「ラストステージ」 (Rasuto Sutēji)
Boku no Hero Academia has always been two cours from the second season onward. But it quite religiously makes its cour-ending episodes feel like season finales, even if – as is the case here – they aren’t actually the end of an arc. While the main battle has reached an obvious transition point, “Paranormal Liberation War” still has a few acts to play out – not enough to fill up the second cour by any means, but not insignificant either.
One could almost argue that Deku has had a relatively small role to play in this arc. Not quite Togashi-esque, but maybe akin to Gon in “Chimera Ant”. His moments have been crucial, but the majority of the time the spotlight has been elsewhere. And he’s spent a good deal of this final battle incapacitated – but then, so has Shigaraki. And that’s no coincidence, given the obvious parallels Horikoshi-sensei is drawing between them. In fact the real MVP of this late-stage conflict has been Best Jeanist, without whose arrival the result would certainly have been very different. If anyone has come across like the #1 hero here, I think it’s been him.
As for Izuku, he’s hearing voices in his head – a voice, anyway. When he’s not feeling a stabbing pain there, that is. There were hints what this might be a few episodes back, but it’s now revealed to be another One For All quirk, “Danger Sense”. It belonged to the as-yet unnamed fourth holder of OFA, and it seems a very useful ability – provided of course that one’s body is not sufficiently wrecked as to be largely useless. That’s been a recurring problem for Izuku and current circumstances are no exception, though the spirit is certainly as willing as the flesh is weak.
On the villain side, the one doing the moving and shaking here is Mr. Compress. And it definitely falls under the heading of taking once for the team, as he gouges out his own flesh in what Best Jeanist calls a fatal wound in order to leverage himself free from Jeanist’s threads. Compress may call himself a side character (and I suppose he is), but he’s the one who manages to buy the others – most of them anyway – a chance to retreat and fight another day. Dabi is still mobile (and increasingly disinterested in Endeavor, since he’s unconscious and can’t be fucked around with), and Toga’s whereabouts are unknown, but Shigaraki and Spinner are securely confined, and Gigantomachhia is out cold.
Once more we see that among the League of Villains at least, the sense of personal loyalty is no different than it is among the heroes. It’s a misfit bunch who pretty much have nothing in common except being a bunch of misfits thrown together – and that’s the point. Some of them have political agendas (like Spinner and to an extent Dabi), some – like Compress and Twice – are really in it for the camaraderie. But they fight for each other, which is a strength the hero side tends to underestimate to its own strategic detriment.
That makes the reality of the current status a pretty big variable, because increasingly it’s All For One who’s driving the bus, and the bus is Shigaraki. How much loyalty will someone like Spinner feel towards him – especially when AFO thinks nothing of leaving his fallen soldiers on the battlefield (practical perhaps, but still distasteful)? It leads one to wonder just how deep the parallels between Shigaraki and Izuku go, especially as they’re being played up so strongly. Time and time again in Boku no Hero Academia we’ve seen that the two competing sides are not always as different as the one would have you believe.