My Hero Academia: Tomura Shigaraki’s Plot Armor May Hurt the Story

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for My Hero Academia Chapter 332, "State-of-the-Art Hypersonic Intercontinental Cruise...", by Kohei Horikoshi, Caleb Cook and John Hunt, now available in English from Viz Media.

The #1 American pro hero, Star and Stripe, continues her savage airborne battle against Tomura Shigaraki/All For One, and both fighters use the full measure of their Quirks to decide the winner in a battle the likes of which the world has never seen. Star and Stripe's New Order Quirk proves highly effective, but it's still not enough to secure victory.

Star and Stripe uses her Quirk in tandem with several stealth bombers to deliver incredible blows to her opponent, but to no avail. Incredibly, Shigaraki's regeneration allows him to survive nuke-level attacks, and this bodes ill for Star and Strike and Deku alike. It may also bode ill for the story, since Shigaraki is clearly OP by now.

Tomura Shigaraki, Surviving Against Impossible Odds

tomura shigaraki vs star and stripe

Every superhero story needs a powerful villain for the hero to fight, and the odds should always be stacked against the protagonist -- in this case, Izuku Midoriya. For a time, All For One was such a villain for All Might to overcome, and now, both sides have passed on that fight to Tomura Shigaraki and Deku. Scenes late in the anime's fifth season suggested that One For All and All For One, as Quirks, were destined to have their final battle soon, and that's why OFA's extra Quirks have started to emerge, starting with the Blackwhip Quirk. Thus, both Deku and Tomura must survive to reach their final fight, but the narrative of My Hero Academia is paying the price for it.

Main characters typically have plot armor -- in other words, events are always shaped so that the major characters survive until their story arcs are complete. Good stories will maintain plot armor without warping or damaging the story around them, but clunky plot armor results in characters who are conspicuously unkillable, and in recent MHA chapters, that character is Tomura Shigaraki. This allows Tomura to "cheat" in his fight scenes, diving into unwinnable battles but winning anyway because the narrative won't allow him to lose or otherwise become unable to fight Deku later.

In particular, his regeneration ability is pushed to a ludicrous extreme, allowing him to survive Star and Stripe's devastating Susanoo-style attack and turn the tables on her, when realistically, Tomura should have been obliterated or at least knocked out. His plot armor is so thick, it arguably ruined what could have been MHA's best fights in quite some time.

The Wasted Potential of Star and Stripe

star and stripe from my hero academia and susanoo from naruto

In the story of My Hero Academia, Star and Stripe could have served as much-needed backup for Japan's few surviving heroes against a tidal wave of villainy and destruction. Instead, the narrative uses her as a punching bag for Tomura Shigaraki to show off how incredibly powerful he is, to the point of making his plot armor painfully obvious. Star and Stripe was promising at first, being a brash but noble hero who sought to live up to All Might's example; however, her purpose quickly changed. She has all but lost to Tomura Shigaraki, while under ordinary circumstances, she could have prevailed. With an attack like that, she could have demolished any villain currently operating in Japan, or indeed, around the world.

Not even Star and Stripe can stand up to Tomura's advantage of nigh-indestructible plot armor, and that led to her defeat and likely cut her time in the overall story much shorter than it could have been. It also lessened the tension and stakes in the Tomura vs. Star battle, since Tomura was practically guaranteed to not just survive, but win so that he could face Deku in that destined battle. Any non-Deku character who faces Tomura will be crushed by his plot armor, not just his in-universe abilities, and that makes all battles with him moot until he and Deku do battle at last. Any fight against him is a foregone conclusion, and that's no fun for the audience.

In this sense, Star's battle with him was just a cameo where Star had a chance to show off her incredible Quirk before suffering inevitable defeat. A well-designed character like her could and should have done more in the story, fighting other villains to buy Deku time to fight his final battle. That's what the #1 American hero deserved.

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