The ‘My Hero Academia’ Anime Is Officially In Its Final Saga, And Its Increasingly Dark Tone Is Here To Stay
Say hello to Deku's Batman phase
Season six of My Hero Academia has been one hell of a ride. It was clear from the outset of the season’s second half that events would keep getting darker. I mean, the title of the first episode of cour 2 is best translated as “Hellish Hell.” The exact extent of that hellish plunge has been explored in the second half’s first five episodes. By the end of that fifth episode, “Izuku Midoriya and Tomura Shigaraki,” it was very clear where that plunge has been leading us: into the final saga of My Hero Academia.
In that fifth episode, My Hero Academia committed to its increasingly dark tone with a single, heretofore unthinkable action. This is notable because the series’ tone has, at times, fluctuated. An arc in which Midoriya is able to “artificially” use 100% of One For All for the first time to beat a terrifying, formidable villain is immediately followed by an arc focusing on a school festival. This dual tone of My Hero Academia—the escalating high-stakes shounen vs the high school (almost) slice-of-life—has basically become an easy “anime debate”-starter. Some people are down for the whole smorgasbord of feels. Others love when all the UA students just get to hang out. Some are annoyed when the series takes a long break from the big battles.
To my own surprise, I’ve historically leaned more towards the last option. (While initially skeptical, I really ended up liking the School Festival arc. The inter-class scrimmages which started season 5 almost lost me, though.) I’ve found myself sucked into My Hero Academia‘s ever-increasing stakes and blossoming moral grayness. But what lies ahead might make even me feel nostalgic for those carefree days of singing at the school festival.
The Dark Hero Arc Begins
Spoilers below for My Hero Academia up to episode 131
Something unthinkable happened in episode 131. Something which completely erases the possibility of dipping into that second, carefree, “high school kids hanging out” side of My Hero for, perhaps, the rest of its run. Something which goes against the freaking title of the show.
Deku left UA.
This move was presented in no uncertain terms. Deku wrote letters to all his classmates in 1-A, explaining himself and signing off with, “Sayounara.” Sayounara is one of those words whose deeper meaning gets lost in translation. It was translated as “goodbye,” but it’s a “goodbye” you only use if you won’t be seeing someone for a long, long time. If ever again. Sayounara is a very final-sounding “goodbye.” It’s the kind of sign-off a shounen character says before he heads to his death.
I’m not saying Deku’s going to die (I genuinely don’t know), but things are looking grim. What follows is called the Dark Hero arc. This arc also a nickname among fans: “the Dark Deku arc.” I’m an anime-only My Hero Academia fan, so I can’t tell you what lies ahead. But it looks dark and intense and intriguing. This is a new MHA where Eraserhead has a badass eyepatch. I’m nervous as hell, but I’m all in.
Related: Who Created Anime? on Twinfinite
The Tangible Final Saga Vibes
Deku says during the preview that what lays ahead is the final story of how he became the greatest hero. On one hand, we have the state of MHA‘s Japan—utterly destroyed cities, out of control crime and violence, widespread distrust and anger towards heroes (and understandably so). On the other, we have the rapid escalation of the development of Deku’s One For All, triggered by the parallel developments in All For One. The series has finally created conditions where Deku’s ascension makes sense.
When Deku said, way back in episode one, that he would become the greatest hero, I assumed I’d be watching him grow throughout all three of his high school years. Obviously, that’s not going to be the case. The tantalizing, exciting thing about long-awaited final sagas is that those early-series promises, which seemed so far-fetched, feel like an actual point on the visible horizon. This is happening in One Piece as well. So many emotions. Emotions everywhere.
Where My Hero Academia currently stands, I can look back at the School Festival arc and feel the full extent of the purposefulness of its inclusion. (The Joint Training Arc, too, I guess, but it was just long.) In the scope of the full series’ tone, that juxtaposition feels necessary. Given what lies ahead now, and that one of their teachers is dead, Class 1-A deserved some time to just be high school kids, to have some joy. Without that joy—and as impossible as this take may have seemed at the time—MHA may have ended up feeling too sadistic overall.
Because, given what I’ve gleaned from MHA manga readers, it doesn’t seem like the series will lighten up again from this point out. The manga is still ongoing and is potentially set to end this year. So we’ve still got some time, but we’re officially in the storm of the final saga. Things are going to continue on this darker tone. Hell, Deku’s entering his Batman Phase. Buckle up.
(Image credit: Bones)
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]