Glimpsing the Almighty in My Hero Academia’s All Might
In the world of the anime series My Hero Academia, 80 percent of the population is born with superpowers called “quirks.” As such, being a professional superhero becomes a popular career. Yet one hero outshines all the others: All Might.
All Might wasn’t born with his power. He was given a unique quirk called One For All, which can be passed from one person to another and becomes more powerful with each new possessor. In season three, a flashback shows All Might—as quirkless Toshinori Yagi—telling One For All’s previous possessor that the world needs a “symbol of peace,” someone whose existence will reassure the innocent and terrify the lawless. “I want to be the pillar that gives people hope,” Toshinori says.
After receiving One For All, he succeeds in becoming this Symbol of Peace. During All Might’s years as a pro hero, he reassures many frightened victims with his catchphrase, delivered in his booming, exuberant voice: “I am here!” All Might understands that people need to know someone greater is there when life overwhelms them.
God reassures his people in a similar way. Take the account of Jesus walking on the water. While Jesus’ disciples traveled toward Capernaum by boat, they not only encountered harsh weather, but panicked when they mistook Jesus for a ghost. Jesus comforted them by saying, “‘It is I; don’t be afraid.’” Neither God nor All Might lie to people by saying there’s nothing to be afraid of. Instead, they simply declare their presence within the “storm,” offering their own sovereignty as a basis for fearlessness.
Unlike Jesus, however, All Might has limitations and weaknesses. In the first season of My Hero Academia, All Might reveals to young Izuku Midoriya that he was severely injured in a fight with a villain and can only use his power for limited periods. The rest of the time, the huge, muscle-bound All Might is just a gaunt, sickly man. After he passes his power on to Izuku, All Might’s time limits become even shorter, restricting his ability to help others as a hero.
Then in season three, All Might’s arch nemesis, All For One, the villain who caused All Might’s debilitating injury, returns. When All Might confronts him, All For One realizes that All Might has lost much of his former strength. During their fight, the worst happens: All Might’s time limit runs out, and he shrinks into his weakened, skinny form—all while the news cameras are rolling.
All For One believes All Might is defeated, but the hero doesn’t give up. Even as blood flies from his body, All Might coordinates the last remnants of his strength into strategic punches. With one final blow, culminating all the power of his predecessors, All Might smashes All For One into the ground.
All Might understands that people need to know someone greater is there when life overwhelms them.
When Jesus was crucified, his enemies thought they’d won, too. The religious leaders who hated him finally had their way; Roman soldiers mocked him and passersby jeered as he suffered on the cross. Like All For One, they believed Jesus’ “weakness”—which, unlike All Might’s, was a deliberate choice—meant he was defeated. Instead, while his enemies tried to make a spectacle of him, Jesus “disarmed the powers and authorities … [and] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” By his death and resurrection, Jesus won a victory that enables all mankind to be reconciled to God.
All For One believed that All Might’s weakened state would be the end of him, but after that final blow, the news cameras show the Symbol of Peace still standing, raising a fist above his defeated foe. A short time later, while a news anchor and cameraman report on the aftermath of the battle, All Might turns his bloodied visage away. Raising one gaunt arm to point straight into the camera, he says, “Now it’s your turn.” As his successor, Izuku, watches the broadcast, he realizes, “[All Might had] used up everything, and now it was left to me.”
Just as All Might’s sacrifice left Izuku with a responsibility, so Jesus’ death and resurrection have changed our destinies. Jesus told his disciples, “whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these…” After his ascension, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to his followers, just as he promised.
Jesus no longer walks the earth in physical form. Instead, he sent his Holy Spirit to live within his people. Jesus continues his work through us. Now it’s our turn—to live by Christ, just as Christ lived by the Father.
My Hero Academia's fourth season releases later this year. Hopefully, in the new season, Izuku will continue learning to live in the power All Might has passed on to him. And hopefully, as the year progresses, the same will be true of us learning to live in the power of God.