Let’s Go Beyond and Summarize All of the Story Arcs in “My Hero Academia”
Plus ultra story telling.
Slight spoilers for My Hero Academia (anime and manga)
I got into My Hero Academia during its third season, which aired back in 2018. Back then, it didn’t take me too much time to get caught up on everything, but as we head toward the sixth season we’re sitting at over 100 episodes and a little over 350 manga chapters. If you’re new to the franchise (or just want a nifty guide of everything that’s happened so far), here’s a list of all of the story arcs that have happened. I’ll go through the anime first before going into the manga.
The first anime season, aka, “Remember when Deku was a smol bean?”
This is where we first meet the series protagonist, Izuku “Deku is the name of a hero” Midoriya, who has big dreams of becoming a hero like All Might – the number one hero he looks up to. We learn that in this world, most of the population is born with some kind of power (quirk), but Deku is one of the few that wasn’t. This severely limits his chances of becoming a hero, something that his childhood friend (big question mark here until further notice), Katsuki Bakugo, belittles him about. However, a chance encounter with All Might sets things in motion for Deku to not only get a quirk of his own, but he gets to attend the top hero school in the country, U.A.
Entrance Exam Arc: The quirkless Izuku Midoriya (Deku) meets his idol, All Might, who passes down his quirk, One For All, since it turns out he was looking for a successor for his quirk since he’s secretly too injured to keep fighting for much longer. Deku manages to get into U.A. while All Might becomes a teacher.
Quirk Apprehension Test Arc: Deku has to learn how to use his new quirk without damaging his body because One For All is too powerful for him to handle. He and his classmates have their quirks assessed by best teacher, Aizawa.
Battle Trial Arc: The students have a “heroes vs villains” test where they have to go up against each other. Deku is put up against Bakugo. What could possibly go wrong?
U.S.J. Arc: What’s a good hero story without some villains? The school gets attacked.
The second anime season, aka, “Time to become a Todoroki stan.”
Now that we’ve met all of the kids in Deku’s class (Class 1A) it’s time for a good old fashion shonen anime tournament arc. The kids are put to the test in front of a live studio audience, leading to some monumental battles and major backstory reveals for particular students like Shoto Todoroki, the son of the number two hero, Endeavor. While that’s going on, there’s a villain on the loose killing heroes who he feels make a mockery of the title. Did I mention that the kids also have final exams coming up?
U.A. Sports Festival Arc: It’s a tournament, you know, for kids! Perfect time for a couple of backstories.
Vs. Hero Killer Arc: There’s a hero killer on the loose named Stain who ends up targetting Class 1A’s president, Iida’s older brother. Questions are raised as to what makes a good hero as Iida struggles with his desire for revenge.
Final Exams Arc: Class 1A has their final exams, but since this is hero school, “finals” means “a test where you have to go up against your teachers.” Deku and Bakugo are forced to work together to try and stop their childhood hero, All Might.
The third anime season, aka, “Holy SHIT things escalated quickly!”
The villains make a major move by kidnapping Bakugo, who they want to join their group. The main villain, All For One, goes up against All Might. These two have clashed once before, and All For One has clear ties to All Might (and now Deku’s) quirk, One For All. The battle ends up being All Might’s last stand. Now forced to retire, hero society tries to cope without having their number one hero.
Forest Training Camp Arc: Class 1A and 1B get together to train in the forest, but Shigaraki and the League of Villains attack, leading to Bakugo getting kidnapped.
Hideout Raid Arc: All of the pro-heroes are on deck to try and rescue Bakugo. Meanwhile, Deku and a few of his friends are restless and decide to go after “Kacchan” themselves. All For One makes his move against All Might, leading to a colossal battle where All For One is defeated. The price? All Might can no longer use his quirk and is forced to retire.
Provisional Hero License Exam Arc: Students from different hero schools come together to take the exam that’ll determine if they’re ready to get their hero license, which will allow them to officially fight against villains. Afterward, Bakugo confronts Deku about his quirk, his connection to All Might, and everything he’s feeling about All Might’s retirement. It’s time for a climactic rival battle.
The fourth anime season, aka, “The Yakuza?!?!”
A new school semester has begun and Class 1A meets U.A.’s “Big 3,” the third-year students who represent the best that the school has to offer. Class 1A is set to begin internships where they’ll work directly with heroes, but while Deku teams up with Mirio of the Big 3 under Sir Nighteye (All Might’s former sidekick), they run into a dangerous villain named Chisaki Kai. Meanwhile, society tries to move on without All Might, putting the number two hero in the top spot by default.
Shie Hassaikai Arc: Deku continues his streak of “can’t have a normal school day” by running into a Yakuza boss during his internship. Things get worse when said Yakuza boss, Chisaki Kai, teams up with the League of Villains.
Remedial Course Arc: Not everyone can celebrate getting their hero license. The students that failed the exam have to take remedial courses, which proves to be a good lesson in growth for them, and even Endeavor.
U.A. School Festival Arc: Deku continues his streak of “can’t have a normal school day” but at least it’s not a Yakuza boss this time. Also, everyone prepares for the school festival the way a regular school would do (I’m actually serious, the kids start a band).
Pro Hero Arc: The arc where we get to meet everyone’s favorite winged hero, Hawks, and the muscled “step on me” bunny hero, Mirko. Endeavor gets his moment to prove himself as the number one hero.
Where things get messy: the fifth anime season
Deku learns some new things about his quirk the hard way, because of course he does. Meanwhile, he and Bakugo have begun to meet with All Might together to discuss Deku’s quirk and its connection with All For One. While that’s going on, Todoroki asks the two boys to join him in his internship at Endeavor’s agency. That’s all well and good, but we’re long overdue for a villain takeover, so let’s get some backstories for Shigaraki and some of the others.
Note: the anime presents this out-of-order from the manga.
Joint Training Arc: Class 1A and 1B attempt to train together again, leading to Deku’s quirk going out of control and the discovery that One For All isn’t just a singular quirk.
Endeavor Agency Arc: Todoroki asks Deku and Bakugo to join him at Endeavor’s agency for an internship. While there, Deku and Bakugo get to see just how tense things are with Endeavor and his children after the way he’s treated them. (Note: in the manga this comes AFTER the Meta Liberation Army Arc to set up the big Paranormal Liberation War Arc)
Meta Liberation Army Arc: A new group of villains known as the Meta Liberation Army clash with the League of Villains. The battle leads to an awakening with Shigaraki, the reveal of his tragic backstory, and a foreboding coming together of both villain groups.
The start of the Paranormal Liberation War Arc: Now that the two villain groups have come together, it’s time for the heroes to move as Shigaraki is in the process of becoming an even bigger threat. What a way to start the new school year at U.A., especially with these big reveals about two of the villains – and I promise, there’s more where that came from.
What’s going on with the manga, are we really in the endgame?
The short answer to that question is “yes.” The much longer answer is here.
The rest of the Paranormal Liberation War Arc: Yeah so. Um. The villains win this one. Hero society collapses. Lots of devastating truths are revealed, there are major moments of character growth, and the heroes have to attempt to pick up the pieces – especially the bits that are their fault.
Tartarus Escapees Arc: Villains have escaped Tartarus (the super dangerous prison for them) and Deku goes rogue, deciding to handle All For One himself so no one else can get hurt.
Stars and Stripes Arc: Foreign heroes are called in to attempt to battle Shigaraki, including America’s number one hero, Stars and Stripes.
U.A. Traitor Arc: Once upon a time there was talk about there being a traitor at U.A. working for All For One. Now, we know who the traitor is, and the heroes try and figure out where to go from here.
Where we are now: The heroes have split into groups to take on the villains in one final confrontation that’ll probably take many, MANY manga chapters to get through.
My Hero Academia also has several other forms of media. Some don’t require you to know the main plot, like the three movies (My Hero Academia: Two Heroes, My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising, and My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission), the Team-Up Missions manga, and the School Briefs light novels. However, if you want deeper context to certain parts of the series, My Hero Academia: Vigilantes is worth looking into. You get to see backstories for characters like Aizawa, but you also get to see the hero world from the perspective of someone who didn’t take the “proper steps” in becoming a hero, which makes him a vigilante.
You can watch all of My Hero Academia over at Crunchyroll. You can also check out the manga over at Viz!
(Image: © K. Horikoshi/Shueisha, My Hero Academia Project)
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