With the sixth season of My Hero Academia behind us, and the seventh season already announced, we’re taking the time to look back over the anime’s 19 distinct story arcs, and separate the best from the worst. With the manga already heading towards the final chapters, there’s no better time to cast our mind back over some of the pivotal moments in My Hero Academia—and some of those that we’d rather forget.
We’ll be going through the top five best arcs first, and you can see the five worst arcs here. And just to be clear—spoilers for My Hero Academia’s anime ahead!
5th Best: Paranormal Liberation War Arc (Episodes 107-131)
One of the most recent arcs, adapted in Season 6, pits almost the entirety of Japan’s hero society against the Paranormal Liberation Front. This 20-episode-long arc has some incredible moments—I don’t think any of us expected Hawks to actually kill Twice—but the anime really dragged out some of the middle battles. Keeping track of the expanding battlefield was a chore, but the Paranormal Liberation War Arc also ends with a miserably bleak tone that really sets the stage for the aptly-named ‘Final Act’ saga.
4th Best: Forest Training Camp Arc (Episodes 39-45)
What begins as yet another of My Hero Academia’s many training arcs turns into something far more sinister when the fledgling League of Villains strikes! At this point in the anime, Tomura Shigaraki and his gang’s motives are unclear, as is whether My Hero Academia has the capacity to adopt a darker tone—the near-death of Pixie-Bob and the ruthless methods employed by everyone’s favorite yandere, Himeko Toga, point to ‘yes.’ This arc also exposes us to the madness lurking in Fumikage’s Dark Shadow, and is notable for showing Deku’s first defeat of a villain—not to mention ending on a cliffhanger as Bakugo is captured!
3rd Best: Shie Hassaikai Arc (Episodes 62-78)
Taking the bronze medal for the best story arc in My Hero Academia is the Shie Hassaikai arc. My Hero Academia has never shied away from making it abundantly clear that the power of Quirks has led to three distinct groupings of people—civilians, heroes, and villains. But just like our real world, those categories aren’t neatly divided; there are murky, gray lines between the black and white. The yakuza group, Shie Hassaikai, and its charismatic leader, Overhaul, provide a raw sense of power that eclipses the ‘band of thieves that Tomura Shigaraki has assembled.
The Quirk-Erasing Drug, Nighteye’s heart-wrenching death (which still leaves us in tears), and the adorable-but-tortured Eri (more tears in our eyes from her plight, too!) all come together for a memorable story arc that leaves a heavy impact on the story moving forward.
2nd Best: Dark Hero Arc (Episodes 132-138)
The final story arc of Season 6 pulled no punches. My Hero Academia has always been inspired by Western comics, but never did the anime feel more like a love letter to the gritty darkness of Batman or The Arrow than the Dark Hero arc. With innumerable villains freed across Japan, All For One released from his prison in Tartarus, and huge swathes of cities destroyed by Gigantomachia, it was entirely expected—yet heart-wrenchingly sad—to see Deku strike out on his own.
Forever protective of his friends, Deku works himself ragged defeating villains, completing his evolution from a naive, Quirkless boy, to a haunted specter of his former self. Studio Bones did a fantastic job of slowly altering Deku’s costume, using lighting effects to twist his silhouette until he looked more villainous than the bad guys he was defeating.
Whether you love or hate Ochaco’s impassioned speech at the end of the season, there’s no denying that the Dark Hero arc truly pushed Deku’s character in a completely new direction.
The Best Arc: Vs. Hero Killer (Episodes 26-33)
The most terrifying type of evil is the one you can almost agree with. Unlike the caricature villains that are spread throughout most of My Hero Academia’s episodes, Stain the hero killer is the first—and only—villain in the franchise that has a distinct, purposeful motive. Despite the arc’s brevity, Stain’s legacy bleeds through into other villains, such as Spinner, and comes back around to haunt All Might in the Dark Hero Arc.
Not only is Stain’s ideology dangerously believable—the idea that too many heroes are obsessed with self-image and are ‘false heroes’—but his raw combat strength is terrifying to behold, especially against our fledging heroes. Deku and Ida’s showdown against Stain is tense, while the addition of more Nomu to the mix creates a chaotic and memorable battle.
And if the Vs. Hero Killer arc didn’t have enough going for it, the final episodes illuminate the true history of One For All and All For One—the men, their powers, and the early days of the Quirk phenomenon itself. The Vs. Hero Killer arc is the definitive, most pivotal arc in My Hero Academia, and overall our favorite story arc so far!