He’s the Symbol of Peace, an icon of stability and optimism in a superheroic age. He’s the greatest of superheroes, chasing down villains wherever they lurk, saving the people with a gallant smile. He’s a friend and mentor to our boy Deku, equipping him with all the strength and support he needs to achieve his own heroic destiny. He is All Might, My Hero Academia’s shining star, a character whose design screams Infinite Strength and Giant Teddy Bear all at the same time. All Might’s presence is a tremendous part of what makes My Hero Academia so great, and today, we’re going to celebrate all the things that make All Might special. Let’s start at the top and raise up a cheer for the Symbol of Peace!
Reason One: He’s Just That Awesome
We’re going to get into some less obvious reasons eventually, but there’s no denying the big one: All Might just really is an awe-inspiring superhero. From the grand finale of the show’s first season to his recent participation in the superhero counterattack, the moments where All Might gets to go wild are always incredibly rewarding. Just seeing him smash through that wall to save Bakugo gives the immediate impression that things are going to be okay, even when we know that’s not really true. All Might’s beautifully realized strength makes it totally believable that he could carry this world on his shoulders; he evokes in us the same confidence he props up for his own people, making us truly believe him when he says “it’s all right now. Why? Because I am here!”
Reason Two: He’s Extremely Adorable
You wouldn’t think a man who alternates between appearing as a muscle-bound goliath and a sunken-eyed husk could possibly come across as “adorable,” but All Might somehow manages it. Part of it comes down to his demeanor; in spite of brimming with gallant confidence when he needs to, he’s also awkward and overly polite and often a screwup, so there’s a great natural tension between “I am the strongest hero ever” and “whoops, I broke another school regulation, now everyone’s gonna be mad at me.” Of course, it certainly doesn’t hurt that he does stuff like awkwardly asking Deku to lunch and showing up to loiter at work when he’s bored. All Might might be the lofty Symbol of Peace, but he’s also a pretty relatable dude.
Reason Three: He’s a Flawed but Committed Dad
All Might isn’t literally Midoriya’s dad, but I mean, c’mon, he’s Midoriya’s dad. He’s the figure Midoriya looked up to as a child, the one he saw as an invincible goal to aspire to, and the one who’s gone on to be Midoriya’s day-to-day confidant in navigating not just his powers, but life in general. All Might has given Midoriya great confidence, helped him regain hope in his dream, and generally supported him, but he’s also been far from a perfect influence. All Might’s instinct towards sacrificing himself for others has in Midoriya turned into something even more self-destructive, and All Might often lacks the perspective or good sense to keep his adopted son from getting hurt. And yet in spite of that, All Might acknowledges his own failures, and works to protect Midoriya while knowing he hasn’t always been the best guide for the boy. He screws up and tries again and does a little better, all the while demonstrating he’s not just a great hero to the populace, he’s also doing his best to raise one mixed-up kid.
Reason Four: He’s Trying Hard, Too
All Might works hard to present himself as an invincible icon of heroic strength, because that’s what the world needs him to be. But in truth, All Might is always pushing himself, and as the series goes on, it’s clear his constant heroics take a heavy toll on his health. All Might is ultimately much like Deku: strength doesn’t come naturally to him, it’s something he pursues because he feels he has to, because people are in danger and he thinks he can help. Because of this, when All Might claims he was inspired to move by his own students, we can easily believe him. All Might is as vulnerable and uncertain of himself as any of us, and the fact that he still works so hard and achieves so much in spite of that is what ultimately makes him so great. Even when he's physically spent, All Might knows he can never let down the people who believe in him, and so raises his fist all the same. Acting strong when you're actually strong is easy; performing strength when you're at your weakest, because you know the people need something to believe in, is the sign of a true hero.
All Might is a tremendous boon to My Hero Academia, and that’s before we even get to his weirdly charming design, or the animation buffet of his major fights. Though his time as the Symbol of Peace may be coming to an end, the importance of his work is clear in all the people he’s inspired, all the new heroes he’s taught to believe in themselves. Whether it’s through sparring with villains on city streets or simply telling Deku he did a good job, All Might embodies the spirit of heroism, giving us not just a hero to believe in, but the confidence to believe in ourselves.