With new well-written shounen anime (like the medieval Seven Deadly Sins, the monster-inspired Attack On Titan and the volleyball-based Haikyu!!) and completed classics (like Naruto, Bleach and Fullmetal Alchemist) to compete against, it is difficult for new anime series to become popular and stand out from their competitors.
However, Kohei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia (MHA) has managed to gain the attention of many fans and is proving to be a formidable opponent to its rivals in terms of popularity.
What is MHA about?
In a world where everyone has superpowers (known as Quirks), the young protagonist, Izuku Midoriya (also known as Deku), is in an unfortunate situation where he cannot pursue his dream of becoming a hero due to having no Quirk. However, after saving his classmate, Katsuki Bakugo (also known as Kacchan), from a villain, the world’s greatest hero, All Might, bestows upon him his own Quirk called One For All.
The story then follows Deku’s enrolment and entrance into the prestigious superhero school, U.A. High School, where he makes new friends with powerful Quirks. Throughout Deku’s journey, he is faced with many challenges such as trying to get used to his new Quirk, trying to balance his hero training with ordinary school duties and trying to fight the League of Villains (an evil organization established by All Might’s archenemy, All For One, who seek to destroy all heroes and take control of society).
If you are not keen to watch MHA just from reading its plot description, here are some other reasons why you should definitely watch it.
First, even though MHA initially seems to be about the cliché black-and-white concept of superheroes versus villains, it actually veers away from this trope and goes above and beyond (no pun intended). How? MHA provides its own unique take on superheroes and villains by having some selfish superhero characters, morally convincing and justifiable villains (who you sometimes find yourself siding with even though you are supposed to be against them) and a corrupt world where people with strong Quirks receive more attention than those with weaker Quirks. Ultimately, MHA blurs the lines between heroes and villains and delves into the deep and philosophical question of what it means to be a hero, and constantly explores this through its characters, story and setting.
Second, despite having a large number of characters, MHA makes each character original, memorable and captivating in their own way through their distinctive appearances, quirky personalities and moving backstories. Although some characters appear to be plain, predictable and superficial in the beginning, they actually receive a well-deserved character development throughout the story that makes them become more complex. For example, there are weak characters who become stronger and smarter through their hero training, unlikeable characters who become likeable when they display their determination and drive to succeed and achieve their goals, and impulsive characters who become more mature after realising the severe consequences of their previous rash actions and decisions. Indeed, MHA avoids typical anime character tropes such as the foolhardy protagonist who only has strength and no intelligence, the detested one-dimensional bully and the immaturity of reckless characters.
Third, MHA has outstanding fight scenes throughout its three seasons. Rather than just focusing on two characters simply, mindlessly and continuously trying to batter each other to defeat, MHA’s fights are entertaining not only due to its outstanding visuals, but also because it displays a clash of ideologies between two different individuals with different beliefs. More simply, if the fights do not captivate you in terms of their excellent animation, they will definitely captivate you by providing compelling characters who you care so much about.
Last, MHA has one of the best anime soundtracks. From the fast-paced and energetic “Trinity” track to the tear-jerking “You Can Become A Hero” track the to the well-known, uplifting and heroic “You Say Run” track, the music in this anime makes you feel a variety of emotions as it reminds you of the different stages of Deku’s hero journey. On top of that, there are also the catchy music openings and endings that seem to get better with each season.
Even though MHA has clearly taken inspiration from Marvel, DC and other popular anime series (as seen in their characters’ Quirks and designs), it is not a carbon copy of any of these due to its unique take on the superhero genre and its subversion of superhero tropes. Not surprisingly, this is what makes MHA so popular and worth watching as it gives an unorthodox and never-before-seen approach to the concept of superheroes.