My Hero Academia, the smash-hit superhero anime series from Bones Inc., wrapped its second season over the weekend. If you’re not caught up on the adaptation of writer/illustrator Kōhei Horikoshi‘s manga “Boku no Hīrō Akademia”, now’s the perfect time to do so because things are about to get even crazier. For the uninitiated, the story takes place in a world where superpowers known as Quirks have become rather common, so much so that kids with Quirks attend school in order to see if they have what it takes to become a real-life hero. Surprisingly, the focus of the tale lands on Izuku Midoriya, a “Quirkless” boy whose dream of becoming the #1 hero gets a boost when he has a fateful encounter with the reigning holder of that title, All Might.
My Hero Academia is bonkers at times but there are deeply dramatic moments of character-focused storytelling scattered throughout the series. Season 1 found Izuku gaining an incredible ability and learning to harness it (without destroying himself in the process) alongside his fellow super-powered students of U.A. High School. Season 2 played host to the tournament-styled U.A. Sports Festival in its first half, featured the thrilling Hero Killer: Stain arc in the middle, and closed out with some more exploration of the students’ powers and abilities through an extensive exam that pit them against their very teachers. But it was the Season 2 finale that hinted at deeper stories waiting for fans of My Hero Academia in Season 3, which I’ll explain below; spoilers follow.
If you’re all caught up on My Hero Academia, check out the brief Season 3 trailer released this weekend by Toho Animation:
So to briefly recap the finale, the U.A. High School Class 1-A students learn that they’re all going to a group training camp in order to get stronger, even though their teacher Shoto Aizawa (a.k.a. Eraserhead) clarifies that not all of them passed their exams. (He also admits that all of the teachers took it somewhat easy on their students, which has the kids understandably upset.) But what better way to celebrate their upcoming training camp session than with a group trip to the mall?
That all sounds well and good, but there’s no way the season finale “Encounter” was going to end on a purely happy note, especially not once fans got a glimpse of shadowy villain Tomura Shigaraki. After his defeat at the hands (pun intended; I love this character’s design) of the U.A. students and their teachers, and after being upstaged by Hero Killer: Stain, Tomura finds himself in a bit of a personal crisis. Why are people gravitating toward Stain’s ideology and not his own? What is it that makes Stain an infamous, admirable villain while Tomura remains in obscurity?
Interrupting this introspective moment are two new villains: a disturbing young girl by the name of Himiko Toga who’s on the run from the law following a string of deaths due to blood loss, and a somewhat aloof young man, with a variety of stitches and piercings all over his body, who goes by Dabi. Both of these newcomers are brought in as potential recruits to the League of Villains, but want to follow in the footsteps of Stain, a stance that enrages Tomura.
The good news for our heroes is that these villains have been unable to get their act together. That should change in Season 3, however, since Tomura has apparently found his conviction while searching for the difference between himself and Stain. While the heroes are out shopping at the mall, Tomura isolates Izuku and manages to hold him hostage in broad daylight by threatening to not only disintegrate him, but dozens of innocents in the mall around them; Izuku plays it cool. Tomura, seen for the first time without the detached hands obscuring his face, monologues to Izuku that Stain’s greatest strength was that he followed through on his convictions without turning back, something Tomura himself wasn’t able to do. Additionally, it was All Might’s optimism and 100% confidence in his ability to save people that really got under the skin of both Stain and Tomura. So now Tomura’s own conviction is to destroy All Might’s ideology by showing the hero and the world that he can’t save everyone, and that once that veneer is removed–once that safety net is gone–the savagery and primitive fear of human nature will outstrip the fragility of justice and law. A pretty intense moment for a very interesting villain.
But Tomura Shigaraki isn’t the only ne’er-do-well seen in the finale. The ultimate villain, All For One (a.k.a. Sensei) is seen watching everything unfold behind the scenes. He’s been grooming Tomura as his own apprentice, the next to take on his mantle, though he’s going about this in a more indirect way than All Might’s tutelage of Izuku. This is where the parallel paths of these characters have become a little clearer, so I fully expect the future of My Hero Academia to focus a bit more on the ultimate collision between the forces of supreme good and unfathomable evil in the episodes ahead while also keeping the character-centric development of Izuku and his classmates that has made the show so enjoyable.
Exciting stuff awaits! No word yet on a Season 3 release date, but it’s certainly on the way! Be sure to let us know your thoughts on the future of My Hero Academia in the comments!