My Hero Academia (Boku no Hero Academia) has been enjoying quite a bit of success since it’s debut during the Spring 2016 anime season. But, despite its growing popularity, I was still wary of jumping on the MHA bandwagon, since I’m not really a fan of mainstream shonen anime. You can call me an elitist if you want, but over the years, I’ve found that I’ve outgrown anime series like My Hero Academia.
After months of listening to a friend of mine rave about the series, I begrudgingly decided to give My Hero Academia a try, and after just one episode, I was hooked! I quickly breezed through all of the available episodes on Crunchyroll and even that wasn’t enough. It’s been years since I was this invested in an anime (my love of Haikyuu notwithstanding) and to think it was an over-hyped shonen anime of all things!
For those of you that have been carefully avoiding the series, My Hero Academia is an ongoing superhero manga series by Kohei Horikoshi that debuted in Weekly Shonen Jump back in 2014. The series follows Izuku Midoriya, a young boy born without superpowers in a world where 80% of the population are born with special abilities. Izuku desperately wants to become a superhero, but with no powers of his own, being a hero is just a pipe dream. That changed when his idol, the renowned hero All Might, takes Izuku under his wing and bestows upon him the One For All Quirk. Armed with his new power, Izuku enrolls in the prestigious U.A. Academy and embarks on his very own hero’s journey.
The premise is as cliche as you can get, but despite having the same copy-and-paste underdog story found in every shonen anime series under the sun, My Hero Academia managed to make me fall in love with shonen anime again. Whether you’re reluctant to jump on the MHA hype train or one of those people that are too cool for mainstream shonen anime, here are the TOP TEN reasons you should start watching My Hero Academia right now!
1. Izuku Midoriya (aka Deku) is a protagonist you want to root for!
I’d be lying if I said Izuku wasn’t a carbon copy of just about every other shonen protagonist ever created, but there is just something about him that stands out from the rest. I genuinely want this kid to be a hero! He never does what I’d expect, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that his origin story isn’t like everyone else’s. He doesn’t rely on his powers because up until just recently he didn’t have them. Izuku had to accommodate for his lack of a Quirk by working hard, studying the very heroes he looked up to, and adapting. You don’t root for Izuku because he’s a protagonist, but because he deserves it! Viewers can see a bit of themselves in the way Deku perseveres in the face of adversity. He would put himself in harm’s way just to help out a friend. Reckless? Yes. Foolish? Possibly. But, does he have what it takes to be a hero? Abso-fricken-lutely!
2. The series has a great message.
My Hero Academia drives home the message that everyone has the potential to achieve great things. The caliber of a hero is determined, not by their abilities but by their willingness to do their best even when it seems all hope is lost. You don’t have to have a flashy Quirk or wear a costume to save lives. Sometimes all it takes is a smile and a whole lot of determination to save the day!
3. The Quirks. There is so much versatility in the individual abilities in the show.
What’s a superhero series without the superpowers?! Luckily, My Hero Academia has them in spades and each one is a unique. While most powers are either physical, mental, or elemental, the Quirks presented in the series are far from what most people consider ‘superpowers’. There’s a character with engines in his legs, another with frog powers, a third has brainwashing abilities, and there’s this one guy that can control a sentient shadow monster! It’s a superpower free-for-all, and I love it when a new Quirk is unveiled because you know it’s going to be a unique experience!! Of course, some are better than others, but it’s not what Quirk you have, it’s what you do with it!
4. The side characters get a chance to strut their stuff.
If you aren’t the spiky haired protagonist with a huge chip on your shoulder, chances are you aren’t going to get much screen time, or a decent character arc for that matter. If one-off characters only serve as a springboard for the protagonist’s climb from failure to success, side characters are stepping stones. When I started watching My Hero Academia, I didn’t expect much from the non-Deku rabble; boy was I wrong! Each and every one of the side characters gets a chance in the limelight, whether it’s a short one or two-episodes arc or a season-long saga. We get to spend a lot of time with the rest of the extended cast outside of the main line-up. But, that’s not all, the side characters are just as interesting, if not more so than the main characters. Sure, the focus is on Deku and his journey, but these side characters shouldn’t be ignored. There are some real gems in this show!
5. The FEELS!
I am a sucker for a good underdog story, and shonen anime are littered with them. Some tug at the heartstrings, while others are just one big cliche after another to the point that you aren’t really invested in the journey. But, with My Hero Academia, I want to see Izuku become the hero he always dreamed he’d be. Not just because he’s the protagonist, but because his story resonated with me on a spiritual level.
I laughed, I cried, I cheered so loud my roommates put in a noise complaint. I wasn’t just watching the events unfold, I was part of the action! I felt every raw emotion, rode the highs and the lows. It was almost like the first time I watched anime all those years ago. This series does a fantastic job of conveying emotions. You just get swept up in it all, and if crying small Deku doesn’t make your heart ache, then you are heartless!
6. The animation during the action sequences is always on point.
Animation quality can be pretty hit or miss in anime. Some scenes are so crisp and clean, it’s hard to believe they were crafted by mortal hands. On the flip side, there are some scenes that are so cringe-worthy, they make you wanna cry. Thankfully, the animation in My Hero Academia is pretty spot on, and at times, a vast improvement on the art in the manga, most noticeably during the action/fighting sequences. Fluid doesn’t quite capture the beauty of these scenes. Every movement is a feast for the eyes. Whether a character is leaping into action or powering up their Quirk, you are in for a treat!
7. The setting is well established and fleshed out in great detail.
Most shows require a bit of world-building to get the ball rolling. My Hero Academia takes the extraordinary and builds a world around it. Pro-heroes are government employees with pensions and allowances. There are special schools dedicated to training the next generation of heroes. If you took away the fact that 80% of the population has superpowers, the world of MHA is indistinguishable from our own. But because the premise is grounded in reality, it makes it easier to flesh out the often overlooked institutional details giving the show a rather solid foundation, especially given the fantasy elements of the series.
8. Everyone has their own motivations and goals, some of which aren’t exactly ‘noble’
Each character has a reason for being a hero. Whether they want to help people like Deku or they want fame and fortune, there’s a method to the madness. MHA doesn’t attempt to establish the heroes as bastions of virtue and morality. They’re human. They have needs and wants and that is a driving force behind their characterizations in the show. Being a hero doesn’t necessarily mean that you are lawful good. There are shades of grey.
9. It’s an origins story (Who doesn’t like a good origin story?!)
I mentioned this earlier, but at it’s core, My Hero Academia is an underdog story: a protagonist with an impossible dream realizes said dream through hard work, sheer force of will, and of course help from a OP mentor. It’s not an original concept; in fact I could name five successful anime with the same basic premise right now. It’s a tried formula but it works! So, what makes MHA stand out? It’s the characters. At the start of the series, Deku and the rest of the hero class aren’t established heroes, they’re just kids with powers, naive and unpolished. As the series progresses, each character is tested, pushed to their breaking point. Watching them rise above it all and become the heroes they were meant to be is what really makes the ride worthwhile!
10. The series plays around with a lot of the traditional shonen anime tropes, but it never feels like I’m watching the same old shonen anime fodder.
I am not a huge fan of shonen anime. I guess all the Naruto and Bleach I watched when I started out burned me out on the genre, so I went into My Hero Academia expecting it to be much of the same and it kind of is… but it also isn’t. It’s hard to explain, but MHA has everything I disliked in other shonen anime series. It’s the perfect combination or every other shonen anime ever crafted, right down to Deku’s gravity defying green hair, but I loved every single moment of it! This show doesn’t try to be something it isn’t. It’s a shonen anime, so expect heartfelt speeches, yelling, action sequences, and bright colors, but that’s okay, it works. Maybe I’m growing soft in my old age or maybe this series is just that good!
My Hero Academia Visual (C) 堀越耕平／集英社・僕のヒーローアカデミア製作委員会
What Are You Waiting For?! Watch My Hero Academia, Now!
My Hero Academia is a shonen anime about superheroes. It’s not the best anime ever crafted, nor does it try to be. It’s just a great story with a lot of heart. So, if you have been hesitant to jump on the MHA bandwagon because it’s one of those icky mainstream shonen anime, take it from a self-proclaimed shonen anime hater: “This series is worth all the hype!” This list only scratches the surface of what a great series My Hero Academia is. The only way to know for yourself is to experience all the hero glory! Check the show out and fall in love with it like I did! PLUS ULTRA!!!