I know that Boku no Hero Academia is far from over—this is the story of how Midoriya becomes the greatest hero, after all, and he’s far from it at this point—but episode 49 felt like a finale, not only like the end of an arc, but the climax of an entire series. As All Might clashes with All For One, the latter has the upper hand, and all the anxiety written on the faces of the U.A. High students and the people at large spoke the same, that they were about to suffer a bitter disappointment, combined with the anticipation that the villains’ plan was going to succeed. It felt like All Might was going to be defeated. It felt like he might even be killed.
But somehow, some way, All Might finds power that doesn’t reasonably exist and puts it into one final attack that connects. He’s able to come through, even if it is at great expense, as the number one hero loses his power for good. But how was he able to find that power when he needed it? He had long since diminished, with the time in his super-powered form was long up. Where did he find the power?
The answer is within himself, partially. All Might remembers his mentor, Nana Shimura, whose words (From the past? Telling him now? Speaking what All Might is telling himself?) tell him to remember what he became a hero for, which was to bring peace. And he thinks also of Midoriya and a desire to continue teaching him so that he can become the next symbol of peace.
All Might’s heroism reminded me of me—but not in a good way. I may never be in life and death situations, shouldering the hopes of all humanity, but life does throw me curve balls sometimes and I often wander into places where stress is overwhelming, where my responsibilities feel like too much. And while I sometimes succeed, I also often fail, reaching my own limit. I’m a hero that retreats, that falls back when brought face to face with my own All For Ones.
In the most trying of situations, All Might thinks back on Shimura’s words. He venerated her and continued to look up her after she died, but what she left behind continued to impact the present, continued to be power to defeat evil.
As a Christian, I have a mentor, too, whose words are alive and well, whom I believe is alive and well, period! And if he is for me, who can be against me? The words of encouragement in the Bible are thorough and many, though God’s words to Joshua, who faced odds as overwhelming as All Might’s, perhaps fit the situation best (and remind me that I am not alone):
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
I wish I could say that I thought back on this verse this last week when our family had a rough time—our car was broken into while we were out with our kids, and while that itself is stressful, the psychological impact of it has been worse than the financial. I haven’t been the “hero” of my household during the time, able to stay together as well as I had hoped, but I’m going to try, try, and try as we continue to work through what’s happened.
I’m motivated in part by All Might, but far more so by my own story, which is just part of the one God has weaved together from the beginning. I’ve experienced grace so many times, a love that I don’t deserve, that’s helped me learn to trust in God, to know that he has my back despite the circumstances, though the weakness in me retreats; the weakness in me would fold in the face of All in One—it did fold in the face of supporting my loved ones. But there is next time, when I hope to remember that he has given me the power to overcome, to find strength when there is none—I only have to do what Toshinori did and in the hardest of circumstances, just believe.
featured art by ゆきび (artist allows reprints)