My Hero Academia’s second episode ends with protagonist Izuku Midoriya declaring that this is the story of how he became the greatest hero. The show has made sure every arc and season has been punctuated by a landmark development in Izuku and his classmates’ ambitions of becoming heroes. We’ll explore the evolution of Izuku through his portrayal in the show’s openings, the development of his quirk One For All, and his maturing personality. Spoiler warning for everything up to episode 53 of My Hero Academia!
One of the subtle ways the creative team behind My Hero Academia has managed to highlight Izuku’s growth is through his relationship with the number one hero All Might in the series’ four openings.
In the first opening, All Might lives up to his moniker as the Symbol of Justice, an ideal that middle-school student Izuku can only dream of and can’t come close to reaching. The second opening maintains the distance between the two, but Izuku is now in his U.A. High School training uniform and is a great deal more confident. He doesn’t reach for All Might, but as he watches him soar across the city from his own rooftop, you get the feeling that he now sees All Might as someone within his reach.
The third opening is the biggest leap in their relationship. Izuku now sits proudly next to All Might on a bench in their hero uniforms. He’s coming into his own as an individual and has dealt with his own adversaries. He may not have All Might’s credentials, but he’s proven himself as a hero, something he grew up being told was impossible. In the fourth opening, with All Might having lost his One For All quirk, he gives Izuku a push in his skeletal form so that he can truly move out of All Might’s shadow and become his own person. It’ll be interesting to see how Izuku and All Might’s relationship is portrayed in future theme songs as he now appears to have fully moved past his mentor.
One For All
As a boy, Izuku was diagnosed as being part of the rare minority that is quirkless. Although he was discouraged by his classmates, his mother, and even All Might, Izuku’s desire to become a hero couldn’t be deterred. After Izuku acted against the Sludge Villain that had caught his childhood friend Katsuki Bakugo when no one else would, All Might decided he was worthy of inheriting his quirk One For All.
Izuku’s had a hard time handling his new gifts, his initial use of the power saw him break both of his arms in a gruesome display while saving fellow U.A. High School aspirant Ochaco Uraraka. For a long time, Izuku had to strategize his fights around that weakness. He cleverly reduced the drawback to his fingers to extend his usefulness in fights, but still had to resort to his ingenuity and perfect timing to overcome his obstacles.
Inspired by All Might’s mentor, Gran Torino, Izuku developed One For All: Full Cowling which allowed him to start fighting without sacrificing his body at all. After overexerting himself with a 1000000% Delaware Detroit Smash, a strike that left him incapable of saving Katsuki from being kidnapped and endangered his future as a hero, he altered his fighting style to focus on Full Cowling. His new fighting style revolves around his feet to improve his endurance, reduce the drawback to his long-term health, and help him step out of All Might’s shadow.
Izuku is heavily shaped by Katsuki’s bullying in their childhood. Even though he was bullied, he’s always acted the hero. Whether it was helping those more capable than him like Katsuki, or against bad odds such as protecting another boy from Katsuki and his two friends, he still stood his ground. Over time, he hasn’t just stood his ground but been proactive in how he’s protected people. We first see this in the 2nd episode when he doesn’t simply rush in but comes up with a way to temporarily subdue the Sludge Villain. As he grows into his quirk, it’s not just instinct driving Izuku but confidence, as he faces off with reputable villains like Stain & Muscular.
He also overcame his shyness and anxieties at U.A. High School. Initially, the simple act of interacting with a girl like Ochaco was something that turned him red and mute. He’s become comfortable enough with his U.A. class to participate in activities like swimming, shopping, and camping without shying away. While Izuku has always demonstrated his ability to be a leader, the recent episodes of My Hero Academia showed how far Izuku had come as a hero and leader thanks to his growing self-confidence. As soon as the Provisional Hero License test started, Izuku took the lead for his class, and most of them followed it, highlighting the respect he’s managed to garner from his classmates.
Izuku began My Hero Academia as a quirkless middle-school student with no friends, unwieldy dreams, and a distinct lack of confidence. Over the series’ 53 episodes, he’s gained a quirk that he’s suffered and struggled to gain control over, he’s made friends out of nearly his entire class, and gained their respect and confidence to lead them when they’ve come across obstacles. Faced with the Provisional Hero License test, Izuku is being exposed to a greater world than just U.A. High School. This new arc feels like the true starting point for his journey now that he’s moving past All Might and getting a better understanding of who he is, what he can do, and what he wants to accomplish. This certainly isn’t the end of his evolution, and Honey’s Anime will explore how his character has further progressed throughout the second half of season 3.