My Hero Academia Season 6 Pulls Off An Old-Fashioned Jailbreak
Shigaraki goes above and beyond to finally reunite with All For One and push the villains' power to harrowing heights.
This My Hero Academia review contains spoilers.
My Hero Academia Season 6 Episode 15
“Still, I’m alive…”
My Hero Academia has reached a bit of a standstill between its heroes and villains after the cataclysmic events of the Paranormal Liberation War. While this encounter wasn’t technically a victory for either side, it’s the villains who are able to move freely and continue to realize their dreams while U.A. High’s strongest resources are still largely contained to hospital beds. Rest is necessary, but “Tartarus” illuminates just how important it is for the heroes to jump back in action as Shigaraki pulls off the villains’ greatest coup to date.
“Tartarus” is an episode of My Hero Academia follows a terrifyingly simple trajectory where Shigaraki wants something and then spends the entire episode systemically completing this goal while everyone else is helpless to stop him. What makes this so terrifying in “Tartarus” is that Shigaraki’s particular goal is to spring All For One free from the maximum security prison, Tartarus. Just another average Saturday…
My Hero Academia has repeatedly proven that Tartarus is no joke, yet this episode makes the jail look simultaneously the most fierce and pathetic that it’s ever been. There are literally thousands of bullets that are fired as Tartarus’ top technological security attempts to stop Shigaraki and his army of High-End Nomu. The endless whir of bullets just becomes background noise to these villains and it doesn’t slow them down in the slightest. If anything, “Tartarus” underscores the nigh-invincible status that Shigaraki has reached.
Shigaraki effortlessly and expertly cycles through Quirks and mentally communicates with All For One so that every single one of his decisions is a calculated strategy of perfection. It’s genuinely chilling and “Tartarus” adds to this tension with how the episode largely stays on Shigaraki’s vicious jailbreak rather than juxtapose it with Deku or any of the heroes’ progress (although their perspective isn’t wholly absent here). “Tartarus” doesn’t need to remind the audience of the heroes’ optimism or strength since this installment thrives through its celebration of just how perfect Shigaraki has become.
Shigaraki’s takedown on Tartarus is so destructive that it looks like it’s the aftermath of some massive kaiju or mecha attack. The Nomu have always been a decent danger to society, but in “Tartarus” they’ve never seemed more intimidating. They easily deflect artillery as if they’re pebbles. It also cannot be stressed enough how terrifying All For One looks in his heavily scarred husk of a body who constantly looms and gloats over humanity.
The purpose for all of this prison peril is primarily to free All For One, but that’s not Shigaraki’s only goal here. He’s instrumental in the release of multiple incarcerated heavy-hitters, like Muscular, who are now back in the mix. Spinner also goes through his introspective arc of disillusionment over a very concentrated period of time. One of the biggest advantages to Shigaraki’s prison break is that it marks the introduction of Lady Nagant. “Tartarus” keeps this female antagonist’s purpose and power a mystery, but audiences likely know that she’s set to be a major player in what’s to come if the new opening credits are to be taken at face value. There’s only a tease of Lady Nagant at this point, but she’s already an exciting new pawn on Shigaraki and All For One’s chessboard.
This chaos is accompanied by an extended primer on All For One’s legacy, which is appropriate considering his return to freedom. A lot of these details have been previously covered, albeit not from the villains’ own perspective. Every fact that’s presented also hits with a greater impact since All For One is now loose and a tangible threat and not just some boogeyman from a precautionary history lesson. On that note, each episode from this season of My Hero Academia further validates Hero Killer Stain’s wild claims from all the way back in season two. It would not at all be surprising if “Stain Was Right” graffiti begins to accompany the growing traces of anti-hero propaganda.
“Tartarus” also plays with a curious stylistic element that alerts the audience of what time it is during certain pivotal moments of the villains’ plan of attack. These punctual check-ins are largely superfluous, but they do reinforce how much carnage Shigaraki can accomplish in only a few minutes’ time. Every second that passes is another moment where the villains gain greater power.
The final-third of “Tartarus” shifts to the heroes in recovery mode, particularly Bakugo, who’s able to reflect back on the final moments of the heroes’ concentrated front during the Paranormal Liberation War. A lot of this is played for laughs and becomes a contrasting source of levity in “Tartarus,” especially the moments with Mineta. However, there’s still a somber edge to this material, like Gran Torino and Eraser Head’s dire states in the hospital. Many of U.A. High’s students are crestfallen to experience true pain and shame for the first time.
It’s not exactly surprising, but it’s appreciated that My Hero Academia continues to highlight just how messed up Endeavor and Shoto are after Dabi’s manipulative news about the Todoroki family. It’d be bizarre if they were instantly together and ready for revenge. Some of the strongest moments in “Tartarus” are when Shoto and Enji realize that the heavy physical damage that they’ve endured in battle is nothing in comparison to the psychological and psychic wounds that Dabi’s inflicted upon them.
This is strong material, but it might have been more powerful in its own episode so that “Tartarus” solely focuses on Shigaraki and All For One’s successes. Alternatively, beginning the episode with the heroes’ strife instead of concluding with it would achieve a similar effect where “Tartarus” still ends with a feeling of hopelessness that’s a testament to the villains’ accomplishments.
“Tartarus” is a grim My Hero Academia episode that reiterates just how much the good guys are losing this war. While the heroes can’t do anything but lick their wounds, Shigaraki builds upon the villains’ resources with devastating results. During a time where My Hero Academia’s enemies feel invincible and like nothing is outside of their reach, the heroes struggle to examine who they are and what it means to be a protector of justice. There’s no doubt that Midoriya and company will soon find their footing, but until they get back their mojo it’s going to be dark days in My Hero Academia.