Even though My Hero Academia has a bright and colorful aesthetic, evoking the simplicity of Silver Age superhero comics and old-school shounen, its world is anything but simple. Ever since the first season, we’ve seen that villains are genuinely scary and that hero society has plenty of cracks ready to swallow up the less fortunate. But now, with All Might gone and the Paranormal Liberation Front gathering steam, things are looking bleaker than ever. So how does My Hero Academia handle its darkest arc yet? Find out in our review of the first cour of Season 6!
The Past Never Dies...
Season 5 took some flak from fans for being pretty much all set-up and no pay-off (and trying to fill the action quota with mostly unimportant battles between classes 1-A and 1-B), but all of that groundwork is finally coming in handy now that the heroes and villains are facing off in their biggest confrontation yet. A lot happens in just twelve episodes, with dozens of characters fighting and revealing plot twists one after another, to the point where it almost feels like too much at once. However, we’re willing to overlook that pacing issue because it effectively puts the viewers into the protagonists’ shoes; everything is overwhelming, tragedies keep piling up, and at the end of it all, everyone is exhausted.
The biggest pay-off from previous seasons is, of course, Dabi’s reveal as Touya Todoroki. Manga readers had been looking forward to this moment for years, and the anime version definitely doesn’t disappoint. With Endeavor, Shoto, and the entire world watching, Dabi exposes his identity as the oldest Todoroki son and thoroughly roasts his father for every abuse he’s ever committed (as well as airing video of Hawks’ morally questionable killing of Twice). The voice acting is just as deranged as we hoped it would be, the animation captures Dabi’s twisted facial expressions perfectly, and the music amplifies the dread everyone feels as the scales fall from their eyes. All Might losing his powers was a big blow to society, but now... who can even trust heroes anymore?
...But Heroes Certainly Can
Speaking of heroes, this season has the largest number of injuries and deaths for the side of good that we’ve seen thus far. While there are some exciting victories among the carnage – our favorites being Mirko’s rampage against the Nomus and the joint effort to immobilize Gigantomachia – it feels like it’s all for nothing. Shigaraki is revived, most of the important PLF members get away, and the battlefield is littered with broken heroes. And you know it’s serious when Midnight, a light-hearted teacher who always brought a sense of risqué silliness to any scene, is declared dead. She was a lot like Twice, but for the UA crew, so with both of them brutally killed, we’ve truly entered the Dark Age.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. The Dark Age of superhero comics in the ‘90s, as well as long war arcs in shounen like Naruto and Bleach, have been criticized for being so unrelentingly dour that they’re no longer interesting to follow. And if your favorite parts of My Hero Academia are the more upbeat episodes in the earlier seasons, we can’t blame you if you feel alienated by this tonal shift. However, we think that the transition was done well, especially since the stakes had been gradually ramping up for a long time and you can trace the plot twists in this season all the way back to their planning stages dozens of episodes ago. And don’t worry – it’s not going to be all darkness all the time from now on, but it’ll definitely be more like The Dark Knight than Adam West’s Batman for a while.
Season 6 of My Hero Academia hit the ground running with a barrage of episodes that left everyone – characters and viewers alike – stunned in its wake. Now we just have to wait and see whether the second half of the season can channel that momentum into a new arc that pushes our heroes to their limits more than ever before.
What did you think of our review? How have you been liking My Hero Academia Season 6 so far? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!