My Hero Academia: Heroics Despite All Odds
Geeks particularly fond of anime will likely see pictures, clips, and memes of two (2) interesting figures. One of them will most likely be a green-haired boy, and another will be a muscular blond man. Anyone familiar with anime will likely associate it with the shonen genre, courtesy of colorful visuals and costumes, and even over-the-top scenes. Fans will recognize this as My Hero Academia. And 201 manga chapters, 63 episodes of an adaptation, and an upcoming move in, and the hype remains strong as ever. If resident enthusiast Chad should comment, perhaps the secret to HeroAca‘s success doesn’t lie with the hype. Rather, it’s the undeniable strength of chasing your dreams no matter what the odds.
Given the heartwarming conclusion of HeroAca‘s third season, fans, critics, and reviewers may have more than enough material to give a good judgment of the franchise as a whole. With My Hero Academia: Two Heroes about to show in theaters in the Philippines, some curious eyes may even be intrigued by the series. Anime films that get slated for a local release are often tied to huge franchises, including Naruto, Fate/Stay Night and even acclaimed releases such as Kimi no Na wa. Just what does HeroAca have that had it make such a huge fanbase? This spoiler-free review tries to explain this phenomenon.
My Hero Academia: Humble Beginnings
First off, a short summary. Some friends from What’s A Geek! featured HeroAca in an article before, but it might be time to recap the premise. My Hero Academia falls under the shounen anime genre, which a lot of people will associate with a ton of explosions, overcomplicated costumes, and plots that often feature heroes who strive to face insurmountable odds. What makes HeroAca unique is its setting. My Hero Academia brings viewers and readers to a world where most of the population have obtained powers called “Quirks” because of mutations. Unlike in X-Men, HeroAca‘s society has grown to accept the role of these superpowers in their daily lives. In fact, there exists schools and agencies that handle the training and employment of these individuals. All Might, one such hero, is proclaimed as one of the greatest to exist at the time.
Unlike usual superhero media, this story doesn’t focus on the World’s Mightiest Heroes. My Hero Academia puts viewers in the shoes of Izuku Midoriya, who dreams of becoming a hero who can help others. Thing is, Midoriya doesn’t have a Quirk. When Midoriya meets All Might, the strings of fate will change his life forever.
Kohei Horikoshi draws and writes My Hero Academia as a weekly serialized manga under Shonen Jump in 2014. Studio Bones picked up the manga for an adaptation back in 2016. Being under the Shonen Jump lineup means some might compare HeroAca to the likes of Naruto, Bleach and even Yu Yu Hakusho – which can be fair comparisons. Themes explored by the series include Friendship, Effort, and Victory – all three (3) of which serve Jump staples. What makes HeroAca unique would be in its approach to these themes.
Technicals Aside: Always Room For Improvement
My Hero Academia doesn’t tout itself as a perfect series. It does have both merits and flaws. What perhaps drew fans into both the manga and the anime would be the impressive amount of depth Horikoshi put in on both visuals and writing. Readers and viewers can find characters visually diverse and easily recognizable. Yet at the same time, the mangaka makes an effort to make sure everyone gets a chance in the spotlight.
Studio Bones cements this with impressive work on the animation. Punches, explosions, and visual effects bring to life the awesome powers Quirks should have. The studio did good work to set the pacing of the anime, as filler episodes just featured much-needed downtime to simmer down after intense events.
Fight choreography could use some work given the diversity of Quirks. Fans of action anime may find dissatisfaction when it comes to HeroAca’s battles. Don’t expect a lot of martial arts, as conflicts often boil down to “Throw everything you can at it!” Given how Season 3’s fight scenes have gone, however, there appears to be potential for improvement.
If there could be anything to look forward to, that would probably be how heroes use their Quirks to add interesting twists in battles. As technical as this sounds, Quirks open a lot of opportunities in complex counterplay that seem underused. For instance, two (2) students named Katsuki Bakugou and Shoto Todoroki remain hot topics in the realm of matchups. Bakugou has a Quirk that allows him to sweat nitroglycerin, which he can ignite at will. Someone to potentially provide a counter is Todoroki who, with his ice-related Quirk, can stop Bakugou from sweating. Granted, this gets close to being demanding as fans – but the fact remains, HeroAca holds a lot of potential it’s yet to tap.
A Shonen Twist To Superheroics
The series takes a prominent concept in modern popular culture and adds a much-needed shonen twist. Whereas superheroes in Marvel and DC media deal with universal-level threats, HeroAca takes a much more grounded approach. Some fans may even compare the series to other hit Shonen Jump titles, but one can’t deny how HeroAca can set itself apart to its contemporaries. Naruto had a focus on friendships and dreams that span generations. Bleach took a hero’s journey to constantly beat the odds. On the other hand, My Hero Academia focuses on the “little ones” – folks who try their best to help others, and succeed no matter the hardship.
Humanity, humility, and altruism remain as traits rarely seen in modern popular media. My Hero Academia serves as a refreshing break from today’s materials that often overuse the grimdark concept. HeroAca proves a point with its healthy cast of main characters and side characters, both of which have unique personalities, goals, and visions of what superheroes are. Both the manga and anime make an effort to show and convey the emotions and struggles these characters go through. Viewers can’t help but be endeared to the cast to the point of emotional attachment. Sometimes, certain episodes really invite you to hug characters and give them words of encouragement.
All Might, both a renowned superhero and a mentor, constantly push his students. However, he remains cognizant of their limits and adjusts accordingly. Whenever he dons his cape, All Might carries a reassuring smile for victims of disaster whenever he arrives on the scene.
No Limits To Inspiration
More than the animation and the superpowers, My Hero Academia‘s potential to inspire is one of its greatest strengths. Throughout its story is a pervading theme of going beyond one’s capabilities. Our protagonists have to balance their studies and their superheroics. The looming threats of villains demand more from heroes, which in turn demands more from our Midoriya and his friends to hone their skills. Midoriya and his fellow students understand the need for stronger, faster, and cleverer heroes. However, HeroAca also makes it a point to recognize the need for sensitive and compassionate heroes.
All Might and his compatriots, alongside Midoriya, serve as healthy role models for those that may be lacking them in their lives.
Personally, watching HeroAca helped me regain the fire to push myself after a period of feeling lost, inadequate, and unmotivated. As a healthy role model, All Might provided that avenue for me to realize that I can be better. That virtue of being unrelentingly resilient and unapologetically altruistic is something that a lot of youth can be inspired by.
My Hero Academia, while being visually stunning and narratively compelling, has the potential to be an anime that the youth of this generation can someday look back on and say “I wanted to be a better person because of this.” Watch it, have fun, maybe cry a little (probably a lot) and remember 更に向こうえ。。。