There was a fantastic moment in the first episode of My Hero Academia that I felt summed up what the show was trying to say. The main character had just been told he doesn’t have any superpowers. To a kid like him who watched videos of heroes endlessly and wanted nothing more in his life to be one, this was a crushing blow on a level like telling a kid with no legs that they’ll never be a sprinter after they watched videos of Bolt running at the Olympics. His mother at this point catches him watching his favourite video of his hero again with tears in his eyes, asking if he can still be a hero.
I believe I may have used this comparison on this blog before, but it reminded me of my old attitude to the Paralympics. Devoting your entire life to running when you have no legs seemed counter-intuitive when there were all these other things you could still do that your disability couldn’t stop you from doing. Then I saw how fast people with no legs could run, or how quickly dwarves moved while swimming, and how skillfully wheelchair-bound people could respond in a table tennis rally, and realise that these people were all so much better at these things than me. Overcoming the disability to still be able to compete at a high level was far more important than being realistic about things. The dream is more important and it’s because they didn’t let the disability tell them they shouldn’t try that they were able to do it.
That’s why the scene with his mother felt so impactful to me. She told her kid that she was sorry he couldn’t be a hero. What she should have said, and what he wanted her to say, is that he still could be.