We’re happy to present a guest post today by Christian fantasy author M. H. Elrich, contributor to Finding God in Anime Vol. 2, whom you can connect with on Instagram.
Imagine this scene: you’re sitting in a classroom, waiting to present your project. You’ve been preparing for weeks, but you’re still pretty nervous because you hate getting up in front of people. You feel like you’re going to vomit, and you’re not sure if you want to go first to get it over with, or go last and then bolt straight out the door. Your teacher decides to pick each presenter randomly, and that just makes it worse. You begin to sweat, and you hope that it doesn’t show. Then, you hear the daunting words:
The sense of dread, combined with the relief of finally presenting is an odd and seemingly contradictory feeling—the kind of feeling that overwhelms Midoriya from My Hero Academia after watching All Might fight All for One. The kind of feeling that likely overcame the disciples of Jesus after they witnessed his death and resurrection, and heard his final words.
In Season 3, episode 11 of My Hero Academia, All Might issues his final words as a hero to the public after a fierce battle with All for One where All Might fights beyond his limits to defeat the villain who gave him a mortal wound during an earlier duel. Both episodes 10 and 11 are considered by fans to be among the best episodes of the entire series, and for good reason. They hold the audience captive, keeping us wondering if All Might will die trying to stop All for One. Thankfully, he is victorious, but he loses the remnants of his power in the process. At least it finally seems like the hardship is over. That is, until All Might issues these words: “Next, it’s your turn.”
Now, this may seem like a warning to criminals that All Might isn’t done with them yet—like he’s promising that they would not escape his justice. But Midoriya knows the truth: All Might won’t be dealing out any more punishment because he has spent the last of his power. All Might has passed the torch to Midoriya. So instead of All Might pushing back the darkness with his amazing powers, Midoriya has to do it now. That’s a lot of pressure for a fifteen-year-old, let alone one who idolizes All Might. He cries.
Midoriya is overwhelmed by the responsibility of such a burden and the grief that All Might will no longer be the hero he once was. In a sense, All Might has “died,” even though he is still alive.
Bakugo, standing nearby, realizes that Midoriya’s reaction is out of the ordinary. In subsequent episodes, he first discovers and then exposes Midoriya’s secret: All Might’s power, One for All, is passed down from person to person. All Might chose Midoriya over Bakugo as the heir to his power, and Bakugo takes this as a personal affront. He doesn’t recognize that All Might saw a hero’s heart in Midoriya—and possibly also saw that Bakugo didn’t need him as much. Missing the message, Bakugo is driven instead by jealousy and pride. He vows to prove that he is a better hero than Midoriya, even with One for All.
Both teenagers are disciples of All Might. They both idolized him as children and strove to be like him as they grew up. Yet when it comes to their reactions to their hero’s final charge to them, they couldn’t be more different. Bakugo takes All Might’s words as a challenge to do better. Midoriya takes them as an overwhelming burden.
This made me think of Jesus’s final words to his disciples:
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.Matthew 28:18-20
How did the disciples react when they heard Jesus’s final words?
I imagine they felt a lot like Bakugo and Midoriya.
After all, Jesus had just died and come back to life, just like All Might “died” as the ultimate hero and Symbol of Peace, while yet remaining alive. Jesus had done the impossible and defeated death and Satan once and for all, an even worse foe than All for One. The disciples were feeling elated and excited, just as Midoriya and Bakugo were initially. And like All Might’s audience who thought he was going to keep chasing down criminals and meting out justice, so too the disciples probably thought their hero would go on to conquer the Romans in an epic, apocalyptic battle. But instead, Jesus does a surprising thing: he returns to heaven. Like All Might, Jesus departs unexpectedly just when the battle was won. And as he does, Jesus passes on the responsibility for being the new heroes of the world to his disciples.
Jesus’s words are equivalent to All Might’s. This is his last command, his last instruction for the disciples. The disciples might even have cried like Midoriya, or taken Jesus’s words as a challenge, like Bakugo.
Jesus’s words were not just for the disciples though. They also apply to us as followers of Christ. Jesus wants us to go and make disciples, to “be the new heroes of the world,” so to speak. We may find ourselves grappling with nerves about this tremendous burden or feeling overly confident and bluffing our way about the task. But doing that—being anxious or trying to do it on our own strength—is missing the point.
Like Midoriya and Bakugo, we are given a special superpower: the Holy Spirit. All Might’s power helps Midoriya become an epic hero despite how hard it is for him to refine his inheritance. Meanwhile, Bakugo’s natural ability was enhanced through All Might’s careful instruction and hard work. In the same way, the Holy Spirit sanctifies and refines us, and helps us “go and make disciples.” He gives us different abilities or “quirks”, as they are called in My Hero Academia. These abilities enable us to glorify God in ways that we could never have imagined, and that are unique to us. Both Midoriya and Bakugo have been given quirks that enable them to carry out All Might’s mission. But while Midoriya inspires others in ways that Bakugo never could, Bakugo motivates others in ways that Midoriya isn’t capable of. In the same way, the Holy Spirit gives us special abilities and talents that amplify our ability to carry out God’s Words in a special way. The Holy Spirit also reminds us that we are never alone.
All Might lives on, just as Jesus lives. All Might, though no longer a superhero, continues to train and influence Midoriya and Bakugo to become great heroes in their own right. In the same way, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit equips us to uniquely serve God.
Jesus and All Might’s final words issued a call to walk with them, side-by-side. How will you respond? I know what I will say:
“It’s our turn now.”
My Hero Academia can be streamed on Crunchyroll.
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