This is review number three hundred and seventy two. This anime is part of the Spring 2016 lineup, and it’s called Boku no Hero Academia. It’s a thirteen episode anime about heroes and other fun stuff like that. I really enjoyed this anime, and I hope you do too. Let’s read on.
The anime follows a boy named Izuki Midoriya, born without powers, trying to become as great as the superheroes he idolizes. He wants to become a superhero as well, but it’s a bit hard when you don’t have powers. He’s basically just a bystander, but he wants to be more than that. After a fated encounter with the best hero in the world, Izuki might get his chance but he’ll have to work super hard to achieve his goals. In fact, he might even break every bone in his body if he wants to be a hero. Like, literally.
Taking the Pants Off
Boku no Hero Academia is pretty textbook Shounen. It’s super formulaic, and the story is predictable. The story elements rely heavily on cliché, and the characters are basic stereotypes you’ll find in any Shounen anime. It’s no surprise, because this anime proudly hails from the Shounen Jump lineup. With that being said though, I f*cking love this anime. I’m really amazed at how reliable of a genre Shounen is. When I first saw this anime, I already knew its bleeding cliché from all over the place. After the first episode though, I find myself just watching the next episode one after another. Boku no Hero Academia is a standard Shounen anime, but it has all the elements that made Bleach, Naruto and One Piece the giants of the industry. The only baffling thing about Boku no Hero Academia is that it only runs for thirteen episodes. For a solid Shounen like this, the story is really designed to just go beyond a hundred and I’m a bit confused as to the small episode length. Maybe the manga hasn’t had a lot of chapters released yet to fill the usual 25 episodes for a Shounen like this. Or maybe Studio Bones is erring on the side of caution testing out the waters first before going all out. I think they got burned a bit when the reception for Noragami is a bit lower than they expected, so they’re really playing it safe. It’s a smart move, but it’s totally unnecessary. The mere glimpse of All Might transforming to his original self is just enough to launch this anime to the sky.
I’m sure almost every anime fan has come across Shounen, so you’ll also see the heavy cliché littered all over this anime. It follows a powerless hero doing his best to become as strong as his idols. It follows his trials and tribulations to reach the top. Along the way, he gains a one of a kind power that makes him standout among the sea of characters in the series. Once the general status quo is presented, the anime will then treat us to one long arc featuring the established characters fighting a group of villains. It’s predictable and the entire experience is really familiar. The anime also follows a theme like other Shounens. Naruto has “ninja”, Magi have “Arabian Nights”, and One Piece has “pirates at sea” as their theme. For Boku no Hero Academia, it has “superheroes” and it actually looks pretty interesting just by looking at the promotional poster. The last anime I’ve seen play around with the superhero idea is Tiger and Bunny, and I’ve also wished back then that a Shounen anime would actually adapt the idea into something more anime. I can’t believe I got my wish, and this anime has the same setup as Tiger and Bunny. It’s a very Americanized setup full of superheroes, and the most powerful hero in this story even has the traditional stupid looking superhero costume and he yells out a USA state when he does a special move. For Tiger and Bunny, the western setup is really used as a novelty since no anime has really entertained the idea as far as it has. It even had the heroes doing Pepsi commercials, and that’s pretty cute. For Boku no Hero Academia, the western setup is merged with the Shounen clichés. It works fantastically, and you’re really convinced from the opening narration alone. It states that the world actually has people manifesting powers, and it’s become the norm. Some uses their powers for good and others use it for evil. It’s become such a normal occurrence that super heroism eventually became a high paying job, and others would strive to become heroes for the fame and glory it brings. The setup is pretty cool, and it easily sold me.
This anime has three chapters, and it follows a familiar progression for Shounen anime. The first chapter covers the introduction of the story, the characters and the status quo of the show. I think it’s from episode one to four, and it mainly focuses on the various plot points that the story would heavily revolve in. The first chapter is about our main protagonist, Izuki Midoriya, doing his best to become a superhero like the amazing people he adores growing up. There is one problem though, and it’s the fact that Izuki is actually born powerless. They call them “Quirks” in the anime, and it sounds stupid, but I love how his pinky toe is actually the main reason why he has no powers. Anyways, Izuki is a wimp, but he still dreams of becoming a superhero. Along the way, he meets the number one superhero in the world and Izuki outright asks him if he can become a superhero like him. The number one superhero, All Might, flat out told him no. Without superpowers, he can’t become a hero because the job is pretty dangerous. This obviously leaves Izuki crushed, but All Might soon realized that Izuki actually has one important thing that makes him a cut above the rest of people born with powers.
One of the best things the first chapter ever presented is establishing the status quo with ease. In the opening scene, a villain attacks a transit system and the elements making up that scene really gives you a clear picture of the society this anime has. It has one guy calling his boss that he’ll be late because the trains have stopped, it also has a big crowd simply watching the superheroes despite the dangers the villain presents, and it also has superheroes trying to one up each other. It’s not so much as “saving the people for the reason of something good or pure” like most superheroes uphold, but it’s more on the line of “I have powers and I’m doing this to act cool and also save people in the process.” Throughout that scene though, Izuki is in the crowd watching the heroes in awe and also taking down notes of their awesome powers. It’s a six minute scene, but the status quo is effectively established without much exposition in that amount of time. It’s incredible, because it usually takes three or four episodes for an anime to really set its status quo. I guess this is what makes Shounen anime a reliable genre. I’ve seen LN anime even fail at something this anime established in six minutes.
Anyways, All Might and Izuki really has one thing that makes them special heroes. They know the idea of “self-sacrifice”, and it’s really such a simple thing the anime used to such divisive ends. A lot of heroes would leap onto on-coming traffic to save a puppy, but the heroes of this world would not. They would back down, and they would wait for a more suitable hero to show up. One guy literally screams that, and they just watched the villain try and suffocate its victim. It’s actually a logical thing to just let someone stronger save the day, but most heroes would not think twice. They would leap into action even if they can’t really do any difference. All Might would do this no problem, and he wouldn’t even think about anything else except saving the victim and defeating the bad guy. He understands the idea of self-sacrifice, and he doesn’t mind the burden put on him as long as he gets to save the day. It’s also pretty cool seeing him dash in to save the day in all his muscle bound glory, and he would really do his best to save lives. Izuki, a powerless wimp, somehow has this trait as well, and All Might would even acknowledge his bravery. All Might and Izuki will soon find they have more things in common. I won’t spoil it, because All Might and Izuki’s relationship in the first chapter is really the most crucial thing. This pairing would also help Izuki enter the prestigious UA High School where the best of the best superheroes are trained.
The first chapter covers the introductory phase, and the second chapter covers the transition phase for the Shounen arcs the show will have. This covers Izuki’s journey into entering high school and meeting the various characters that’ll play big parts in the following arcs. Remember how Naruto has a whole class of ninjas that soon has their own story arcs in the following episodes? Remember how one villain in One Piece eventually became a crucial part in busting Luffy out of that prison? Remember how Soul Eater eventually has a story arc for Medusa, the snake villain, possessing a child and creeping the f*ck out of the poor mother? Boku no Hero Academia is setting up the same characters so they can have their own stories to tell. Some of them might even die, but it’s really a necessary transition for Shounen shows because they really have long stories to tell. In the second chapter of this anime, the classmates and the faculty of UA High School are introduced and they eventually form a close bond with Izuki. A lot of these characters even resemble Naruto characters, and I find it weird that I notice that since I don’t even watch Naruto. I actually hate Naruto, but it’s a blinded hate mainly because it’s super popular for reasons I don’t appreciate. Anyways, the second chapter really just focuses on activities around school giving us lull moments for the large cast to be introduced. While it’s doing that, it’s also strengthening the three main plot points it introduced in the first chapter. Again, this anime is designed to go beyond a hundred episodes so it has arcs and chapters, but also individual plot points spread across. Shounen is can be complicated like that.
The first plot point involves Izuki as a hero. He only has one trick in his bag, and it’s pretty unreliable right now. The story telling is so good that I actually feel sympathy for our main character. His backstory in the first chapter is so well done, and his attitude as a sniveling scaredy-cat with a few bursts of heroism is really engaging to watch. He is always portrayed as a weakling and the odds are always stacked against him. In a world of people born with super powers, a powerless weakling like him really doesn’t belong in it. Izuki is special though, because he has the same ideals as All Might and he would do his best to really help people. His journey from being a weakling to a reliable hero is the first plot point of the series. Throughout the arcs, Izuki will eventually gain enough knowledge and experience to become as great as the heroes he adores. For now, he’s still a weakling though and it’s actually pretty fun seeing him work around this glaring problem of his. When in a pinch, Izuki would rely on his knowledge and quick thinking to really save the day and he does it with little regards for his own safety. The first time Izuki used his special trick, he broke one arm and both legs. The first plot point also covers his journey into controlling his powers and it’s a long tedious hell for him. Izuki doesn’t mind though, because he knows this is the only path for him to become a hero.
Sympathy is actually a powerful element in this anime. Seeing Izuki beaten to a pulp yet still standing up to fight is made special by how the previous scenes had the audience gain sympathy for him. The same can be said for the second plot point involving Izuki and his childhood friend, Katsuki Bakugo. He’s the Sasuke for Naruto, the Hakuryuu Ren for Alibaba, and the Sano for Ueki. I actually ran out of characters to compare him to, because I haven’t a faintest idea what Bleach is about. Anyways, Bakugo is an overpowered bully that would always look down on Izuki. He was born with an incredible power that can be a credible threat to anyone, and he grew up knowing he is the best person in the world. The guy has incredible pride, and he also can’t stand the fact that Izuki would best him at every turn. Izuki works hard for everything he attains, and this gave him the ability to think fast on his feet and use the resources around him. Bakugo is the opposite, since he was privileged enough to receive his powers naturally. He never experienced the feeling of helplessness Izuki has to deal with all his life and Bakugo would overly rely on his powers making him weak without it. Knowing that Izuki will one day surpass him is really eating up Bakugo, and this plants the seed that will eventually grow into an exciting rivalry between the two. We even got a nice glimpse of its potential when the second chapter closes with this rivalry on full blast, and one can only wonder how far this plot point can go. Naruto and Sasuke fought in one of the best beat-downs of the series, and this one has the same potential to be as good.
The third plot point is about All Might and his self-sacrifice. The number one hero in the world actually has a secret that makes him very vulnerable. Even though he can kill someone with just his thumb, the man is still very much human and his body is racking up some mileage in terms of fighting bad guys. He still continues on though, because he believes that he upholds the symbol of peace and righteousness in this world. If people think he is weak, then it might lead to some trouble with villains along the way. The third plot point would follow just how much of a burden All Might is carrying and it’s pretty incredible how a Mary Sue character is really made more relatable by giving him a significant weakness. I think this is the main reason why I hate Tetsuya from Mahouka. Shounen has conditioned me to like heroes that bleed and work hard against the challenges stack against them. If heroes do them with ease, then it feels a bit wrong. Why can’t they feel dread of losing and dying like ordinary people? Is it so wrong to present them as ordinary people striving to be above ordinary? Mary Sue characters can still be perfect without actually being perfect, and I just love the idea behind All Might. The way the show tries to knock him down is fun to watch. Seeing him actually overcome them, with a great deal of damage for him, is also significantly great. All Might is kinda like Kakashi from Naruto. He is cool and reliable, but he’ll eventually give way for his students to shine. All Might is doing the same for Izuki, and the chance for the boy to step up might soon be coming. All Might is a big villain magnet, and this attracted some strong ones for the third chapter.
The third chapter is the first taste of a long Shounen arc that we’ll get from the show. It just features a lot of battles involving the villains and the various people in UA High School. It’s pretty straight forward as well, since this is still an introductory phase for the story. More characters with special powers are introduced, and it slowly adds color to this anime. They’re grouped together to fight some strong bad guys, and the fun just keeps rolling up until the end. The third chapter also introduced us to my personal favorite villain since Majimbo from DBZ. I’m talking about this guy:
Look at him. His costumes have hands all over, and it looks super weird but also very cool. The various plot points in the show eventually comes into play in the third chapter as well, and it also opens the door for more Shounen arcs to follow. It’s the greatest pay off you’ll see in the anime as everything just comes together beautifully creating one engaging arc to end the anime. Izuki’s heroism, All Might’s self-sacrifice and Bakugo’s growth is covered in this arc. Meanwhile, the other characters are also given time to act cool and it also gives us a chance to feel out the eventual main villains that we’ll encounter in later arcs. It’s an amazing third chapter full of the classic Shounen twists and turns that really makes for an amazing anime experience.
I’ve said before that this anime is predictable, and it has the same tired elements most Shounen anime has. Despite those seemingly negative concepts, the anime is still very much engaging to watch. It just draws you in, and I really think it’s because Shounen is just a damn good genre. It’s a reliable genre, and you can expect great things from it all the time. I’ve had my fair share of long Shounen, and I always seem to find myself absorbed in the world the anime is presenting. I think it’s because the stories look simple, but it’s actually very complicated and cleverly layered. It might rely on tired concepts like a weak hero or drawn out battles, but I think every Shounen series really embraces these clichés and makes them their own. Nothing feels forced in Shounen, and everything just comes together beautifully. I think this is the main appeal of Shounen: it’s very much unique despite being familiar. You’re always guaranteed an amazing experience, and this is despite knowing how cliché the series can be. I actually haven’t seen a bad Shounen before in terms of technical elements, and this just proves how strong of a genre this is. It still comes down to personal preferences on whether a Shounen can work for you, but they all are still solid shows even if it isn’t something you’d actually watch. You should feel especially excited when the anime comes from Shounen Jump, because Bakuman thought me how cut throat it is to be featured in that prestigious weekly manga. It’s something the industry actually considers great, and the consumers would soon agree on it thus helping the series grow into something epic. I am really just surprised how I re-discovered the amazing potential of Shounen anime. I personally want to thank Studio Bones for making this a thirteen episode anime, because I rarely get to watch Shounen like this. I finished this anime in one day, and it’s a testament to how much I really enjoyed this anime and the genre as a whole.
This anime has a large cast, so I’ll leave it up to you to enjoy the characters. I’ll just focus on the three main characters worth talking about. There is Izuki, and he’s a really effective main character. There were moments in the show where I would feel sad for him, and this makes me want to root for him. The manipulation by the show is there, but I still ate it up. I had tears of sadness when he was told he can’t be a hero, and I had tears of joy when he stepped up and became a true hero. His journey is really fun to watch, and it’s very similar to a lot of Shounen main characters trying to become stronger. Izuki actually embodies a lot of great traits that makes Shounen characters special, but he also is smart enough not to have some of their bad traits like eating a lot for comedic effect or sleeping a long time for no apparent reason. Actually, a lot of Shounen characters would act before they think but I love how Izuki is a lot more cautious despite being forced to act reckless as well. I think his cautious personality is there though, because it contrasts Bakugo’s personality.
The guy is the familiar arrogant Shounen characters you’ve come across with before. Bakugo is interesting though, because he also acknowledges that Izuki is a better hero than he is but he’s too arrogant to let it show. In fact, he would actually feel jealous of Izuki despite being better than him. The relationship between the two characters is really interesting, and I love how they play off each other. Their fight closing the second chapter is amazing to watch, because their relationship really added personal stakes to the moment. There is just a lot to unfurl here, and seeing their relationship develop is an enjoyable aspect of the anime as well.
Lastly, there is All Might. I love this character, because he just exudes awesomeness. The way the shadows define his face and it’s highlighted by his superhero smile just makes him an awesome character. His other self is pretty cool too, and this actually adds a lot of layers to this character. At first glance, he just looks like a meathead but the story somehow is able to garner sympathy for him as well. There were moments where I almost cried for All Might as well, because he is really just fulfilling his duty as hero all the way to his end. It’s an amazing way of presenting self-sacrifice, which is something only he and Izuki portray in this series. It also excites me just imagining how the villains will work around All Might’s awesomeness. The third chapter had a great villain to fight All Might, and it’s pretty awesome how he overcame such a hurdle. He didn’t do anything special as well. He just let his fist do all the persuading for him, and it worked tremendously well.
Studio Bones is a great studio. They’ve been producing consistently good shows though, and it’s a great time to be an anime fan when you always get great stuff from Studio Bones. This studio always had great shows in its lineup, like Full Metal Alchemist and Ouran High School Host Club, but I think they’re giving out strong shows season after season now. From Akagami no Shirayuki-hime to Noragami to Boku no Hero Academia, Studio Bones seems to be on a great high and it’ll be fun anticipating their next solid hit. There’s also no sign of slowing down from them, since their upcoming shows seems to be instant hits as well. Good for them and for us as well, since Boku no Hero Academia 2 is already announced. This anime is directed by Kenji Nagasaki, and he worked on strong shows like Classroom Crisis and Kiba. This certainly served him well, because the progression of Boku no Hero Academia is significantly good thanks to him. Yosuke Kuroda handled the adaptation really well, and I think it’s because of his long time making series composition and screenplays. He worked on a lot of shows like a few Gundam anime, the Please Teacher franchise, Requiem of Phantom, and High School of the Dead. They’re all enjoyable in their own special way, and I think Yosuke really understands what he is adapting so he is able to give it justice. With a blossoming director and a talented writer, I’m sure the second season is in good hands.
Sight and Sound
Kouhei Horikoshi is a standard Shounen mangaka. He has a good idea of proportions, and he knows how to make his characters flashy. He puts a lot of emphasis on the inking and the small details making up the characters, and this translates to some enjoyable reading. The anime’s design is actually a toned down version of the manga, because Kouhei’s style is just teeming with small subtle details. Like most Shounen Jump comics, he also shows off how well he designs the bodies of his characters. The body proportions are just insane, and you just have to look at All Might to understand this. In terms of character designs, it’s pretty much the same as the anime but the heavy inking really adds more dimensions to the characters. He has a good idea of western superheroes, and I think he has a background drawing them as well. He is able to apply this to his manga, and this combines into an interesting Shounen western style that I really enjoy. He knows how to be eccentric with the designs to really make a character standout, and he mostly put a lot of exaggeration on the costumes. The characters are all familiar Shounen designs though, and this really adds something special to the visuals. Kouhei’s drawings are also gawd damn amazing, because his action sequences are insanely detailed. Most manga can get away with little background design, but every panel of Kouhei’s work is just teeming with small details and heavy inking. The action lines are coupled by detailed facial expressions and even complicated character poses. He also plays with the angles, and it’s just incredible. If I read manga, I’d put Boku no Hero Academia on the top of my “to read” pile if I had one.
The animation is pretty solid. It’s not flashy like Production IG or KyoAni, but it’s enough to tell the story. It has its shares of sakuga moments but it doesn’t really standout as much. The entire anime is cool by design, so the animation is just there to convey how awesome the characters can be. It is faithful to the manga though, and I appreciate how they try to capture Kouhei’s insane vision of the story. Despite the toned down design, the camera angles and ambitious panels are still nicely adapted in the anime. The animation is pretty smooth though, and there is really no dull moments in the series. Everything is animated impressively, and it really elevates the story the anime is trying to tell. Despite not standing out, the fight scenes are still pretty great. The ones in the third chapter are just incredible to watch. There were a lot of complicated movements, and the pacing of each fight is nicely handled by the animation. The powers are displayed nicely, and the way the characters interact with their environment is decently animated as well. I also love how the large cast is handled, because every character had some time to really flaunt their stuff.
The anime’s OP is “The Day” by Porno Graffitti. I love this song, because it just pumps you up when you watch the show. It gets you excited with its strong rhythm and powerful vocals. It’s been a long while since I enjoyed a Prono Graffiti song, and they’re a super old band at this point, but I fondly remember why I liked them thanks to this song. It’s just powerful and catchy upon first listening to it. The song is about overcoming obstacles and facing them with courage, and I think that’s song fitting for our main character’s journey into his superhero goal. The OP sequence is awesome as well. It features all the characters and a brief rundown of the show. It gives us a glimpse of the chapters and the plot points while also getting manga fans excited about how much the anime adapted. There are a few spoilers, but it’s not really meaningful without context so it’s fine.
The anime’s ED is “HEROES” by Brian the Sun. It has the same vibe as the OP song, and the lyrics are pretty much the same. It’s about doing your best to overcome your obstacles, and this song is just as great. I love the singer’s voice, because he really gives a personality to the song. I also love the instrumentals as it complements the singer’s nice lyrics. The ED sequence features Izuki running and there are a few flashes of his life as a quirkless individual. It’s a fitting sequence accompanied by the song, since it becomes a bit personal when you watch it. It ends with Izuki running till morning, and it’s a really special sequence after you’ve gained a liking to the show.
8/10 “It’s an enjoyable Shounen anime despite being predictable and heavily clichéd”
This is pretty standard Shounen, but it’s still enjoyable despite that. The story is engaging, the characters are loveable, and the various elements all come together to really give you a memorable anime experience. To be fair, I rarely review Shounen and I might sound too enthusiastic in my review, but I still stand by the fact that this is a solid anime through and through. If you enjoy Shounen anime, then you’ll love this anime. If you’re a fan of Tiger and Bunny, then see how far the concept got with this show. If you like superheroes as a whole, then you’ll enjoy the spin in this anime. I recommend it.