Saturday, July 30, 2016

As a Quirky Spin on the Superhero Genre, 'My Hero Academia' Is Pretty Refreshing

It can’t be helped but compare My Hero Academia – alternatively known as Boku no Hero Academia – with One-Punch Man.  Both are anime spins on the superhero genre, and have a roster of colorful characters.  In fact, I checked out My Hero Academia in the first place to serve as a One-Punch Man fix, since there’s still no announcement of when its second season is expected to air.  At early episodes, I thought it wasn’t as fun, funny, and exciting as One-Punch Man.  But a bit later, it turned out being a distinctive and special superhero anime on its own.  Now, I’m just as excitedly looking forward to its season 2 as I do with One-Punch Man.

The anime is set in a world wherein most people have super-abilities which came to be known as “Quirks.”  Many people begin using their Quirks to turn to a life of crime and evil – becoming “Villains.”  And in turn, many also opt to become superheroes – “Heroes” – making it a legitimate career.
The plot centers on a middle school student named Izuku “Deku” Midoriya.  Ever since he was a small boy, he has dreamed of becoming the greatest Hero in the world, like his idol, All Might.  In order to achieve this dream, he aims to get into the prestigious superhero high school, U.A. High School.  Unfortunately, this looks impossible for him since he is born Quirkless.  Thus, others ridicule and bully him for having such dream.

One fateful day, an incident with a rampaging Villain allows Deku to meet All Might.  Deku’s heroic attitude during the whole thing impresses All Might, and he chooses him to be the successor of his “One For All”, a transferable Quirk that gives the user the accumulated strength of every person it has gone through.  However, since his body is yet to be capable of wielding its full power, Deku always gets badly injured whenever he uses it.  He compensates for this weakness by having strong determination, the selfless instinct to jump into situations to save people without thinking for his well-being, and the ability to strategically think on his feet (a result of writing several notebooks of Hero evaluations).  Consequently, he gets accepted to U.A. High School, and along with his new classmates, starts his journey to becoming a Hero.
I found Deku an unlikable character at first.  He seems to be too much of an annoying crybaby.  But as the series progresses, his admirable qualities become more apparent, and he becomes a legitimate hero to root for.  In its first season, I was given the impression that he will continue to have an interesting and well-realized character arc through this anime’s run, as well as the other characters.

I like the direction the 13-episode debut season has projected this series towards.  The first few episodes were a bit wobbly and unexciting to get through – especially when consciously comparing it to One-Punch Man – but it easily becomes a rewarding watch the rest of the way, made more endearing by a quirky tone that doesn’t dilute the narrative’s stakes.
Its action and humor aren’t as great as that of One-Punch Man, but they’re still pretty solid.  But its story is more heartfelt and is likely to have more depth and payoff in the long run.

My Hero Academia is a refreshing take on the superhero genre.  It has badass action, an investing storyline, delightfully weird characters, and a lot of promise to be excited about.  It’s definitely one of the most notable anime debuting this year. 

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