Boku no Hero Academia Anime Review

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As the flambeau has been passed on, how bright can my hero glow, is yet to be perceived.

The brilliant mash-up of traditional superhero and Shounen story Boku no Hero Academia, (BnHA from this point onward) written and illustrated by Kōhei Horikoshi, is the newest addition to the throne of weekly shounen jump. It has been serialized since July 2014, and 14 volumes have been collected in tankōbon format. Story-wise, it has a heart for in-depth character study but received criticism for failing to do anything particularly new or interesting. It boasts of dramatis personae that goes down the shounen checklist but one that’s resolved with great execution.

With the same good old fashioned motivational factors many other shounen mangas have explored, BnHA somehow managed to contrast the best of it. It is the streaming reminder that an anime doesn’t always need to be original or unique to steal the audience’s heart. As two back to back seasons from studio BONES have already been aired, the moment has arrived to dive into a deeper understanding of its variables. Keeping in mind the intended age group of this story, let’s keep this review shounen-ish (not some vile suggestions to the vivified confrontation of my personal satisfaction).

Let the Quirky tale begin!

Beginning & Mangaka

Just like our protagonist Deku, Horikoshi at the beginning of his career was chasing some big dreams. His goal was to get into shounen jump, and he too didn’t give up trying. He previously worked on Barrage and Oumagadoki Doubutsuen, but unfortunately both were quickly cancelled. Severely depressed, he decided to channel positive feelings into his work and so came a one-shot name “my hero”, which had the ideology that became the foundation for our series. Although, it was still six years before My Hero Academia materialized.

Mangaka Masashi Kishimoto (known for Naruto) praised Horikoshi to be confident that the series would be a complete hit. And so it did. It was able to fill the void in the fan’s heart left by Naruto. There are many resemblances to Naruto like the rivalry between classmate and academic background and all, yet the driving factors still feel energetic and imposing.


In a highly mutated era, structured in modern Japan with pop culture, vast majority of the civilization has inherited some sort of super powers (called Quirk). Some have chosen the path of super heroes, some became criminals and for some it helps to do the laundry. Those who are left such as Deku, are considered as outcast. Although, this sort of treatment was only seen in high school where the story began. The very idea of hero in BnHA is not the same as “saved the day” one, instead it’s a structural position, a job vacancy that needs to be filled. Heroes are also not vigilantes. They are authorized, tracked and accounted for by the government and have quotas. They essentially operate as a 2nd police force. Most heroes are aiming to become professionals, which makes them more akin to employees, like a special force or taxi drivers. Endeor’s existence raises such topics. Though, the story didn’t really go into such narrations until Stain arrived. But there’s also the traditional ones such as All Might, who’s here to carry on the symbol of peace. This very ideology separates the “One for all” holders from the rest of them, which I believe was our mangaka’s intention all along. If there’s good there’s also evil, but in this case the good was born from the realm of evil. The idea of good vs evil gives a balance to this society. The constant struggle, the yin and the yang, keeps it in a never-ending stress. And in this tension, our heroes will be crafted towards their destined paths.


What makes a character great?

It’s the variety of traits and different sides of their personality, where he or she displays strength, weakness and a full range of emotions. That’s when it resonates the most. We love the changes, the growth that keeps them emotionally refreshing. And by all means BnHA got a large crew of such characters which makes the cast of infinity war look small.

Every character is in a constant fear of their own flaws and desperate to adapt, despite what we see on the outside initially. This driving force to change fills each one of their designs with varieties. Each character inspires one another to push to a further advance. With so many characters it is impossible to justify most of them in a single article, so let’s only focus on characters which have the most impact to the story. For this, our favorite Todoroki may not be the best choice.

  • All Might: The no 1 hero, All Might is the spotlight of this story, the walking reminder of peace. An all-powerful one punch man with such an emaciated bag of bones that his eyes are perpetually casting shadows, the visible pupils however show that there’s still light beaming inside of him. All might’s very existence holds this world from going into chaos. Although, it was threatened five years ago when a fatal encounter with a villain left him injuries that eventually leads to an extremely frail physique. Now he can only serve as a hero for three hours a day. All Might is respected by even heroes. His classic American style hero look, his smile keeps children in a shade of comfort and motivation. It’s the strength of his moral fibers that shines through his appearance. He wants people to believe in him, believe in the power of good. But the burden is too much for one to handle. So he wanted a successor to carry it with him. That’s where Midoriya came.
  • Midoriya Izuku: The muttering boy, the protagonist of our story, Izuku is a very timid and polite but diligent and strong willed boy. Due to his Quirkless initials, he’s been bullied since childhood. Being unwanted by his classmates, Deku developed a keen sense of observation. He’s an analyst and a strategist. Although, this side of his character flourishes from the moment he meets All Might. After sensing Deku’s selfless attitude to save others despite his weak appearance, All Might took him as his pupil and gave him a gift, a HAIR to swallow (The power of “One for All”). And so the road to become the greatest hero began. Now in case of shounen stories there’s always an optimistic protagonist who will risk it all and win at the end with the power of determination, belief and friendship. But what differs Deku from the rest of them is his mature understanding. He may act childish, but he can grasp a situation or even a person’s psychology faster than anyone. He motivates others as well as is motivated by them. This chain reaction keeps him from being lazy and arrogant of his power. It’s not the power of “One for all” that defines him as a hero, it’s his constant hard work, ceaseless determination to grow and lifelong wish to become the next All Might. But the road is not easy as many others including Bakugou wishes the same.
  • Bakugou Katsuki: A guy with absolutely no chill, Bakugou is a character of pride. He sweats nitroglycerin which allows his hands to disperse explosive energy. Despite his smart and capable qualities, he is always portrayed as an arrogant, selfish, resenting guy. From early in life he had a superiority complex. He always wanted to be the best in everything. So he enjoyed being a bully at school where he was the star of the class. But soon that dream shattered when he entered the U.A, where everyone was special. That aside, what his ego couldn’t take the most is the weakling who he always bullied getting more spotlights. Being saved by Deku wasn’t enough, now he has to overcome Todoroki (another star of the class) and Deku both. This agony of one loss after another kept him in a place of Sasuke (from Naruto). Although he doesn’t take shortcuts and become frustrated when he wins easily. Bokugou is that type of character who can easily be misunderstood as a villain or at the very least on its way of becoming one. But it’s his ego what kept him from doing so.  Whenever he and Deku came in contact both of their personality cherishes as of their understanding towards each other. He plays the role of Deku’s arch nemesis, though that spot been taken over as soon as our antagonist makes his appearance.
  • Shigaraki Tomura: Itchy beyond edgy, Tomura is an agent of chaos. Psychotic aggression with a brilliant mind and reflexes quick enough to analyse an opponent’s potential weak spots in an instant but unfortunately he’s a defeatist. “A child with atom bomb”. He often shows signs of arrogance and is demanding, “akin to a child’s tantrum”. This twisted mind only wants destruction and anarchy. Instructed by his Sensei, Tomura acts accordingly. He’s always with his right-hand/bartender Kurogiri. When wearing his villain outfit, he has 14 disembodied hands clasped onto his arms, chest, neck, head, and face. The hand on his face, he refers to as “Father” and feels comfort from it. He doesn’t care about himself or anyone around him. All he wants is attention. Just like Deku as the next symbol of peace, he’s the successor of “All for one” (How convenient). In the little bit of screen time that he got, we got to see his actions as both sinister and childish. He truly believes this society is dangerous; though there’s also someone else with the same belief and holds even lesser screen time, who’s actions echoed throughout the history of My Hero Academia.
  • Chizome Akaguro: The hero killer, the Voldemort face, Stain is a notorious, coldhearted, tenacious, unforgiving man with a sense of duty- “Revival of Heroics”. To cleanse this society of false heroes, he has taken matters to his own hands and murder those who he sees unfit until the society realizes its own faults. Like I said before, a society with so much pride is bound to fall and give birth to someone like Stain. But what differs Stain from the rest of the league is resistances against needless bloodshed. So he works in the alleys with lesser attention. He believes heavily in creeds and convictions and stands as a necessary evil. Though, he never hesitates to save those he finds worthy. Stain is an excellent fighter and mostly unbeatable in single close combats. With a little taste of his opponent’s blood on his bumpy long tongue, he is practically unstoppable. If that’s not all, he has a murderous aura that can paralyses even pro heroes. One look on his blood-red eyes give nightmares of a lifetime. But what truly defines Stain is his unshakeable ideologies. His sense of justice has shaken the very essence of hero academy. Like Gran Torino said, the notion of his obsessive fixation is as strong as All Might’s. This notion also inspired many villains as well as civilians.

    Animation with studio BONES

    Studio BONES have four sub-studios, among which Studio A was in charge of BnHA that was led by animation producer Naoko Amano. Yoshihiko Umokoshi, a famous animator with an idiosyncratic style was in charge of that team. Studio A has been one of the more conservative sub-studios as far as the recruit of freelance animator goes and having young animators such as Hakuyu Go, (made the fight between Klaus and Despair in kekkai sensen) was a blessing all together. Another name that needs attention is Kenji Nagasaki, the director of both seasons. In an interview Nagasaki said that the most difficult part of adapting the manga was keeping the originality and passion, it’s challenging to find ways to incorporate music and visuals to reinforce that perspective.

    The art director is Shigemi Ikeda, reason why some artistic contract in season 1 reminds us of Afro Samurai.

    And with so many animators in action how can the anime of My Hero Academia go wrong. Each one of them loved the source material and their love reflected through their choreography. Even the DVD version was another treat in itself. After the broadcast in JNN, Umokoshi himself retook many scenes to give more quality content including thick outlines, detailed shading and body structure. Sometimes lines were painted with a brush pen.

    The animation is really stellar for what it wants to do in a short period of time. It focuses on designs and bright colors to give off a same superhero vibe that we have seen before and enjoyed. BONES have proven before with Soul Eater, that only because it’s a shounen, doesn’t mean they have to be lazy about it (implying to everyone’s favorite Studio Pierrot). Most of the character designs are done in quite a lot of detail. Considering how many of them there are, it needs appreciation. Even the background characters get charming costumes that reflects their different superhero identity.

    The opening songs: I believe it’s the OPs where a studio can show its creativity. The opening themes are what widely infiltrates a fan’s heart. There are three opening songs of BnHA and each of them was designed to contrast the relationship between Midoriya and All Might. In the first, we see he’s visibly awestruck by the presence of his hero whereas by the second opening his face fairs a confident smile. And in the third one he shows a determining as well as a satisfying look towards All Might as if he now has a clear sense of his objectives. From his wishes to the other’s major appearance, each opening foreshadowed what will be coming later in the show.

    Soundtracks: The first opening was done by a group called Porno Graffitti, which is an interesting choice considering most western fans and anime fans in general, will be able to recall their previous work on 2003’s Fullmetal Alchemist first opening. There’s also some other parallels including it was also being handled by Funimation. The Dub of Funimation has also made it quite clear that they haven’t forgotten about FMA. Ending Theme HEROES was done by Brian the Sun, and it was their first major foray into the world of anime themes.

    In season 2

    Opening Theme: 「Peace Sign」 by Kenshi Yonezu

    Ending Theme: 「Dakara, Hitori ja nai」 by Little Glee Monster

    Opening Theme: 「Sora ni Utaeba」 by amazarashi

    Ending Theme: 「Datte Atashi no Hero」 by LiSA

    Voice acting:-

    Why season 2 felt superior?

    1. Introductions are over.
    2. Tournaments have an amazing way of giving each character a reasonable time slot to shine.
    3. Many fans wanted to see ice X fire in action, considering season 1 didn’t give him much.
    4. Bakugo is lesser jerk then ever, which is in some way refreshing.
    5. All of Midoriya’s strategies and mutt mutts throughout season 1 came into play.
    6. 25 episodes, gave enough time to set things straight without rushing for a boss fight.

    Hidden Facts & Popularity: 

    Horikoshi’s love for Star Wars was seen in Deku’s training where the Dagobah municipal park referred to Luke getting his training from Yoda on the planet with the same name. Horikoshi had the complete story in his head to begin with, just made some minor changes along the way. He likes to pick character names that sounds funny. One of the Kanji for Izuku’s name is a homophone to the Kanji for 9, which could allude to him being the ninth “One for All” user. Likewise All Might’s real name includes the Kanji for 8. Saben and Clinker beard put a lot of time into development of All Might’s voice. A heroic voice to make people feel better. Fumikage’s hero alias came from Tsukiyomi no Mikoto ‘A Moon God’ in Japanese mythology. There’s only 18 kids in classes of U.A but class A holds 20. Erased head’s character was crafted with absolute 100% rationality but bad social skills. There’s a video game based on the series called MHA battle for all. Anime cafe in Ikebukuro, Tokyo hosted a limited time MHA cafe including Allmight Soda, Otuku’s zero gravity parfaits, Deku’s katsudan (pork bowl), with a second MHA cafe run (gold-medal pasta). There was also an IRL MHA interactive puzzle solving game held some times ago. The manga was nominated for the very prestigious TAISHO AWARD (NIHON SF Taisho award), an award specifically for excellent new manga and it competed against great manga like A Silent Voice (one of my favorites), Erased and Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun. Within three years the manga has over 10 million copies in print in Japan.

    Personal Thoughts:

    A superhero is someone who ‘saves’ people. Yes, the definition also suggests someone who’s identity is unknown and who spent his/her time fighting crime, but a savior is what a true agent of justice is all about. People like portraying superhero as an almighty creature with a human appearance, a savior. This selfish demand gives rise to conflicts. The idea that society demonizes and inhibits the exceptional in favor of appeasing the basic bad tempts them in joining the league. Still the story insists that everyone is special. Midoriya’s transformation into “One for All” holder suggests ordinary people can elevate themselves to greatness through grit and determination. “Anyone can aspire to greatness”. But sooner baptize it with Villains’ Tall-poppy-syndrome, the aspects of a culture where people of high status are resented, attacked or criticized. A German philosopher Freddy Nietzsche’s Herd morality states

    impotence becomes goodness of heart, craven fear becomes humility, submission becomes obedience, cowardice and being forced to wait become patience, the inability to take revenge becomes forgiveness, the desire for revenge becomes a desire for justice, a hatred of one’s enemy becomes a hatred of injustice

    In simple terms, justice and injustice are just variables. Justification is justice. Each point of Herd morality became the stepping stones of different villain introductions in this show. To found the ideology such as egalitarian one must face and omit all other conflicts that comes with it. That’s what My Hero Academia’s true purpose is. The story suggested greatness within ourselves, confident in us to dream big, keeping the moral fibers intact, with a reminder of being human. Like a great Ronin once quoted, “If you are strong, you protect the weak”. It’s alright to be weak as long as you protect those weaker than yourself.

    So with that being said, I hereby confirm My Hero Academia as …

    Lazarus, with his solid and in-depth writing skills, is one of our newest members. He will be focussing on a multitude of subjects and we're sure his deep knowledge of the disciple will be reflected in all his pieces.