Kouki UchiyamaAyane SakuraKaori NazukaMy Hero Academia
My Hero Academia: Season 1
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2016: M
Also known as: Boku no Hero Academia: Season 1
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2016
Director: Kenji Nagasaki
Writer: Yousuke Kuroda
Original creator: Kohei Horikoshi
Actor: Ayane Sakura, Daiki Yamashita, Kaito Ishikawa, Kenta Miyake, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Yuuki Kaji, Aoi Yuki, Eri Kitamura, Hiroyuki Yoshino, Inuko Inuyama, Junichi Suwabe, Kaori Nazuka, Kei Shindou, Kiyotaka Furushima, Kosuke Kuwano, Kosuke Miyoshi, Kouki Uchiyama, Marina Inoue, Masakazu Nishida, Ryou Hirohashi, Takahiro Fujiwara, Tasuku Hatanaka, Tooru Nara, Toshiki Masuda, Tsuguo Mogami, Yoshimasa Hosoya
Keywords: My Hero Academia, anime, superhero
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: Season One: 13 episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=17786
Website category: Anime 2016
Review date: 16 November 2017
Boku no Hero Akademia
It's a superhero anime, based on the latest hit manga from Shounen Jump. (This year the manga won both the Sugoi Japan Award and the Japan Expo Awards.) The anime could thus easily have been yet another "52 episodes a year" never-ending gravy train like Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, etc., but these days the anime industry's starting to think in different ways. As with Kyoukai no Rinne, they're taking breaks. They don't want yet another series that's 75% filler because they're always chewing through material faster than the original manga. This 2016 season only had 13 episodes, although the 2017 one raised that to 25 episodes.
Anyway, it's good. I enjoyed it. It's a shounen anime about superheroes, yes, but it's got a modest, likeable hero and I like the show's philosophy.
It's set in a world with quirks. Almost everyone has a quirk. (The Japanese word "kosei" doesn't actually mean "quirk", but we'll let that by.) Hardly anyone in the world hasn't developed some kind of superpower and the world's changing rapidly due to technology. You might be surprised that the society we see is still relatively normal despite that, but never mind. Our protagonist, Midoriya Izuku, is one of the world's relatively few quirkless people... but don't worry, that won't last long! He's a boy with a heart so big that one day he even impresses All Might, the world's strongest hero. (All Might is basically the stereotypical All-American Hero, complete with blonde hair, a cheesy smile and an outfit that's approximately in the colours of the American flag.)
All Might has the speed and strength of Superman, but no one knows that he also has a weakness. A supervillain nearly killed him a few years ago and his injuries mean that he can't sustain his pumped-up form too long. Three hours a day is his limit. The rest of the time, he's a hollow-eyed mess who coughs up blood. The interesting bit, though, is that his quirk can be inherited. In other words, Izuku can now be as strong and fast as All Might!
That's the theory, anyway. In practice, Izuku will liquify his own bones if he unleashes his full super-strength. This looks pretty disgusting.
By Western standards, the worldbuilding's a bit unusual. Superheroes are all employed by the government and you can't make a career out of it unless you've been to the right school! It's called U.A. High School. That's very Japanese. The only upside is that connections don't matter there and they have rigorous admissions criteria, only accepting one applicant out of 300. Conclusion: Izuku knows where he needs to apply!
I've seen reviewers who know the manga complaining about the slow pace of this first season of the anime. Maybe I'd agree if I'd read the manga, but I haven't and I thought the pacing was fine. I liked it. I enjoyed the fact that we're allowed to settle into the world, instead of rushing from superfight to superfight. What's more, when serious villains eventually show up, it becomes clear that Izuku and his classmates are way out of their depth and there's no realistic prospect of actually trying to beat them. Their goal is simply to run away or hold out long enough for rescue from outside. I liked this a lot. It's a different dynamic from most superhero fights and personally I think it makes our heroes' potentially futile efforts more heroic.
The cast are fun. Izuku's very likeable, of course, as is Ochako Uraraka (the most normal student and a thoroughly nice girl). My favourite was Tsuyu Asui (i.e. frog girl), because she looks adorable. Huge fish eyes, frog demeanor, enormous frog tongue and the ability to drop-kick a shark. What's not to love? The most interesting character concept, though, might be Katsuki Bakugou, who's basically the standard bull-headed "MUST BE THE STRONGEST!!!!" shounen action hero that Izuku absolutely isn't... and also a jerk. He's basically an examination of how the character type could go wrong. He's not evil. He wants to be a hero like everyone else. He's strong, he's clever and he'll fight villains. However he's also a bully who suggested that Izuku commit suicide in ep.1 and tried to force him out of contention for U.A. High School because of his ego. He can be menacing, although he's not the scariest person in their class. That would be Shouto Todoroki, an arrogant boy who thinks he's better and more powerful than his peers. What's more, he's right.
I even ended up loving All Might. He's a tower of cliches, obviously, but we also learn that he's self-aware and doing it deliberately, despite the personal cost. Besides, his arrival to save the day really is damn cool.
Do I have any nitpicks? Well, I didn't really like ep.1, which plays the cliches straight. (It's ep.2 that starts subverting them.) I'm not wild about All Might's occasional habit of saying "shit", which I don't think fits. (English and Japanese swearing are different, but this is "shit" in English.) U.A. High School also needs to work on its evacuation drills, since ep.9 suggests that everyone would die if there were a fire and no one could put it out.
It's good. I'd recommend it. A big, varied cast of students, plus memorable villains (e.g. the guy covered in hands) and the ability to make extremely familiar ground feel fresh. We've all seen a million superhero stories, but this one has the ability to re-examine and occasionally subvert its two genres (shounen manga and superheroes) while also having the ability to play it straight from the heart when it counts. I'm glad I didn't drop it after ep.1.