Boku no Hero Academia, a.k.a My Hero Academia, is THE BEST FRIGGIN' ANIME OF THE 2016 SPRING SEASON AND NO ONE ELSE CAN TELL ME OTHERWISE THIS SHOW IS SO AMAZING DSKJFLKFSHSFDJSFKJFGHFGKLFD*deep breath*
Okay...hi guys! If you're reading this far into the journal, you probably know what to expect from this wall of text. Let me first clarify that I'm writing this journal about a week after Season 1 has finished (and Season 2 has been announced imsoexciteewfjlfdkfdfhkjgkjf)
, as well as after I have watched through the entire series a second time to boot, and I have yet to touch the manga at ALL
(but I probably will soon). Let me also clarify that my above statement is something of an exaggeration - I haven't really watched any other anime that's been out like Kabaneri or Kiznavier, despite knowing that I probably should
But then again, I did warn you guys this was a biased review in the title. There's a reason for that too.
Boku no Hero Academia has quite possibly become my favourite anime of all time
despite its short run. Don't get me wrong, I have had favourite animes (note the plural) for a while. Psycho-Pass has, for the past few years, occupied my spot for best 'objectively' best/highest-quality anime, with Log Horizon and Heartcatch Precure coming in close. My early fans will remember I used to be both a huge Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha fan, AND a huge Puella Magi Madoka Magica fan (I still hold both shows as massive inspirations to my childhood, despite kind of leaving the fanbases). And even outside the anime sector, I'm still an immense fan of the Touhou Project and Persona game series which have left me no shortage of Memes and fanfic fuel.
I love so many stories and universes, and they've all given me something great, but I always kind of longed for the day
when I could find an anime that was a melting pot of all these things I loved. And if such a story existed, then I could truly call that my favourite anime - not just a show I was an immense fan of, but a show which (like many people) I could IMMEDIATELY and proudly say had kind of consumed me.
Well, as the show's opening goes, THE DAY HAS COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOME!
Many people call BnHA stuff like "The next One Punch Man", "Sky High for weebs The Anime", or more commonly, "a really good superhero anime full of hype". I'd have to agree with most of these names, but I do hope people don't just remember this show for its immense hype factor. The whole reason I watched this show twice was so that I could confirm - and I did - that it was so much more than just guts and explosions. From the offset I fell completely
in love with this show: the setting, the characters, the animation, the music, but most of all, the fact that this show seems DESIGNED
to be the melting pot made of things that I love (or at least 90%)!
But that I'm kind of running out of vague descriptions to describe why I love this show so much and why it's so dear to me despite being a recent work, SO LET'S GET DOWN TO BUSINESS!
8DMy first impressions of the show(My face after I saw the PVs)
Let's rewind a bit to February 2016: I had just finished getting high off of blazing through anime analysis videos by Digibro
and I was somewhat cynically lamenting (for the umpteenth time) about how 'anime wasn't what it used to be'. 2015 was kind of a bad year for me because the only new anime I watched through and loved were Overlord and Go! Princess Precure, and One Punch Man never appealed to me even though I thought it was good...so maybe in hindsight I was just being kind of whiny.
But as I watched through Digi's "The Asterisk War Sucks" series again a million bunch of times, I decided that even though nothing appealed to me during the Winter season, I could hope for the Spring season, so I headed over to MyAnimeList. My brother had already told me he was excited about Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (or "Medieval Japan Attack on Titan on Trains" as he calls it), and I was curious about Kiznavier because it was done by Studio Trigger, who previously did the super-fun meme-creating Kill la Kill. I already had two promising choices, but I decided to keep looking.
And then I came across a yellow poster for a new show, saying something about superheroes and an idealistic kid who wants to be like his favourite superhero.
B-but you know, I was just purely curious! This premise didn't bait me at all! It's not like I'm also writing a story about heroes and an idealistic teenaged kid wanting to be a hero too or anything!
In all seriousness though, the PVs got me hyped from the get go. Maybe it was because they kept showing scenes of the most precious cinnamon roll in the world (i.e. Deku) with an amazing voice actor behind him, or maybe it was because they were playing the iconic "You Say Run" song in the background that the show subsequently used for EVERY SINGLE EPIC MOMENT. Either way, I was really excited for this show from the beginning even without knowing much! It was also probably when my biasness first started to kick in, since it was presenting me a plot and a main character eerily similar to my own, and I was super curious to find out how it was gonna run with it, so I told myself, "even if the rest of the show sucks, it'll still be worth checking out!"
Now the irony is that when the first episode came out, I thought it was good...but not great. I mean don't get me wrong, it was a strong opening to the show! I loved the OP and ED songs and animation, I fell even more in love with Deku's character and kept comparing him to my Makoto Yoshio all the way, I enjoyed ALLL MIIIIIIGHT's over-the-top design and acting, I enjoyed how well-fleshed out both the setting and the plot was - it was basically a good episode! But I mean, it WAS the introductory episode, so things usually start out slow with not a lot of hype. Still, I was convinced to keep watching, and was hoping the second episode will deliver even more.
...oh, how I vastly underestimated
this show.(MY FACES AFTER I WATCHED EPISODE 2)
No joke, after the airing of Episode 2, and during the next week till Episode 3, I watched Episode 2 over and over at least FOUR OR FIVE TIMES.
Everything about it just completely blew me away (no pun intended)! I cheered and clapped as loudly as I could during the scene where Deku ran to save Kacchan. I was actually on the verge of tears when he called out to save the one guy who's done nothing but torment him, and then said "You looked like you were asking for help"
. AND THEN ALL MIGHT CAME IN AND BLEW AWAY THE VILLAIN WITH AN UPDRAFT SO HARD IT STARTED RAINING! And then of course, this episode was the first one to use "You Say Run", a song so epic and amazing that it's basically become this show's version of "Don't Lose Your Way"! And THEN the ending scene came in, when All Might tells a tearful Deku that he can become a hero! I couldn't get EVERYTHING out of my head for days on end! I was thinking to myself, "Holy smokes, that was one of THE
best and most emotional 10 minutes of anime I've ever watched in my life!". Or something along those lines.
Either way, this was finally the episode where I started going around to all my friends, gleefully shouting and bugging them to give this show a watch. I was so excited...but I was also kind of worried. I heard other reviewers said that this moment was the high point of the story and from there on out, it just becomes a lot of good fights, but nothing as great as what I just watched. Indeed, part of me was a little worried that maybe Episode 2 used the show's trump card too early.
But no! It gets BETTER!
I continued to watch Episode 3 and pushed through the entire series until its final episode, and I can safely say that the entire show is MADE of awesome moments like those. I constantly told my friends throughout the show's run that it was the first anime in a long time that made me squee to every single
episode that came out, and I MEANT it. Even though I started out watching this show for the kind of silly reason that it reminded me of my own story and I was wanting to learn from it, I ended this show really loving it for what it was, and for being a show that even if I wasn't writing a story, would still be one that I would definitely declare to be the greatest thing I've seen in a long time!
And by this point you're probably wondering when am I going to actually explain detail for detail the things I love about this show, so enough of the reminiscing and chit-chatting for now...Okay no really, ACTUALLY stuff about this Anime I love
First, let's get the elephant in the room out of the way.(Gee, with how many pictures I've used of him, it's almost like he's my favourite character or something...)
Izuku Midoriya, a.k.a Deku
is probably one of the best main characters I've seen in recent time (yes
, even more than HARUKA from Princess Precure, and that IS saying a lot!). In fact, for those of you who remember how last year I did a Top Ten Favourite Anime Characters list
, if I had to redo it, Deku would IMMEDIATELY jump to the Number 2 spot!
..let's also address the other elephant in the room that yes, part of why I love Deku so much is his similarities to Makoto Yoshio, the main character of my own story The Crossroad. The dorkiness, the social awkwardness (even if it's kind of a different flavour in Makoto's case), the massive amounts of idealism, their huge dreams of becoming a hero...the only major difference in their characters are that Deku's circumstances cause him to actually use
some of his brain cells, and he's in a story where he actually succeeds, rather than fail because of his flaws. I can't deny the biasness factor here, because it is true that when I see Deku, I see a character I want to write too, and write well like this show.
And see, that's the thing: Deku is an amazing character even on his own!
Sure, he follows the archetype of a timid and wimpy kid who eventually overcomes himself and becomes a great superhero, but the show's execution of his character makes him feel so genuine! For one thing, his design is far from a generic anime protagonist - his poofy green hair and wide eyes already make him stand out as a shonen manga protag (and say what you will about shonen manga, at least their protagonists actually LOOK like they have character unlike light novel protags). Then there's the fact that he's not just a wimpy dork - he's a huge fanboy of superheroes (which is pretty clever considering how the original manga is a love letter to American silver age comics), to the point he analyzes his their attacks and features for future use.
There's also the fact that even though his story arc has the rather typical message of "Follow Your Dreams with DETERMINATION", the way the show does it is so good! We see that he really has
had a tough life being ostracized for being Quirkless (or basically without any superpowers), and even though he still desperately clings to his dream of becoming a great superhero, people like Kacchan will always be there to tear it down, and even his own mother
accidentally hurts him in this regard! Even though Deku is a nice kid, all that hurt does
make him bitter and angry inside (that scene in Episode 1 where he gets mad at the fish for eating his notebook, and him calling Kacchan "you idiot" a few times are nice subtle touches to that). I love that the show addresses this, and later his desire to eventually surpass Kacchan to prove himself! It makes him look even more human! And speaking of which, when Deku finally does
meet his idol All Might, he does go through a sort of depression moment after his idol tells him his dream isn't realistic (and let's be honest, who can fault All Might, with all the crap he's been put through as a famous superhero?), but that sure as heck doesn't stop him from jumping in to save his schoolyard bully in that AWESOME scene in episode 2, and then later cries tears of joys when All Might retracts his statement and tells him he CAN be a hero.
...yes Episode 2 kind of wrecked me emotionally. DON'T JUDGE ME O^O
I guess what I'm trying to say is that the best thing about Deku's character is how much he develops, even through a short 13-episode anime! We KNOW from the beginning that he's under-confident, but ultimately a nice guy who won't stop chasing his dream and will gladly throw himself into the fray to save others: the perfect hero material. But then we see how he literally works out and trains himself to eventually become a hero (or rather inherit All Might's Quirk). And then we see how he's tested by his own homeroom teacher, when he realizes he has to put in so much more effort besides guts and determination in order to control his powers, And THEN we see him face off with Kacchan where he finally gets the upper-hand in their rivalry. And THEN
we see how when true villains attack, he'll do ANYTHING to save his classmates, the hero he admires, and how his actions inspire everyone ELSE to be the best superheroes they can be too! By the end of the show, even though Deku is still kind of awkward and hasn't lost his dorky nice guy charm, it's clear he's a different guy from how he was in Episode 1, and seeing how much he's grown even in such a short time just gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside.
Deku has, without a doubt, been the one thing I've enjoyed about this show from the very beginning, and I'm so glad I've finally met another great anime protagonist. But it wouldn't be fair to say he's the ONLY good thing about this show, would it?(LOOK AT THAT SMUG FACE! WHAT A JERK!)
I feel like I should also give some credit to the apparently fan-favourite character, and rival of Deku, Katsuki Bakugou, a.k.a Kacchan.
Yes, this guy is the typical Arrogant Jerkass Rival-to-the-main-character archetype, and initially the only fun I got out of him was jokingly saying how he's a disgrace
to bombers like myself. I mean, seriously, if Deku is so similar to Makoto already, how coincidental is it that BOTH of their rivals are characters who can wield explosives?! (except, of course, the fact that Alyss is a much nicer person than Kacchan ever was...and is a girl.) But then as the show went on, I started to realize maybe he was more like Michi Hakurei
? You know, that other character of mine who also used fire and was consumed by an immense ego and jerkassery?
Okay enough of the comparisons - I DO think Kacchan is a good character on his own too, and I also loved what the show did to his character. In most shonen shows like these, they never really go into the true motivations of the jerk rival characters and just keep them as one-dimensional flat...jerks. Or if they DO go into their true motivations, it's usually a sob story that makes the character too sympathetic, and while I do love that kind of character depth, that's getting a little old.
But to my surprise, the show does NEITHER of these. Kacchan is un-apologetically an arrogant jerk to the highest level, and he makes sure everyone KNOWS that. Yet at the same time, Episode 7 (which is when I started jokingly comparing him to Michi) reveals just why he's so arrogant: he's been a talented charismatic kid since young (his 'amazing Quirk' certainly didn't help), and the constant praise from kids and adults alike made him think he's just that amazing. That's it.
It's not a backstory that makes us pity him, but the way the show does it just sheds so much humanity on this guy. It shows all too well how people turn kids into massively selfish pricks with the wrong words, but it also shows exactly how this arrogance shapes these kinds of people.
I think the part that stuck out to me the most was how as a kid, Kacchan fell into a river, and all the other kids were cheering that he was so cool that he would be fine, but a young Deku is the only one to offer him a helping hand...and all present-day Kacchan angrily thinks is "Don't look at me with those eyes!"
It's the classic don't-you-dare-pity-me mindset, and it makes Kacchan really look like a real kid who is so arrogant and angry, he can't comprehend anything else. The whole time, the only reasoning he declares that he wants to crush Deku is because "I'm better than you", and if that doesn't shed light on how empty Kacchan is, I dunno what else will.
Again, I'm really glad that this seemingly simple shonen story took such a simple one-dimensional archetype and turned him into a real character with layers, however subtle (or empty) they may be. I mean heck, we don't even look at our real-life bullies like that, because all we can focus on is how much they want to torment us! Speaking of which, I love how the show also shows the subtle differences in Deku and Kacchan's rivalry. Of course, Deku eventually grows to face up to Kacchan instead of being afraid of him, and Kacchan starts to bitterly realize Deku may in fact be more capable than him (hence he stops the teasing pretty quickly), but then there's also that hilarious moment in episode 9, when the other classmates of 1-A start picking on Kacchan for his awful attitude, and Deku's off in the corner with a mental breakdown like he's going "KACCHAN'S BEING BULLIED?! MY ENTIRE LIFE IS A LIE!"
.(Getting a Persona 4 vibe from this...)
But you know what? It's not just those two guys that make this show so great. Except for Yuga Aoyama the French Jerry, I don't hate a single character so far in this story. EVERYONE is cool. I mean, I could talk about how Uraraka is the second most precious cinnamon roll, or how ORRRUUUU MAITOOOO All Might is an amazing deconstruction on the silver-age-type Great American Heroes, or how dat boi Tsuyu-chan is best frog girl, or how chillingly cool
Ice Zuko Todoroki is (pun very much intended), or how my three favourite non-main characters so far are Momo, Kyoka (earplug girl) and Kaminari (or as I like to call him, smug Pikachu Yosuke). But honestly, that would take too much time, and you kinda get the idea. I know I haven't talked much about the villains, but that's just because they haven't had enough scenes yet, and they more terrify
the crap out of me than anything...
Many people seem to think that it's always bad if a show, especially a long-running one, always introduces loads and loads of characters, and sometimes I agree it does make things confusing and the story hard to follow. But I think the strength of shows like the Nanoha franchise, Super Robot Wars, Touhou, and, well, THIS show, is that they do their best to genuinely make everyone look awesome. Main characters aside, they reveal just enough about the side characters, and give them all sorts of Quirks (both literally and figuratively) to make sure you at least have a favourite character, and THEN throw at you at least one moment each for each character to shine. So not only do you cheer for your favourite characters, but you're cheering for basically every other character too. Especially in a show like this, which loves Big Damn Heroes moments!
And plus, I genuinely like the students of Class 1-A! Once again, except for French Jerry, I don't hate a single member of the class. As I said, the parts where the class can just relax and goof off together all give me a Persona 4 vibe - as in, a school setting where the characters are all teenagers (but also well-defined characters) who are causing shenanigans and playing off each other. I mean, we all love this show for the high-intensity testorene-filled action scenes and the bombastic music, but I would like more scenes like the bus ride in episode 9!
But most of all, I think the show is able to do this because of this show's amazing style and world-building. I think it's no secret that Kohei Horikoshi drew the original manga as a love letter to silver age American superheroes, and the whole world being basically one where the majority of humanity are X-Men definitely reflects that inspiration. The fact that any superpower imaginable exists, and that the majority of humans can now become superheroes is a crazy awesome world that's just rife with creativity. Yet at the same time, the anime has a distinct Japanese feel to it...I mean, besides the fact that the setting is literally in Japan. I'm more referring to the fact that all the themes the show discusses about superhero-dom, like how All Might forces himself to be a Symbol of Peace to inspire all, or how the show addresses that some superheroes chase after the fame selfishly and yet others are totally fine working undercover and helping the greater good, you get the idea. Like I said earlier, this show seems like a melting pot of things I love! It's an almost magical setting full of colourful characters, it runs on guts and GAR and explosions, and yet it can address the little things about this society in a pretty subtle way.
NOW WE HERE
So now I'm here at almost 4k words, having analyzed this show to hell and back. I guess this is what happens when I love a show so much and have it be filled with things I love :'D
I know this show's been getting popular, and the manga is getting popular too, and that's awesome. But I do hope that my incredibly long review reminds y'all that this show isn't just made of hype and awesome fight scenes, nor is it just a standard superhero comic-turned-anime story. Maybe it isn't the 'deepest' show out there, and considering Season 2 still needs to come out to adapt the rest of the manga, there's still more of this story to come. But hey, that just means there's more amazing characters and awesome developments for this story to offer!
Here's to Boku no Hero Academia, the amazing superhero anime of 2016, and my new favourite anime!