the actual battle itself, the overall structure of it all made it overwhelming for better or worse. It was almost exhausting at times seeing it unfold partially because that’s how it was intended to be but also because it took too long to finish certain storylines. The sub-plot mission with Class 1-A and Gigantomachia was entertaining at first but it felt drawn out by the end. Then again, this is precisely how I felt about the ‘Shie Hassaikai’ arc and maybe there is something to be said about the weekly episode rather than binging. Any time I’ve binged an arc, I felt it was all the more satisfying and so it’s hard to tell if it was the anime’s pacing or a personal preference. That being said, the arc is mostly entertaining and features some insane moments both epic and emotional. Seeing Bakugo do for Deku what he did for him in the first episode was genius! It’s the action that cements their current dynamic perfectly. Deku’s emotional arc particularly in this arc is rather sad in the sense that he continuously downplays his achievements and considers himself worthless. Using Black Whip in insane ways to try and catch up to Shigaraki even with most of his limbs rendered useless was incredible to see. In fact, that goes for every hero who truly gave their all, including poor Aizawa who arguably had it the worst with a missing eye and one less leg after being shot with a quirk-removing bullet. However, as amazing as it was seeing Mirio/Lemillion who is one of my favourites return, I couldn’t help but feel cheated from missing that moment when he receives his quirk back especially when the show displayed how tragic it was when he lost those abilities.
It was also rather commendable that during a war as impactful as this that the show kills off some of its characters. Midnight’s death left a real impact on Class 1-A. The episode ‘One’s Justice‘ which features the tragic battle between Twice and Hawks and ultimately Twice’s demise was one of the best episodes to come out of this show, in fact, this season has quite a few of those. The humanization of the villains is some of the best of any show out there right now, specifically in the superhero genre. Perhaps the most memorable part of the entire arc however belongs to Dabi who really knew how to put on a show. The reveal that he is indeed Toya Todoroki, the eldest son of Endeavor who was believed to be dead, was fantastic. Even knowing that going in, it still had a great impact. What I didn’t know, however, is that Dabi planned an entire video detailing the dark truths behind Endeavour’s past and relentless abuse towards his family, Hawks’ murder of Twice and how his father was a criminal. This puts into play a lot of my favourite parts of the season namely the newfound distrust of heroes in Japanese society and the deeper exploration of the Todoroki family. We’ve seen glimpses here and there but Toya’s origin is truly the crux of this family and the episode did not shy away from the darkness that loomed over that household. The jealousy that plagued each child as they were rejected by Endeavour for not being the ideal quirk mixture of ice and flame, it’s something that still haunts the family to this day. In reality, there really wasn’t much of a family to begin with. It was the comradery between Natsuo, Shoto and Fuyumi that kept a fraction of what should’ve been a powerful bond. At this moment, Toya might be the most compelling villain the show has, surpassing even Shigaraki for me. His backstory is truly one of the saddest ones so far and it leads to the first cracks in the superhero ideal and the disturbing effects it buries as shimmering capes and costumes patrol the streets and skies. Is the incessant need for superheroes worth sacrificing childhoods over?
Truth be told, Endeavour is possibly one of my least favourite people in the ‘My Hero‘ franchise. He’s a great character but the actions he’s committed and the things he’s put his family through are somewhat familiar to things I’ve gone through with my own family. In fact, the episode ‘The Hellish Todoroki Family‘ from Season 5 was quite hard to sit through because it felt so real and so familiar to me. Because of this personal connection, my hatred for Endeavour was a bit unjust. That being said, I’ve always appreciated how the show portrays him honestly and gives him the room to grow and make efforts. His character arc is arguably one of the show’s best. What got me emotional, however, is that through all of that pain, the Todoroki Family showed up and became truly unified in the aftermath of the revelation. The hatred from the Family has dissipated and everyone including Rei and Shoto were able to move on and understand Enji. They’re not necessarily forgiving him, definitely not forgetting what he’s done but they’re able to see past that and try and fix the situation rather than let it end in vicious cycles. They’re breaking the chain the family was used to and that’s how progress is made. To see this level of emotional maturity take place in this family and the arc of its members has truly been one of my favourites element of the entire show. The writing is truly outstanding.
Overall, ‘My Hero Academia‘ seems to finally be fulfilling the many promises it made with an arc that has brought tons of action, emotional highs and revelations to justify its overwhelming nature. The aftermath featured some of the best-written and executed concepts of the show, the characters are getting more of a serious arc this time around and things seem to be moving ahead. Over time, I’d say the ‘Paranormal Liberation War‘ arc has become one of my favourites. That being said, I cannot wait to talk about the ‘Dark Deku’ arc which is some of the best ‘My Hero Academia‘ I’ve ever seen.
‘My Hero Academia‘: Season 6 is now streaming on Crunchyroll.