My Hero Academia – An Overview of One of the Most Popular Superhero Anime Shows
Teen angst: check. Superpowers: check. Awesome graphics: check. A really cool storyline: check again! This pretty much sums up My Hero Academia, one of the hottest anime shows of all time.
Based on a comic that was written and illustrated by Kohel Horikoshi in 2014, this Japanese manga series was initially published in Weekly Shonen Jump, an anthology magazine that focuses solely on comics. The first volume of My Hero Academia was one of the best-selling superhero-themed graphic novels, only trailing behind Batman: The Killing Joke. Its popularity soon caught on and more than 13 million copies have been printed across the globe.
The popularity of My Hero Academia grew even more when it was adapted into a made-for-television anime series. The first season of the animated show aired in April of 2016, followed by a new season each year. The most recent season, season 4, aired in October of 2019, and the final episode of this season aired in April of 2020. The 5th season of the series has recently been announced.
In addition to the graphic novel and the made-for-TV series, there have been two animated films based on the series; the first, My Hero Academia: Two Heroes, was released in the summer of 2018, and the second movie, My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising came out in December of 2019. Legendary Entertainment also has plans to make a live-action movie based on the series.
Needless to say, My Hero Academia is a pretty big deal. If you like anima and you haven’t gotten into it yet, you’re in for a real treat!
What’s it About?
The story is based on teens with superhero abilities. Izuku Midoryia, the main character, is a middle school student who, unlike the majority of the people in his world, was born without superpowers (about 80 percent of the people in this fictional world are born with natural superpowers, called “quirks”.)
Despite the fact that he doesn’t naturally possess his own quirks, Izuku longs to become a superhero attend UA High, a prestigious school for aspiring superheroes. As fate would have it, Izuku meets All Might, the greatest superhero in the My Hero Academia world, and the teen’s idol. Sadly, Izuku discovers that All Might isn’t in good health and that he wants to pass his mantle on to someone who he deems worthy. After discovering that Izuku doesn’t have any natural superpowers but that he offers tremendous potential, much to his delight, All Might chooses him to be his successor and he passes his powers onto the aspiring teen superhero.
After passing on his powers, All Might helps Izuku achieve his next goal: getting accepted into UA High, where the next generation of superheroes is being trained. To spice up the plot, a band of band-intentioned villains appears, and they are seeking revenge. Naturally, Izuku and the rest of the UA High students are compelled to speed up the process of becoming full-fledged superheroes.
What’s the Deal with the “Quirks”?
As mentioned, in My Hero Academia, about 80% of the population is born with natural superpowers, which are called “quirks”. These superpowers are kind of similar to Marvel’s X-Men, where some characters have showy abilities, like controlling the weather, and others have physical mutations that make them super, such as wings or specialized skin. For example, Izuku’s friend and rival, Bakugo, has the ability to explode thing with his hands, and Tsuyu, one of his UA High classmates, has powers that are similar to a frog (she can hop really far, stick to walls, and even has a super long tongue).
The superpowers are given names; for instance, Bakugo’s ability to blow things up with his hands is known as the “Explosion” quirk. We think that the quirks are given named because it helps the government categorize and track them.
What’s This about the Government Tracking Superpowers?
If you’re a Marvel fan, you probably recall that the government keeping tabs on superpowers that led to a civil war (Civil War: X-Men, anyone?), and you’re probably wondering if that’s a bad thing in My Hero Academia. It’s a little different than Marvel.
The setting of My Hero Academia is the pretty near future, when quirks are considered “socially acceptable”. In fact, in the story, natural superpowers can be traced back six or seven generations. When quirks first starting appearing, society wasn’t too keen on them, but as more and more people were born with them and they became more commonplace, unlike the Marvel comics, they’re pretty well-accepted. In My Hero Academia, those who have superpowers aren’t the minority; in fact, they’re the majority. In X-Men, the mutants, as they’re called, are the majority and they are persecuted for being “different. That isn’t the case in My Hero Academia.
In other words, because quirks are well-accepted, categorizing, tracking, and making laws about superpowers is really about maintaining law and order; it isn’t about systematic oppression, like it is in X-Men. In fact, categorizing, tracking, and governing superpowers actually allows for accreditation in schools so that kids can learn how to use their powers and acquire a hero’s license.
What’s the Show’s Main Focus?
My Hero Academia doesn’t spend a whole lot of time going into the background of characters or discussing how quirks came to be and what specific roles they play in society. While they do touch base on these things a little, it really isn’t a main focus. In order to be a hero, those who have quirks do need to go to school and attain a license.
The series largely focuses on the struggle between heroes and villains (those who use their powers against the law). It also focuses on the individual struggles that each character faces. There are three main themes in the series: struggle, friendship, and victory. The characters have goals that they struggle to achieve, but they are able to overcome those struggles with the help of friends.