「僕らの中の人」 (Bokura no Naka no Hito)
“The Ones Within Us”
The game-changers are coming so fast and furious in Boku no Hero Academia that it’s impossible to tell what the game is anymore. If you want an arc with event, “Paranormal Liberation War” has you covered. There’s almost no downtime, to the point where very little that happens is not of major importance in the long-term, never mind the immediate. That’s not totally without risk – some of those events can lose their impact because eventually they just seem normal compared to everything else. But Horikoshi for the most part does a masterful job of avoiding that trap here.
The #1 hero finally delivers his best shot to the #1 villain – thanks to a couple of his son’s friends. And to give Endeavor his due, “Prominence Burn” should have been enough to finish Shigaraki off. Would have, had not someone intervened – and that someone is All For One. Ohtsuka Akio is more than earning his pay at Bones this season, that’s for sure – no matter how good any supporting cast is (and this one is top-shelf) Ohtsuka always stands out. The contemptuous menace he brings to everything he says as All For One dominates any scene he’s in, which makes it very easy to understand why his presence (even as a spectre) annoys Shigaraki so much. He’s desperate to stand up as his own supervillain – he sees this world as his to destroy now,and his stepdad stealing the stage with that is the last thing he wants.
Still, as noted, if Pops hadn’t lent Shigaraki his power he would have been cinders and ash. As for Izuku, the one who intervened to save him (from another of All For One’s stolen quirks) is Bakugo – at the cost of grave injury to himself. As tiresome as Kacchan’s childish acting out can be, it’s always been obvious that it’s a cover, a front. That he deeply admires All Might has never been a secret – even Kacchan admits it. The fact is that he admires Deku too, because he has the same qualities of character All Might does. In his case of course that’s terribly annoying to Bakugo, who on some level surely believes he if anyone should have been All Might’s successor. And that just makes him feel that much more guilty over the way he treated Deku when they were kids.
The alternate dimension (or whatever) that Izuku and Shigaraki are transported to is apparently the nexus of the two quirks, One For All and All For One. As such the presence of those who inherited One For All before Deku is hardly surprising, though it’s only Shimura who makes an appearance here. It manifests differently with AFO of course – those quirks were effectively consumed by All For One, so their original owners became irrelevant apart from the nightmares they sometimes visit upon the thief. All For One’s presence is the only one that matters – and again is extremely vexing for Shigaraki, a reminder that even if (most of) his master’s quirk was transplanted into him, that quirk still belongs to the original. Where the man ends and the quirk begins is impossible to even determine.
This then is truly the confluence, the paths of the two brothers finally converging through their surrogates. Deku is largely a passenger at first, able to do little apart from let Shimura protect him (which All For One cackles about with considerable glee). But since Shimura is effectively a part of him now her strength – and that of all the other holders – is really his own. The fact is that neither he nor Shigaraki are strong enough to do the other in at this point, leaving things more or less at an impasse – at least until outside events might intervene.
The biggest of those outside events is of course Gigantomachia, who continues to power towards ground zero at 100 KMH, leaving a wide swathe of destruction in his wake. The heroes mobilize to cut him off but truly, no one has any real idea how to stop him. They can do little but evacuate as many civilians as they can, including the Yuuei students on-hand. On-board the giant the resident villains monitor events via satellite, while the more thoughtful among them ponder on the events that have already taken place.
In a sense, things are more complicated with these “misfits” than with Shigaraki and All For One. Spinner, Compress, Twice – they’re not interested in world domination (or destruction) so much as fitting in. Toga is basically a sociopath but amoral more than evil – she simply has no concept of right and wrong. As such her interest in trying to reconcile her fascination with Izuku and Ochaco with what heroes did to Twice reflects a sort of growth on her part, ironically. As for Dabi he is as he always was – a guy with his own agenda who keeps his own counsel, and seems to respect villain authority little more than that of the society he rejected (and which rejected him).