What Is My Hero Academia and Why Am I Always Crying About It?
Time to GO BEYOND
This Saturday marks the return of My Hero Academia and trust me when I say that I have been all up in our work chat going on and on about how excited I am for season five. The misadventures of one Izuku “Deku is the name of a HERO” Midoriya is like comfort food to me, and with season five on the way and adding to my list of Funimation watches on Saturdays, I thought it might be a good time to do a not-so-quick-because-I’ll-probably-be-fangirling-throughout write up on what the heck My Hero Academia is and what’s so Plus Ultra about it.
- The general synopsis
In the world of My Hero Academia, most of the population (80%) possesses a quirk—this universe’s take on superpowers —with most acquiring their ability by the age of 4. Being a superhero is a career of sorts, one that’s got rules and regulations. You can’t just put on a cape and fight crime, there’s a process in earning the right to call yourself a hero. On top of that, heroes are ranked according to several factors (popularity, heroic deeds, strength, etc.) and there are schools dedicated to teaching the new generation how to become the best hero.
For Izuku Midoriya, becoming a hero feels like an impossible dream because he was born without a quirk. That doesn’t stop him from having the hefty goal of attending U.A., the hero academy that his idol, and number one hero, All Might attended in his youth. After a chance meeting with All Might, the desire to become a hero is, well, kinda crushed by that perfect smile Izuku would collect trading cards of. It turns out All Might’s been keeping a huge secret: he was injured in a battle, the damage so detrimental to his health that he can only do hero work for 3 hours a day. He actually tells Izuku to give up on his dream because there’s no way a quirkless boy could handle the brutality of the hero world.
Izuku’s just about to toss his notebook-filled dreams in the trash when one of those “this will decide your fate” moments presents itself, his body moving on its own to save his childhood friend/rival/that spiky-haired kid in the opening who’s destined to be connected to him because shonen anime. This reminds All Might of the true meaning of being a hero— going beyond to save lives, no matter how scared you might be. This encourages All Might to tell Izuku that he was wrong, he really can be a hero, so much so that he’s worthy of obtaining his quirk.
Wait, you can pass down quirks?
Generally, no, but All Might’s quirk is an exception that no one knows about. His quirk is called One For All and has gone through eight different users, All Might its current successor. Apparently, All Might had been in search of a potential candidate to become the ninth holder of the quirk and despite what society’s said about quirkless individuals, Izuku’s the perfect pick.
The story focuses on Izuku adapting to the quirk, making strides toward becoming the greatest hero, and the many, MANY trials and tribulations along the way.
- The Plus Ultra
I should probably mention that Plus Ultra is the main catchphrase you’ll hear throughout the series. All Might says it all the time, along with the words Go Beyond, meaning that you have to go further than what you think you can reach, push through whatever’s stopping you, and all the inspirational hero stuff you’re probably used to the mentor character saying.
This, um, gets called into question sometimes because our protagonist is a child with a quirk his body can’t handle. Initially, I was worried about Izuku getting a quirk because I thought he’d instantly become overpowered like All Might. However, Izuku has to take his time with the quirk, and in some cases, figure out how to win without it because it’s too much for him to handle. This can be frustrating for him when everyone else around him has had years of experience and there are villains showing up at the school to cause trouble. It’s extra frustrating when there’s a “destined to be two sides of the same coin” rival in front of him who he’s been at odds with for years.
Deku looks up to that rival, though, and that rival, well … you saw the clip, right?
Izuku’s story is relatable because we’ve all had that thing we REALLY wanted to do, but it was impossible for reasons beyond our control. Izuku’s quirkless, which isn’t his fault, but that means he’s constantly told he can’t be the very thing he wants to be. However, when he obtains his quirk, he not only has to figure out how to use it in his own way, he has to deal with the overwhelming amount of responsibility that comes with being a hero while carrying out that quirk’s legacy. One For All comes with a supervillain counterpart that’s the reason behind All Might’s grave injury. Appropriately named All For One, Izuku’s gotta deal with him and those who follow him, particularly a young man named Shigaraki, who serves as a sort of bizarro reflection on the relationship between All Might and Izuku.
The story is full of intriguing characters, each with their own reason to be a hero (or a villain), and each one has their own unique quirk. Somehow, even if the world is predominantly full of superpowers, a lot of the quirks we see are different from one another. Sometimes it comes out as an actual power that can be used in battle, and other times someone is just a … dog. Because … I dunno, dogs are always good boys? What I really like is that these quirks are familiar to superhero fans, but done in a unique way. You have the super-fast character, for instance, similar to Flash or Quicksilver, but to illustrate his speed he, well, look at his calves:
I also appreciate the fact that the reasons for being a hero aren’t always as pure as Izuku’s. That doesn’t make them bad, but this isn’t a story where everyone decides to do this because it’s the noble thing to do. Being a hero is a job where you go to school, do internships, obtain a license, work at an agency, and work a regular beat to make sure crimes aren’t being committed. Since it’s a job, some people decide to be a hero for, well, basic job reasons. Being a popular hero will get you a lot of money, for example, so some people do it because they wanna be financially set.
This, as to be expected, raises questions about who should be able to call themselves a hero. I think this is one of the series’ strongest points. Not all the heroes on the chart are good, in fact, the number two hero at the beginning of the series has a dreadful history. However, as the series progresses he’s forced to deal with his shit (ESPECIALLY in the manga, the anime is getting there, though) and it’s not an easy solution, which is often the case in society.
Society is far from perfect, as seen through the characters in this series and who gets the “good” label and the “bad” label. There are some characters you meet that have quirks, or personalities, that society deems as unacceptable. This means that some people assume that they’re gonna turn out to be a villain even if their goal is to be a hero. Someone with a brainwashing quirk, for example, gets negative looks because of the negative connotations with brainwashing … even if they’re attending the hero academy to do good.
This is also a series that reminds you that our main characters are children. While they are learning how to become heroes, there are teachers who work to protect them because they shouldn’t be the ones fighting these villains yet. Of course, since the main characters are children, you can expect them to be thrown into outrageous situations, but it’s interesting to see commentary about it regardless of whether or not the battle is won or lost. There’s a part in the series, for example, where a student is kidnapped by villains. The entire school is put on blast for this, and we even get to see the effects the kidnapping had on that student and how no one bothered to check on his mental well-being after the ordeal. There’s also a part where Izuku and two other students face off against a dangerous villain. Even if they win the day, they’re scolded because they don’t have a license. It’s not automatic praise because they won, they’re reminded that there is an appropriate way to go about doing things.
But what actually is appropriate when someone’s life is at stake? And is hero society in the right? Those are the kinds of questions that are posed … alongside fantastic battles and catchy music, of course. This IS a shonen anime, after all.
If I had to pick a gripe with this series it’s one that’s common in shonen anime (save for, like, Jujutsu Kaisen). I want more screentime for the girls. That’s something I always want in series like this, though, and while the girls do have their moments, I want there to be more. As a manga reader, I know some big moments are coming for some of the female characters, so that’s something to look forward to.
- What to expect in season 5
***Spoilers for season 4***
Skip this part if you haven’t watched the series!
Unless if you don’t care about spoilers, then by all means, read on!
Here we go!
Season 4 ended with Endeavor, the new number one hero after All Might’s retirement, taking on a High-End Nomu and solidifying(?) his rocky placement at the top. Izuku also had a strange dream involving the previous holders of One For All. This includes All For One’s younger brother, who Izuku sees facing off against the madman. The vision shows how All For One forced the quirk onto his brother, Izuku trying to reach out toward them to do … well, nothing really, because it’s just a vision.
All For One’s brother speaks to Izuku, acknowledging that he’s the ninth holder of the quirk, and when Izuku wakes up his room trashed, his hand glowing with One For All’s power.
As a manga reader, I won’t spoil what this means, but I will say that this will start to be explained more in season 5. We’ll also be seeing the return of Class 1-B, the two classes facing off in a joint exercise. Yeah, it’s actually gonna feel like a hero academy full of students learning how to use their abilities as compared to last season’s giant arc involving the flippin’ Yakuza.
I hope this has given everyone an idea of what My Hero Academia is all about and why you should check it out, especially if you’re a fan of superhero stories. The series premiere is this Saturday and will be airing on Funimation. You can also catch all the previous seasons there, too, dubbed and subbed!
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