「ワン・フォー・オール」 (Wan Fou Ouru)
“One For All”

True heroes don’t just save lives. They save hearts, too.

Shimura Nana is the most fleshed out character we’ve never met. We don’t know everything about her, not by a long shot. But in short moments, in lines and lessons passed down to the ones who came after and traveled along with her, we know who she is. It’s incredibly economy of storytelling, to be able to convey a character in so comparitvely few words, but it was done wonderfully. If we got a Shimura Nana prequel manga about her versus a Shimura Nana imposter, I feel like I would be able to pick out which one is the real deal. We’ve gotten the essence of a great character, and I’m sad that she’s passed. She would have been fun to travel with as well.

There is so much to unpack in this episode, I know I won’t do it justice. There are issues of the wisdom of All Might’s original goal, to become a pillar upon which everyone’s hopes could rest. What happens when the man behind the symbol falters? That’s what All For One tried to test, but All Might had one better on him, because he knows the hero isn’t in the quirk. It’s Best Jeanist or Tusyu-chan all over again. It’s the person behind the mask that matters.

It remains, though, that without the power to halt this villain, all the grand ideals would have meant nothing; the rubber must meet the road at some point. And All Might had him there too, by drawing on the most poetic of sources. Who’s to say the old dog can’t learn new tricks, and the teacher can’t learn from the student? All Might certainly learned from Izuku, borrowing his unsightly tactics to hit All For One where he least expected it. As a symbolic end of an era, it doesn’t get much better than that.

The entire battle was so full of tension, in which it seemed like All Might would win. Certainly, right? But maybe not. Thematically it makes the most sense that he would; All For One was All Might’s villain, while Shigaraki is Izuku’s. The torch needs to be passed on both sides for Izuku’s story to truly take over. But it kept moving too quickly, and too many things were happening, for it to feel like a sure thing. It was wonderful.

I’m also so heartened by the reaction of the crowds. It reminds me of The Dark Knight, where we’re led to think that the crowds will eat each other, and they do not. Here, would despair set in? Would the people abandon All Might and lose faith in heroes when his frailty is revealed, his defeat televised? They did not. All Might’s Symbol of Peace plan may have been unwise, for it builds peace upon the back of one man, and all men falter eventually. But his work went deep. He told a story people wanted to believe, and he’s held up his end of the bargain. They did as well. When the going got tough, the people still believed in All Might, they didn’t despair, no matter how weak he looked. They still believed. I think the public at large should have taken All Might’s final line to mean them, that All Might is passing the torch on to everybody this time, and it’s their turn to build the better society with what he’s left them. (Maybe it’s good to see your heroes falter sometimes…) But at least they proved they’re better than All For One thought they were. People are generally decent when it comes down to it.

“Next, it’s your turn.”

Finally, there is that final line. I’ve already said how I thought the public at large should have taken from it. For Izuku, though, it’s full of almost menace. His hero and teacher is quirkless again, and One For All rests entirely within him. He must be the hero now, because All Might will not be there to save him. It’s no surprise that he cried—and Katsuki is looking on. Katsuki is not a dumb boy. I wouldn’t be surprised if he figured something out.

I could go on, and quote half of this episode to show how much I love this show. I’ll end on just one thought, though: All Might’s United States of Smash. How cool is it that one of the most American heroes ever created is from Japan? It’s perhaps Boku no Hero Academia’s most potent love letter to American comics. It’s totally awesome.

My SECOND novel, Freelance Heroics, is available now! (Now in print!) (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Sign up for my email list for updates. At stephenwgee.com, the latest post: Risk Tolerance in the Creative Life.




  1. His “United States Of Smash” was almost as epic as his Plus Ultra gut punch to the Nomu in episode 12, but then again, that also had the super hype “You say run”-theme in the background. XD

    1. Well, with AM out of the way, the new No. 1 hero and pillar of society is Endeavor, a flame-haired, rich, elite jerk with a massive inferiority complex towards the previous #1, whose past misdeeds (e.g. his treatment of his family) may eventually bring him down – and society’s faith in heroes with him. So the retirement of the hero embodying everything great about America may not be entirely irrelevant to the real world…

      1. I don’t think he’s as simple as that. There are layers to this character that we just really don’t know yet. Same story as with Katsuki or Stain. They are not your typical bully and evil villain. There is depth in writing that changes them into flawed humans.

      1. An economy is more complex than a topline growth number. But this ain’t the place to talk about that. I suggest doing your research from weekly or monthly periodicals that will cut out the day-to-day noise, or at least pick a few highly regarded international news sources.

    2. I said it was a love letter to American comics for a reason. I’m all for ridiculing a certain fuckwit who’s making a mockery of my country, but it’s besides the point. Horikoshi-sensei is allowed to celebrate the parts of American comics culture that he so clearly enjoys without having to answer for what Tangelo Mussolini and his cronies are up to.

    3. The creator of the series was a fan of American comics. Mainly Marvel heroes like Spider-Man as Midoriya is partly based on. All-Might is in essence a homage to all the heroes from these American comic book. Nothing to do with America since nobody cares now

      Captain America once rebeled against the US government during the Civil War event. So there

  2. This episode was so damn strong on the feels, specially how everyone reacted to All Might’s true form being revealed (it almost felt like in their shock they will turn aganist him) which made it more potent when they started cheering for him regardless of how he looks.

    But i still have some issues, for example if Aizawa (Eraserhead) rushed to the fighting site as soon as All for One appeared he could have easily shutdown all of his quirks and made it very easy for All Might to win (sure that would have made the fight less interesting but they didn’t give any reason why Aizawa didn’t help and stood there watching everything on TV).

    Then there is issue of keeping All for One alive, it’s very unwise to do that, i actually expected him to be dead after taking that United States of Smash in his face, but he survived that, so do we assune he is immortal (unkillable) or what, i don’t think you can actually imprison a guy with so many quirks and so much power for so long, there must be some quirk or method to remove his quirks, otherwise he seems impossible to kill and impossible to imprison (and they only managed to capture him because he was worn out from his fight with All Might, but as soon as he recovers he will yet again become unstoppable).

    And finally i think after the reveal that Shigaraki is Shimura Nana’s grandchild we need to see his full back story to understand how things turned out this bad, what went wrong, why was he abandoned like that, and why he hates All Might and heroes so much.

    1. To be fair, we saw during the short fight between Aizawa and Nomu (back in season 1) that Aizawa can only shut down one quirk at a time, demonstrated when he realised his quirk is ineffective against Nomu precisely due to the many quirks within that one body.

      So even against All for One, Aizawa could have only cancelled 1 out of the 8 quirks used in that final, monstrous punch (for as long as he doesn’t blink!). And even that’s assuming he doesn’t accidentally cancel one of the other countless quirks All for One has (such as shockwave), making his possible contribution negligible.

      1. …demonstrated when he realised his quirk is ineffective against Nomu precisely due to the many quirks within that one body.

        (*rewatches episode 11 of season 1*)

        No, that’s not what happened. Aizawa realized that Nomu’s muscle strength was base-strength unrelated to a quirk, so he was unable to stop Nomu from breaking his arm like a twig. Aizawa himself even says that he definitely erased the Nomu’s quirk.

    2. Wot Sekai sed. Plus there’s the distance issue, in that I don’t think Aizawa-sensei was close enough to get there. Of course Horikoshi-sensei could have made him be closer if he wanted him to be in that battle, but he didn’t, so more reasons why he didn’t rush out.

      As for keeping All For One alive, I’m not sure All Might could have killed him, really. I dunno, this just doesn’t feel like the kinda story where All For One comes back—or at least, not in this dude’s body. In Shigaraki’s, though…

      1. Fair enough, if Aizwa can only erase,one quirk per person at a time then he might not have been very useful in this fight (although he can erase quirks from multiple people at the same time).

  3. 10/10 episode, that was a masterpiece.
    I feel as though the manga page captured Endeavor’s despair at how he treated his family to chase this one goal, and how the ends hadn’t justified the means, so he’s just left with the abuse, a little better, only because it didn’t need to use stock images and this one added line after despair:


    1. I don’t love that. He seems to be blaming All Might for his sins. He might have felt driven into a corner by All Might’s power and success, but he made those decisions (or acted on those emotions), and just because he had a “reason” doesn’t absolve him in the least. If he had a legit mental imbalance—if his brain chemistry was literally betraying him—then maybe. Maybe. But he doesn’t have an excuse anywhere near that good. He fucked up, bad, and he still hasn’t even tried to make it right. it’s his fault, no matter the reason.

      1. I don’t see how it sounds as though he’s blaming All Might, it’s describing the process that lead to Endeavor doing what he did, and how it made him feel.

        >Wanted to be stronger
        >Felt despair at the distance between All Might and himself
        >Horikoshi uses All Might’s back as a way to connect Endeavor’s struggle to the present, and play off Endeavor’s ego in a way that would realistically make him “cheer” for his one sided rival.

        This doesn’t mean Endeavor isn’t, hasn’t, or won’t deflect blame for his crimes, only that I don’t see this page as evidence of that.

        Whenever someone who’s “problematic” like Endeavor has a part of their psyche explained there seems to be a million barriers put before it, by those discussing the subject, to express how much fault/blame/culpability they have, as people seem more wrapped up inn the idea of “personal responsibility” and how all common thought on morality hinges on independent agency, as without that a whole nother can of worms is opened on ethics/empathy/crime & punishment etc. etc.

        (And if we really want to get into, all people are is chemicals/physics, so just as all reasoned people recognise that the onus for Mamaroki’s mental break is not on her despite how people generally view “free will,” we could easily stretch that general principle other places.)

        Anyways, I agree with the idea of what you said, just that it’s not applicable to the scene entirely, and that it’s pretty perfect in what it’s supposed to represent, which is that Endeavor is having a mental break as he sees clearly that all the wrong he wrought in his quest to surpass All Might has all been for nought, and that the ends never had and never would justify the means.

  4. There was a price to be paid, and All Might gladly paid it if it meant he stays as the pillar, the symbol of justice till the very end. That’s heart wrenching and warming at the same time. Like oh my god. I didn’t think I’d ever admire a super hero so much in my life, and I’ve watched almost all super hero films under the sun. This was beautiful, glorious, awesome, and sad, all at the same time.

    1. You took the words right out of my mouth. This is the only anime or show I have had to rewatch twice because it was so good. All Might is what all heroes should aspire to. Not afraid to learn new tricks, stand up for what he believes in, protect the innocent but at the same time still flawed but understands what it means to be a symbol to the ppl. “He is still working”. Damn. All for One is also one of the best villians in recent memory…surely the best for 2018 so far. Great episode and so layered. Curious to see where it goes next. Resisting the urge to read the manga.

    1. Because he’s a wife beater and child abuser. That doesn’t mean he’s beyond saving, I believe most people can earn forgiveness, but he hasn’t done any of the work to even try to make things right. Until he does, he’ll remain those things in my eyes. Doesn’t mean he can’t still do good, but he’ll remain what people see when they see Katsuki—a barely restrained monster who’s on the side of good, for now. Only Katsuki hasn’t done anything evil, he just seems like he could, while Endeavor…

      1. @Thump

        As Stilts mentions above, Endeavor comes off far more like he’s trying to blame his own actions towards his own wife and son on All Might – that it’s only because of All Might that he pushed himself so hard and, as a result, did those things to them (and other women who had “failed” children in his eyes).


        There’s a thing called “show, don’t tell”. If they simply have Endeavor make amends completely off-panel/screen, it would be a HUGE disservice to everyone involved (himself, his wife, Shoto, All Might, etc.) as well as the readers/viewers.

      2. What HalfDemonInuyasha said. If these were real people, I would be open to hearing about what he’d done to make things right that I hadn’t been informed of so far. This is a story, though, and if Endeavor had done something, we’d know. He might still do that—it looks like the story will stick with him at least a little longer—but until that happens, he is what he is. And even then, forgiveness won’t come easy.

      3. Not to his family he hasn’t. Forgiveness requires acceptance of one’s wrong-doing, actual remorse at the damage caused, and some attempt at restitution or penance. Endeavor has done none of these. His good works in other areas don’t make up for his sins among his family, though certainly it’s preferable to him being a bastard all the way through. Doesn’t mean he’s earned forgiveness, though.

    2. Endeavor is still a big issue for the show to deal with and honestly a huge threat to the hero system. Tomura wants to chip away at the reputation and belief in heroes? Just reveal the truth about Endeavor being an abusive husband and father. That guy should be in jail and only avoids it because no one has spoken up about it. He has done good things in the span of handling his job. He’s an effective hero on the job and certainly has earned his position as #2. But…he’s also a terrible person. That someone with those kinds of skeletons in his closet is such a prominent hero is something that could be so easily used to rip the system apart.

      There is room for Endeavor to start making amends. But we haven’t seen it yet. He’s still the kind of immature person who blames All Might for his failings. All Might didn’t make Endeavor basically buy his wife from her family, beat her, beat his children, or try to turn them into weapons that can fulfill the goals he’s incapable of. I’m not even sure it’s possible for his family to ever forgive him. But it certainly can’t happen until he starts growing up and taking responsibility for his actions.

  5. Not going to lie, I teared up a lot towards the end of this episode.. Before Midoriya event mentioned the true meaning of All Might’s “You are next”, that’s how I took it too which made it even sadder. This episode also proved that All Might IS really a number one hero for a reason.

  6. A small detail that they missed in the anime, as the trapped lady is screaming at All might to save them and All Might finds his resolve to fight, he is actually crying. I don’t know I just felt that that really illustrated how despaired All Might got at that revelation and the strength of his new found resolve

  7. No other anime has me consistently in my feelings like this one. I’m grown and married with a kid and I still cry every time. “He’s still working.” I realized with this anime that I finally understood what it means to be a hero. Batman and the X-men didn’t really make me see. Maybe I was too young then, but from the first time All Might stepped in to fight the Nomu back at USJ and he said “It’s OK, because I am here!” , I got it. This man will make sure you will be alright. If you are within his reach, he will give everything to save you. And now even when he gave all his power to put down All for One, even when he had nothing in the tank, that gas light was on and the needle was pointing to E, he made sure to be the hero everyone needed right to the end. That hope is what All Might is, and I really get that now.

    The Walker
  8. It’s interesting how much can change without the built-in wall of a translated manga page, actually being able to hear All For One has made me really see him in a new light. He comes off surprisingly childish, in a lot of ways. The taunting and mockery was always there, but his use of “boku” and occasional stretched out words really sell it.

    I guess being all-powerful through basically your entire life could easily have that kind of effect.

      1. Remember though, All Might wasn’t always all-powerful. Toshinori, like Izuku after him, was originally quirkless. That means they both grew up powerless, and developed their personalities like that. That’s why they have this Steve Rogers quality to them—they were the weaklings who were made strong, but never forgot what it meant to be weak.

        Endeavor, on the other hand, is more like Katsuki, whose power went to their heads since a young age. hopefully Katsuki will not repeat Endeavor’s mistakes, and let bullying be the worst of his sins.

  9. What I love is that All Might never banked everything on just fighting villains. You can see through the show his efforts to speak on talk shows and constantly get himself out there to motivate the people. This fight was his likely last heroic showdown, but his true accomplishment can be seen in the people. The visuals of the students all watching, the people cheering him on, etc. Sure on some level you can see the danger of people being too reliant on a single pillar. But that pillar has allowed for peace to settle in and given people a chance to foster it themselves. He’s sparked entire generations to follow his example.

    The future may be uncertain, but it is in Deku and the other kids of his generation that will prove All Might’s value. His inspiration for people to want to be heroes and not follow a darker path will likely make the difference.

    And I do love how we get to understand Nana very well for someone who is dead before the show starts. We get her ideals, her beliefs, what she imparted on All Might, and even how she met her end. They give us enough to make us feel like we know this person.

    Awesome episode.

    1. Hearts and minds. All Might knows it’s all about hearts and minds. Only the kinds of people who talk about winning hearts and minds are usually the type who are incapable of doing it. All Might just did it. He lived as a great example, out where everyone can see him, and was truly good to the core. He knew the story of All Might was as important as the reality of All Might. He truly understands heroing better than perhaps any of person, fictional of otherwise, I’ve ever seen.

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