This My Hero Academia review contains spoilers.
My Hero Academia Season 6 Episode 10
“They’re just a few dead people who lost to me…”
There’s a fascinating phenomenon where recipients of organ transplants sometimes report a change in personality, taste, and even memories, that are an echo of the organ’s donor. My Hero Academia has extrapolated that concept with Quirks as both Izuku Midoriya and Tomura Shigaraki have inherited the traits of the previous bearers of their powers. This synthesis begins to reach parasitic proportions as past vestiges of good and evil continue their legacies through their modern vessels.
My Hero Academia gets explicit with this organ donor metaphor to better emphasize that this isn’t just a showdown between Midoriya and Shigaraki, but also one between One For All and All For One, and ultimately heroism and villainy. “The Ones Within Us” allows two tremendously powerful opposing forces to finally collide and then basks in the existential explosion that ensues.
Izuku Midoriya and Tomura Shigaraki have been on a collision course since the moment that Midoriya inherited All Might’s Quirk. It’s cathartic, albeit threatening, when these two make contact and disappear into an alternate fugue realm. “The Ones Within Us” is largely set in this netherworld, which gives it an exciting freedom where these events feel bigger themselves. There have been some exceptional battles this season that raise the standards of My Hero Academia’s animation and there is once again immaculate visuals when it comes to Midoriya and Shigaraki’s encounter. The action components and Quirk execution are gorgeous, but Deku’s perplexed facial expressions are just as satisfying. Once the episode ventures into All For One’s internal purgatory it continues to visually flourish.
The bulk of “The Ones Within Us” sets Midoriya and Shigaraki’s ancestral cheering squads against each other as they attempt to win this internal tug of war between good and evil. All For One becomes more insistent on Shigaraki’s unrestrained rage and power, even if his body doesn’t survive the exhaustion. The problem with many shonen anime like My Hero Academia is that it becomes progressively challenging to trump past battles and make the same powers feel new. “The Ones Within Us” features Deku and Shigaraki at their absolute strongest, but it’s a clash that stands out because of how Midoriya gets the upper hand.
In the face of true evil and impending doom, Deku can’t help but still want to save Shigaraki. He views him as a hurt individual who just needs a helping hand, which is exactly the way that a hero would perceive this situation. Generations of One For Alls’ kindness ripple through Midoriya and it’s a beautiful distillation of everything that makes Deku who he is and why he’s been elevated to this special status. This empathy becomes the one rogue element that One For All doesn’t plan for and it proves to be as powerful as any Quirk and something that he can’t steal.
This is also the first time that it feels like All For One is in the driver’s seat of his vessel and that Shigaraki has finally adjusted as a submissive passenger. It’s so interesting that greater powers are technically pulling the strings for both Deku and Shigaraki, but in Deku’s case he’s not a puppet and that these strings actually give him greater support to keep himself on his feet. There’s still 15 episodes left to this season, but in many ways “The Ones Within Us” feels like a season finale and the culmination of long-running ideas. It’s a thrilling installment, but it begins to cautiously raise the question of where all of this is going and what could possibly be next beyond Shigaraki.
The second-half of “The Ones Within Us” continues to chronicle Gigantomachia’s carnage as he vigilantly barrels forward to Shigaraki’s fallout zone. The most substantial material here comes from Himiko Toga’s raw feelings as she processes the loss of Twice. Toga has quietly been one of this season’s MVPs, especially now that she has genuine pain to process. Toga’s sneak attack on Uraraka during the episode’s conclusion is genuinely chilling and it truly feels like Ochaco has stumbled into a haunted house.
The reunion between these two is heartbreaking since there’s such a fundamental disconnect that exists between these characters. Deku’s undying compulsion to help as many people as possible gets channeled into Uraraka and in this moment it’s clear that Toga may be able to copy Uraraka’s face, but never her heroic spirit. That’s the difference between a hero and a villain.
On that note, Toga also isn’t afraid to ask some heavy thought provoking questions about who’s “right” in this war and the increasingly blurred lines between the heroes and villains. Toga ponders, “If heroes are supposed to save people, why didn’t they treat Jin as a person?” and it’s hard to begrudge her for these questions. Perhaps the only solution to all of this is a completely rewritten society that’s somehow able to abolish the labels of heroes and villains and all Quirk-capable individuals work towards a common goal. That being said, this hypothetical utopia feels more impossible with each passing episode as more trauma gets born and grudges deepen.
“The Ones Within Us” makes its voice heard, both in its nightmare world and the real society that’s caught in the throes of conflict. Shigaraki’s “acquisition” of Midoriya finds smart ways to subvert this clash beyond a basic fight and it still feels like the surface has only been scratched with what these two powerhouses can accomplish. While it’s unlikely that Bakugo is Bakugone, Midoriya has never seemed stronger as he uses generations of understanding–including that of Shigaraki’s grandmother–to make sure that peace conquers all.