What’s So Great About My Hero Academia

What’s So Great About My Hero Academia

For several decades, Shounen Jump has been
one of the biggest names in Anime and Manga, and right now, one of the biggest names in
Shounen Jump is My Hero Academia. Kohei Horikoshi’s breakout manga has taken
the world – particularly the North American anime fandom – by storm. Since its anime adaptation first debuted back
in 2016, it’s become a fixture in just about every space where western otaku gather, from
online forums to massive conventions. And with season 4 in full swing, it’s showing
little sign of slowing down. You almost can’t get away from it. Particularly in the context of big anime award
shows where winners are determined by community votes. And while the sheer undying ubiquity of this
franchise can be a bit frustrating if you’re an anime hipster like me who wishes people
would watch more cool, obscure stuff it’s also, all things considered, pretty impressive. And not entirely undeserved. A LOT of people really love this series. Myself included. Obviously. I’ve made more videos about it than Sword
Art Online. But all of those have been about examining
specific aspects of the series. Today, I’d like to take a look at the bigger
picture. Because I think there are a lot of reasons
– good ones – that this show and the manga it’s based on have experienced the insane
success they have. My Hero Academia is undeniably a little overhyped. But it also, undeniably, deserves at least
some hype. I’d argue a lot. I think My Hero Academia is a GREAT anime,
and I’m here to tell you what’s so great about it. Set in a future world with technology not
far beyond our own, where a majority of people are born with bizarre superpowers and mutations
called quirks, My Hero Academia focuses – as the title suggests – on the lives of students
training to fend off superpowered crime as professional costumed vigilantes. More specifically, it focuses on Deku, a timid,
weak boy born with no powers, who nonetheless yearns with every fiber of his being to save
people with a smile, just like his idol, All Might. All Might, the “Symbol of peace” is your
classic spandex-clad crusader of justice – super strong, super fast, and gifted with superhuman
endurance, he’s revered throughout the world as its greatest hero like some sort of…
man… who is super. But he has a secret. A battle with a powerful villain some years
prior left him a shell of his former self, only able to work as a hero for a short time
each day. In his off hours he searches desperately for
a worthy successor, and when he sees powerless Deku charge in to save his asshole classmate
bakugo from a villain he has no hope of beating, he knows he’s found one. Lucky for both of them, All Might’s “One
For All” isn’t like other quirks. Beyond simply granting super strength allows
a person to store power within their body and ultimately pass it, along with the quirk,
on to someone else – several generations of this gave birth to All Might’s unbeatable
strength. And now, Deku has been chosen to inherit all
of that power – and the responsibility that comes with it. To take ownership over that legacy, and become
the new Symbol of Peace. It’s everything he’s ever dreamed of. But it won’t come easy. Just acquiring the power demands a year of
exhaustive strength training, and after that, he’ll have to compete with some of the brightest
teen quirk prodigies in the world as they train in combat, search and rescue, and hero
PR at the prestigious UA academy. All while fending off attacks from sinister
villains who seek to destroy All Might and everything he represents. Unlike Dr. Stone or The Promised Neverland,
Hero Aca doesn’t do all that much to innovate with the shounen anime formula. And unlike One Punch Man, it’s not all that
interested in critiquing the concept of superheroes, either. But then, it doesn’t really need to. Superheroes are fun. Shounen battle anime is fun. So it stands to reason that a well-made Shounen
battle anime about superheroes would also be fun. And My Hero Academia is nothing if not well-made. It has the fundamentals of that Peanut-butter
and chocolate combo down to a science. If you’re looking for big emotional fight
scenes where young spikey-haired battle boys put all their feelings into their fists of
the sake of Honor, their dreams and most importantly, their beloved Nakamas, this show has you covered. Its battle boys (and girls) are award-winningly
good, and there are few places where you’ll see such fights so impressively animated. My Hero Academia is a Sakuga smorgasbord,
showcasing some of the best animation to ever come out of the studio that gave us FMA. Twice. How these characters move is impressive, but
so is how they’re drawn. One of My Hero Academia’s greatest strengths
as a manga is its art style – and I say this as someone who’s spent hours staring
at its individual lines for thumbnails. It goes beyond simply emulating American comics
in an anime style. Kohei Horikoshi builds his characters out
of big, colorful expressive, cartoony shapes, and renders them with rough, ink-splattered
line art that gets messier and more urgent as the action grows in intensity. Blend that with angled layouts and heavy use
of exaggerated perspective, and you get these BEAUTIFUL panels where the characters just
seem to pop off of the page. It’s REMARKABLE how faithfully Bones was
able to capture the manga’s iconic style, without letting it get in the way of their
animators. So often with anime adaptations, it’s one
or the other – you get a faithful reproduction of the manga that moves like a slide show
[jojo] or a relatively smooth show that looks… kinda like it. I mean, maybe it also looks kinda like a lot
of other shows, like SAO, but the designs are the same, basically. Bones tries not to make those compromises,
though. From Ouran Host Club, to FMA Brotherhood,
To Soul Eater, to Mob Psycho 100, they’ve always gone the extra mile in their adaptations,
to capture the unique character of the original work. And that’s really important here, because
Hero Aca throws a lot of different designs from all over the cartoon spectrum into one
big blender, and the combination wouldn’t really work in anything other than this messy,
comic book style. Even the Vigilantes spinoff manga doesn’t
quite get it right. And while they dodge around the problem a
bit by using mostly original characters, and more “anime style” heroes from the main
series, whenever all might shows up… well, that boy just ain’t look right. The anime nails a really tough character design
challenge right out of the gate, and if it hadn’t, I think a lot of it would have fallen
flat. Especially the fights. But it’s not just the visuals that make
those fights so good. As I’ve hopefully demonstrated through my
animelee deep dives into 4 of them now – One of which, covering Deku vs bakugo, was JUST
released from copyright Jail, so please go give that a watch you’re done here – this
series has a real knack for setting up fights that have high personal stakes for everyone
involved. Where every combatant has both a goal to accomplish
AND something to prove by fighting. This makes the villains feel driven and dangerous,
while simultaneously making it all the more cathartic to see the underdog heroes come
out on top. Through strong direction – and great panel
layouts in the manga – the series excels at creating a tense, thrilling feeling of
push and pull between both sides of any given battle, gradually building toward these triumphant
crescendos, where the animation, music, and acting peak in harmony to send our hearts
soaring into the stratosphere. It’s powerful stuff. Hero Aca also features a lot of great, creative
fight choreography. Though its protagonist doesn’t do the best
job of showing that off. Because Deku’s WHOLE thing is breaking through
his psychological and physical limitations to win the day by the skin of his teeth, his
fights – especially the early ones – are often determined by simple bursts of raw,
destructive power. Before he starts zipping around like gran
torino with full cowl, and using his “shoot style” kicks, his fighting style is very…
conventional. Straightforward. As is All Might’s. And while both of them do strategize in combat,
and make use of fancy footwork, neither really taps into what I think is the core appeal
of crazy shounen anime fights: seeing creative, unique, and very specific power sets clash
with each other, and trying to figure out how one might triumph over the other. That dynamic is what makes the stand battles
of Jojo, the Jutsu trickery of Naruto, and the Alchemic reactions of FMA so fascinating
to watch, and so fun to speculate about. And – while I disagree – I can see why
the lack of them lead some shounen fans to label Hero Aca’s fights as boring early
on. Fortunately, there are plenty of other heroes
at the academy to pick up the slack. And the series’ premise allows for an essentially
infinite range of wacky, incredibly specific superpowers. From making things weightless by touching
your fingers together, to sending and receiving soundwaves through biological earphone jacks,
to having hair made of super sticky grape balls, to sweating nitroglycerin, there’s
a lot of powers I’ve never before here. And when the characters who have them get
their time in the spotlight, the show has a lot of fun putting them to creative use. Even the more conventional superpowers usually
come with an interesting twist – like how Iida’s superspeed is limited by the heat
capacity of the exhaust pipes in his legs, or Kaminari’s lightning has the side effect
of frying his brain at higher voltages. Those limitations force these characters to
think outside the box a bit, and prevent the series from rehashing ideas that western comics
have already done to death. As a result, the series is at its best, at
least action-wise, during big events, like Tests, Tournament Arcs, Battle Royales, and
massive villain attacks, where every hero has a chance to play their part, and square
off against an evenly-matched opponent or two. It gets even better when allies are able to
mix and match their abilities synergistically – and conversely, when heroes are forced
to work with others whose powers DON’T compliment their own, that can put some interesting hurdles
in their way. Of course, most of the Heroes in My Hero Academia
are students, naturally enough. Which means that they’re only just beginning
to learn how to use their quirks. And that conceit allows the series to handle
Power Scaling in a different manner from many other shounen anime. Instead of powering up by learning new abilities
or changing forms, Deku and his friends increase their efficacy in battle by honing the abilities
they already have, augmenting them with tools, and finding new applications for them. Deku achieves his “full cowl” powerup
not by undergoing intense emotions, or unlocking some hidden potential, but rather by changing
how he thinks about All For One. Seeing his power as energy that he can channel
through his body, rather than a force that he unleashes from it. Conversely Bakugo – already an innovator
in how he uses his explosions to fly – unlocks a new supermove simply by reducing the area
of his blasts. This makes it feel particularly rewarding
to see these characters grow, by making every new move seem like a hard-earned reward for
their efforts. It also further encourages nerdy theorycrafting
about how each character’s powers might evolve or be creatively applied in the future. And nerdy theorycrafting is something A LOT
of weebs like. It’s the bread and butter of many communities
and creators that focus on shounen anime, and Hero Aca was wise to tap into that market. Now, without going into spoilers, the manga
has recently introduced some… different, more conventional vectors for character progression
that have the potential to undermine this dynamic somewhat. But those vectors do still follow the general
logic of how quirks work, and so long as hero aca makes those changes rare and hard-earned,
and keeps tying them directly to major changes in the characters themselves, I’ll be happy
with the new status quo. I did REALLY enjoy that last big arc. But it’s still worth noting. Because at the end of the day, this is the
kind of show that lives and dies on the strength of its action. Which is not to say that Hero Aca is dumb,
or that it does nothing interesting with its setting and premise. It’s just the kind of show that it is. But that said, it’s actually got more going
on under the hood than you might think, thematically speaking. Amid all its big cool superhero fights, the
series explores the tension between a distinctly American brand of Liberal individualism, and
the collectivist ideal that forms the core of Japanese culture. This tension is embodied in its core concept:
in Hero Aca, THE American-born individualist icon, the Superhero, is put to work for the
good of society through a very Japanese system of corporate and government bureaucracy, designed
to both incentivize and regulate superpowered vigilantism. The series’ central question – what does
it mean to be a hero? – aims to find an answer that will resolve
this tension. Is a hero someone who fights for personal
glory, inspiring others with his greatness? Someone who serves the people to her own detriment? Or something in between? Of course, this isn’t the ONLY big shounen
anime to run with such a concept. One Punch Man has its own take the idea of
a hierarchical superhero licensing program, presenting a world where competition for top
spots in the hero rankings – and the glory and financial benefits those spots provide
– takes precedent over saving people for a lot of heroes. And compared to One Punch Man, I do think
there are some blind spots in My Hero Academia’s exploration of these ideas. While it does acknowledge that individual
heroes like Endeavour can potentially be bad people, for example, in 253 chapters and counting,
it hasn’t so much as touched on the possibility that such bad people might co-opt the power
granted to them by the hero licensing system for their own ends. In this world, or at least within Japan’s
hero system, bureaucratic tyrants and self-interested faction leaders like One Punch Man’s Sweet
Mask and Fubuki don’t really seem to exist. The system is represented as being mostly
functional, and resistant to high-level corruption. Which can’t really be said for any real-world
policing system, so in that respect, I would say the series comes off as a bit naive. But covering the same ground as One Punch
Man would make Hero Aca a little… redundant, and to its credit, it does acknowledge that
such systems can create problems even when functioning as intended. The perverse incentives that drive hero work
end up motivating many Pro Heroes to behave selfishly, chasing fame and fortune first,
and helping people second. This leaves many young idealists feeling disillusioned
– some, like Stain, violently so. In the Vigilantes spinoff manga, we see how
it can also leave lower-income areas underprotected, allowing villains and local crooks alike to
act with impunity, and leaving “local volunteers” like the crawler to pick up the slack. The restrictive nature of hero society plays
a major role in making villains out of outcasts and weirdos like Twice, Spinner, Magne, and
Toga. And the worship of Heroes as these… exceptional
individuals who make the world better so you don’t have to is shown make common people
more complacent, and less willing to go out of their way for others or the greater collective. Which creates a lot of little… cracks in
society through which unfortunate people like Tomura Shigaraki can easily fall. A consistent theme among the series’ villains
is that society has failed most of its rogues gallery in one major way or another. And by framing their motivations through that
lens, My Hero Academia manages to make the actions of its antagonists comprehensible,
without excusing them. Tomura wants to use his incredible power to
break the world that broke him, Stain wants to use his to rebuild that world according
to his ideals. Neither is in the right, but we’re shown
enough to understand where they went wrong. Interestingly, the social order has failed
many of the series’ protagonists, too. Hero Society doesn’t offer a lot of opportunities
to quirkless kids like Deku; Ochako’s family has to endure economic hardship just to give
their daughter a chance at success; Todoroki’s family suffered through years of abuse thanks
to his father’s single-minded pursuit of the number one spot; Bakugo’s ego and anger
are both the product of a society that has told him over and over that his power makes
him better than other people. Mineta is just… allowed to be outside, unsupervised. What the fuck is up with that? And let’s not forget the ultimate symbol
of hero society himself: All Might. Who’s been used up; worn down from Wannabe
Superman to Flashpoint Superman by the world’s existential need to perceive him as something
more than human. Which has also left that world teetering on
the brink of collapse, clinging to a single, fraying lifeline. Because nobody can really BE All Might. Not even All Might. But he tries anyway, right up until it damn
near kills him. The UA students do too. And that’s the difference between them and
the villains. Instead of lashing out or tearing things down
because shit sucks for them, they do what they can with the advantages their unfair
world HAS given them, to make shit suck a bit less for everyone. If enough people operated on that principle,
as the next generation of heroes is clearly being raised to do, maybe their world wouldn’t
need to cling to a monolithic and fragile symbol like All Might. But now I’ve gotten into theorizing about
where the series could go, when there’s plenty of philosophical ground left to be
explored in both the anime and the manga. And the point of this video is not to dive
deep and fully analyze the underlying message of Hero Aca, but rather to highlight its strengths. And I think the fact that it’s exploring
the impact of social inequality and asking fundamental questions about the foundations
of society, framed through a medium and genre that general like and understand, is a major
point in its favour. I like it when stories – especially cool,
fun, accessible stories – push their audiences to think about more important things. Of course, it is equally important for those
stories to be cool, and fun, and not get bogged down in pontificating about those things (that’s
my job). A good anime gives people good reasons to
get invested in its underlying ideas. And one of the best ways to do that is by
getting us invested in characters who are affected by those ideas. Deku’s a pretty good one to start with – his
polite, soft-spoken nature makes him a likeable underdog, his nerdy hobby of researching and
analyzing superpowers gives him at least one thing in common with your average shounen
anime fan. And the emotional journey he goes on as he
learns to believe in himself is really powerful. But he’s far from the only great member
of this cast. My Hero Academia doesn’t have the deepest
cast of characters out there, but it does have one of the biggest and most varied. The concept of quirks allows for an absurdly
wide array of creative, wacky character designs, ranging from animal people – in both furry
and kemonomimi varieties – to living comic book panels. There’s 40 named, unique characters just
between the two first year classes at UA, and another 20 among the faculty and other
students. All of the Hero Agencies and rival schools
we’ve been introduced to have brought with them at least a handful of their own memorable
character. And let’s not forget about the kids’ parents! While most of these characters aren’t explored
beyond a surface level, they do all at the very least have defining surface level gimmicks. Every recurring character has a clearly defined
personality, and more than half of class 1A has undergone some kind of substantial character
development. As have many of their teachers
And this detailed character definition goes beyond just writing and acting – the animation
does just as much to convey what these heroes and villains are about through body language. Long as the series has gotten at this point,
it certainly has had plenty of room for character development, but still, it’s far from easy
to create this many characters with instantly recognizable designs, let alone write them
without having their personalities blend together into an incoherent mess. And to do that all while simultaneously serving
up a number of viable rivals AND antagonistic foils for Deku, and even a few of his classmates…
well, that’s pretty damn impressive. Large, diverse casts like this are a defining
feature of many big shounen battle anime – a lesson likely learned from the successes of
Juggernauts like Naruto and One Piece – and I think it’s a major part of the genre’s
appeal. Kids – the target audience for these stories
– also have a wide range of often vibrant personalities, so having a lot of different
characters increases the odds that viewers and readers will find someone in your cast
with whom they identify. And My Hero Academia is particularly good
at making likeable characters and giving them chances to shine. Be it by taking central roles in the story,
or failing that, by doing cool things to support the central players. That’s not to say that the way the series
handles its characters is flawless. Hero Aca has some of the strongest female
character designs in the business, and I think the personalities Horikoshi has attached to
those designs are really interesting and appealing. But when it comes to actually, like, using
those characters to do things in the story… I think it’s fair to say he comes up a bit
short. Sure, the girls get to fight villains, but
usually as part of the b-plot of a story that focuses on one of their male classmates. This also means the show hasn’t had much
room for direct romantic interactions between Deku and his ostensible love interest, Ochako. A lot of their love story to this point has
been defined by timid flirting and longing glances from afar. Along with occasional collaborations on big
school projects. Which IS how a lot of high school romances
go…. It’s just not all that interesting to watch,
and it doesn’t give me much reason to root for them as a couple beyond thinking they
look cute together. And, like, if I’m being honest, he kinda
looks cuter next to froppy with the matching colours and all …
This is supposed to be an action series first and foremost, so it’s probably sensible
to keep romance at the periphery, but even in that light, the romance in Hero Aca comes
off as a bit shallow. And that’s a shame, because in a few scenes
– like Ochako’s tearful phone call with her mom and dad during the sports festival
– Horikoshi demonstrates that he can make us feel things, powerful things, for these
characters. The bromance, on the other hand, is VERY strong
with this one I can point to Deku’s relationships with any of his friends or mentors, but there’s
also Bakugo and Kirishima. Eraserhead and Present Mic. This series is kind of held together by strong
bonds of male friendship and camaraderie, and those relationship dynamics tend to be
really fun. There’s also an atmosphere of supportive
sisterhood among the girls in class 1-A, and their interactions with each other are plenty
cute. Which I suspect is the point. Good Heroes are nothing without good Villains
to fight, and on that front, Hero Aca does not disappoint. Its rogues gallery is varied, inventive, and
menacing as all hell – particularly the core members of the League of Villains. But from Stain to Overhaul and beyond, every
villain outside that group leaves a distinct impression all their own, through their fighting
styles, their designs, their ideologies, and the impact they have on our heroes and the
world of heroes at large. The series is very good at tying its villains
in to both the ongoing exploration of its core themes, and the development of its heroes. So pretty much every battle, be it big or
small; against the supervillain Yakuza or a youtuber who’s too big for his britches… every battle feels like it matters. And you kind of need that in any good shounen
BATTLE series. That said, My Hero Academia isn’t just a
great shounen battle story. It’s a great ADAPTATION of a great shounen
battle story. One of the best such adaptations of all time,
as a point of fact. And I believe its enduring popularity has
just as much to do with the way Bones and director Kenji Nagasaki chose to adapt the
manga as it does with the quality of the manga itself. See, prior to this last decade, pretty much
every major shounen jump manga got the same treatment when it came time to make them into
anime: instead of being made for a conventional 13 or 26 episode season order, big properties
like Naruto, Dragon Ball, Bleach, and One Piece were produced in perpetuity. With new episodes airing every week for years
on end. Which is great if your goal is to fill weekly
broadcast slots and keep a brand in the public consciousness… but, uh, less than great
if your goal is to make the best anime you possibly can out of your source material. Anime episodes typically cover more plot in
a week than short manga chapters, so it wasn’t uncommon for these shows to catch up to the
comics they were based on. Which lead to drops in production quality,
as big fights had to be animated on tight deadlines, and storylines had to be padded
out with flashbacks and filler to rebuild the chapter buffer. Around the mid 2010s, likely inspired by the
earlier successes of Sword Art Online and Attack on Titan, a lot of bigger shounen manga
adaptations began bucking this trend. Tokyo Ghoul, Food Wars, Seven Deadly Sins,
Haikyuu, Magi, Jojo, Bungo: Stray Dogs, Noragami, Assassination Classroom, and, of course, My
Hero Academia all arrived in shorter, more self-contained seasonal packages, with additional
seasons already in production as the first ones wrapped, ready to keep the hype train
going. The advantages of this approach were obvious
from the getgo. Every Fight in Hero Aca, no matter how small,
impresses with its animation and direction. What’s more, it doesn’t have to cheap
out on its dialogue scenes to make that happen. And the seasonal format gives it another huge
advantage, that makes for an even more compelling pitch to your average shounen anime fan: this
is a show with all the hype and action of Naruto, Bleach, One Piece and Dragon Ball…
but none of the filler. Well, that’s not strictly true. There is some anime-original content in My
Hero Academia. But the difference is that most of it’s
actually good, and a lot of it actively makes the show BETTER. Where the manga often focuses squarely in
on what Deku and his rivals are up to, the anime will often take additional time to show
us what their classmates are doing as well. Fleshing those characters out and making them
feel more like heroes in their own right. Those underutilized female characters ESPECIALLY
benefit from these additions – Froppy got half an episode to herself, and the girls
play as big a role as the boys in the movie. None of these are massive additions, and it’s
not like the show would be bad without them, but by and large, I think they do improve
it. And those improvements were only made possible
because the nature of this adaptation allows studio bones to look at entire seasons as
complete stories, and pace them accordingly. Working from mostly finished manga arcs, instead
of ongoing stories published on a schedule that demands they be partly made up as they
go along, allows Yousuke Kuroda, the show’s writer, to pick out a satisfying endpoint
for each season in advance, and then work backwards to fit the preceding manga chapters
into equally satisfying, self-contained episodes. Often focusing on specific characters and
conflicts. With that done, he’s then able to figure
out which episodes need a bit more footage, and where the season might benefit from a
lighter, self-contained episodic break from ongoing storylines. All of this means that My Hero Academia’s
story feels tighter, better-paced, and more focused than most of the Big Shounen Anime
that preceded it. If you’re marathoning it, the way it ramps
into major battles with slice of life stuff at the start of each season can feel a bit
slow, but once it gets into things it’s hard to put down. And not only has it been able to keep that
pace and quality up for over 70 episodes now (on top of movies and OVAs) – it’s IMPROVED
season over season. Okay, some people might argue that’s not
true for season 4, but I think that mostly comes down to the overhaul arc being the slowest
part of the manga. The anime’s doing the best it can with that
material, as it always has, and because the break between seasons gives its staff time
to see what is and isn’t working and tweak things, its best has gotten better. The most noticeable jump in quality came between
seasons 1 and 2 – and in part, that’s because the manga itself improved a lot starting
with the sports festival – but at the same time, the anime increased its rate of chapters
adapted per episode from 1.6 to 2, which made it feel a lot snappier. And the show’s visuals have just kept getting
slicker as its animators have gotten more at practiced drawing these characters, and
its American-comic-inspired aesthetics have been refined. There are benefits to weekly production – it
tends to provide more stable employment for animators, which is important, and it can
be great for looser, less plot-driven anime like Pokemon Sun and Moon – but when it
comes to making serious manga adaptations, Hero Aca and Attack on Titan’s approach
just makes for a better product. And I think the series owes no small part
of its success to that factor alone. Clearly, a lot of anime producers do, too,
as Black Clover is the ONLY big new shounen manga adaptation that hasn’t followed their
lead. There’s no ONE THING that’s made Hero
Aca the success it is today – there rarely is when franchises get THIS huge. It has an inherently appealing premise that
it executes on exceptionally well, with likeable characters, interesting underlying themes,
and REMARKABLY strong fights, and that can take an anime a long way. But it also got lucky. It came out at just the right time to capitalize
on the superhero movie boom AND the streaming anime boom, and it was picked up for adaptation
right when the industry began taking a new, more consistent approach to long form adaptations. This show helped to cement a business model
that’s going to define how new anime are made for years to come. There’s one last piece of the puzzle, though. My Hero Academia is a well-made, formulaic
shounen anime, and since lots of people really like the Shounen anime formula, that’s worked
out pretty nicely for it. But saying that doesn’t mean much if we
can’t answer a related question: WHY do so many people like this formula? What is it about Shounen anime and manga specifically
that resonates with so many kids – and adults – from seemingly all walks of life, and
all corners of the globe? I could go into MUCH more detail on that point,
but in brief, here’s my take: The world today’s kids are growing into
isn’t the one we were promised growing up. Technology and human capabilities are constantly
changing, but in many ways, our societies and cultures have failed to keep up. Old, heroic symbols designed to prop up the
social order have become cracked and faded with time. The students reading My Hero Academia now
are set to inherit a world that’s a lot less stable, and a lot more dangerous than
ours is today – a consequence of past generations’ failures to fix the broken systems running
it. In the face of all this, it’s hard not to
feel like it’s Naïve envision a brighter future for humanity. But kids are nothing if not naïve. They’re also clever, resourceful, defiant,
and capable of far more than we give them credit for. And My Hero Academia – alongside Dr. Stone,
The Promised Neverland, Boruto, Black Clover, and all of the great shounen anime and manga
that preceded them – is sending its audience one simple message, over and over again, in
many forms: that children have the power to save the world. That’s a notion I find a lot of comfort
in, personally. It’s a big part of why, at 27, I am still
a sucker for these – call em what they are – serious, well made children’s cartoons. And, I’m speculating here, but I don’t
think I’m the only one who needs a dose of that Shounen Anime optimism from time to
time. Young or Old, sometimes we just need cause
to feel a little hopeful about something. And through its emotionally charged fights
and character arcs, Hero Aca excels at delivering that feeling on demand. At the end of the day, My Hero Academia isn’t
some masterwork– though it does contain the work of many master craftspeople. It’s a bit shallow, and predictable in places,
and interesting as many of the ideas and characters it presents are, it doesn’t always do all
it could to explore them. But it is really good at doing a lot of things
that – for a variety of reasons – make a lot of people happy. Its premise compels imaginations to run wild. Its diverse roster of characters gives people
heroes they can cheer for and relate to. Its epic climaxes have a way of injecting
hype directly into the pleasure center of your brain. It’s a good time. A consistent, reliable good time that pays
off the time investment it demands with some INCREDIBLE high points. And like, maybe it doesn’t deserve quite
so many awards, but I think that does deserve to be celebrated. I’m Geoff Thew, Professional Shitbag, Signing
Out from My Mother’s basement.

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

100 thoughts on “What’s So Great About My Hero Academia

  1. Having only watched the anime so far and thinking about the lack of 'romance' one of the things I've noticed is that the lack of romance extends into the adult heroes as a group as well. There is no Lois lane for All Mights Superman. The only hero families we have seen are Ida and his BROTHER, their parents are not the big hero's, and Todaroki's family which is an absolute horror show. The only other hints I've seen is the obvious crush Froppy's sempai Sirius has on Capitan Selkie. As best I can tell the most stable on screen even mildly romantic relationship is Himiko and Twice.

    I wonder if the Japanese work-a-holic culture has basically completely eaten any romantic impulses in the Hero community. I seem to remember Ochaco recognizing her attraction to Midoriya and deliberately deciding to put it on hold till after graduation because there is two much happening. I wonder how many other Pro-Hero's did the same and just never unpaused that part of their life.

    The get away with the bro-mance stuff because in their subconscious it 's just a part of team bonding not the first step towards kids.

  2. Unpoplar opinion: My her aca is on of the worst anime to ever exist.

    Deku is generic and boring, cast is boring, fights are boring, villains are boring, plot is basically villain arc then training arc and repeat

  3. Mother's Basement says "corrupt heroes are mostly absent" and has apparently read the MVA arc.


    The meta abilities liberation army is run by the head of a hero support company. Many pro heroes have defected to his side in secret. The most prominent of them being Slide N Go.

  4. sorry… got to stop you there, how can you possibly go on a tangent about the appeal of tactics and the unique interplay of creative powers within shonen fight sequences without mentioning Hunter X Hunter? debatably the absolute best in the business at pitting absurdly complex, creative power-sets against each other ?

  5. Have anyone watched patapata no bokuen? One of my faves, so thought I'd ask this community if anyones heard about it and what they think 🙂

  6. I completely agree with all of it, but the end I think hit close to home.

    I dont really know when I became an adult. I'm constantly working, planing for the future, making sure people in my life are taken care of, worrying about credit, loans, job momentum… i dont really know when I stopped being a kid.

    But my hero academia always brings me back. It makes me laugh, cry, hope and imagine like I used to. Its nice to cheer someone on. Its nice to look up to someone (even if theyre not real). Sure, its philosophy and values are a little black and white (with only touches of grey), but thats what I need in my life.

    My life is complicated as it is, but for 30 minutes a week, I can live in that world and just be a kid again

  7. You know something that has been on my mind since the beginning of the series is how come all might viewed as so important and I get he's the no.1 hero so of course he's important but how come he's so important that him retiring is seen as a big problem. I guess what I mean is in relation to villains why would they be so much braver with all might gone I mean yeah he's the symbol of piece but endeavour is there and while he isn't as good as all might wouldn't villains be more afraid of him since he's especially hard on criminals.

  8. I knida hope that we see if there was a Marvel-esque civil war during the transitional period between the era of Vigilantes and the current age of pro-heroes.

  9. My hero is probably the most overrated anime ever created. It does nothing new and it pisses me off how everyone acts like its the most amazing anime in existence.

  10. Not going to lie, your works on MHA tend to be your best work, and if not for your Animelee on All For One, and One for All, I probably would never have watched this anime in the first place. So thank you for your work, and keep it up!

  11. I 100% agree with you on how Horikoshi really hasn't made the best use of his female cast.

    As you said, they're more often than not in the "B" category. Deku, Bakugo, and Todoroki have basically been established as his big favorites as he's given them the majority of spotlight. Ochaco really hasn't had an outstanding moment since her Sports Festival fight with Bakugo. Momo occasionally gets opportunities but they're often drowned out by the males.

  12. Hey Mothers's Basement, will you make a video about Fire Force? I would like to hear your opinion on it.

    I mostly hear praises for that show like interesting plot, great characters and amazing animation and music and I can only agree with the last two as it's a cheap shitshow imo. I wanna hear an expert explain why it's good and that will maybe help me understand why it's just not for me or why it is bad and to make me feel better about my shitty anime tastes.

  13. I think there's only one key flaw with my hero which really ruins it for me while trying to watch or read the series, and that's how most of the characters lack in the writing department, how we skip over a lot of development with key characters that should be focused on and basically ignore massive character flaws which should be addressed.

    Things like how bakugo told deku to kill himself are never addressed but currently bakugo and deku are friends and rivals by everyone within the series, all while deku still clearly flinchs every time bakugo slightly raises his voice, showing that deku is still in fear of being hurt by him despite knowing that wouldn't happen anymore. We have this massive fight with them where they talk about how toxic they are towards each other and what they need to fix, but then we never see them fixing it or talking about it, they just apparently fix it off screen.

    This becomes a really big problem for me when we see a massive character change happen off screen, with no indication it should've ever happened in the first place, Bakugo during the joint training arc is a big example of this, he just suddenly becomes good at teamwork and has apparently been working with his classmates to become a better teamplayer, but we are never shown once that he actually did anything to become a better team player yet now works perfectly. One of bakugos key original character flaws, doing everything by himself and not being able to work with others, is just gone because of something off screen that horikoishi didnt show us. Even Todoroki suffers from this to an extent, we get little amounts of him changing but not a lot when we orignally got a whole indepth backstory to how he felt about his father, now we're just unsure about how he feels because we've been given so little info on that topic.

    And that just hurts me, because this series overall is amazing, but we miss out on so many different good character story elements because Horikoshi just doesnt write them in.

    Also just gonna add the fact that the movies are said to be canon by Horikoshi but never have any impact on the plot, thats really annoying because as Mothers Basement noted, the girls get a lot of screen time in the first movie and some good fights, but those fights and stuff never actually have impact on their characters in the manga like that should, this extends to deku and all might as well tho.

  14. I love the new trend of seasons for animes. The marathon style of filling every week with some kind of filler or extending the story content thin is no longer that appealing to me. When waiting for a new season I get the sense of hype back that I haven't had in years. With the season structure you know that walking into the season that you're not getting fluff, but you're getting the true story as well as the time needed to structure the anime in the best way possible. It truly comes down to quality over quantity.

    It also helps that My Hero Academia has this world with endless possibilities to where the story can go with such good characters. I truly think a show shines when the side characters are given some true understanding into how they think and act. It adds depth as well as emotional attachment to the characters.

    Final Note – "You Say Run" is one of the best anime songs of all time.

  15. I would personally argue that season four, so far is the best that the show has ever been, and I've never been so hype for the series before – as somebody who has watched from the beginning.

  16. I think the best thing in this anime is the character development first you see Midori who can't do anything but cry slowly become more mature and a hero like his other friends thing like these make me miss the good old anime (Assassination Classroom).

    Still miss you Korosensei ;C.

  17. I think my hero deserved the hype. And awards. Its just a good anime tbh. Its guilty of some things but nothing that much more popular animes haven't already done.

  18. MHA does a classic shounen anime about superheroes super good imo. Doesn’t try anything really new but the things they do is really good

  19. Personal take on why this kind of story (and MHA in particular keeps having success).

    It's not only that its themes resonate with more or less anyone that feels a certain set of things for our world, but it does so with an optimism that isn't purely positive, it has a slight touch of pessimism inside.
    Things aren't bad (only) because some evil villain keeps smashing at them, they are bad because we, as a species, are flawed. We costantly fail to pick up the pace of change and, when we do, we don't take the opportunity to improve too much.

    But it's here that the young heroes enter the scene, and they aren't alone in that.
    This may be an extremely personal opinion and I don't know how many in the fandom feel like me but nvm: the teachers and all the positive pro heroes are an example to follow and, possibly even more important, allies to the kids.
    All Might isn't the "I will be Pirate King/Best Trainer/Ninja Trainer" dude, he is a person close to the heroes that directly help them. He is a model to follow AND a person. He has a face, a personality and one hella of a influence on the setting directly in front of the yes of the cast and our own. If there is an example somewhere in other battle shounen that would be Shanks if he was more present in One Piece.

    So yeah, Deku and co come to "heroism" not only with the bright idealism of Goku saving the world from Cell, but also with the serious outlook on life of more serious stories, even if it is covered by the veil of their teen years making everything cooler, brighter and flashier than how adults may see it.
    And anyway, when the young kids are faced with the harsh reality they aren't alone, they have all these older heroes to follow, support and surpass. They aren't the naive young kids fighting a fight that is considered hopeless, they are the new generation of heroes that maybe will be the one to change something.

    But I may be biased.
    I am not part of those possibly overhyping MHA (I love it, but I don't think I would put it in my favourite manga/anime ever like some do), but I still cry like a baby a ton when I watch it, mostly when Deku (or someone else tbh) screams about how they wish to become heroes and help people. I just can't help it. It's so… beautiful. It will always touch something deep inside of me, and in many others that don't end up like a 4yo kid that broke his toy.


    (And to y’all going to ask this, YES I am Swedish!!!)

    And good job you really did a good job pronouncing it! The only thing needing some work is the way you pronounce “Ö” and “O” but A REALLY GOOD JOB I AM REALLY PROUD OF YOU FOR BEING ABLE TO SAY THIS SWEDISH WORD SO GOOD!

  21. In hindsight Tsuyu probably would have worked better as Midoriya's love interest. At least in terms of super powers. Lemme explain myself, Ochako's power is really powerful but it isn't really in the same category as Midoriya's. It's highly difficult to get them into the same scenario where they can complement one another. Heck I think that's part of why Ochako took martial arts training from Gunhead. Froppy meanwhile has a power that makes her very flexible in terms of functionality so she'd be a good compliment to Midoriya's power and easier to insert into action scenes with him. Ah, well. We're here now and I'm looking forward to see what happens next regardless.

  22. To be honest in my opinion
    I think MHA is mediocre at best.
    I tried to get into the series but later on found out
    that I only liked it when my brain was turned off haha.
    I like shows that allow me to think and question everything.
    But MHA doesn't do that for me.
    This probably has to do with me seeing so many better super hero shows before
    that MHA just felt like a snooze fest.
    My taste in shows has defiantly changed, same with my maturity.
    I can no longer tolerate cliche/tropey shows,
    especially when there's nothing new or interesting added in.
    I have seen and read the manga and anime, but in conclusion
    I just don't care for anything in this series.

    I just have seen way better heroes and villains in other shows and comic books.
    Also the more I thought about MHA, the more I realized that there are so many plot holes.
    To me it's just another average, bland shounen with the super hero label smacked on to it.
    But clearly this series isn't for me
    but if you like it, more power to you ^_^

  23. I have to wonder how well Heroman would have done had it been released in the midst of the MCU boom… And with a bit more push from Marvel, considering it is a Stan Lee property… And frankly GOOD

  24. i feel like for a video celebrating bnha, there was A Lot of time was spent talking about what it doesn’t do great. nothing said was invalid, but it really dampened the video constantly being reminded how much i should watch other shows instead

  25. I’m a grown man who has been a teacher for 7 years. And every season I have cried 2-3 times for exactly the reason you put forth. Especially Ochaco’s parents. I think a lot of kids from especially a poorer background understand that.

    I’d love to see your take on the connection between hip hop and anime recently

  26. Spiky haired battle bois. That is one of the best things ive heard…
    I see magi, please do a magi video be it over the anime or manga (preferably manga).

  27. I have an idea for a my hero academia arc based partially on the House of M storyline where a antagonist who feels that Quirks are the reason the world is in the state that it is so decide's to find a way to purge the entire world of Quirks.

  28. MHA is hype because its a shonen with both good world building and well written characters. Compare to another modern shonen Black Clover with lack luster world building and awful characters which have tropes instead of personalities. Its rather refreshing to see as even the likes of one piece known for this took longer to get to this point imo.

  29. I personally think that one of the best things MHA has going for it is that Midoriya is a stronger main character than most other shonen series' MCs. He is more unpredictable and has more character development. He is less one dimensional. More interesting in many ways I would say.

  30. Isn't the Liberation Army manipulating people like any good corrupt govt would? Having members belonging to politics, hero work, media/journalism, and corporate interests.

  31. I feel that the latest new arc of MHA in the manga truly necessitates that MHA Vigilantes should get its own anime adaptation soon. Not only because Vigilantes is great on its own, but that it’d also add more context for Aizawa’s friend

  32. b;ack clover lost me during its tournament arc. i dont know if thats the mangas fault or the anime. it just felt wrong or that something else should have been there.

  33. So far, you made 15 videos about My Hero Academia…
    I get it if you like it that much or if they are pretty profitable but can you chill a bit.
    It seems like this is turning into my hero academia channel…
    Still love you bro but I wish you could do videos about other anime.

  34. I'm going to preface this comment by saying that MHA is one of, if not my #1, favorite anime/manga of all time.

    1: This show is great, amazing even, but is way WAY too overhyped and overrated. It's good, but not the greatest anime of all time. It has many strengths, but still has many weaknesses tied to it. Every show will.

    2: Just because you don't like this show, that does not mean that it is hot garbage, it just means it didn't click for you. At the same time, if you really love this show, it does not mean it is the greatest thing since sliced bread and calling people retards for not agreeing is never okay.

    3: I think this show is so popular because it's a decent, well made traditional shonen show that came out when the anime community meeded a fresh new traditional shounen show. This is just a prediction, but I suspect demon slayer will achieve similar success for the same reason in the future.

    4: I love My Hero Academia and no amount of overzealous haters or fans will make me think otherwise. Love you all. Good night.

    I request that replies be civil but I may be asking for too much.

  35. To me it's melodramatic dogshit. I mean if you tell me deku stopped with the crying saying "i wanna be a hero" then winning and his dumbass crush thing with the girl then i'd might watch it. I really like bakugo and all might and the villains, but with so much melodrama and the deku thing that's what makes it bad.

  36. Whoa whoa whoa did mothers basement just include boruto in the same tier as black clover, dr.stone and my hero academia that's a problem

  37. I agree with most of it. Specially with the female cast. Sadly Uraraka had a huge potential in being a strong female character, but since the viewer sees her feelings for deku she has to remind us about them each time she appears.
    Also I hate the fact that she said that she will set those feelings aside in order to improve. If loving someone prevents you to reach your goals then it's your fault…
    You can be in love with someone and also strive to improve yourself and reach your goals.

  38. I don't think society failed All Might. He decided to place himself in the position of being THE Symbol. That wasn't pushed on him.

  39. A lot of people are saying Attack on Titan is racist/nazi propaganda, could you do a video on that? I don’t know where to find good info on the subject, and I want to know if I should drop AOT

  40. The moment when Kirishima first became red riot and showed complete humbleness and a desire for growth really sold me on the shows writing. Mha isn’t my favorite anime but I think it does a lot of things really great

  41. I've been in kind of a funk lately, and this video cheered me right up and put me in the mood to catch up on MHA. Thank you, Geoff!

  42. The fight on MHA are so good because of the emotion in them they make me feel like I did when I was a kid when I first watched Dragon Ball Z of this is everything I got and I'm not going to quit till I win feeling and if I need more I'll find more that's what's so good about it not that they're overly clever or ridiculously complex like Jojo or anything else like that they're good because they just get an emotional rise out of you like yeah push work harder and do better fight!

  43. No Jeff one thing that I do think it is a little wrong in my opinion and I do think my hero deserves all the accolades that it’s getting because the writing is pretty solid the art is fantastic and it’s a joy both to watch and read.

  44. Thank you for mentioning that the female characters don't do much for the plot!!! It's rare to see such an analysis from a male, I really really appreciate it.

  45. Also helps that there is no competition in hero comic industry in the U.S.A. They are more concerned putting in stuff like identity politics and wokeness than good stories and character development.

  46. There is a very interesting undercurrent and story in My Hero Academia also.  What happens to All Might, an American Superhero, can easily be seen as what is happening to the U.S. in reality.  I've noticed a lot of these subtexts in Anime and Manga over the years.

  47. "Mineta is just… allowed to be outside, UNSUPERVISED! WTF is up with That!?" o(>t<)o

  48. Is it really overhyped? I feel like the video focused on this a bit too much; as if Geoff was being apologetic about praising the series or something, like he would lose hipster "true anime fan" points if he praised a widely successful & loved mainstream series without going out of his way to simultaneously knock it down a peg. I've been watching videos from this channel for years, and I've never seen one before that praised a series while repeatedly insisting it's overhyped. It's a thoughtful reconstruction of the superhero genre with a lot of heart & great animation. Then again, I'm not really an active participant in the anime community, so I don't know how big the hype really gets.

  49. Until the part where suddenly Deku Unlocks new powers he never knew about cuz reasons.

    Slowly becoming Naruto Ish.

    Also don't appreciate how much they focused on trying to make shit father sympathetic for personal reasons.

  50. How do the ads come up at the perfect timing every. Single. Time? As soon as you said “it’s broken up so it can be better paced” or something, an ad came up XD. Do you choose the ad placement in the video?

  51. I would do this video in a sentence
    It is animes MCU for god sake
    I dont think you get it it is god damm animes version of marvel cinematic universe but instead of 20 god damm 1 15 to 2 30 hours we have around 70 20 min videos and more coming yes this comment is a god damm jojo reference wait was the comment on the fact that this is a jojo reference a jojo reference in itself

  52. Welp.
    Time to watch it after years of ignoring it.
    Sidenote: Houseki no Kuni is starting to pick up, I think. I'd love to see another video by you on it, or just Phos in general.

  53. While your "children can change the world" message isn't wrong, I think a lot of what people enjoy about shonen is even more simple: good guys win. This is true in any shonen, not just ones that influenced by western superheroes like MHA. Sure, the heroes may suffer some losses and some tragedy may befall minor characters, but we know that in the end, Goku/Naruto/Luffy/Deku/etc will beat the villains and accomplish their goals (become Hokage/King of the Pirates/#1 hero/etc). One of the biggest critiques of shonen is that it's predictable and formulaic, but sometimes we need that formula to pick us up when the real world's too much of a bummer. It's comfort food that helps us believe that one person really can save the world (also there's a healthy amount of projecting but that's neither here nor there).

  54. I would love if we got a chapter/episode of characters just hanging out. Like an episode of Todoroki and Yaoyorozu going out to eat soba together.

  55. – distinct abilities that are developed in creative ways

    – distinct characters with various motivations that are all driven to be their best without petty drama thrown in

    – condensed story arcs that remove unneeded tension and filler

    – villains with proper motivation and proper threat levels

    – properly showing a distinct difference between what "experts" and "novices" are to develope tension.

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