My Hero Academia (Boku no Hero Academia), or Hero-Aca for short, is a popular manga series currently running in Weekly Shonen Jump. The second season of the anime adaptation began in April 2017, and every time an episode airs, it starts trending online.
The story takes place in a world in which over 80 percent of the people have superpowers known as Quirks (Kosei). Among those people, there are villains who abuse their powers for evil purposes. Therefore, superheroes, who have Quirks themselves, protect the citizens from those villains and appear on the news almost every day. Izuku Midoriya, the protagonist, has always dreamed of becoming a superhero. The big problem is that he was born without a Quirk. However, thanks to a certain incident, Izuku develops a Quirk and enters U.A. High School, a school that trains students to become true superheroes. My Hero Academia is a story about how Izuku and his schoolmates grow stronger and become mighty superheroes.
The opening theme of the first cour of the anime’s second season is ‘Peace Sign’, sung by Kenshi Yonezu. Yonezu grew up reading Shonen Jump, and he used to dream of becoming a manga artist. Now, we got the chance to conduct an interview with Yonezu and ask about his thoughts towards this song, his opinions about the anime, and his image of a hero.
Your new single, ‘Peace Sign’, is used as an opening theme to My Hero Academia. What were your impressions of the manga?
‘I feel that My Hero Academia is a manga that inherits the important aspects of all Jump manga while at the same time it has its own original factors. It is a story about how young boys and girls grow mature, and it also includes important themes such as friendship and battles. I have loved these types of stories since when I was a child. When I was young, the popular manga in those days were Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece, and I have read all of them. When I was in elementary school, I dreamed of becoming a manga artist. This was because I was strongly influenced by Naruto. In that respect, I was a big fan of manga and anime, way before becoming a fan of music.’
I see. How did you come up with the song ‘Peace Sign’?
‘Well, I had written a song last spring, and this song became the base of the anime’s theme song. When I received the offer to write a song for My Hero Academia, I felt that I really wanted to do it because I had always been a big fan of the manga. I also thought that the song I wrote last spring would perfectly match the anime. When making the song, I also recalled my favorite anime song. In my days, there was an anime called Digimon Adventure, which almost everyone was watching. Whenever I speak about anime with people who are about 25 or 26 years old, we definitely speak about Digimon. That’s how popular and influential the anime was. What’s amazing about this anime is its first opening theme, “Butter-Fly”. Even when I listen to the song now, I can still remember all the best scenes in Digimon, and I recall the feelings and thoughts I had when I was watching it. Therefore, when I decided to take up the offer to write a song for My Hero Academia, I felt that my mission was to create something that is powerful, like “Butter-Fly”.’
By the way, who was your ‘hero’ when you were a child?
‘My hero? Hmm, that’s a hard question… I don’t think I had any particular hero, but, for example, I do remember that I was always excited when I was watching Naruto. It’s not that I empathized with Naruto himself, but I was jealous of the characters who lived in the world of Naruto and who were going through all those adventures. I even felt that I wanted to live like them. These feelings are the same for My Hero Academia too. The characters in Hero-Aca all try to overcome their weaknesses and to not look away from the reality they cannot change. They try to live their best despite the hardships in life. When I watch Hero-Aca, I feel that I have to work even harder and become like those strong characters.’
The B-side to your single, ‘Neighbourhood’, is rock music with the sound of a live performing band. The first lyrics go, ‘Konogoro Hidoi Yume wo Miru Kodomo no Koro no Fuukei (Recently, I have seen bad dreams. Sceneries from my childhood.) Does this song also have something to do with your memories from childhood?’
‘Yes. Although it is from a different perspective compared to “Peace Sign”, I recalled my memories from when I was a child to write this song. If I were to express “Peace Sign” as a song in which I remembered about the “young me” who loved anime and manga, “Neighbhorhood” is a song in which I remembered the things in my daily life from childhood. You know how we humans only remember good memories, and try to forget about the sad and difficult things, right? So, in this new song, I decided to remember all the hard things and hidden feelings in life in order to compare it with the “present me”.’
Wasn’t it hard for you to look back at your sad memories from childhood?
‘I think that there are various ways to create music, but I have always taken this method. Not only for this song, but for many of my songs, I have looked back at my memories, and thought about what kind of person I was in the past. I have spoken with “me” living within myself. I always start writing a song wondering, “Who am I?” Of course, there are times when it becomes too difficult that I suddenly feel, “I want to quit.” However, because I take this hard way, I think my songs reach the hearts of those listeners who have experienced the same feelings as me.’
Thank you very much.