What is a “hero”? When you get down to it, that’s one of the questions Boku no … Academia has been asking right from the beginning. It’s one reason why I wish “Vigilantes” had been adapted and formally adopted into the canon (though Horikoshi has acknowledged it in the main narrative, which is a kind of unofficial seal). It has a lot to say on this subject and it does so in a way which meaningfully enlightens the series’ exploration, and expands on it. If you’re a fan of BnHA and haven’t already, it’s pretty much required reading as far as I’m concerned.
This episode made me think about this question a lot, and make no mistake – All For One is a philosopher at heart. I always get the sense that he does the things he does not out of any conventional evil intent, but as a sort of social experiment to satisfy his relentless intellectual curiosity. Of course the info he planted with Lady Nagant (not yet dead, surprisingly) – “meet me in Haibori Woods in two months” – was a trap. The mansion (which was a hideout of the Creature Rejection Clan, from Episode 126) is rigged with a message from AFO to Deku (and to blow up after playing it – not that he had any desire to kill Deku with that blast or expectation that it would).
That message is a fascinating one for many reasons. All For One throwing back All Might’s words (from without question the series’ signature moment) in Deku’s face is an obvious one. Considering the circumstances when All Might said that, one wonders if AFO heard it at the time or later on. He also tells Deku that the path he’s chosen is a thorny one, for all the reasons already discussed in this space at length. And that “people who experience setbacks in life are called villains… Those that don’t fit in are ostracized. There are no exceptions. It’s a problem from before society. It’s a principle of living in groups.”
An element that makes HeroAca so complicated is that many of the arguments the villains make are impossible to refute. Essentially, what’s critical here is not that the hero society created all the problems – it’s that it’s unable to solve any of them. Which is, in the end, even more damning. And that makes the burden Izuku has chosen to carry alone that much more crushing. Not only is he trying to save people who mostly fear and loathe him, he’s doing it anonymously. And his side and All For One are playing out a merry dance – each trying to draw the other out into the open – that’s heavily tilted against him (and all the more as time passes).
Deku finally deciding to leave All Might behind is very much in-character for him. That makes it no less soul-crushing for Toshinori, who knows he’s responsible for the fate the boy has embraced. This is that moment when a boy finally beats his father at basketball on steroids – Deku wants to protect All Might, and All Might knows he can’t protect Deku. But Deku’s judgment in matters of this sort has always been suspect, and it’s suspect here. He can’t keep up the life he’s leading now, no matter how many of One For All’s quirks he manages to master.
The ones who know Izuku best of course are the ones he’s been living with day in and day out. They know his disregard for his own welfare (a trait he shares with All Might). And among them, it’s Bakugo, his foil since childhood, who knows him best of all. If the world at large is getting closer and closer to the truth about Deku and One For All, Class 1-A is certainly going to figure it out. Their intention to seek him out and fight at his side (it’s not like they’re going to miss any classes) puts them in direct opposition to the hero cabal, but surprisingly Nezu takes their side. And he is the one calling the shots where the students are concerned…
When Bakugo finally catches up to him, Deku is facing off with Dictator, one of the Tartarus escapees and another delegated a task by All For One. Deku seems flummoxed by what Dictator and his quirk throw at him – most likely because he’s completely spent. Kacchan is the ringleader here, no question, and he knows Deku well enough to explode his arguments before he even has a chance to make them. This isn’t about semantics at this point, though, and words aren’t going to wield the power to detour Izuku from the path he’s chosen to walk.
You forget how Ochako was the one who convinced the others to confront Endeavor and Nezu about Deku. Frankly this was the first time in a long time where she has urgency and feels like the main heroine she is supposed to be..
Typo in the 1st paragraph, second sentence – “…that’s one of the questions…”