Warning: the following article contains spoilers for chapter 407 of the My Hero Academia manga.
My Hero Academia has its fair share of compelling villains, but not all of them evoke as much curiosity as All for One. Much of the character’s backstory has been shrouded in mystery for a long while, after all.
Sure, throughout the series, fans got to learn bits and pieces about the villain. For some time now, we have known that he gave his twin brother the ability to stockpile power, which in combination with Yoichi’s quirk, created One for All. As it’s common knowledge, from that point on, the villain made it his mission to take back the powerful quirk by any means necessary, something he has never managed to accomplish. We also know that at one point, All for One had Japan under his thumb, having created a legion of followers who obeyed his orders in exchange for power.
All that said, it wasn’t until the Final War arc that we finally got a look at this antagonist’s backstory. He didn’t simply come into existence as a man with a God complex, did he?
What is All for One’s backstory?
According to chapter 407 of My Hero Academia, All for One and Yoichi are the sons of a sex worker and were born a year before the glowing baby, the first reported person with a meta-ability. During her pregnancy, the mother believed she was suffering from some kind of illness, but in reality, it was a quirk, which was manifesting as a hardened bump in her arm. After the woman gave birth by a riverside, though, the bump disappeared. This was the result of All for One’s quirk, which stole his mother’s right after the twins were born.
Sadly, the woman died after childbirth, and her babies were left to fend for themselves. For the series’ antagonist, though, this was not too difficult of a task, as he was born with the belief that the world belongs to him. Selfish and arrogant, All for One grew up discarding everyone who had no use for him, unrepentantly making use of his stolen quirks to kill them. The only person that All for One kept around despite their inability to give him anything was Yoichi. This wasn’t out of care for his brother, of course, but out of a feeling of possession. The two had been together since the womb, after all.
How did All for One rise to power?
One day, All for One caught Yoichi reading a comic book about superheroes and got intrigued by the differences between heroes and villains. He associated this difference with the saying “one for all and all for one,” zeroing in on how heroes typically fight alone for the sake of others, while villains reign over others through fear. Thus, the antagonist’s desire to create a world where everyone exists for his sake was born.
Three years later, presumably as a teenager, All for One killed the person known as the glowing baby and stole his quirk. Up until then, this person had been growing in popularity in the country due to his activism, mobilizing others to rise against the vicious prejudice that folks without quirks faced at the time. Despite the glowing baby being documented as the first to ever manifest a quirk, the truth is that many others had come before him, and because of that, All for One believed that he didn’t have the right to such a big following.
Most of all, though, the villain wanted what that person had — a legion of supporters at his command. Thus, he began taking measures to achieve his goal, making use of his quirk to gain control over others. With it, he could steal quirks from those who didn’t want them, and give them to those who did. Of course, in theory, that sounds like a nice thing to do, but there was a price to pay. In exchange for granting them their wishes, folks had to swear allegiance to All for One and submit to his will.
This way, My Hero Academia‘s overarching villain gathered a huge following and secured his place at the top. Well, until someone came around to oppose him, naturally. It must have been good while it lasted, at least.