My Hero Academia – Review
My Hero Academia was awarded as Best Anime of Spring 2016 in our Anime Awards.
My Hero Academia:
Original Air Dates: April 3rd, 2016 – June 26th, 2016
Synopsis: Izuku Midoriya 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.
Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: My Hero Academia stands out from other shounen shows most noticeably and right off the bat through its character design and style. The anime adaptation is visually very faithful to the manga allowing the characters to stand from the usual anime fare. Unless you are someone who is a dedicated fan of traditional anime designs, this helps to make the show look fresh and give it a unique feel.
Tom: At times, however, Academia can come off a bit visually bland, particularly in later episodes where the blocking for shots, and general placement of the characters, lacks a more dynamic quality. The visuals don’t always sell the climatic atmosphere as well as they could, in part due to the series’ slavish adherence to the manga’s content. Rather than working with the new medium, the anime is content to stick with the manga’s choice of visuals, even with the opportunity to reinvigorate events. It’s a minor problem, but one of the few places where Academia’s slavish adherence to the manga doesn’t produce the best results.
Linny: Academia has a new type of hero, one we haven’t seen that much in most popular shounen series, and definitely not in the lead role. Midoriya, our protagonist, is shown to be completely and truly lacking in any kind of power. he isn’t someone who is hiding unlimited power or is secretly the best at anything. He’s bullied constantly and can do absolutely nothing to fight back. My only issue with him is that he sometimes feels like too much of a good guy to the point of coming off as a trope, one who has a heart of gold and sees the good in people regardless of how obviously cruel they are to him.
Tom: Midoriya is a character you can really root for. He’s had a hard life and faced a lot of adversity but despite all that he continues to strive and push to do his best. I always worry about characters like these boiling down to a self-insert for the writer, or readers “the world misunderstands me but I’m actually perfect.” Indeed Midoriya has a heart of gold as Linny said, and sits more often in the right than in the wrong, that said he’s far from perfect and the series isn’t afraid to remind us that at the end of the day Midoriya can be naive, ill-prepared, or incapable of succeeding at particular roles. It keeps the boy grounded and feeling like a very realistic and likable character. All Might, our other major mainstay, represents Midoriya’s goals for Heroism, the very man he looks up to and aspires to be. At the same time, Academia constantly illuminates the smaller flaws within All Might’s personality, and as the series continues we can really see him struggle. All Might is a lot like Optimus Prime, a character meant to be a shining beacon of heroism and perfection, but his time is slowly but surely coming to a close. All Might has some of the more nerve-wracking moments as the viewer is forced to constantly wonder how much longer All Might has before he meets his end as a hero.
Linny: The supporting casts stand out either as classmates who spends more time with Midoriya or simply as their unique quirks are highlighted in an episode or two. It’s enough to provide a quick chuckle or earn the female characters a fanboy but not enough to have them stand out as well fleshed out characters. At the same time it’s clear that Bakugo, Midoriya’s childhood friend/bully is going to be an integral part of the story and provides a nice contrast to Midoriya with his all out asshole-ish and self centered nature against Midoriya’s heart of gold. If you’re the kind that finds bad boys irresistible, Bakugo is Academia’s embodiment of someone you should know better than to crush on but still do.
Tom: Outside of All Might and Midoriya the rest of the cast only get fleeting moments to shine. Academia is pretty good, however, at cramming as much character and personality into each of these scenes that no one feels like a paper-thin cut out that exists to merely bolster the roster. Rather, each classmate comes across as their own individual with their own attitude and goals (not that we really dive that far into either of those characteristics, but Academia is very good at making us feel like there’s potential depth there.) A few are clearly meant to grow as series moves on, like Bakugo and Iida who garnered enough screen time this season to solidify them as more prominently featured individuals. Even from having followed the manga, I know several other characters become increasingly important but at the end of the day this is still Midoriya and All Might’s story. We aren’t looking at a One Piece or Naruto scenario where we’ll be spending increasing amounts of time away from Midoriya, he’s still the star first and foremost.
Linny: Midoriya is quite a bit of a crybaby, which feels like a nice change from the typical shounen hero who is too busy kicking villain ass to shed a tear. Midoriya is often on the verge of tears and rarely ever actually kicking villain ass throughout the entire season. It’s a more realistic scenario to have this up until now quirkless kid struggling to control and master his new quirk, but it makes for very slow progression.
Tom: Midoriya’s more emotional nature is ultimate a symptom of Academia’s heavy reliance on its emotional core, keeping events grounded in the way it affects Midoriya and stirs the feelings inside him. It’s trying to keep every moment feeling powerful, important and weighty as we see most everything through Midoriya’s eyes. It’s not necessarily a new idea, as One Piece and Naruto often push events with emotional enormity in an effort to “bring the feels” and make the audience experience things through a more personal lens. The difference is Academia builds on that, attempting to really ground the series in a way that makes Academia feel more real and more relatable. Academia is even more of an underdog story than Naruto. Where as Naruto had some innate latent power that could aid him at his darkest hour, Midoriya’s power is inherited and beyond his control. Even when Midoriya manages to tap into it in just the right way, the aftermath is rarely beneficial to him and his accomplishments are much more abstract than blatantly obvious. Midoriya starts at the bottom, far below any other shonen hero, having to learn how to fight and make use of his talents from the ground up.
Linny: There’s no denying that the show is extremely slow thanks to its pacing and its reliance on emotional scenes over action packed ones. It’s got enough action to qualify it as a shounen series but it’ll always be a lot more lacking than the more popular ones out there in terms of the sheer amount of action and battles. So don’t pick this up expecting a ton of butt kicking, especially at the hands of our hero, Midoriya.
Tom: Rather than focusing on Midoriya gaining incredible power, Academia is more concerned with how Midoriya applies and learns to use that power. This makes Academia ultimately feel slower compared to the other big shonen titles. His accomplishments are much smaller, less grandiose and perhaps even more grounded in the reality of Academia’s world. Viewers may perhaps find Academia’s pace slow, as even by the end of its 13th episode Midoriya has failed to have a truly, awe-inspiring moment unlike Naruto’s massive number of shadow clones, or Luffy’s victories against multiple big baddies by this point. Academia is less concerned with Midoriya generating spectacle as it is the character development required to one day get there.
Linny: For those of you who want a shounen story with heart, My Hero Academia is the answer. It’s a story that’s all about our character’s personal journey and growth rather than just a showcase for his growing amazing powers. For those who want another classic shounen, My Hero Academia is not the answer.
Tom: One of the more impressive aspects of the Anime here is its unyielding faithfulness to the source material. Whatever changes the series makes are often so minor, so obscure that you’d be hard pressed to identify them without comparing the anime side by side with the manga. This of course means we didn’t cover much ground during these thirteen episodes. Indeed the anime only managed to adapt twenty-one chapters. That said, My Hero Academia has been announced as getting a second season and if the end teaser is any indication of the content they’re seeking to adapt, the 2nd season will perhaps suffer from a few cuts in order to cover the series’ upcoming arcs. No matter what, I find Academia refreshing and I enjoy its more methodical and emotional take on Midoriya’s journey to rise as a hero. I honestly believe the way in which it’s working with classic shonen tropes is refreshing and gives me hope we might see some of the more tired aspects of the shonen genre reinvented in the years to come.
My Hero Academia is available for streaming via Funimation.com