Deku goes solo as My Hero Academia prepares for its eventual superheroic end

·3 min read

[Note: This review mentions recent plot events in My Hero Academia’s manga.]

In 2020, The A.V. Club named My Hero Academia one of the year’s best comics. At the time, its lengthy “Paranormal Liberation War” arc provided the requisite heroes vs. villains spectacle while also laying the foundation for Deku and the rest of Class 1-A to face new, bigger threats in 2021. That arc has now ended—and with it, the series has transitioned into its official final act.

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To say the “War” arc ended badly for the heroes is an understatement. Series villain All For One has now taken over the body of his protégé Tomura Shigaraki, and Japan’s remaining heroes who didn’t die or retire are saving citizens actively hostile to their existence. And as for Deku, his power (a.k.a. Quirk) One For All can be detected by All For One, so the green-haired teen left UA to keep his friends away from the chaos that’ll come with the eventual final showdown.

Deku leaving the school to protect his friends makes perfect sense narratively and for his character; it even makes sense how he doesn’t stay in one place for very long, to avoid putting people in danger. If only Deku really had a moment to articulate a thought beyond who he’s currently punching (or preparing to punch) in the face. The character’s friends have all been notably absent from the current “Villain Hunt” arc, and his support system is essentially limited to his mentor All Might, who gets a great dad moment in Chapter 313. We’ll no doubt see the 1-A kids soon, but it’s hard not to feel their absence when one of the series’ high points was seeing Deku play off of, and inspire (or be inspired by), his friends.

Capturing Deku is a high priority for All For One, and the villain who rises up to the task is Lady Nagant. The former assassin for the Hero Society immediately makes a strong impression with her sudden debut in Chapter 311, and the following chapters waste no time in conveying the type of threat she poses with her gun arm—and a new Quirk from All For One that lets her walk on air. Set amidst a rainy evening, it’s an exciting chase sequence that challenges Deku’s mobility; Nagant keeps him on his toes by shooting behind herself and redirecting the bullets to throw him off his game, forcing him to pull out all the stops to defeat her.

As One For All’s Ninth user, Deku can access his predecessors’ Quirks. Chapters 313 and 314 each end with him using Quirks from the Third and Fifth users (kinetic discharge and pinpoint focus, respectively). It may be Deku’s first time with both Quirks, but these flashy debuts show how far he’s come with One For All, and tease what he’ll be capable of when he’s fully mastered his arsenal of powers.