My Hero Academia has gradually revealed the secrets of One For All in an effective manner that’s kept the mystery alive, but still advanced the Quirk’s lore. “Izuku Midoriya and Tomura Shigaraki” drops the bombshell that One For All isn’t a Quirk that normal humans can sustain. In fact, Shinomori actually passed away at a relatively young age because of the Quirk’s strain on his body, which audiences got to experience in real time with All Might and his subsequent retirement. It’s a grim revelation that couldn’t be confirmed until recently because most One For All bearers have died in combat and couldn’t reach a mature age. These past heroes collectively hold an internal intervention to prevent Midoriya from meeting the same fate that befell all of them.
It’s fascinating to see how the One For All vestiges view this pure, giving power as a curse to its user. In doing so, One For All becomes the ultimate symbol of selfless heroism. All Might and Deku have revised the use of One For All from their predecessors, but they’re also both unique circumstances since they were Quirkless before their One For All-ifications, unlike the other bearers. One For All has apparently evolved to the point where Midoriya can longer pass it on to someone else, unless they too are Quirkless, which has become increasingly rare this generation.
The compounded effect of this Quirk raises some interesting questions and it stands to reason that other Quirks could mutate over time in comparable ways. “Izuku Midoriya and Tomura Shigaraki” is largely restricted to a sole environment, but My Hero Academia portrays this mental limbo with foreboding flair. There is also some really effective symbolic imagery that makes use of overflowing chalices as a metaphor for One For All transfer. It’s creative touches like this that give the small-scale episode a more dynamic feeling.
“Izuku Midoriya and Tomura Shigaraki,” as its title suggests, splits its focus. The first half concentrates on One For All’s history, mechanics, and evolution, while the rest heads into more proactive territory when these vestiges reiterate how important it is for Midoriya to kill Shigaraki. Whether Midoriya is physically strong enough to accomplish this isn’t the vestiges’ concern, but they do genuinely worry that Midoriya won’t be able to kill Shigaraki when the time comes and that he’ll still try to rehabilitate him.
Midoriya has come to trust these mystic mentors, many of which are the greatest heroes of their generation, and yet they emphasize that it’s important to destroy, not to forgive. Under different circumstances they’d perhaps be impressed with Midoriya’s endless reserve of empathy, but he’s instead forced to confront and examine his motivations and if he really knows best here. In fact, they claim that the true purpose of One For All is that it’s designed to destroy All For One. Shigaraki’s death by Midoriya’s hand is bigger than just these two individuals. It’s fate.
The most powerful moment of the episode, and a fitting reminder of Midoriya’s true status as a hero, is that Midoriya rebels against this prophecy. He argues that One For All may be a Quirk that was designed to destroy, but that they’ve all helped it evolve over time so that it’s now a tool that saves and inspires. It’s helped far more people than it’s hurt and it’s caused an entire generation to believe in a bright future. One For All’s name has never been more accurate than when Deku becomes the only one capable of truly changing the balance between heroes and villains.