This My Hero Academia review contains spoilers.
My Hero Academia Season 6 Episode 19
“Let us protect you.”
“We’re not going to depend on heroes anymore.”
My Hero Academia has told the story of Deku’s ascension to become the world’s greatest hero. There’s no one way to become the best, but Deku’s approach to improvement has involved seasons of playing by the rules, patiently listening, and learning from the pros what it means to be a hero. Deku’s dam of compliant reserve has finally burst and he’s ready to break free and do his own thing. Deku’s vigilantism may be seen as destructive and rebellious, but it’s technically the most fitting way for him to prove that he’s truly a hero for people who have given up on the concept. “Full Power!!” makes for a thrilling return to My Hero Academia that includes an all-star rematch with a vicious juggernaut. However, it also showcases a new side of “Dark Hero Deku” that’s as intimidating as it is inspirational.
“Full Power!!” begins lost in the fallout of the Paranormal Liberation War where society as a whole remains largely shell shocked and unsure how to best defend themselves. Police and amateur heroes, like Grand and Turtle Neck, get sent out to put a band-aid over society’s gaping chest wound. Society only grows more disenfranchised and they reach a point where civilians just want to protect themselves because at least they know that there’s trust there.
Heroes have taken plenty of shots from the public before in My Hero Academia, but this is by far the bleakest state of society. Any heroic figure is deemed problematic, no one can properly do their job, and society is terrified to extend an ounce of trust to a stranger. These friendly figures who were once signs of relief are now just other obstacles to stress over. The public only have themselves, which is tragic, but also the complete opposite of what Pro Hero Society strives towards and, oddly enough, it’s closer to the nihilistic mantra that Hero Killer: Stain preached for the world.
Muscular, a burly villain who hasn’t been important since season three’s Forest Training Camp attack, emerges from the city’s chaos in an attempt to capitalize on his carnage. Muscular’s sinewy design has always made him a visually fascinating villain and he’s never looked better than in “Full Power!!” Grand does his best against this next-level threat as he attempts to vibrate the pure muscle mass into oblivion. Grand and Turtle Neck are effective everyman heroes to filter the start of the episode through before “Dark Deku” makes his bold debut and takes over for these newcomers. It’s time to let a real hero throw their weight around.
Deku genuinely feels like a new character upon his return and this edgier design is the perfect fit for My Hero Academia’s progressively darker tone. “Full Power!!” never teases the idea that Midoriya can’t handle his new strength and that he’s headed towards the dark side, which makes his aggressive look a little more reassuring. Midoriya’s intentions are arguably purer than ever, but Dark Deku’s ferocious front is designed to dissuade villains and assert control through respect. It’s long overdue that Deku sheds his juvenile trappings and embraces a proper Pro Hero status.
Deku’s addition of Gran Torino’s cape to his costume is such a simple, yet fitting touch that honors physical mementos from his mentors just like he carries psychological vestiges of past One For All bearers. Midoriya’s bold return hits even harder–literally–since it’s built up around the villain Muscular. Muscular has history with Midoriya and he’s actively been looking forward to a rematch (and can withstand a 100% Detroit Smash, no less). He isn’t just some random villain. It’s a situation where the audience clearly sees how much Midoriya has grown, emotionally, physically, and as a hero.
Midoriya’s domination over Muscular is really a sight to behold and it’s remarkable how far along he’s come in only a few months time. Deku brilliantly uses his Smokescreen Quirk to stay obscured, all while he communicates with his One For All vestiges, as if they’re some sort of artificial intelligence for his superhero suit. Midoriya effortlessly cycles between his collection of Quirks, at a moment’s notice, to be his best heroic self for any situation. “Full Power!!” breezes through this rematch, but it’s still able to highlight the wildly contrasting mindsets that push Midoriya and Muscular forward here. This is a deadly serious encounter for Midoriya, but Muscular views this rampage as a rare opportunity to make up for lost regrets, which in this case involves properly beating a kid to a pulp rather than showing a percentage of restraint.
Midoriya allows himself to go all out, which is considerably more explosive than the last time his powers clashed with Muscular. “Full Power!!” conjures the proper visuals to back up the characters’ unprecedented strength. There are gorgeous splash panel victory shots that depict Deku in all of his heroic glory. Studio Bones has always done strong work with My Hero Academia, but this season’s animation–if the material from the new opening credits is any indication–is on a whole other level. In a season that has looked great, Dark Deku’s rematch with Muscular is still a major highlight.
The accelerated pace that My Hero Academia has adopted during the second-half of season six has worked in the show’s favor. That being said, if there are any criticisms to be placed on “Full Power!!” then it’s that this speedier tempo overlooks what could have made for a rewarding period of training and self-reflection. Part of the reason that “Full Power!!” works as well as it does is because “Dark Deku” comes as such a sudden shock. This reveal would be weakened if My Hero Academia didn’t opt for a time-skip and instead spent time training with Midoriya and All Might. This remains a minor quibble and there’s still the possibility for My Hero Academia to return to this time period, before Deku enters “Perfect Mode,” through economical flashbacks instead of a whole story arc.
“Full Power!!” is a strong start to My Hero Academia’s final arc and while it doesn’t disappoint it still feels like exactly that–the prelude to something much bigger. “Full Power!!” properly resets the table and teases Midoriya’s newly empowered state as he heads down the lonely path of martyrdom. My Hero Academia continues to knock it out of the park with Deku’s journey and “Full Power!!” proves that he’s truly the one who is worthy enough to end All For One.