The reveal of Aoyama Yuga as the real U.A. traitor in the leaked scans of My Hero Academia chapter 336 brings one of the biggest fan theories to perfect confirmation.
The deceptive reveal of Hagakure Toru as the U.A. traitor in chapter 335 got a mixed reception from readers, so how does Aoyama Yuga’s reveal work so well despite readers having anticipated it?
How Aoyama Yuga’s reveal as the U.A. traitor in My Hero Academia chapter 336 was a masterstroke from Horikoshi
While leaked scans of My Hero Academia chapter confirm Aoyama Yuga as the U.A. traitor, it has been in the works since the beginning of the series, and Horikoshi has developed this plot point with a long period of build-up in mind.
1) The first mention of U.A. traitor theory
The possibility of a mole or traitor in My Hero Academia was first mentioned by Present Mic in chapter 83. However, readers had already speculated about a traitor because villains had impossibly found out the location class 1-A three times. The canonical mention came at precisely the right time when speculation is at its peak, but would soon be overshadowed by the spectacle of the Hideout Raid arc. After chapter 83, it is mentioned once again by Principal Nezu in chapter 98, overshadowed yet again by All Might’s retirement and the Pro Hero License Exam arc.
Thus, the U.A. traitor theory was established but did not take the front seat, prompting fans to go back and locate every hint Horikoshi has given so far.
2) The hints
There have been many hints of Aoyama Yuga being the U.A. traitor: his absence during the USJ attack, his behavior during the Forest Training arc, and many more.
However, Horikoshi had also given several hints about other characters. Without any confirmation, the fandom noticed each of the decoys that Horikoshi placed, and speculations ran rampant. Aoyama Yuga was one of the suspects, along with Kaminari, Hagakure, and even Present mic.
In this atmosphere, Horikoshi brought out chapters 167 and 168, which confused the readers more.
3) An apparent red herring
In chapter 167, Aoyama Yuga started stalking Izuku Midoriya. He showed up at Midoriya’s window and left a message in cheese which read, “I know.”
Between chapters 167 and 168, Horikoshi managed to almost convince the fandom that Aoyama Yuga is in fact the U.A. traitor. However, in chapter 168, it is revealed that Aoyama, due to his own Quirk being incompatible with his body, understood Midoriya’s troubles with OFA, and wanted to provide support to his classmate. This not only endeared Aoyama Yuga to the readers, it also brought him into the main cast properly.
Additionally, the fandom stopped giving importance to the U.A. traitor theory anymore, because it seemed like Horikoshi had no intention of delivering on it, and it was just something the U.A. authorities suspected. Some readers held strong; however, and Horikoshi snuffed them out by never mentioning anything about a traitor for the next 167 chapters, and then confirming the other big theory in the fandom.
4) A long period of absence followed by Dabi’s reveal
What followed Aoyama Yuga’s decoy chapters, was the longest and most gruesome arc of the manga yet, the Paranormal Liberation War arc. All thoughts of the traitor firmly took a backseat as Dabi revealed himself as Todoroki Touya, Todoroki Shouto’s deceased elder brother. The “Dabi is a Todoroki” theory had been supported by countless intentional clues from Horikoshi without any canon confirmation.
With this theory coming true, some fans speculated that the U.A. traitor theory also had a chance of coming true. But with no mention for so long and in the middle of such an interesting arc, embellished by the revelation of the true identity of arguably the most popular villain in My Hero Academia, the traitor theory was forgotten once again, especially as immediately after the war, Midoriya left U.A.
5) A real red herring
Then, in chapter 335, with no prior indication following Star and Stripe’s death, Hagakure Toru was seemingly revealed as the U.A. traitor. Horikoshi accomplished this by drawing Hagakure in the very last panel in a very mysterious way, with AFO telling Dabi that he has “friends to spare.” This line was displayed over Hagakure picture in bold. The fandom was blindsided by this sudden turn of events, and scrambled to find hints of Hagakure betrayal in previous chapters. However, some readers were skeptical, and pointed out that Hagakure could also be spying on the real U.A. traitor.
Either way, readers were extremely disappointed, because there was probably only one clue of Hagakure being the traitor, and with no foreshadowing, it seemed that Horikoshi randomly chose Hagakure because her Quirk was invisibility.
6) Aoyama Yuga’s reveal and backstory
When the raw scans of My Hero Academia chapter 336 were leaked, it was revealed that Hagakure was indeed spying on the real U.A. traitor, who is Aoyama Yuga. Hagakure had been worried about him and started spying on him out of concern. Yuga’s parents are being threatened by AFO, and they are forcing Aoyama to be the mole.
Before the fans could turn on him, however, Horikoshi revealed Aoyama Yuga’s backstory.
Aoyama Yuga was born quirk-less, like Midoriya Izuku. His parents requested AFO to give him a Quirk, which was Navel Laser. This is why Aoyama’s Quirk is incompatible with his body, and this is why he could relate to Midoriya. As Hagakure tries to get a teacher, Midoriya walks up to her, and together they confront Aoyama Yuga; he breaks down and calls himself a disgusting villain.
What Horikoshi does with Aoyama Yuga is a layered but empathetic execution. The build-up to the reveal took nearly 250 chapters, and it is sharp and sudden in contrast. By making Aoyama his own decoy, Horikoshi keeps him relevant but takes him out of the spotlight.
Finally, with his backstory, and with Aoyama Yuga’s own reluctance to go against the heroes and his classmates, Horikoshi creates both sympathy and empathy amongst his readers for Aoyama. This is one of Horikoshi’s best executed plotlines yet.
However, a clearer picture will be available once the official chapter gets released. My Hero Academia chapter 336 will be available on Viz.com, Manga Plus, and on other Shueisha platforms on December 5, and for some regions, 4.