SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for My Hero Academia Season 3
What does it mean to be a hero?
Being a hero goes beyond punching bad guys in the face or fighting criminals with a cool ability. Being a talented fighter certainly helps, but there's much more to it.
Being a hero is about having the courage to help people, even when the odds are stacked against you. It's about being humble and open to improvement, even when you know you're already one of the best heroes around. It's about realizing that your actions have consequences, even when your emotions begin to overshadow your rationality. And above all else, it's about inspiring people to find the strength to be the best version of themselves each and every day, not because it's cool, but because it's the right thing to do. No superhero show displays this quite like the anime My Hero Academia.
My Hero Academia is currently in its third season, and the first half focused heavily on the importance of hope. In the world of My Hero Academia, the hero All Might is the "pillar of hope." He can't be beaten, and his optimism makes children want to be just like him. Yes, he's super strong, but it's his confidence, smile and determination that truly makes him stand out.
However, All Might is hiding something from his fans. He's not the tall and muscular figure that everyone knows and adores. He's actually skinny and stands without confidence when his quirk (i.e. power) isn't activated. Season 3 finally revealed this big secret to the world when All Might faced his toughest battle yet. Even though he wins in the end, he suffers his first "defeat" by showing the world who he really is when he's not using his quirk.
Still, even in his first "defeat," All Might inspires. It didn't matter that the world finally saw their greatest hero look weaker than ever before. It didn't matter that he almost lost. What mattered is that he never gave up. He went beyond, "plus ultra." He pushed past not only his physical limits but also his mental ones. All Might couldn't simply charge and punch. He had to question his thinking and adapt to win. He faced seemingly impossible odds, yet he ended up (barely) standing victoriously.
All Might is the pillar of hope, and the show continues to prove why he earned that title. All Might is the inspiration for two of My Hero Academia's most promising aspiring heroes: Izuku Midoriya, aka Deku, and Katsuki Bakugo. Both U.A. High School students thrive for different reasons, and that's front and center in Season 3.
Deku's ridiculously driven, and that's the focus of the first two seasons. In Season 3, he continues to shatter his own limits and grow as both a hero and a person. Even though he's still young and constantly learning, he's every bit as inspiring as All Might. This is made crystal clear when he puts his life on the line to save Kota, a child who hates heroes due to the tragic death of his parents. However, despite facing a significantly more powerful opponent, Deku overcomes the foe. (With a little help from Kota.)