My Hero Academia – Mid Season Review
My Hero Academia:
Original Air Dates: April 3rd, 2016 – ???
Synopsis: Izuku has wanted to be a hero all his life. He lives in a world where people are born innately with quirks, and if so choose, can go down the path of becoming a hero, choosing to fight those who would use their birth given abilities for evil rather than good. It’s a difficult path for anyone, but near impossible for Izuku, who was born quirkless, without any innate powers of his own. He’s mocked by his classmates, who rudely nickname him Deku, but Izuku holds onto his dream no matter what.
Izuku’s life is forever changed however, when he has a fated encounter with All Might, the mightiest super hero of them all. Through this encounter, Izuku will find his path towards becoming a super hero, a path not easy by any means.
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Let’s kick off this mid-season review by pointing out My Hero Academia’s biggest flaw: it really, really, really likes to take things slow. There’s no avoiding or denying that and it is going to bore and drive away anyone who likes their shonen hero to be constantly or quickly kicking ass. We start off with a wimpy protagonist, Midoriya, and he remains wimpy and weak for a good portion of the series so far, which feels even more obvious when he resides in a world where literally every other person around him has a unique super power.
Tom: My Hero Academia’s anime adaptation is slavish in its attention and care in reproducing the manga’s art and story. It’s taking its time to adapt every panel, every moment as meticulously as possible. Unlike Twin Star Exorcists, also airing this season, nothing’s been condensed (as evident that the manga’s very first chapter was fully adapted over two whole episodes). But that’s also a slight detriment, potentially, as viewers may find Academia moves too slow, not always ending with emotionally powerful climaxes to the series’ events. In fact the big emotional pay off of the manga’s first chapter doesn’t happen till episode two, leaving episode one to end on a lesser, near unimpressive note. This a problem that could potentially continue all the way through the season, or even into furture adaptations. Unlike other Shonen, Midoriya takes a long time to even come close to coming into his own, literally taking the manga over fifty chapters before Midoriya can end fights without shattering his bones into nothing.
Linny: The silver lining of the slow pace is that My Hero Academia feels like a true underdog story as we watch Deku have his dreams completely crushed to the point of being irrefutably impossible. We watch him hold on to that dream in desperation and when he finally gets that glimmer of hope, it all feels so much more powerful and emotional. Even after he gets his hands on a power, it is clear that his journey is far from over as he still has so much to learn and master, and he cannot even use his powers without causing himself extreme physical damage and pain. From the moment Deku has his dreams crushed as a mere child, to watching him cry, sweat and fight for every single achievement, My Hero Academia tells a gripping tale of the power of dreams and hard work, and how sometimes life just isn’t fair.
Tom: My Hero Academia is probably the most methodical Shonen Manga/Anime to date. It’s what makes Academia so interesting and so easily stand out from the rest of the Shonen currently running in Jump. That’s not to say all Shonen pale in comparison to Academia, but rather it’s found a new, interesting approach to tropes and developments that some audience members may feel burnt out on. It’s Midoriya’s lengthy struggle that makes Academia stand out from other heroes who’ve fought to become the Pirate King, or the Hokage, or Wizard King, what have you. Unlike those other heroes Midoriya starts further back, with no secret origin, or hidden power. Like Spider-man, Midoriya is an underdog boy who is granted a chance to be great and that speaks to people. But even after Midoriya gains power he has to work to simply be able to use it. Arcs like that generally last a handful of chapters before the hero works out how to use one technique and then moves onto the next one. But Midoriya struggles with the fundamentals, making him a more grounded, perhaps even realistic, portrayal of a boy blessed with the power of a hero.
Linny: While Deku makes for a great underdog, his personal hero, All Might is a superb character and the two of them make such a great pair. While the two couldn’t be more different in appearance and personality, they both share the same sense of justice and passion and their clashing mannerisms make for an enjoyable scene every time they interact with each other. All Might is particularly amusing, even in his own right, thanks to his bombastic nature and his ‘allegedly’ American phrases. Even a lot of the supporting cast show promise or at least exhibit something that makes them stand out every time they are brought into the spotlight and it’s nice to have a romantic love interest who shows her kind nature before we even get to see her face, so she isn’t just relegated to being a pretty face with some skill.
Tom: Midoriya is a character many viewers will really identify with. He’s putting in more effort than everyone else and speaks to the very human nature of feeling like you need to try harder than everyone else just to be passable; that feeling that you’re behind others, not as strong, not as smart, not as together. In fact, it’s safe to say if you’re not tearing up once an episode or feeling the emotional impact of Midoriya’s struggle, then this may not be the shonen for you. All Might is the only other major character within the series’ first six episodes and mainly acts as a catalyst character to propel Midoriya on his journey, or sell the audience on Midoriya’s struggles, passion, or the enormity of the obstacles the boy will face. If you’re looking for a larger cast of characters, in classic shounen style of an ever expanding group of quirky individuals, Academia eventually works its way there, and by episode six we’re starting to diversify screen time, but just as it took the manga a long time to branch further out from Midoriya and All Might, the anime’s slavish attention to detail ensures it won’t be this season.
Linny: It is sad news that the other characters won’t be receiving tons of focus just yet as they have such interesting powers and amusing personalities. However, if you are a fan of them, and seeing how meticulously the anime is following the manga, the good news is that the manga does get there, so the anime should get to them in later seasons. (If it gets the seasons.)
Tom: Over the next six episodes the cast will expand a little, with characters like Iida and Ochako becoming more and more relevant, as with Bakugo. But overall many of the side characters exist as little more than obstacles or fanfare for Midoriya as he struggles his way through the Hero course.
Linny: To compensate for the slow pace, this show has some of the most vivid and dynamic animation this season, if not the best. The high quality of the action scenes and the colourful palette are extremely pleasing and visually appealing and help sell the superhero world and all its grandeur.
Tom: Studio Bones must be praised for their efforts in replicating the manga’s intense and quirky visual style. The anime brings it to life, though perhaps exaggerating the quirky art even more so. The fluidity of the animation is impressive and has so far held up over the series’ first half. It’s no One Punch Man in terms of pure visual flair, but looks remarkably more polished and eye catching than the vast majority of shonen adaptations that tend to diminish the quality of the original art.
Linny: Now since this show has a dub already, we checked it out for those who are on the fence about going sub or dub. While the dub is decently done, I did find the kid Deku’s voice rather annoying, and All Might seemed less lively than his Japanese counterpart. Overall, it doesn’t impede the story or the show, and for those who prefer dubs, there is no strong reason to subject themselves to the sub.
Tom: The Japanese cast is well suited to portray Midoriya, Bakugo, All Might and the rest of this quirky quirk born cast, although I’ve always felt All Might doesn’t sound foreign enough (Hey Bucky!) for someone who spends most of his time in the states. As for the English track, which just released its first episode this past weekend (May 8th): it’s competent. Midoriya and the rest have acceptable voices that generally translate the personality of their Japanese counterparts. However, All Might’s voice is too gruff, lacking the palpable flair and over the top bravado for All Might’s character. While Chris Sabat’s voice is indeed burly and manly, it lacks the booming jovial quality of All Might’s Japanese voice. It’s unfortunate, and fails to convey the same tone as the original character, but for a Simuldub (known for rush casting at this point) there’s easily worse choices that could’ve been made and Chris Sabat’s years of experience carry him the rest of the way, even if he isn’t a perfect match for the role.
Linny: Being familiar with the manga when I started the show, I was not put off by its pace but I would like to warn those who dislike a slow story that the pace never really picks up. For those who don’t mind, My Hero Academia is an emotionally and visually impact laden story that’s sure to entertain, as long as you can stand the crawling pace.
Tom: Academia’s anime rises from its less than impactful first episode, delivering stronger and stronger material from episode 2 and on. It’s slow, and won’t be delivering any big battles nearly as fast as older, well known shonen have. But what it lacks in flashy fights, Academia makes up for with real heart and care put into growing Midoriya into a true hero. It’s an emotional journey that keeps this shonen more grounded in reality than previous titles within the genre.
My Hero Academia is available for streaming via Funimation.com