My Hero Academia’s USJ Arc Made Its Villains Terrifying

By Carlyle Edmundson Published 23 minutes ago

My Hero Academia’s big villains debuted in its first major story arc, and it firmly established that these foes were not to be trifled with.

My Hero Academia's USJ Arc Made Its Villains Terrifying


  • The USJ arc in My Hero Academia introduces major villains like Shigaraki and the Nomu, raising the stakes for heroes and students.
  • The arc showcases various students and teachers in action against villains, giving almost everyone a chance to shine.
  • Mineta's role in the arc detracts from the storyline, but the overall impact of the USJ arc remains captivating.


The first truly major My Hero Academia story arc, once the introduction is said and done, is the USJ arc, an abbreviation short for "Unforeseen Simulation Joint." This arc marks the first appearance of the series' biggest villains, and it does a fantastic job establishing that these are truly deadly opponents that shouldn't be underestimated.

In the USJ arc, the students of Class 1-A are taken to a special facility, the aforementioned USJ, in order to do some training in various conditions, such as wrecked cities and flooded areas. However, the villains are aware of this training, and opt to strike, hoping to attack and kill All Might right then and there. All Might wasn't present as they expected, however, and the confrontation quickly escalated as dozens of low-level thugs poured into the area thanks to Kurogiri's Warp Quirk, threatening to kill the students and anyone else who stands in their way.

My Hero Academia's USJ Arc Made Its Villains Terrifying

Kurogiri's Warp is used to separate the students from each other and drop them into various areas around the USJ, leaving them in random locations, surrounded by enemies, with no idea who is nearby to help them.

The USJ Arc is Critical to Establishing My Hero Academia's Villains

My Hero Academia's USJ Arc Made Its Villains Terrifying

The arc is relatively short, lasting just 5 episodes in the anime and 10 chapters in the manga, but its importance to the overall narrative can't be overstated. The USJ introduces Shigaraki and Kurogiri, two major antagonists, with Shigaraki being the big bad of the entire series. Introduced in this proactive attack on the heroes, Shigaraki comes across as bold and dangerous, and his design, covered in disembodied hands, is one of the creepiest ever seen in anime and manga. His Quirk is put on display quickly when he faces Aizawa, and it becomes apparent that his power is truly a deadly one.

The USJ also introduces the concept of Nomu, reanimated corpses with multiple Quirks engineered to kill heroes, particularly All Might. Many Nomu would go on to appear in the series, but the USJ Nomu is remembered for being one of the toughest, even now. Despite being a mindless creature, it pushes All Might to his limit, emphasizing that while they can still count on All Might for now, his days as a hero are already numbered. With such dangerous villains on the loose and All Might soon off the table, the stakes are immediately raised for the students, including Deku.

Nomu would go on to be explored in more detail in the prequel manga My Hero Academia Vigilantes , which has yet to be animated.

The USJ Gives Almost Everyone A Chance to Shine


Another fantastic quality of this arc is how it manages to balance the students, despite being scattered into so many different groups. Characters like Todoroki and Bakugo obviously get their moments, but even more minor students like Mashirao Ojiro (Tailman) get to show off in the anime. While it's not perfect, the story does check in with everyone to see how they're faring against the villains. Students like Asui and Iida get to play very important roles, with the former teamed up with Deku and the latter sent to use his speed to call for help.

The teachers also get to put on a relatively impressive performance, despite ultimately being defeated by the villains. Aizawa, who has come across as grumpy and mean for the most part, is immediately thrust into battle and proves he's willing to do anything to defend his students. He defeats literally dozens of thugs by himself, and even as he's being beaten to within an inch of his life, he's able to use his Quirk to stop Shigaraki from murdering Asui. Aizawa quickly became a fan favorite, and his performance here makes it clear why.

Aizawa, who comes across as grumpy, is thrust into battle and proves he's willing to do anything to defend his students.

All Might himself puts up a fantastic battle as well, even as it's clear that the Nomu is a truly deadly opponent for the #1 hero. It's moments like this that make it clear why Midoriya and the other students look up to All Might so much; when things were looking their bleakest, the Symbol of Peace appeared and turned the tables singlehandedly. Having already seen the Nomu wipe the floor with other characters, All Might's eventual victory serves as proof that he really is wielding power on another level, while making it clear why a successor is needed.

Mineta Brings the Whole Arc Down

My Hero Academia's USJ Arc Made Its Villains Terrifying

The one point where this arc trips up is its inclusion of Mineta as a major character. Mineta's perverted behavior towards the girls had already earned him the ire of much of the audience, but he becomes much worse as he steps into the spotlight. Teaming up with Deku and Asui, Mineta makes himself almost completely useless throughout the situation. He cries and whines, and refuses to take action as the other two try to discuss plans. While he may be a child, him being the only student to react in such a way paints a negative picture of Mineta.

Unfortunately, Mineta doesn't get any opportunity to grow as a character here, or really at any point in the series. His inclusion would've been more forgivable if Mineta took inspiration from Midoriya's cool head, or even grew braver once All Might appeared, but that doesn't happen. Instead, even as they're in life-or-death situations, Mineta is still harassing Asui and lamenting that he didn't get to fondle Momo. His presence is a serious detraction, and it's a relief to know his role is quite smaller from here on out.

Still, Mineta can only ruin the proceedings so much, and there are so many cool moments from such a variety of characters that the arc remains captivating, even after several watches. The villains are established as highly dangerous and capable, and the pro heroes like Aizawa get a chance to prove their competence, even against insane numbers. All Might's glorious victory against the Nomu is merely the cherry on top of an already great arc, one that remains among My Hero Academia's best.

Watch on Crunchyroll

Cast Aoi Yuki , Ayane Sakura , Christopher R. Sabat , Yûki Kaji , Nobuhiko Okamoto , Luci Christian , David Matranga , Justin Briner , Kenta Miyake , Clifford Chapin , Daiki Yamashita Release Date April 3, 2016 Seasons 5 Website Franchise My Hero Academia Production Company Bones Number of Episodes 113

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