In the world of My Hero Academia, All Might is the hero among heroes, beloved by nearly everyone. One of the recurring themes of My Hero Academia is the unique burden that comes with being All Might: the premier symbol of hope and peace. Being in such a visible position means that people from all walks of life see the spotlight on All Might. As a result, characters like Bakugo, Todoroki, and Midoriya view All Might and the values he represents in different lights, which transforms the ways in which they imitate or emulate the #1 hero.
Izuku Midoriya, the protagonist of My Hero Academia, takes to heart the image of All Might as someone who fights for those in peril. And it’s not merely the hapless—even the strong need saving occasionally. As seen with his early attempt to rescue Bakugo (back before Midoriya even had powers) or his fight with Todoroki in the UA Athletic Festival, it doesn’t matter if Midoriya is weaker. He puts others before himself and will go the extra distance if it means another person does not have to suffer, sometimes even to his own detriment. Self-sacrifice comes all too easily to Midoriya, for better or for worse, and it’s based on how he perceives All Might’s heroism.
Katsuki Bakugo, Midoriya’s childhood frenemy and rival, is a raging ball of anger and violence. Everything he does seems to be counter to what All Might stands for… except Bakugo also looks up to him. Unlike Midoriya, what Bakugo takes from All Might is the importance of exuding an aura of invincibility. No one’s supposed to look down at All Might or rescue him from harm. It’s not that Bakugo wants to be a hero simply to be stronger than everyone else, but that being stronger than everyone else means being able to stand as the symbol of peace. This is why Bakugo views Midoriya with a mix of contempt and fear: Midoriya is supposed to be weaker, and the strong should never need help from the weak.
Shouto Todoroki, wielder of both fire and ice abilities, has something of a simpler view of All Might, but it’s no less profound or impactful. The son of the #2 hero, Endeavor, Todoroki has been raised to be the ultimate hero, a tool to surpass All Might. Endeavor himself views heroism as a competition for superiority, which on some level sours Todoroki’s own perspective. All Might, then, represents everything Endeavor is not. All Might is a hero not for the glory or the status, but the simple desire to do what’s right. To Todoroki, All Might represents the hope that he can escape the taint of his father’s influence.
Midoriya, Bakugo, and Todoroki’s perceptions of All Might are motivated by their own unique upbringings and has helped to both shape (and be shaped by) their personalities. This speaks greatly to the strength and appeal of All Might. Heroes like him aren’t always popular with fans, but perhaps just as the characters in the series take what they want from All Might, so too do the readers. And in the end, this is all rooted in how All Might is just an excellent character.
Image Sources: My Hero Academia on Crunchyroll