Chances are you’ve heard all about this show and that the next season is coming out tomorrow. And it’s also possible you’re sick of hearing about it, which is completely understandable. It’s become a huge deal in the time since season two was announced to air in April of last year.
But before that, I didn’t really hear all that much about it. And maybe that’s because I wasn’t active in the anime community as much as I am now, but I was utterly shocked when I realized how huge it had become.
How I Found This Show
My friend pitched it to me as “X-men: Evolution, but it’s an anime.” Which, isn’t too far off, but I think it’s a lot more than just that now.
She bugged me for months to watch it, and then I finally broke. Reluctantly. I really was sick of hearing about it from her, and I only watched it to shut her up. I didn’t think I’d fall in love with it as I have.
The very first day I watched it was December 21st, 2016. I watched the first two episodes in the car on the way to Niagara Falls for a family trip. I could hardly hear what was going on over the music my dad was playing (I was watching the dub), but even from the visuals, I was intrigued. Though, I forgot about it for a month after that. I picked it back up mid-January, around the time I also decided to watch Yuri!!! on Ice.
I finished the 13-episode season on February 3rd, under the impression that it was just over. I thought at that point that it was just over and I’d forget about it in a couple of months anyway. I wasn’t very aware of the manga or the rising popularity of it. The day I saw season two’s air date was a dream come true. I watched the first episode of season two in excitement, unaware that from here on, I’d be a part of a huge fanbase.
Is this a good thing, though? I think it is.
But it’s “Mainstream…”
It’s common to see negativity toward fans of “mainstream anime.” I try to vary my watching between this “mainstream” genre, and everything else. Not so much because what’s “mainstream” is bad, more so that many of those shows don’t appeal to me. Shows like Sailor Moon, Naruto, Dragon Ball Z, etc. I’ve stated in previous posts that I’m not fond of long series. It’s too much of a commitment for me. If My Hero Academia were to have come out 5+ years ago, it’s a pretty good chance I wouldn’t have bat an eye at it and just went on with everything else. But because I watched it from it’s beginning, it doesn’t come across to me as fitting with those other shows. The weight of large episode count hasn’t hit. As of today, there are only 38 episodes. By the end of this season, there will be 63 episodes, and a movie, I believe.
Just the Right Amount of Action
Ignoring the episode count, I’m also generally not a fan of shows with high action scenes. I have a hard time following them. Heck, even watching something like an Avengers movie is sometimes a struggle. Everything blurs together and I just end up zoning out.
Why doesn’t this happen in My Hero Academia? There’s something about the way the fight scenes are handled that make them easy to follow for me. Maybe they’re slowed down more than in other shows? There’s also a hefty amount of dialogue outside of fighting, which definitely helps as well. And man, the sequences are just…pretty? Which is bizarre to say of a fighting scene. But, well, they just are.
The characters also have much to do with the show’s success, I believe. I like almost all of them. If I don’t have them in my favorites, I still probably like them. Besides maybe three or four. That’s not that bad with such a large cast. And most characters do get spotlight at some point, another impressive feat. It must be hard to include such depth to each and every character, but it’s been done here.
I always enjoy shows with large casts, as long as they’re done well. There’s no point in making so many characters if you don’t use them. But, if every character gets a chance to prove or disprove themselves (depending on if they’re on the good or bad side), then it’s good in my book.
An example of a show that has a large cast done poorly would be Durarara! Season 2 (or whatever it’s called). With an already big cast in season one, there was no need to more than double it for season two. It became confusing and I couldn’t keep anyone’s name straight. And some characters were created for a minor plot and were shown once and never again, or there was a plot they were a part of, but it never connected to the main plot. I regret giving this season a positive review back when I first finished it. Season one was great though!
Why I bring this up is to point out that MHA doesn’t do that. The way it gets to show off all of the characters is through the individual testing of the students. It dedicates at least half an episode to a few students to fully give a profile of their traits and power. This was important, especially for what’s to come in season three. I’ve read a bit of the manga past season two, and all I have to say is that there’s a reason why there was so much time focused on everyone. And that’s what I really love about this cast and the way it’s dealt with.
An Unusual Protagonist
Surprisingly, it didn’t really come to my full attention how strange it is that Midoriya Izuku is our main protagonist in this. He may have the typical underdog story, but it’s in his actual character that we get to see something different for once.
Instead of your usual outgoing, charismatic, and adaptable character, we get a nervous, over-analyzing, and socially awkward one. He’s much more “relatable” than what I’ve seen of popular shounen protagonists. (I’ve watched a teeny bit of Naruto, like half an episode of Black Clover, 90ish episodes of Fairy Tail, and about 65 episodes of Bleach)
We’re so used to the character that finds they want something, gets the power do it, and then does it. They’re completely fine with themselves, and can talk normally to others, and often times are a little bit too confident in their newfound skills.
Well, that didn’t really happen with Deku.
He gets power, yes, but he pays for it big time. He has to go through that vigorous, non-stop training for months, and then even when he gets the power, he’s a literal danger to himself when he uses it.
He was labelled “useless” in elementary and middle school by pretty much everyone. And that hurts. He was told he was stupid for even considering being a hero, despite the drive he had to do it. Being told that time and time again had to wear on him. His entire life, he’d been told the one thing he wanted more than anything was impossible. Even if he was more willing to put himself in danger for others. The one mark of a true hero. Because he wasn’t as powerful physically he was written off as weak and helpless, never to achieve anything.
When he does make it to the school of his dreams, communication is a huge problem for him. He’s not the suave talker you generally see in a hero. He stutters and says stupid things when his brain isn’t working. He’s also not tall and elegant, or really anything special to look at at all. He has uncontrollable hair, freckles, a baby face, and a less than average height. He can’t even tie his tie correctly, and he obsessively takes notes, muttering to himself all the while.
He’s a character of faults, but that’s what makes him stand out among all of the other shounen protagonists.
With those faults, though, he has his strengths. The ever-present need to step in a situation to save a stranger or fellow student from danger. To the point he’ll destroy himself in order to do so. He constantly lifts those around him up, when he can. He’s just and all-around kindhearted kid who wants to do the best he can, and will work hard if that’s what he has to do.
Can you tell I love him a lot? I think I included him in my Top 10 Male Anime Characters, way back in June, I believe? Since then, he’s fallen a little on my favorites list in terms of My Hero Academia characters, but I still think he’s one of the best protagonists I’ve ever seen. And, as always, it’s a total plus that’s he’s utterly adorable. The true definition of a “cinnamon roll.”
Well, the fandom is pretty fun, if you’re cool with a lot of shipping. I really mean a LOT, as in I find new pairings on an almost weekly basis now. Some I would never even consider.
And as long as you stay away from toxic shippers, which I’ve seen plenty of in my time of being a part of the community.
There’s also a ton of talented writers and artists creating fanworks on a daily basis. I am a part of that as well, as I shared in my Fanfiction Recs (And Shameless Self-Plugs): Part One. I’ve written five fanfictions based on the series, and it’s some of the best fun I’ve had in creative writing for a long time.
I get a lot of spoilers from the manga, but I don’t really mind since it’s generally only a few panels that cycle my dashboard on tumblr for a while, and then they disappear. I know only a vague timeline of what’s to come, though I have read up to Chapter 93 as of writing this. In context, season two ended around Chapter 70.
I’m incredibly excited to see what I’ve read animated, those of you who haven’t read any of the manga are in for quite a ride.
This turned into a character analysis on accident…what can I say, I love me some My Hero Academia characters.
Also, if I made any incorrect generalizations on shounen characters, please let me know! As I said earlier, I really don’t watch a lot, and the last thing I want to do is give incorrect information. It’s best to let me know so I change it.