Review: Boku no Hero Academia

[Synopsis]: With the advent of supernatural abilities dubbed ‘quirks,’ the profession of ‘hero’ came into existence – people who would use their abilities to defeat others who sought to use their quirks for criminal purposes. In a world where now 80% of the population has manifested these various powers, children who fail to develop any talents at an early age are considered quirkless and will never acquire a special ability. One such child is Midoriya Izuku (Yamashita Daiki) who, undaunted by his quirklessness, aspires to become like the heroes he grew up admiring. Midoriya’s life is forever changed when he has a chance encounter with his personal heroic idol and world renowned symbol of peace – All Might (Miyake Kenta).

[Characters]:

Boku no Hero Academia‘s cast is about what you would expect from a show centering around a world populated by colorful heroes and villains. For the better portion of the show’s earlier episodes, Midoriya is the show’s sole focus as his admiration for other heroes gives the viewer good insight into what his world is like as well as insight into himself. Once it gets rolling however the show extends its focus to other characters such as Midoriya’s classmates and various professional heroes while maintaining its key interest in his own heroic narrative.

The imperative character to detail and focus on is definitely Midoriya Izuku as the show completely revolves around him and his journey towards becoming a full fledged hero. At face value he possesses a lot of stereotypical traits for an underdog protagonist – he is timid, polite, and well-meaning as well as insecure because of his history with bullying growing up. He is endearing and relatable because of these things however the thing that sets him apart from a fully archetypal protagonist is the way in which the show initially explores his character over the first four episodes alongside a very distinct vocal performance from Yamashita Daiki.

Boku no Hero Academia makes a point of working for something versus simply coming into it by luck or privilege and while this theme ebbs away after a time, it allows Midoriya to be deftly subversive in a few ways that turn an otherwise very standard, underdog character into something more memorable and important. Though the show tends to gravitate more and more towards the cliche and stereotypical as it progresses, Midoriya’s early characterization and the atmosphere the show first established keeps each new episode interesting in a retroactive manner.

There isn’t a great deal to say about the rest of the cast as they are all far less detailed by comparison and mainly serve to reinforce the heroic subject matter of the show and provide something for Midoriya to play off of. Tenya Iida is the enthusiastic and diligent class representative-type, Bakugou is a classic rival who bullied Midoriya when they grew up together, and Uraraka is the honest and positive-thinking female classmate who he befriends early on. For the greater part, most of the quirks in the show aren’t all that original or engaging and the characters themselves can lean towards the archetypal however they certainly have entertaining personalities despite this and work well for what the show sets out to do.

[Art/Animation]:

The show’s visuals are about what we’ve come to expect from Bones – the action scenes were fluid and exciting, the quality was crisp and consistent, and the facial expressions and character motion were, at times, very expressive. From an art and animation perspective, the show was a blast to watch, with almost all of the episode endings punctuated by some big, flashy moment before concluding. The vibrant aesthetic of the show supports the flamboyant hero designs which become progressively more outlandish and fun as the show unfolds. The visuals contributed largely to the fun atmosphere of the show and were definitely one of it’s major assets.

[Story]:

Boku no Hero Academia is at its most interesting and refreshing during its first 4 episodes which are ultimately the strongest part of the show. The first episode establishes the world of the story very concisely through Midoriya’s opening monologue which details the nature of quirks and how the world has changed and fostered heroes and villains because of them. With the context of his story established early on, the rest of the episode and the subsequent 3 episodes focus on making Midoriya out to be an endearing and sympathetic character by exploring what it means to be quirkless, his history with bullying, and his determination to become a hero regardless of his circumstances.

Normally this would fall under a fairly stereotypical setup to his story however the way in which the show pragmatically addresses that those without quirks can truly never become heroes alongside the show’s initial themes of earning something over having it given to you invigorate the story immensely. I was immediately struck by how infectious Midoriya’s passion and admiration for heroes was and the show’s portrayal of this was easily its single strongest element.

With the first 4 episodes having accomplished in excess what they set out to do, the story moves into its latter segment which details how Midoriya deals with his newly earned quirk and his educational experience at the renowned U.A. Academy where many of the world’s most famous heroes originated from. The issue that arises is that, having tackled the themes it established over the first 4 episodes and sufficiently setting up Midoriya’s character as well as enabling him by means of his very own quirk, the show loses sight of what made it initially refreshing and unique. Between achieving obtaining his own quirk, enrolling in a hero school with various lessons and tests, and meeting a variety of other prospective, young heroes, Midoriya’s story becomes gradually more and more stereotypical.

What was at first an insightful and rejuvenating take on the underdog story quickly becomes indistinguishable from the many stories and shows that proceeded it save for Midoriya’s own characterization which retroactively supports the show all throughout. With an increase in archetypal characters, cliches, and a generally predictable plot, Boku no Hero Academia becomes just another zero to hero story where its protagonist strives to become the best at what he does despite the world being weighed against him. This detracts from the show’s charm however it would be a stretch too far to say it compromises it entirely. The story, though stereotypical after a fashion, is still great fun to watch and with many of the episodes punctuating their conclusion with big, action scenes the show has plenty of excitement about it to keep itself afloat.

[Music]:

Boku no Hero Academia had a great soundtrack with all the typical musical flare of triumph and heroism associated with the show’s subject matter. Though the action sequences are wonderfully animated and thrilling to watch, the soundtrack continuously finds ways to push the scenes over the top and climb to new extremes as the action increases and redoubles. The soundtrack was a blast to listen to and there were more than a few memorable tracks throughout.

[Final Thoughts and Rating]: 

The failure of Boku no Hero Academia’s narrative, outside of its stereotypical nature, could almost be attributed to just how strong and engaging its first 4 episodes were compared to what followed. The show beyond that point is hardly dull and was reasonably entertaining however the juxtaposition between those two parts of the show serves as a reminder of what the show could have perhaps continued to be. The show featured good emotional flexibility in how it would switch between its comedic and more action-oriented or sentimental scenes. I look forward to the next installment in the series.

Rating: 7

I gave Boku no Hero Academia a 7 because it featured a wonderful start to the series by means of its early episodes and Midoriya’s characterization, the flashy and exciting animation that accompanied its action sequences, and the colorful and energetic world within which the story takes place. I would consider this score quite generous given how tired and typical some of its plot elements were but I can’t help but feel that it was genuinely entertaining and fun to watch regardless of these issues. Somewhat forgivable though they may be, the show’s problems certainly inhibited it from reaching any greater heights.

[Recommendations]:

Anyone who enjoys a good, classic, underdog story will likely find themselves pleased with Boku no Hero Academia as it exhibits this style of narrative excessively. It’s action scenes look fantastic and it is certainly worth watching for their sake. Those who quickly grow tired of overly typical story developments or archetypal character designs might want to stay away from the show however it is likely worth at least watching its early episodes to get a sense of what the show is capable of.

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