The hit anime series My Hero Academia is back to tackle the series’ Provisional Hero License Exam Arc, but despite the continuation of school and hero work, the show is irrevocably different because of a single character: All Might.
My Hero Academia has always come back to All Might in its times of crisis ranging from the first League of Villains attack in season one to the last episodes of the third season’s first cour (note: a cour is a 10 to 14 episodes of an anime that air during a three-month period). A pillar of both the pro-hero industry and the plot itself, it’s hard to imagine My Hero Academia without our favorite all-powerful hero and his loose American aesthetic.
At the end of the first cour of season three, things got dicey for the symbol of peace, and as a result the world of heroes in My Hero Academia is forever changed. The ramifications of this have just started to become clear in the third season’s second cour with this week’s episode — even with everyone back at UA preparing for their future as heroes, things are indubitably different.
[Warning: Spoilers for season three of My Hero Academia ahead.]
It would be incorrect to call All Might — or rather, Yagi Toshinori (despite his celebrity, he’s still just a guy) — the protagonist My Hero Academia. That’s indubitably Izuku Midoriya, the earnest and heroically self-destructive inheritor of All Might’s quirk, One for All. Since his debut, All Might has functioned as a deterrent to crime and the “symbol of peace” due to his overwhelming power and presence. As his successor, Izuku is poised to take his place after he gains control of One for All.
All Might’s status as a social symbol comes into play more than his actual heroics in the series — he’s not only Izuku’s idol, but a figure that has influenced countless students in class 1-A ranging such as Katsuki Bakugo or Shoto Todoroki. The fact that he’s now out of commission as a result of his fight with All for One means that there’s a gaping hole in the pro-hero world. Even for characters we’ll never meet, the throngs of civilians chanting his name as he raised a signature fist into the air highlight his societal importance.
While we’ll have no shortage of Yagi Toshinori moving forward (he’s still hanging around UA and proclaimed that he would devote all of his energy in the future towards raising Izuku) things are indubitably different. The first episode of the second cour shows Class 1-A moving towards true hero work through the development of special moves, an activity that several members of the class are relived is “like a real school thing, and yet it’s like super normal hero thing!”
The remark is fair, considering that they’ve been struck by more villain attacks during school events than any class in history. Surprisingly, during the training, Izuku is the one who saves Yagi from a falling block during training, employing a new fighting style that finally breaks from one that mimics All Might’s. It’s a new step towards an individual hero identity (and it also means that we probably won’t hear Izuku scream All Might’s signature “Detroit smash!” any time soon).
The upcoming arc will pit UA students against students from other hero courses during the Provisional Hero License Exam, ushering in an entirely new cast of prospective heroes ready to claw their way to the top. In a post-All Might world, the exam is particularly fervent and the young heroes even more so. While future ramifications of All Might’s departure from the hero scene aren’t clear, one thing is — it’s up to the rest of the pros and the students to tackle whatever comes next.