My Hero Academia is an action-packed shonen anime in the same vein as Jujutsu Kaisen, Demon Slayer and the classic shonen “big three,” but these titles don’t always handle physical injuries the same way. Shonen anime is generally less graphic than seinen, but even so, permanent scars and injuries can make any combat system feel that much more real.
In earlier story arcs, and especially now, My Hero Academia is upping the stakes with more and more scars, injuries, and even deaths among its main characters. Pro heroes, students, and villains alike all have deep scars or missing body parts to prove how much action they have seen, and that makes said action far tenser and more impactful.
What Injuries Mean for My Hero Academia’s Pro Heroes & Villains
Similar to its shonen rival Jujutsu Kaisen, My Hero Academia makes sure its heroes rarely survive a serious fight unscathed. Heroes like Izuku Midoriya will always survive fights and recover so they can fight another villain someday, as expected, but without injuries, Izuku’s progress doesn’t feel as palpable. He even injures himself with his reckless usage of One For All, such as after his savage battle with Shoto Todoroki in the UA sports festival tournament. Recovery Girl even warned Izuku that if he kept it up, he would get more than grisly scars — he’d lose the use of his arms. That, more than anything, prompted Izuku to undergo a whole new level of training so he could wield One For All and limit his scars. Fortunately, his training with Gran Torino did just that.
Many other My Hero Academia characters are scarred by either their own powers or someone else’s, and this has reached new heights in Season 6. Even the mighty pro hero Hawks is badly mangled, walking around with medical equipment over his mouth and sporting flame-damaged wings that will never be the same again. Hawks may have finished off Twice, but Dabi made sure Hawks will permanently pay for it. Similarly, Shota Aizawa/Eraserhead suffered lasting injuries after the USJ battle, limiting his use of Erasure. After the most recent battles, Aizawa was injured even more and now sports an eyepatch. And of course, All Might’s injury has long since cost him his entire career and his power, forever trapped in his skinny form because All For One wounded him so badly years ago.
Similarly, the villains have scars too, but unlike the heroes, they use these injuries as a justification for their villainous acts. In a way, these scars and injuries make the villains smarter and stronger than ever. Conversely, for heroes, injuries represent their weakening ability to fight in the face of a growing wave of villainy and the shifting tide of this overall war. The vengeful Dabi, for example, was badly scarred by his own fire in his Toya Todoroki days, and it’s a constant reminder of his need for vengeance against his manipulative father.
All For One, who suffered serious and lasting injuries after facing All Might twice, views his mangled body as a sign to hurry and set up Tomura Shigaraki as his successor, one younger and stronger than himself. All For One isn’t just a man — he is the symbol of evil, an intangible idea of villainy that can shed its injured body and inhabit a new one. The heroes can’t and won’t do such a thing, so as both sides build up scars and injuries, the villains inexplicably grow stronger and more determined while the heroes pay a heavy price for their long, hard years of fighting crime.
How This Sets My Hero Academia Apart From Other Shonen Anime
Other shonen anime sometimes give their heroes lasting injuries or scars, but compared to MHA, they don’t make the most of it. In many shonen titles, no matter how injured the heroes get, they fully recover in time for the next fight, which robs them of a sense of hard-won progress. A recent example was the new Bleach story arc where Captain Byakuya Kuchiki was savagely torn apart with his own bankai and seemingly died, only to make a perfect, scar-free recovery with squad 0’s help. Byakuya did learn humility from that experience, but he didn’t have any physical scars to symbolize it. Moreover, Orihime Inoue can “reject” any injury, even lost limbs, without a trace.
Demon Slayer is also reluctant to scar its heroes, though at least Tanjiro Kamado’s hands are callused and worn from two years of rigorous training with Urokodaki. One Piece’s Monkey D. Luffy usually makes a perfect recovery from every brutal fight too, needing only food and rest to recover, his X-shaped chest scar being a rare exception to this rule.
Overall, this habit of perfectly healing shonen heroes takes the edge off the violence and the suffering the characters endure, and it also weakens the story’s sense of progress. Heroes like Ichigo, Tanjiro, Luffy, and Naruto have been through a lot, and they need a body that proves it. In fact, some lasting injuries may present all-new challenges to help the heroes grow and compensate in unexpected ways, and that’s a sorely underutilized storytelling idea that shonen can and should embrace in the coming years.