My Hero Academia's Stain is Exposing All Might's Fatal Flaw

Warning: contains spoilers for My Hero AcademiaChapter 326

Kohei Horikoshi's My Hero Academia has finally put the old villain Stain to use in chapter 326 after having him lurk in the background for several chapters, and his opinions on All Might and heroes had some shockingly relevant points.

The "Hero Killer" Stain first appeared early on in My Hero Academia and very nearly killed several of the students when they opted to confront him on their own. He wound up in jail after that and was absent (aside from flashbacks) for nearly 200 chapters before recently reappearing, back in 297. What's made Stain a compelling villain is that he claims many of the heroes out there today aren't "true" heroes, but rather chasing celebrity or reward, making them unworthy of the title. Some of the students in the hero course even expressed a degree of admiration towards him. For Stain, the only real hero was All Might, and Stain ultimately spared Deku because he saw the same thing in him.

Related: My Hero Academia: Stain is Giving All Might A Renewed Sense of Purpose

With All Might's power almost entirely gone at this point, the former symbol of peace has struggled to find a new place in the world. He's tried to play the role of mission control for Deku but quickly realized the boy didn't really need him. Some villains who encountered the depowered All Might looked so pathetic they decided he wasn't even worth fighting. Stain seems like the last person he'd take a pep talk from, yet he had exactly the words All Might needed to hear.

Criticism of the hero-based society of My Hero Academia has been present since the beginning, and the story has explored these critiques from multiple angles, with Stain just one of them. As the structure of society has collapsed in the wake of All Might's retirement and the Paranormal Liberation War, many of these criticisms have been proven valid. Some professional heroes retired when things began to get difficult; others lost motivation and guidance without All Might setting the example. The public was already nervous about what would happen after All Might, because so much of their world was built on this single man's accomplishments, and the struggles and failures of the other heroes in the War broke their confidence in heroes entirely.

It's easy to blame All Might for making the world so dependent on him; he always knew there would be a day where he would no longer be able to fight, and that only became more obvious after his injury. To go from having so much on his shoulders to being unable to do anything at all has been difficult for him, and the way that society collapsed almost immediately after his retirement has left him with the burden of responsibility, as is symbolized by him standing near the All Might statue. But Stain makes a surprising point here: just as all this destruction spiraled out from hero society losing its keystone, the seeds of salvation had their start there as well. The next generation of heroes, people like Bakugo and Midoriya, only became heroes because of their admiration for All Might. He didn't just cultivate one protege to take his place--he has hundreds, thousands even, across Japan. The idea of All Might, the dream he represents, is still the source of the light that will drive away the darkness, even if it's reflected off these junior heroes.

While there's no doubt that Stain is deranged, that doesn't mean everything he says is wrong, and in a way, he may be the only My Hero Academia character who could have gotten this message through. He shouldn't be forgiven, but it's okay to say that in this situation, Stain may well have been essential.

Next: MHA's All-Might and Endeavor Team-Up in Incredible Cover from Invincible Artist

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