As Anime April comes to a close, our friend TWWK of Beneath the Tangles joins us to examine some of the heroes found in My Hero Academia. How do Mirio and Deku’s saving Eri represent the truly Heroic Healing that Jesus brings? Check out this episode as TWWK dives into this conversation with the Shie Hassaikai Arc as the background.

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Written Devotional

Hello and welcome to Geek Devotions, the Show from Devoted Geeks who are devoted to letting you know that you are loved. So if you don’t watch past this moment, know this: You are loved. You are cared for. There is a plan and purpose for your life. I’m Twwk, founder of Beneath the Tangles, a ministry that bridges the divide between anime fans and the Christian church by developing anime-related content and discussing anime and Christianity as expressed through anime, manga, and light novels; ministering to and loving Christian anime fans, and demonstrating faith by modeling Christ through interaction with our readers and followers. We’ll tell you how to join our mission at the end of the devotional.

But first, I want to talk about saviors. We sometimes refer to a savior as one who saves us from making some error, or in a romantic sense, or of course, in terms of eternal salvation through Christ. When I think about Jesus, I think about that immense gift of eternal life. He is the Savior. But I often forget, especially when I’m in a valley, that he’s also saved us to live a life now that also radiates his beauty, one that’s good for us and good for the world.

That picture of God’s salvation reminds me of the most popular anime in the world right now, My Hero Academia. It’s a good series. It has its failings—namely, how the stakes aren’t really that high. Heroes rarely die, even though they’re supposedly in great danger. But still, there’s plenty to enjoy.

And in fact, when I see All-Might, the character who starts the series as the greatest hero, I sometimes immediately connect him to God—maybe not bombastic, but certainly powerful, undefeated, loud, strong, mighty. God is all that. But while he’s incredible as the concept associated with a Savior of lives, All-Might is uncomfortable in doing the day-to-day work, try as he might. But God—God is saving us in that way, too. And boy, do we need it.

If you’re like me, maybe you’ve struggled these past couple of years. Maybe for even longer than that. If you’re in the valley of the shadow of depression, anxiety, despair, loneliness, or failure—remember that Jesus saves you from hell, but he is also walking with you daily. And in that way, he reminds me of a hero different from All-Might. Two, in fact!

This leads me to the Overhaul arc in MHA—spoilers ahead! As this arc begins, it looks like the focus is going to be on four major characters: the villain, Overhaul, All-Might’s former sidekick, Sir Nighteye; Deku, the protagonist of the series; and Mirio, Deku’s senior at UA High, a powerful, kind, and helpful student and hero. And they all do remain a heavy focus of the arc, but there’s another character who plays a major role as well: the young child, Eri. She only gets a little screen time in the episodes, but she is pivotal.

Eri has been kidnapped, and her power is being hijacked by Overhaul. And as a victim of abuse, we’re left to wonder, how will the heroes rescue her and stop the villain? And most of the heroes that gather have a certain way of working. Their relationship with those they rescue is a lot like doctors and patients. When you visit a doctor, a lot of times you only get to see the actual physician for ten minutes, if that. The same goes with other healthcare professionals, like dentists and pharmacists.

Superheroes, whether they dress in scrubs or in capes, often only get to be with the rescued for a short amount time. They use their talent and expertise to save people, and then move on to save more. Eri, just like all other victims, needs this type of rescuing, too. She needs to be snatched away from imminent danger, taken from the abuse of Overhaul to a place where she won’t be exploited and hurt anymore. This is what Mirio and Deku are poised to do. They are determined to rescue Eri at any cost—and for once in this series, the cost is high. Mirio ultimately loses his powers, and Deku must fight against a villain with enormous strength. This is the work of a hero. Mirio and Deku are imitating All Might and countless others who put their lives on the line so that other lives may be saved.

This kind of approach is what I traditionally think of when I think of heroes. It’s no wonder that when we look at the Bible, the people living through those times are expecting the same. During captivity, the empires and occupiers showed immense physical power with their militaries, and the Jewish people expected a similarly strong hero to be their Messiah and to fight for them. Like the kings of the Old Testament and those battling them, they expected a leader who would crush their enemies. But their expectation was a little off. It was not what the prophets foretold. Look at what Isaiah 42:1 tells us:

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.”

Ok, so, Chosen by God, full of the Spirit, bringing justice…sounds pretty awesome, pretty much in All-Might mode. But then Isaiah follows up with this: “He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.”

Wait a minute. I can’t imagine All-Might flying into the scene and smashing stuff while also being tender enough to not break bruised reeds—plants that, having been hurt, are already in the process of dying.

But then I shifted my gaze from All-Might to Mirio and Deku. This description in Isaiah is exactly the kind of tenderness they exude. It’s the kind of heroism that Eri needs. Can you imagine Endeavor or Rock Lock rescuing Eri? I think she’d be like, “Too scary. No thanks.” So, while getting Eri out of Overhaul’s hands is mission one, mission two—the one that takes far more patience and time, one with odds that are far worse than the original raid of the yakuza base—is not to rescue Eri physically; it’s to rescue her by bringing her healing.

That’s a process that’s ugly and painful and takes a lot of time. By rescuing her, but also daily as they visit, Deku and Mirio teach Eri that she’s worth fighting and even dying for. And that brings us to the School Festival arc. We’ve got Gentle Criminal causing trouble, and we have Kyoka tearing it up on the guitar and Bakugou yelling at people to listen to their music, but these are honestly side stories or obstacles to the main thread, which is Eri’s healing. Deku is going to restore her to childlike happiness and innocence through Class I-A’s performance and he will hurdle over the obstacle of Gentle Criminal to do so.

And isn’t that perfect picture of what Christ does, the perseverance and kindness with which he comes to heal? Let’s get back to that Isaiah verse again: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” In My Hero, Eri is that bruised reed. She is hurt. She is dying, and without saving, she could become a shell with nothing inside of her, or with her power, maybe even a villain worse than Overhaul. But Mirio and Deku care for that bruised reed. They rehabilitate the plant, bringing Eri back to health, making her smile again.

Eri is that wick, too, about to be snuffed out, at the end of her rope. What use is it to save a candle when it can’t light anymore? A superhero rushing in too quickly to save the candlestick might save us for the moment…but then also blow out the fire.

If you’re listening, you probably have put your faith in Christ already. He’s saved you for all eternity. But don’t forget, he’s here for the long haul. Eternity starts now. And your pains and burdens—he cares about them and he wants to heal them. God’s not going to rush in and rush out, for he is relentless in his affection, devotion, and gentleness. He is Mirio, sitting by our bedside day after day. He is Deku, fighting bad guys and doing the work that will bring restoration to our souls. He will attend to the wounded. He will heal the broken. And he has done one more thing, too.

Earlier I mentioned my one big issue with Hero Academia is that its stakes aren’t nearly so high as intended to be. All Might loses his power, as he was already doing. Mirio loses his, too, but he might regain them one day. And out of dozens of important good guys, only one dies in the Overhaul arc. But for God, the work of being a hero had the highest stakes of all.

As Deku and Mirio faced Overhaul, and Deku later faced Gentle Criminal, Christ faced adversaries to rescue us. He fought against sin and he fought against the devil, and while Deku and Mirio went way beyond what you and I would have to save Eri—beatings, humiliation, a loss of power and the risk of death—Jesus did the same and went into the fight knowing that death was certain. And he did it so that the bruised reed would not break, so that the smoldering wick would not be snuffed.

My Hero Academia is the story of how Deku becomes the greatest hero. The Bible, though, isn’t an origin story. It’s about one who was always the greatest hero doing the impossible to save the hurting in this world, like Eri; like you and like me.

And your story? Whatever arc you’re in, in whatever ways you are struggling, you are like Eri, a bruised reed, a child in need of saving, and your story is about how the greatest hero came to save you, once for all eternity, and every single day.

Thank you for watching. For more content about God’s love for you, follow Geek Devotions on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Just search Geek Devotions. And follow my ministry, Beneath the Tangles, as well, for anime content—we’re on all the same platforms and here on YouTube as well. Until next time, stay devoted. And Peace and Love or, since it’s anime month, as Vash the Stampede would say, Love and Peace!