“As the burning torch been passed, how bright can my hero glow, is yet to perceive”
The brilliant mash-up of traditional superhero and Shounen story Boku no Hero Academia, Written and illustrated by Kōhei Horikoshi, is the newest addition to the throne of weekly shounen jump. It has been serialized since July 2014, and 14 volumes have been collected in tankōbon format. In case of story, it has a heart for character study but received such criticism for failing to do anything particularly new or interesting. It roasted of dramatis personae that goes down the shounen checklist but resurrected on execution. With same good old fashion motivational factors like many other shounen mangas have explored, Boku no hero somehow managed to contrast the best of it. It is the streaming reminder that an anime doesn’t always need to be original or unique to steal fan’s heart. As two anime seasons from studio BONES have already been aired, the glorious moment has arrived to dive into a deeper understanding to its variables. Keeping in mind the intended age group of this story, let’s keep this review shounen-ish (not some vile suggestions to the vivified confrontation of my personal satisfaction).
“Let the Quirky tale begin”
Beginning & Mangaka
Just like Deku (our protagonist) Horikoshi at the beginning of his career was chasing some big dreams. His goal was to get into shounen jump and fortunately also didn’t give up trying. He previously worked on Barrage and Oumagadoki Doubutsuen, but unfortunately both were quickly canceled. In great depression, he decided to channel positive feelings into his work and so came a one-shot name “my hero”, which had the ideology that became the foundation for our series. Though, it was six years before My Hero Academia.
Mangaka Masashi Kishimoto (known for Naruto) praised Horikoshi to be confident that the series would be a complete hit. And so it did. It was able to fill the void left in fan’s heart by Naruto. There are many resemblances to Naruto like rivalry between classmate and academic background and all, yet the driving factors still feels energetic and imposing.
In a highly mutated era, structured in modern Japan with pop culture, vast majority of the civilization has inherited some sort of super powers (called Quirk). Some have chosen the path of super heroes, some became criminals and for some it helps to do the laundry. Those who are left such as Deku, are considered as outcast. Though, this short of treatment was only been seen in high school where the story began. The very idea of hero in Boku no Hero is not even same as “saved the day” one. It’s just a structural position, a job vacancy that needs to be filled. Heroes are also not vigilanties. They’re authorized, tracked and accounted for by the government and have quotas. They essentially operate as a 2nd police force. Most heroes are aiming to become professionals, that makes them more of employees, like policemen or taxi drivers. Endeor’s existence rises such topics. Though, the story didn’t really go into such narrations until Stain arrived. But there’s also the traditional ones such as All Might, who’s here to carry on the symbol of peace. This very ideology separates the “One for all” holders from the rest of them, which I believe was our mangaka’s intention all along. If there’s good there’s also evil, but in this case the good was born from the realm of evil. The idea of good vs evil gives a balance to this society. The constant struggle, the yin and the yang, keeps it in a never-ending stress. And in this tension, our heroes will be crafted towards their own destined path.
What makes a character great?
It’s the variety of traits and different sides of their personality, where he or she displays straight, weakness and a full range of emotions. That’s when it resonates the most. We love the changes, the growth that keeps them emotionally refreshing. And by all means Boku no Hero got a large crew of such characters. What makes the cast of infinity war look small.
Every character is in a constant fear of their own flaws and desperate to adapt, despite what we see on the outside initially. This driving force to change fills each one of their designs with varieties. Each character inspires one another to push to a further advance. With so many characters it is impossible to justify most of them in a single article, so let’s only focus on characters which have the most impact to the story. For this, our favorite Todoroki may not be the best choice.
- All Might: The no 1 hero, All Might is the spotlight of this story, the walking reminder of peace. An all-powerful one punch man with such an emaciated bag of bones that his eyes are perpetually casting shadows, the visible pupils however show that there’s still light beaming inside of him. All might’s very existence holds this world from going into chaos. Though, it was threatened five years ago when a fatal encounter with a villain left him injuries that eventually leads to extremely frail physique. Now he can only serve as a hero for three hours a day. All Might is been respected by even heroes. His classic American style hero look, his smile keeps children in a shade of comfort and motivation. It’s the strength of his moral fibres that shines through his appearance. He wants people to believe in him, believe in the power of good. But the burden is too much for one to handle. So he wanted a successor to carry it with him. That’s where Midoriya came.
- Midoriya Izuku: The muttering boy, the protagonist of our story, Izuku is very timid and polite but diligent and strong willed boy. Due to his Quirkless initials, he’s been bullied since childhood. Being unwanted by his classmates Deku developed a keen sense of observation. He’s an analysis and a strategist. Though, this side of his character florist from the moment he meet All Might. After sensing Deku’s selfless attitude to save others despite his weak appearance, All Might took him as his pupil and gave him a gift, a HAIR to swallow (The power of “One for All”). And so the road to become the greatest hero begin. Now in case of shounen stories there’s always an optimistic protagonist who will risk it all and win at the end with the power of determination, believe and friendship. But what differs Deku from rest of them is his mature understanding. He may act childish, but he can grasp a situation or even a person’s psychology faster than anyone. He motivates others as well as motivated by them. This chain reaction keeps him from being lazy and arrogant of his power. It’s not the power of “One for all” that defines him as a hero, it’s his constant hardwork, unrest determination to grow and lifelong wish to become the next All Might. But the road is not easy as many others including Bakugou wishes the same.
- Bakugou Katsuki: The guy who has no chill, Bakugou is a character of pride. He sweats nitroglycerin which allows his hands to disperse explosive energy. Despite his smart and capable qualities, he is always portrait as an arrogant selfish, resenting guy. From early life he had a superiority complex. He always wanted to be the best in everything. So he enjoyed being a bully at school where he was the star of the class. But soon that dream shattered when he entered the U.A, where everyone was special. That aside, what his ego couldn’t take the most is the weakling who he always bullied getting more spotlights. Being saved by Deku wasn’t enough, now he has to overcome Todoroki (another star of the class) and Deku both. This agony of one loss after another kept him in a place of Sasuke (from Naruto). Though he doesn’t take shortcuts and become frustrated when he wins easily. Bokugou is that type of character who can easily be misunderstood as a villain or at the very least on its way of becoming one. But it’s his ego what kept him from doing so. Whenever he and Deku came in contact both of their personality cherishes as of their understanding towards each other. He plays the role of Deku’s arch nemesis. Though that spot been taken over as soon as our antagonist make his appearance.
- Shigaraki, Tomura: Itchy beyond edgy, Tomura is an agent of chaos. Psychotic aggression with a brilliant mind and reflexes quick enough to analyze an opponent’s potential weak spots in an instant but unfortunately he’s a defeatist. “A child with atom bomb”. He often shows signs of arrogance and demanding, “akin to a child’s tantrum”. This twisted mind only want destruction and anarchy. Instructed by his Sensei, Tomura acts accordingly. He’s always with his right-hand/bartender Kurogiri. When wearing his villain outfit, he has 14 disembodied hands clasped onto his arms, chest, neck, head, and face. The hand on his face, he refers to as “Father” and feels comfort from it. He doesn’t care about himself or anyone around him. All he wants is attention. Just like Deku as the next symbol of peace, he’s the successor of “All for one” (How convenient). In the little bit of screen time that he got, we got to see his actions both sinister and childish. He truly believes this society is dangerous. Though there’s also someone else with the same belief and holds even lesser screen time, who’s actions echoed throughout the history of My Hero Academia.
- Chizome Akaguro: The hero killer, the Voldemort face, Stain is a notorious, cold-hearted, tenacious, unforgiving man with a sense of duty “Revival of Heroics”. To cleanse this society of false heroes, he has taken matters to his own hands and murder those who he sees unfit until the society realize its own faults. Like I said before, a society with so much pride is bound to fall and give birth to someone like Stain. But what differs Stain from the rest of the league is resistances against needless bloodshed. So he works in the alleys with lesser attention. He believes heavily in creeds and convictions and stands as a necessary evil. Though, he never hesitates to save those he finds worthy. Stain is an excellent fighter and mostly unbeatable in single close combats. With a little taste of his opponent’s blood on his bumpy long tongue, he is practically unstoppable. If that’s not all, he has a murderous aura that can paralyze even pro heroes. One look on his bloodred eyes give nightmares of a lifetime. But what truly defines Stain is his unshakable ideologies. His sense of justice has shaken the very essence of hero academy. Like Gran Torino said, the notion of his obsessive fixation is as strong as All Might’s. This notion also inspired many villains as well as civilians.
Animation with studio BONES
Studio BONES have four sub-studios, among which Studio A was in charge of Boku no hero that was led by animation producer Naoko Amano. Yoshihiko Umokoshi, a famous animator with a very idiosyncratic style was in charge of that team. Studio A has been one of the more conservative sub-studios as far as the recruit of freelance animator goes and having young animators such as Hakuyu Go, (made the fight between Klaus and Despair in kekkai sensen) was a blessing all together. Another name that needs attention is Kenji Nagasaki, the director of both season. In an interview Nagasaki said that the most difficult part of adapting the manga was keeping the originality and passion, it’s challenging to find ways to incorporate music and visuals to reinforce that perspective.
And with so many animators in action how can the anime of My Hero Academia goes wrong. Each one of them loved the source material and their love reflected through their cariography. Even the DVD version was another treat itself. After the broadcast in JNN Umokoshi himself retaken many scenes to give more quality content including thick outlines, detailed shading and body structure. Sometimes lines were painted with brush pen.
The animation is really stellar for what it wants to do in only 13 episodes. It focuses on designs and bright colours to give off a same superhero vibe that we have seen before and enjoyed. BONES have proven before with Soul Eater, that only because it’s a shounen, doesn’t mean they’ve to be lazy about it (implying to everyone’s favourite Studio Pierrot). Most of the character designs are done in quite detail. Considering how many of them there are, it needs appreciation. Even the background characters get charming costumes that reflects their different superhero identity.
The opening songs: I believe it’s the OPs where a studio can show his creativity. The opening themes are what widely infiltrates a fan’s heart. There are three opening songs of Boku no Hero Academia and each of them were designed to contrast the relationship between Midoriya and All Might. In the first, we see he’s visibly awestruck by the presence of his hero whereas by the second opening his face fairs a confident smile. And in third one he shows a determining as well as a satisfying look towards All Might as if he now has a clear sense of his objectives. From his wishes to other’s major appearance, each opening foreshadowed what will be coming later in the show.
Soundtracks: The first opening was done by a group called Porno Graffitti, which is an interesting choice considering most western fans and anime fans in general, will be able to recall their previous work on 2003’s Fullmetal Alchemist first opening. There’s also some other parallels including it was also been handled by Funimation. The Dub of Funimation has also made it quite clear that they haven’t forgotten about FMA. Ending Theme HEROES was done by Brian the Sun. Which was their first major foray into the world of anime theme.
In season 2
- Daiki Yamashita as Izuku Midoriya
- Nobuhiko Okamoto as Katsuki Bakugo
- Kenta Miyake as All Might
- Ayane Sakura as Ochaco Uraraka
- Kaito Ishikawa as Tenya Iida
- Aoi Yuki as Tsuyu Asui
- Ryo Hirohashi as Minoru Mineta
- Marina Inoue as Momo Yaoyorozu
- Yoshima Hosoya as Fumikage Tokoyami
- Tatsuku Hatanaka as Denki Kaminari
- Toshiki Masuda as Eijiro Kirishima
- Yuki Kaji as Shoto Todoroki
- Eri Kitamura as Mina Ashido
- Kosuke Kuwano as Yuga Aoyama
- Kei Shindo as Kyoka Jiro
- Masakazu Nishida as Mezo Shoji
- Kosuke Miyoshi as Mashirao Ojiro
- Kiyotaka Furushima as Hanta Sero
- Kaori Nazuka as Toru Hagakure
- Tooru Nara as Rikido Sato
- Junichi Suwabe as Shota Aizawa
- Hiroyuki Yoshino as Present Mic
Why season 2 felt superior?
- Introductions are over.
- Tournaments have an amazing way of giving each character a reasonable time slot to shine.
- Many fans wanted to see iceXfire in action, considering season 1 didn’t give him much.
- Bokugo is lesser jerk then ever. Which is in some way refreshing.
- All of Midoriya’s strategies and mutt mutts throughout season 1 came into play.
- 25 episodes, gave enough time to set things straight without rushing for a boss fight.
Hidden Facts & Popularity:
Horikoshi’s love for starwars was seen in Deku’s training where the Dagobah municipal park referred to Luke getting his training from Yoda on the planet with the same name. Horikoshi have the complete story in his head, just makes some minor changes along the way. He picks character names that sounds funny or contains fun. One of the Kanji for Izuku’s name is a homophone to the Kanji for 9, which could allude to him being the ninth “One for All” user. Likewise All Might’s real name includes the Kanji for 8. Saben and Clinker beard put a lot of time into development of All Might’s voice. A heroic voice to make people feel better. Fumikage’s hero alias came from tsukiyomi no Mikoto ‘A Moon God’s in Japanese mythology. There’s only 18 kids in classes of U.A but class A holds 20. Erased head’s character was crafted with absolute 100% rationality but bad social skills. There’s a video game based on the series called MHA battle for all. Anime cafe in Ekabokoro, Tokyo hosted a limited time MHA cafe including Allmight soda, Otuku’s zero gravity parfaits, Deku’s katsudan (pork bowl), with a second MHA cafe run (gold-medal pasta). There’s also an IRL MHA interactive puzzle solving game held some times ago. The manga was nominated for the very prestigious TAISHO AWARD. An award specifically for excellent new mangas and it competed against such great mangas like A Silent Voice (my favourite), Erased and Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun. Within three years the manga has over 10 million copies in print in Japan.
A superhero is someone who ‘saves’ people. Yes, the definition also suggests someone who’s identity is unknown and who spent his/her time fighting crime, but a savior is what a true agent of justice is all about. People like portraying superhero as an all mighty creature with a human appearance, a savior. This selfish demand give rise to conflicts. The idea that society demonizes and inhibits the exceptional in favour of appeasing the basic bads. Still the story insist that everyone is special. Midoriya’s transformation into “One for All” holder suggests ordinary people can elevate themselves to greatness through grit and determination. “Anyone can aspire to greatness”. But sooner baptise it with Villains’ Tall-poppy-syndrome, the aspects of a culture where people of high status are resented, attacked or criticised. A German philosopher Freddy Nietzsche’s Herd morality states “impotence becomes goodness of heart, craven fear becomes humility, submission becomes obedience, cowardice and being forced to wait become patience, the inability to take revenge becomes forgiveness, the desire for revenge becomes a desire for justice, a hatred of one’s enemy becomes a hatred of injustice”. In simple terms, justice and injustice are just variables. Justification is justice. Each points of Herd morality became the stepping stones of different villian introductions in this show. Though the story also suggests egalitarian along with it. To found such ideology one must face and omit all other conflicts that comes with it. That’s what My Hero Academia’s true purpose is. The story suggested greatness within ourselves, confident us to dream big, keeping the moral fibres intact. Like a great Ronin once quoted “if you’re strong, you protect the weak”. It’s okey to be weak as long as you protect your weakers.
So with that been said, I hereby confirm My Hero Academia as….