When Togata Mirio was first introduced at the end of My Hero Academia’s third season, he made an immediate impact on the fans! He was cool, he was charming, his design was unique, it was all perfect! Everyone was excited to see more of him!
Come the beginning of season four, we got what we wanted. Mirio swept the entire Chisaki arc. His sacrifice broke our hearts and his struggle to fight even without his Quirk left the fans in tears. It was a highlight of the series!
And then… things got bad. Or more accurately: they stopped.
See, there were two major options with Mirio’s arc from a writing perspective. The first option was to write him out of the story at that point; let his heroic sacrifice spur Deku’s development forward and leave it at that. The second option was to begin a new arc for the character, focusing on how he deals with life without his powers.
The latter is what we got. Or, rather, what we should have gotten. What we actually got was nothing.
After season four happened, Mirio basically disappeared from the story. He’d occasionally show up to remind the audience that he existed and he was babysitting Eri, but that’s it. Poor guy basically became a background character.
Then season six happened. Again, Mirio was absent for most of it. At least until he made a heroic reappearance in the last episode, fully armed with his powers and raring to go. It should’ve been a big, triumphant moment!
Instead, it was a disappointing dud.
This whole arc is incomplete. It’s all beginning and end with no middle! If it were a meal, it’d be like eating only the appetizer and the dessert, but completely ignoring the main course!
Which is a shame! If Mirio were given more time in the spotlight, this arc could’ve been one of the best in the show! He’s already a strong character with a solid backstory and compelling motivations, not to mention his winning personality. All the pieces are there, but none of them came together!
Take season five. There, we see three major arcs play out. The Class A VS Class B training arc, the Endeavor Internship arc, and the My Villain Academia arc. While it makes sense that Mirio wouldn’t be present in the latter-most of those three, he could’ve been written into the prior two with relative ease for some pretty solid results!
Imagine this. In the Class A VS B arc, Mirio is a spectator. Being a skilled and knowledgable upperclassmen, he’s the one who most easily breaks down everything the younger students do. As he watches them all fight with their Quirks, he can’t help but feel a sense of envy; maybe we could get a flashback of when he and his class did this same test. Mirio remembers how strong he felt, how exciting it was, and laments that he’s now in the complete opposite position.
We can use that as setup for his participation in the Endeavor Internship. Maybe while he’s taking care of Eri, he decides to head into town to get something for her. While there, he gets a first-hand look at how bad things are getting. He tries to help stop a crime, maybe two, but is reminded the hard way that his helpfulness is limited by being Quirkless.
Rather than being defeated by this, however, Mirio only uses it to reaffirm his resolve to become a hero. Seeing that, Eri is further inspired to master her own Quirk and help get him back into the field, as she starts to realize how hard it’s been for the man she admires to get by without powers. Bam! Suddenly these two absentee characters get to enjoy some solid character growth.
This could have come to a head in season six. Rather than having him drop in out of nowhere, fully restored and powerful like nothing ever happened, maybe we could’ve focused more on the struggle of his return. Given him his own little side-story throughout this season’s arc.
Imagine this. Partway through the action, we take a break to rejoin Mirio and Eri. Eri manages to restore Mirio’s Quirk, but the process wasn’t perfect. Maybe because she can’t properly control it, his Quirk is incomplete somehow; he can only use it on a small part of his body rather than the whole thing, something like that.
If not that, then maybe Mirio has to re-learn how to use his power, as he’s been without it for half a year. In the actual show, he comments on how it doesn’t even feel nostalgic for him and how he can use it just like before. Why not make it harder for him? No one goes six months without practice and just picks up right where they left on, regardless of what they were practicing!
Whatever the case, Mirio’s season six story is simple. He wants to get back into the fight, but he’s slowed down because his Quirk isn’t working properly. He ends up getting lost in the evacuation zone, far off from where he actually needs to be.
Enter conflict. It could be any number of things. Maybe we can focus on his new baby-sitter skillset and rescue a child who missed the evacuation; Machia is rampaging towards them and Mirio needs to get his Quirk working to save the kid. Or maybe he runs into a loose Nomu or some villains and undergoes a trial by fire to get back into the swing of it.
Now, when he reappears to save the day at the last minute, it actually feels earned! We’ve seen him struggle emotionally and physically to get to this point. It’s a victory that the audience actually engaged with!
I dunno! Just give me something more emotionally compelling then ‘He did nothing for a season and now he’s back!’
It’s a shame. Mirio made such a big splash in the story when he was first introduced. All the pieces seemed to be in place for him to be a defining character for the series.
But in the end, it feels pretty obvious that the author didn’t know what to do with him. Rather than seeing the potential, he saw him as a problem. “He’s too strong, so I need to write him out for a while.”
Great characters are always fun to analyze. Bad characters are at least informative, and sometimes entertaining. But good characters who missed the mark? Those are just depressing.
Sorry, Mirio. You’ll always be cooler in my head than you were on the page.