Greetings! Superhero stories have exploded in popularity as we all know. Movies and television are flooded with such stories and you will be hard pressed to find someone who is not familiar with at least one hero. While these stories are incredibly popular most of these stories are missing that element which makes the story stick with you on an emotional level. While the action sequences and bad-ass powers are great to watch, ultimately most of these movies and shows feel hollow. One series however breaks this trend and provides it’s audience with an emotional and action packed story about heroes coming of age. This series was the winner of my poll from a couple of months ago (Poll Results: Favorite Anime of 2017 So Far) and now that the latest season has concluded, I am finally ready to share my thoughts to you. I am of course talking about Boku No Academia or My Hero Academia.
Synopsis from Wikipedia
On an Earth-like world where people with superpowers known as “Quirks” are the norm, Izuku Midoriya is a regular middle school student who has dreams of one day becoming a Hero despite being bullied by his classmates for not having a Quirk. After being the only one to try and save his childhood bully Katsuki from a Villain, the world’s greatest Hero All Might bestows upon him his own quirk “One For All”. The story follows Izuku’s entrance into U.A. High School, a school that cultivates the next generation of Super Heroes.
My Hero Academia goes well beyond the typical superhero or shounen story. The series contains all of the essential elements which make these types of stories tick. However, the series has something extra which sets it apart from such stories both in anime and comics. These elements allow the series to feel both like a classic story and like something new and fresh.
One such element is the world that these characters inhabit. The world of My Hero Academia is more than just a means to advance the plot or a place for our heroes to do battle. The world plays a vital role in the story of My Hero Academia as the actions of the heroes and villains have consequences in the world. The heroes are not in a bubble isolated from the rest of the world, they are very much a part of it being contributing members to society and very public figures. This is one of the things that makes the narrative of the series so strong- the impact that the heroes particularly All Might has on the other characters especially Deku. This is an aspect that gets lost in many superhero stories- the impact of superheroes on the society they inhabit. This is a central theme for both the heroes and villains of the series. To also see a world which has integrated the concept of heroes into it;s everyday life is also fascinating. This is prevalent with the second season especially where the actions of the characters go noticed by the other citizens of the world. The world allows the characters to be people not mythic figures who are wholly separated from the rest of society.
Another aspect where the series shines is in the characters themselves. The characters are all more than just the sum of their superpowers. They are people first and foremost- people with dreams and real motivations for wanting to be heroes. The series explores the various reasons that one would want to become a hero, from the selfless to the selfish. These are also heroes that are not infallible and have insecurities and weaknesses. In fact each power or “quirk” typically has a drawback that the characters have to contend with. All these quirks play into the personalities of the characters, the quirks are a part of the characters not just a tool used them. These characteristics makes them very human characters and people you want to root for. In many series, the focus is to solely root for the protagonist, however in My Hero Academia you find yourself rooting for all of them to succeed.
It speaks to the strength of a series when you have a cast of characters as large as is present in MHA and you can find yourself rooting for all of them for various reasons. My personal favorites of the series are of course Tsu and Oachaco. Both of these characters are not only bad assess but each has their own charm to them. Oachaco’s bubbly personality and selfless reason for becoming a hero make her a great character. Also Tsu’s quirky personality, cool powers, and intelligence make her a great character to root for. I also have to give special props to Deku as a protagonist. It would have been easy to take a character such as his and make him insanely annoying with a self righteous personality. However, Deku is far from that as while he is determined to follow his set of morals, he helps other find their path instead of forcing his onto them. He also is just a guy who is hard to root against. Nothing comes easy for him making his victories that much sweeter to watch. Of course whoever you root for, you cannot go wrong with this series.
The story of My Hero Academia is one which strikes the perfect balance between world building, exposition, and action. The series starts with an extensive introduction to the world and our characters. From there it builds to an intense story full of emotion and conflict. Many superhero stories use the plot as a means to advance from one action sequence to another. My Hero Academia uses it’s plot to tell the stories of the characters and uses the events of the plot to explore the characters dreams and motivations. The prime example of this is the tournament arc in the second season. While this arc does follow the cliche of showing off badass powers and fights, the arc also serves as a means for exploring in detail the reasons that these characters want to become a hero. To add to the quality of the story, these are more than just ” I have powers, might as well use them.” This multilayered approach to story telling is prevalent throughout the series and is one of the major reasons it stands apart from other series.
From a technical standpoint, the series is spot on. The animation and art style really sells the “comic” aesthic without sacrificing quality. The action scenes are extremely well choreographed and the quirks are animated extremely well. The theme songs from the series get you pumped up for battle and the soundtrack is exciting to listen to. These aspects certainly contribute to the experience instead of detracting from it.
Of course no series is without it flaws. Some of the positives such as the vast number of characters and the complex world they inhabit contribute to a couple of small issues. the first is that the series really takes a while to gain any momentum. A good portion of the first season is really devoted to character introductions and establishing the world of the story. For a long running story such as this one, this is a necessary thing but this portion of the story is far less exciting than what follows the introduction. The second issue is that it becomes very difficult to focus on all of the characters introduced meaning that you won’t necessary see a character as much as you want to or should. These things are indeed minor nitpicks of an otherwise amazing series.
My Hero Academia is a series which has established itself as a pillar in both the anime and superhero genres. The series is a great example of story telling, character writing, and world building. It understands what type of story it is trying to tell and understands who the audience for such a story is. MHA over the course of it’s 1st 2 seasons has established a mythos which has won the support of the anime community. It is also easily accessible to those who are new to the anime community or those who wish to explore what anime has to offer. Even though it has a few minor flaws, the series is a amazing example of how to do a superhero story right. For these reasons, My Hero Academia receives a ranking of Platinum and my highest recommendation.
Pros:– Great superhero origin story
-A diverse and lovable cast of characters
-Fast pace story arcs advance the plot without sacrificing details or character arcs
-The series is full of great character studies
-The series is a crap load of fun to watch
Cons: -The series takes a little while to gain momentum
-Some characters deserve more screen time
Also just another reminder to vote for your favorite anime of 2017! I am currently taking your opinion as for the best shows of the year. The link is below.
Please vote as many times as you want but keep one response per form. I will be announcing the results in Jan 2018 so stay tuned.
So until next time, this is Railgunfan75 signing off! See you soon!
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