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I’m always hunting for new anime to watch. Some of my favorites include Tokyo Ghoul, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Attack on Titan. If you know anything about anime, you know those are some pretty dark and heavy-hitting ones. I’ve been trying to find things that are a little lighter, and I was graced with My Hero Academia. I’d heard of it before, but it was when my three roommates hung up a poster of the main cast and waited for the next episode every week that I figured it had to be worth watching.
So I did.
And it was more than worth it.
Let me just start by saying that I know the superhero genre is oversaturated right now. The basic premise of this one is that most people have powers, or “Quirks” as they call them, and so becoming a superhero is an actual career path in this world. Our hero is Izuku Midoriya, nicknamed Deku, and he wants to be a hero more than anything. His hero is All Might, a man with super strength unlike any other and the top hero in the business, the hero who saves people with a smile on his face. Deku is the cutest kid in the world. He has All Might posters and action figures, he’s super kind to everyone, and the determination he has to be a hero is infectious. You really root for him within the first five minutes of meeting him. What kicks off his journey to becoming a hero is when he goes to the doctor and it is revealed that Deku is one of the rare people in the world who is Quirk-less. He has nothing special about him that he could use to become a hero.
This is the part of the show where I got super invested. It does such a great job of showing important emotional scenes to get the point home in a 30-minute episode. For Deku, he sits at his computer watching videos of All Might as he did at the start of the episode. Instead of smiling with his eyes sparkling as he excitedly clutches his action figure, this time Deku sits in the dark as he tearfully asks his mother, “Can I…be a hero too?” This scene is incredibly famous for anyone who’s seen the show, and with good reason. Little Deku looks so cute, and seeing him sad while also trying to force a smile and be optimistic is heartbreaking. He then gets bullied for being Quirk-less as a child, then bullied in middle school for trying to get into the most prestigious hero high school, UA High School, by studying his butt off. I’ll be honest, I cried for a good portion of the first few episodes.
The majority of the season is about Deku adjusting to a potential hero life. One of the highlights is the mentoring relationship that occurs between himself and the famous All Might himself once the hero becomes a professor at UA. After Deku is saved by the iconic hero, he refuses to let the hero go until he asks if he too can be a hero despite not having a Quirk. To balance out the emotion of the scene, it is suddenly revealed that All Might isn’t always his super muscular, smiling self. He dissolves into an emaciated version of himself after only three hours in his hero form due to a bad injury years ago. It’s really funny, because he’ll randomly spew blood from his mouth when Deku tries to be serious with him. All Might’s muscular form is also hilarious throughout the series. They play this over-heroic music whenever he appears, and he always laughs when everyone around him is just confused or mad. He’s also so supportive, he’s basically the dad of all the students
At first, All Might is hesitant and tells Deku to give it up. However, this is followed by another powerful scene where Deku rushes out to fight a villain who has captured one of his schoolmates. What makes this so amazing is that Deku acts when even the professional heroes don’t want to fight this giant sludge monster wreaking havoc in the street. What’s more, the classmate Deku tries to save is Bakugo, his main antagonist at school. He admires Bakugo even though Bakugo is a rage-filled human being who wants nothing more than to absolutely crush Deku’s dreams. This convinces All Might to train Deku and give him a piece of his super strength Quirk (by eating a piece of his hair, a little weird, I know).
What makes My Hero Academia work so well is how it balances humor with emotion. One of the best characters this works with, shockingly, is Bakugo. While Bakugo’s rage at Deku is powerful and leads to some intense fight scenes, they can use that same rage as comedic relief in some cases. When he fights Deku in their practice class, he’s really scary and genuinely wants to hurt him or maybe even kill him. Then in the next scene, they’ll show the other students making fun of Bakugo and how angry he is all the time. They include incredibly over the top animation to show him looking demonic and totally unhinged while chanting, “DIE! DIE! DIE!” to drive the point home. It makes him seem less threatening so that the whole series doesn’t feel overdramatic and angsty.
This also leads me to the animation, which is a lot of fun and pretty smooth. They make all the Quirks, form Bakugo’s explosions to Todoroki’s ice powers look amazing. You can tell how powerful they are on sight. The drawing for All Might is also a highlight. His hero form is full of heavy shadows and thick lines in contrast to the super thin lines of his weaker form. The attention to detail in the drawing is impressive. The way they can switch from sharp lines to bubbly ones to change tone is pretty seamless. A personal favorite of mine is the way they actually animate Deku’s mumbling when he gets anxious. He rambles and they draw what he’s saying all around his head, or have it floating around the space he’s in. It’s super simple but it helps visually to see how overwhelmed and distracted he gets during stressful times. It’s a cute touch to show Deku still being worried and timid even though he has this amazing power. It also shows how fast he thinks, which is his strongest asset while he’s still learning to adjust to his power.
The first season is only 13 episodes long, so it’s easy to breeze right through it. The ending is wonderful too. We get introduced to real villains, like the ominous Shigaraki. He’s a highlight for me. His Japanese voice actor is perfect. He sounds creepy but his voice is also mellow so it’s pleasing to listen to. I hope to see more of him in the second season.
Overall this is a super entertaining show. I’ve already started Season 2 right after finishing the finale. I’d highly recommend My Hero Academia if you like fun, the superhero genre, or if you’re just an anime junky looking for another show to watch.