Imagine a world full of superheroes, where everyone you know has some kind of power, even if it’s something borderline useless. Now, imagine you are the only kid you know who doesn’t have any powers. This is the life of Izuku Midoriya, the protagonist of the manga-turned-anime series created by Kohei Horikoshi, My Hero Academia.
My Hero Academia started back in 2014, with the first chapter of the manga released in Weekly Shōnen Jump on July 7 of that year. The series’ anime, produced by Studio Bones and localized by Funimation, premiered on April 6 2016.
At the start of the series, young Midoriya, 13, wants to become a hero more than anything else. He studies the professional heroes to a point of obsession, writing a baker’s dozen notebooks on superheroes and their powers, called quirks. Midoriya wants to become a hero that’s just as great as All Might, the world’s number one pro hero, and attend All Might’s almamater, UA High School. He wants to be a hero that continues to smile through any fight and call out “I am here!”
The series wasn’t on my radar until after the anime’s first season premiered. One moment, there was nothing and then the next, all my social media feeds were full of people yelling about superheroes and amazing fighting animation. Who was I to ignore the loudness of the crowd?
When I did check out the series for myself, it was like I was hit with a tidal wave or with one of All Might’s very own signature smash punches. I was hooked. I fell in love and there was no getting me back up.
My Hero Academia is what happens when a horror novelist falls in love with western Silver Age comics. Now, that might be literally what it is, but that’s the best description I can give.
Creators in the horror genre have always given consumers the ground-breaking, clique-defying story that get viewers emotionally invested. Now, My Hero Academia isn’t a horror. Quite the opposite. Still, Horikoshi uses techniques and mentalities from making horror manga all his life to bring this tale to life. There’s murder and violence; there’s always an emphasis on what’s at stake that keeps the audience anxious. There’s also an emphasis on building each character up, even making villains seem like they’re real people. Character development happens gradually, but noticeably. I have never experienced a series with as good pacing as My Hero Academia.
With the pacing, there is an arc in the second season that is a tournament arc. With no spoilers, I will just say that that arc is not the entirety of season two, it’s barely half. I have seen so many shows of similar genres and demographics where an arc like that would take 30 episodes. The final match of that tournament would take five episode, at least. In this series, that doesn’t happen. The final fight take about five minutes. Then it’s over. No drawing it out. No waiting for weeks to see the climax of one lone fight. Just five minutes.
The series also continues to break stereotypes and clichés. Midoriya wiping tears from his eyes and saying “Heroes don’t cry” is met with his friends reassuring him that no, it’s okay to cry. He’s earned some tears. Midoriya cries a lot during the series and it is never shown as a weakness of his. There are characters whose quirks and personalities would normally make them a villain in any other series, but here, they too have ambitions to become heroes.
I often find myself rooting for the majority of the cast that are striving to become the new number one pro heroes, to surpass even All Might himself, even if those kids are all competing against each other.
The main theme of the series is its tagline, “Plus Ultra,” meaning to go beyond. Break any limitations, push past all expectation and come out on top. The characters follow this mentality and become far greater than fans could have ever imagined. The audience learns from watching this time and time again to do greater, to be more.
New chapters of the manga release in Weekly Shōnen Jump every Monday. The third season of the anime is coming out now with episodes releasing every Saturday at 4:30 a.m. Studio Bones is producing a movie, titled “My Hero Academia The Movie – The Two Heroes,” which is set to premier in Japanese on August 3 of this year. The video game, titled “My Hero One’s Justice,” developed by Byking and published by Bandai Namco, is also set to release on Xbox One, PS4, and the Nintendo Switch later this year (though no release date is yet announced).