My Hero Academia (Boku no Hero Academia) is a long way away from the things I am accustomed to watching. Yet, after the first two episodes, I was completely captivated by it.
So, let’s get into it:
My Hero Academia is the story of Midoriya, a teenager who has lived out his life ‘quirk-less,’ lacking in any kind of ‘super-power’ that 80% of the population has. Since being young, he has always aspired to be a hero. He admires one in particular, his soon-to-be mentor, sponsor, and number-one hero, All Might. It is from All Might where he garners his inspiration, and conjures his unfaltering motivation to become a hero, despite being ‘quirk-less.’ All Might decides Midoriya is to be his successor, and the one to inherit his mighty power. My Hero Acedemia is the story of Midoriya learning what it is to be a hero, what it takes, and one day where it might take him.
My Hero Academia, Season 1
I’m unsure as to why I was put off this particular show without ever considering it, it simply never grabbed my attention. Until, after seeing it everywhere, and after reading about it everywhere… I felt compelled to watch it – to at least give it a go. What’s an episode or two?
I’m truly glad I did.
My Hero Academia is a strange show, at least for me it is. The reason being, is that I have found myself unable to make reliable comparisons elsewhere. And yet, in most aspects, it isn’t excitingly unique – but when are they ever?
Maybe I hold too many judgments and preconceptions before giving a show a chance, before seeing for myself what its constituent parts are. Maybe I focus too much on genre, rather than pure, defining content. Either way, My Hero Acedemia has been a lesson learnt in this regard.
What’s that old saying… don’t judge a book by its cover… it’s true!
Plot, Narrative, and Themes
My Hero Academia doesn’t have a deep, and complex story-line. In this respect, it inherits much from Slice-of-Life. It’s quite laid-back in how it progresses from one arc to the next. Simply, it is about a young man striving towards his dreams. It doesn’t try to be clever, or to take on more than what it premise can realistically offer. And, this is a beneficial thing, because it stands up mightily sturdy on its own two feet as it is.
Essentially, My Hero Academia explores the notion of overcoming all odds. It’s about friendship, and being able to rely on one another, even when not completely seeing eye-to-eye. It’s about accepting what one has, and accepting oneself despite harbouring certain reservations, and certain qualities that don’t thrive so well in the light of day.
Friendship in My Hero Academia is an important talking-point. It is the leading force behind much of the narrative – what it means to be friends, whilst – in part – being enemies. Some of the characters manage to overcome this fact; Uraraka is one of those, always sticking by Midoriya, ready to back him out of the tight corners he often finds himself in. Others not so much… but it is this diversity that gives the plot… not depth, but weighty substance. They are important lessons, and even super-heros must learn them.
If there’s anything negative to say here, it is about the pacing, and the way it often seems to linger where it needn’t. As if it had to make that episode count. It flashes back, here and there, to a past we’ve already seen and understand, in an attempt to reveal things that had already been revealed. Screen-time could have been used in more engaging matter. Though, I feel it stems from a desire to be faithful with the source material. The problem is that manga doesn’t reliably, and seamlessely transistion into anime.
This is where My Hero Acedemia truly shine, in its character work. From the outset, our MC MIdoriya is an underdog, he has no powers – he is objectively weak in comparison to 80% of the population. Much of his torment comes from this realisation; that he isn’t, and could never be the hero he is always dreamed of being. Because of this, he is looked down on by his classmates, and most of all, his rival Bakugo – a soon-to-be hero of great promise and combat abilities.
Midoriya is an instantly likeable characters, especially when put alongside his childhood ‘friend’ Bakugo, who is relentlessly egotistical, who desires to always be the number one, at whatever cost. It is in this rivalry where we see the true potential of Midoriya, and not just his new, undeniable physical ability, but in his mental toughness, his unrelenting resolve to reach out and grab the achievements that have always been so far away.
My Hero Acedemia becomes different from the norm in this sense. We are not presented with a ‘hero’ who is brilliant from the outset. We are not presented with a person who has endless power and desire to use it. For all intents and purposes, Midoriya is a normal human being, bestowed with a great, sought-after, yet demanding responsibility. From this his character develops. He understands what position he his in, how – despite his new power – under average he really is. Yet, this is from where he draws his brilliant strength, his inability to give up in the face of all odds. His motivation leaps from the screen, filling the viewer with a welcoming warmth – a surprising change to what we usually experience.
Uraraka attracts my attention a great deal. Often, she is on the sidelines – on the edge of battle, and the relationships/nemeses that form. And yet, she is without a doubt, the romantic interest in the show, at least for Midoriya. She’s a support character, and in some sense, a support hero. I find that she links much of the cast together, bonding them, and facilitating the relationships that develop. She’s overlooked, and underappreciated as a whole. Despite this, she always does her best. This I find endearing; it’s what a hero is meant to be.
Ultimately, all of the characters are very fun. Asui (Frog Girl) is one of my favourites – she has real personality and I hope we see more of her in season 2. Personality… that is exactly the word I would use to describe the entire cast of My Hero Acedemia
Style, animation and Score
Undoubtedly My Hero Academia has a lot of style. The art it very polished, especially the character designs. One of the most stand-out, being All Might; who transforms from a scrawny, wasted-away man, to being the most buff No.1 hero there has ever been. We see that even a hero as great as All Might has weaknesses, and at times must rely on others. It is this camaraderie that binds much of My Hero Academia. The outstanding character design propels this forward into the sky.
Now, despite its action premise, the animation in My Hero Academia is not always… brilliant. That is not to say its bad, because it isn’t. It could just be better. The fight scenes regularly appear to have the tension ripped out of them, as the camera lingers too long on certain frames in the midst of action. For the action in an action show to be the low point… it is certainly something to improve on. Though, if that would detract from other aspects of the show due to budget issues, I understand the choices made. Because, I would take character depth and decent art direction over more-fluid visuals any day. This is the only true gripe I have with My Hero Academia, and it isn’t a big one at that.
Despite this, there is a great deal of depth in the facial animation, which conveys an unusually diverse amount of emotion. Not to mention the humour that’s often the product of one of Midoriya’s eccentric outbursts.
The score for My Hero Academia is an area which creates a wide smile on my face. In particular the opening; it’s one of the finest I’ve seen, without a doubt. Propelling it forward is the song ‘The Day’ by ‘Porno Graffitti,‘ and the work of music composer Yuki Hayashi, who has previously worked on Gundam Build Fighters and Haikyuu!! I do like the ending, though I feel like the OP overshadows it, both musically and content-wise – though I do suppose it would be strange if it didn’t.
My Hero Academia resides under the genre of shonen – anime aimed a younger/teenage male audience. Possibly, it was this that originally turned me away. I spent much of my anime heritage watching Fairy Tale, until I ultimately got tired of the lack of narrative progression and centimeter thick plot. From this, maybe I inherited an elitist opinion of the anime I should be watching, rather than the anime I enjoy watching. Because that is often a huge factor that gets overlooked, – especially with myself – and not only with anime, but with all other forms of media.
Do you enjoy it? That should be the question at the forefront of your though!
Because, My Hero Academia certainly is an anime to be enjoyed.
Sure, it has its flaws. Nevertheless, it is extremely good fun, the characters are awesome and lively, and the art is top-notch. Overlooking the occasional lazy animation, and the hesitancy in pacing, My Hero Academia is a very good anime that bursts out of its stereotypical shonen containment capsule. So, if you haven’t already, give it a go! Like myself, you might just be surprised…
What did you think of My Hero Academia?
Have I been fair? Have I missed something? Release your thoughts! I appreciate constructive criticism!
Watch out for my review of S2 when it finishes!