In a world where being born with superpowers (or Quirks, as the show refers to them) is considered the norm, those that exhibit exceptional skill are allowed to attend the prestigious U.A High School in hopes of one day becoming a professional hero. It’s a plot that seems ripped straight out of an X-men comic, yet it’s this familiar plot that intrigued me enough to make me watch the entire first season of My Hero Academia.
NOTE: I will try to steer clear of spoilers as much as possible.
My Hero Academia centers around a teenage boy called Izuku “Deku” Midoriya, who finds himself part of the 20 percent of the human population born without a Quirk. It’s this truth that has haunted Deku throughout his life as he dreams of one day becoming a professional hero, just like his idol All Might, even if he is Quirk-less. It is apparent right from the start that Deku is doomed to fail as those without Quirks are not allowed to attend the U.A High School. What makes things even worse is that his classmate and all around egocentric bully, Katsuki Bakugou, is determined to see him fail at his dreams. Ironically, it’s a chance meeting with All Might that sets Midoriya on a path to becoming a hero. It’s the classic tale of a weak protagonist who finds the strength within to succeed, yet it is told in a refreshing and surprisingly deep way.
As the clear underdog, I found Deku to be immediately relatable and, more importantly, likable. Deku had a pretty rough childhood because of his lack of a Quirk, which basically made him an outcast. Even still, he keeps on persevering and believing he can one day become a hero. It’s this ‘can-do attitude no matter the odds’ that permeate most of the show. And while he is eventually able to join U.A High School, he continually needs to prove himself to his teachers and classmates. There is no doubt though that Deku is a true hero as he constantly finds himself running headlong into danger no matter the cost to himself. It’s Deku’s attitude of putting others before himself that makes him such an endearing character and kept me rooting for him to succeed.
Along the way Deku receives help and advice from All Might, the world’s most powerful hero and, as one can expect, all is not as it seems. All Might’s bright white smile and heroic demeanor hide a terrible secret, one that could shatter the world’s perception of him. It seems All Might could be constantly putting his life in danger by continuing to be a hero, yet just as Deku, he puts others well being above his own. This relationship between the seasoned hero All Might and Deku is what drives a big part of the narrative. As Deku learns what it means to be a true hero, All Might learns that even the smallest person can rise above their circumstances in order to achieve their dreams.
Besides All Might and Deku, the show also gives each of it’s supporting character time to shine. As mentioned before, there is Deku’s main rival Katsuki Bakugou, who initially comes across as a hate-filled egotistical bully. However, as I learned more about him I actually found myself warming up to his “act now think later” attitude. I do think there is still room for his character and his relationship with Deku to grow. While he may constantly be butting heads with Deku, there is no questioning that he has the heart of a hero.
Deku’s most trusted friends come in the form of the uptight and serious Tenya Iida (with his engine equipped legs) and the light-hearted and lovable Ochako Uraraka, who is able to make objects levitate by touch and who I suspect might become Deku’s romantic interest. Although I found myself liking both characters at the end of the season, I would’ve loved to see a bit more of them.
Finally, the show does have loads of side characters in the form of fellow students and teachers. And even though the show never fully fleshes out every single one, I never felt that any of them were there as filler.
Of course, My Hero Academia does have a fair bit of action and with each character comes several unique and interesting Quirks. Some of the abilities are truly weird, such as the character that has the ability to shoot lasers from their navel or the ability to created sticky purple balls. Seeing how each character uses their abilities in their own unique way makes for some interesting action sequences.
While on the subject of action sequences, the visuals are sharp, fluid and quite colorful. Each character is realized in great detail, and have some entertaining and expressive facial animations. Each Quirk, including the less flashy ones, look visually distinct and impressive. There are moments when the more powerful attacks and high-speed movements come across as really awe-inspiring and dramatic thanks to some great angles. This high level of animation really helps complement the already fantastic narrative.
The same high production value can be found in the show’s music. From action packed moments to the more quiet and introspective ones, each is punctuated by a beautiful soundtrack that complements and ties into each moment perfectly.
My only complaint is that the show moves at a slow pace. While this allows more time for characters to evolve and develop it did mean that we only discovered the true villains of the show in the last few episodes. So I’m hoping that the second season not only gives us some more villains vs Hero moments but also reveals a bit more about the villain’s motives.
It would be all too easy for a show that centers around super powered characters narrative to get lost in all the action, and while each character does have some really great and unique powers the narrative is always front and center. It’s refreshing to see a superhero show that places its focus on what truly makes one a hero and the deeper meaning behind being called one. As someone who tends to shy away from anime, mainly because I don’t care much for reading subtitles, I couldn’t stop watching My Hero Academia until the end credits rolled.
It’s been quite some time since I’ve been so enamored by a anime series, and right from the start, My Hero Academia had my glued to my seat with its fluid visuals and brilliant narrative. While the show does currently focus mainly on Deku, All Might and Bakugou each have a strong enough personality to keep the show interesting. Even if you aren’t a fan of anime, you owe it to yourself to give this one a try. Here’s hoping that we don’t have too long to wait for season 2.