“No Man is an Island” stays true to its name with a bifurcated structure that follows All Might and Deku, both united by the power of One For All, but also both required to make some major decisions to help protect the public’s future. My Hero Academia is no stranger to laid back and restrained finales that take stock of the year’s events. “No Man is an Island” follows this formula, but the biggest surprise to come out of this episode is that disgraced villain and season two antagonist, Hero Killer: Stain, becomes the episode’s MVP. The past few episodes have teased Stain’s return following the Tartarus jailbreak and for a moment it even feels like this finale could feature an impromptu All Might assassination by Stain’s blade as a way to properly motivate Deku–and hero society as a whole–to take this threat seriously. What instead follows is considerably more magnanimous. Stain offers All Might an ear, not an edge.
All Might mourns his life in service to heroism when he’s currently left with a demolished city and dissidence. He worries that he’s the furthest from a hero that he’s ever been and if he even has anything to offer Deku anymore. This whole cycle of self-pity helps All Might understand that he’s still essential to society even if his name is tarnished and his monument gets vandalized. It’s not easy to stay optimistic in the face of overwhelming evil. All Might has moments of weakness, but he learns that he needs to just keep at it, piece-by-piece, day-by-day, like cleaning the scum off of a statue. Progress only happens if you stay resilient and All Might has inspired a whole nation to fight back.
It’s Stain who triggers this mood shift in All Might. The villainous vigilante provides All Might with a pep talk, reality check, and vital intel, all of which underscore how much things have changed over the course of My Hero Academia’s past few seasons. There are some genuinely wicked forces in the world, but when threats like Stain become allies it’s hard to argue with the idea that everyone occupies shades of grey and has the capacity for both altruism or evil. A vicious villain who’s claimed the lives of more than 40 Pro Heroes can’t help but prostrate himself in All Might’s presence, even if on some level he doesn’t fully believe that it’s him. All Might’s inherent heroism shines through.
All Might looks deep into his soul to help get his groove back, but Deku’s journey in “No Man is an Island” is much more low-key. In fact, there’s an extended sequence in this episode where Deku and the rest of the Class 1-A’s male students scrub up and unwind in a bath. It’s the complete opposite of the danger that rubs up against All Might in the finale’s first half. Deku’s material at U.A. High lacks action and conflict, yet it’s still deeply satisfying to see everyone get a chance to earnestly talk about everything that’s going on after such a reactionary and busy season. Talking can often be more thrilling than combat and these stripped-down conversations between friends make a strong case for this. If nothing else, it’s incredibly sweet that Deku can finally candidly field questions to his peers about One For All and his unique Quirk. These simple conversations come across as the calm before season seven’s storm. The cumulative weight of six seasons of friendship projects so much love between these characters during a time when what needs to be said the most often goes ignored.
“No Man is an Island” ends on a grandiose note as the U.N. deploys Pro Heroes from across the world to help Deku and All Might in their war against All For One. There’s newfound urgency in their quest after learning that Shigaraki and All For One will properly synchronize their powers in only three days. My Hero Academia has previously taken brief detours to the United States and other foreign countries where their contrasting hero societies are examined. It’s a little surprising that it’s taken the series this long to turn to international reinforcements, but it also makes sense to save this level of spectacle for the anime’s final battle.
The upcoming battle will have more heroes assembled than ever before, including America’s No. 1 Pro Hero, Star and Stripe, a female defender who bears a heavy resemblance to All Might, both in attire and ethos. It’s always exciting to get some new blood in My Hero Academia, but this team effort could also lead to some curious fallout from other countries who lose their heroes to help with Japan’s dilemma. It would be fascinating to see the heroes achieve success through All For One’s defeat, only for Japan’s Pro Hero Society to still be tarnished because of the stressed relations that they’ve created with other countries. At this point, these “loaned” international heroes are more than happy to donate their services to help Japan’s cause and repay the favor to All Might. However, this optimism may change if this war concludes with America and other major countries losing their primary protectors.