I knew My Hero Academia Season 6 had the potential to be not just the best of the series but one of the best single seasons of a shonen series ever. I had read the manga arcs and trusted studio bones to do it justice, and now that it’s wrapped with Episode 138, I’m happy I was right. I don’t like to use “I” statements in reviews too often. Still, the truth is that My Hero Academia Season 6 captured the gutwrenching moments of Kohei Horikoshi’s original work perfectly. It managed to make me fall into myself the same way I did reading those pages at two in the morning and that is an accomplishment.
To do this, studio bones didn’t just adapt each panel or line of dialogue but layered on different elements as well. This was most recognizable in the heart of this season, Deku and Bakugo’s relationship. Here, bones used elements from the manga, like the cover of volume 29 to add depth to an already emotional sequence. Bakugo Rising worked in the manga because Horikoshi took the time to show that he never forgot the mistakes he made and the way he hurt Deku in the past. In the animated adaptation of this, it’s even more realized and introspective. This continues into the latter half of the season when Bakugo saves Deku again, this time from himself.
While much more happens this season outside of Deku and Bakugo, their relationship is the best example of reaching beyond the manga to craft something even more detailed. Another way bones manages this is through sound and title choice of episodes. While this isn’t the first time that bones has connected arcs across seasons, as the space between them grows (Encounter Pt. 2), it becomes an even more impressive feat. Add in the use of theme songs, particularly around Bakugo and Deku but also during the major battles, and you have a narrative that feels just as connected to season one as it does to a previous episode. This is the strength animated manga has to offer, and it’s executed beautifully in My Hero Academia Season 6.
Additionally, My Hero Academia Season 6 is a season of parallels and payoff. As explored above, it looks at the past repeatedly in order to show the audience where things are now. To show how they’ve changed and grown. But more importantly, this season pays off on every setup established in seasons prior. It delivers on the big swings, adds depths to the little ones, and shows how our characters have been pushed to grow by the terrible circumstances they’ve been thrust into. With deaths, betrayals, and a whole lot of uncertainty, it takes skill to deliver payoff after payoff while also introducing new elements as well.
The beauty of My Hero Academia as a series is that nowhere along the way does the narrative ever forget that our heroes are children asked to do things that they shouldn’t have to do. This becomes even more resonant in My Hero Academia Season 6 thanks to some of their mentors dying, and the fact that Deku becomes obsessed with vengeance and the ultimate fall of the Endeavor. When you add it all together, there is a complexity in Horikoshi’s world that bones captures beyond just the fantastic fight sequences. For this season, the complexity of heroes, villains, and who gets to call themselves what is at the forefront. We see the kids of Class-1A inspect this, we see them thrust into it, and they have to learn how to process a society that has turned to hate heroes.
While some fans of the series didn’t enjoy the stark turn in emotional tone, the ability that My Hero Academia has to dig deep past lighthearted comedy and low stakes and embrace high stakes and depressing realities is what makes it stand out in the rest of the series made for a shonen demographic. My Hero Academia Season 6 isn’t afraid of asking its audience to process harsh realities like how an abusive father can atone for his life or how you can move forward through survivor’s guilt. But most importantly, these themes are truncated to work within the episodic format. Instead, they’re allowed to flow across episodes and land as touchstones in the series’ overall narrative. The darkness explored in My Hero Academia Season 6 isn’t a moment in time, but the rippling effects that moment causes and how every character reacts to it.
By the series’ end, the kids of Class-1A aren’t kids anymore. They’re traumatized and broken in the same ways as their heroes, and something is bubbling just underneath the surface. Fear of the future, a looming presence, and the knowledge that sometimes, even when you succeed, it isn’t enough. As a season, the last 25 episodes of My Hero Academia have been a masterclass in building tension and showing how a character matures thanks to their mortality and their guilt. Deku isn’t who he was at the start of the season, and it hurts to see that, but I appreciate it as someone who loves storytelling. Deku is a hero, but at what cost? And that’s the core of what we see here.
While I’ve talked a lot about storytelling in My Hero Academia Season 6, studio bones also increased the quality of its animation. With some of the largest fights in the series, and specifically Deku’s unique change in powerset, their ability to maintain consistent beauty and intensity works. The choices of color palettes across the two arcs of this season also speak to how methodical every element of every scene is and the attention with which everything was created.
Sure, the finale for My Hero Academia Season 6 was a little lackluster, but the journey we’ve been on for the last 25 episodes is the most emotionally tense with the highest stakes we’ve seen. But the anime doesn’t lose itself in this stark tonal shift. Instead, it finds a new piece of itself, and the narrative is better because of it. As a series, My Hero Academia hasn’t transformed into something new, but it’s grown and matured as its leads have, and yet, it hasn’t lost its focus. My Hero Academia Season 6 is one of the best single seasons of anime out there.
My Hero Academia Season 6 is streaming now on Crunchyroll.
My Hero Academia Season 6
The anime doesn’t lose itself in this stark tonal shift. Instead, it finds a new piece of itself, and the narrative is better because of it. As a series, My Hero Academia hasn’t transformed into something new, but it’s grown and matured as its leads have, and yet, it hasn’t lost its focus. My Hero Academia Season 6 is one of the best single seasons of anime out there.
Kate Sánchez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of But Why Tho? A Geek Community. There, she coordinates film, television, anime, and manga coverage. Kate is also a freelance journalist writing features on video games, anime, and film. Her focus as a critic is championing animation and international films and television series for inclusion in awards cycles.