Life Lessons That Schooled Us in My Hero Academia

As the immortal Marvin Gaye once said, life is for learning.

There are two critical concepts that seem to be at the heart of My Hero Academia: the heroes and the academia (the ‘my’ is also quite important, but as a possessive adjective it’s a lot harder to write an article about).

Without the education bestowed upon the students of U.A. High School, they may never flourish into the next generation of champions. That wisdom isn’t just restricted to the classroom, however, and My Hero Academia does not shy away from life lessons.

This shounen anime will show you a thing or two, and in honor of National Teacher Appreciation Day, we’re looking back on a few that shook us to our core.

A spoiler warning is in effect for the first four seasons of My Hero Academia, but we’ve kept our lips sealed on the major mysteries surrounding Season 5.

You can become a hero

The famous words uttered by the paragon of justice himself.

Though the world had turned its back on Midoriya ever amounting to anything—and indeed, even All Might shared this sentiment at first—when nobody else would step up, it was Deku who rushed into danger to save his friend from a villain. He did this despite being entirely Quirkless, an unfortunate flaw in a world of heroes.

This perhaps underpins the message of My Hero Academia better than anything else; the idea that nobody’s path is set in stone, and if you have the courage and willpower, you can achieve your goals.

It refers specifically to the heroics of Deku in this instance, but it can apply to anyone, with students like Mineta and Aoyama also getting their moments to shine (or twinkle, in the latter’s case).

It’s a riveting, empowering statement, and it makes us want to start watching all over again. Anyone down for a marathon?

The things you long for

Shinso Hitoshi is one of anime’s most intriguing peripheral characters, carrying the powerful Quirk of Brainwashing, yet always feeling as though it is more of a burden. Neither particularly useful for straight combat at first, nor inspiring for people around him, his aura feels more villainous than not.

After shocking the world by making it all the way to the final event of the Sports Festival, Shinso finds himself outmatched when pitted against Midoriya; the practical experience of the hero course proving too much of a hurdle for Shinso to overcome.

His dejected quote, “You can’t help the things you long for”, is in response to the query as to why he wants to become a hero, and it’s quite an eye-opener. Everyone’s starting line is unique, and Shinso seeks the same things as his contemporaries, albeit without any physical gifts.

A helpful aide-mémoire to never judge a book by its cover, and understand that beyond our differences, deep down we’re more alike than you think. And guess what? Shinso’s tale isn’t over yet, not by a long shot…

Save people to win and win to save people

All Might’s track record as a teacher may not exactly be pristine, with more than a few grievous injuries that would be hard to explain at the next parent/teacher interview, but he definitely wins points for impact. Literally and metaphorically, in fact.

Midoriya and Bakugo have long gotten along as well as water and oil, with the former preferring to discuss strategies and ambitions, only to fall on deaf ears and occasional words of venom from the latter. Their dichotomy seems to only grow further apart as Midoriya continues to improve, coming to a head when the pair come to blows.

Though All Might feels guilty for being the driving factor behind this conflict, he gifts them true knowledge when he points out that their goals need not be mutually exclusive. Combat and rescue often come as equal parts of the same initiative, and with their contrasts in temperament, Deku and King Explosion Murder actually make for a dynamic team.

And yes, I totally disagree with the notion that King Explosion Murder isn’t an appropriate hero name, because it is absolutely badass.

If you’re going to do this, do this properly

From the outset, we’re taught that Midoriya’s selfless compulsion to run headlong into the fray is among his most aspirational qualities. It’s one of his defining traits as a hero, and yet, it’s also one of his greatest drawbacks.

Time and time again, he’s told that he acts irresponsibly, and despite his best intentions, he ends up creating more work for the people around him with his rash nature. From season to season, this conflict comes crashing upon him like waves on the shore; he shouldn’t have engaged with Stain, he shouldn’t have sacrificed his body to protect Kota…. Throughout this, All Might’s words keep haunting him; “I can’t save the people I can’t reach”.

While scouting Shie Hassaikai, Midoriya comes face to face with the shivering, frightened Eri. His instinct is to rescue her, while his upperclassman Mirio Togata warns him to exercise caution. After letting Eri walk back into the arms of her tormentor, they learn of the horrifying experiments she suffers through every day.

“You’re not so special that you can save anyone you want whenever you want,” Sir Nighteye advises, and it is perhaps Midoriya’s most painful lesson. For the greater good, sometimes we must play the long game, no matter how unfair it may seem.

It’s a chilling revelation in one of My Hero Academia’s most gripping arcs, as it is equal parts wise and harrowing.

Win those kids’ hearts!

Not every lesson learnt has to have dire consequences, of course, and when Bakugo and Todoroki fail the provisional license exam, they’re forced to undertake remedial classes that look a little different than your standard training.

In one such test, they have to find a way to calm a group of rowdy children, stretching their standoffish dispositions to the limit. When the first few attempts at negotiation fail, Bakugo is the one to devise the perfect plan.

“We have to make them think ‘wow’ or ‘cool’”, he reasons, conceding that a forcible display of their prowess would just prove demoralising for the younger kids. Instead, they opt for a dazzling act of kindness, fashioning a slide that utilises all of their Quirks.

It’s a reminder that there are many items in a hero’s toolbox, and though Bakugo would most often choose the hammer, sometimes a lighter touch is necessary. It also goes to show just how smart and talented he really is; his bluster masks his intelligence, and when it comes down to it, he has the heart of a true hero.

But of course, there are so many more quotes and lessons in My Hero Academia that would qualify for this list, and you could pick practically any episode and find a nugget of wisdom that resonates within you. Have you been keeping up with your studies?

Make sure to brush up with our beginner’s guide if you’re falling behind, and check out Season 5 of My Hero Academia right here on Funimation! Plus Ultra!