Boku no Hero Academia is a Bones anime based off of a manga by Horikoshi Kouhei. So, this is from the same studio as Heroman, Kekkai Sensen & Mob Psycho 100, to name a few. Their works vary in quality quite substantially, so let’s see where this one falls. Now, I will be covering the first two series together. So, keep that in mind and understand that there may be some spoilers for series one. Let’s kick hero month off with a look at those.
Our narrative is set in a world where the vast majority of people have super powers, or quirks. This has caused the world to shift and super heroes to become an actual thing paid for by the government. Midoriya Izuku wants to be a hero but there’s one problem. He has no quirk. In spite of that, he still wants to try. He just needs to witness the brutal murder of his parents, inherit billions and spend some time training in martial arts and detective work before commissioning a bunch of gadgets.
Since that origin is already taken, what actually happens is that he encounters All Might, the greatest hero on Earth. All Might becomes impressed by him after an encounter with a villain and he tells Midoriya that he can be a hero. He just has to inherit All Might’s quirk. From there, Midoriya manages to enrol in the highly competitive hero course at UA High School and gets to know his classmates while trying to learn how to use his new found quirk without hurting himself. To make things worse, his class seems to attract villains a lot.
My only real gripe with the series, narratively, is that they spend a bit too much time on exposition. Every time they have an event, whether it’s the sports festival, intern-ship or their exam, they spend a bunch of time explaining how it works and why it is the way it is instead of just showing us the event in action and letting us draw our own conclusions. It might not be so bad if the explanation was fairly brief, but some of them go on for quite a while so we can see our various characters reacting to it. We don’t need the exposition for the world building to work. This time could’ve been spent showing the characters interact with their families or just spending time with each other. You know, develop those interactions and relationships more strongly. But no, we get exposition.
I will say, the narrative progression is strong and I appreciate that the students aren’t shown as being “just amazing” and ready for anything. They struggle and they need their teachers to come to their rescue. They’re shown as having promise, but needing time and effort to refine it. I also appreciate that the series doesn’t put Midoriya on an absurd pedestal just because he’s the protagonist. He fails, quite a bit. He needs help. He loses out against other students who are more skilled. The series also does a good job of balancing serious situations, like encountering actual villains, with more ordinary situations that don’t have hefty stakes but still matter. The world building is really good too. The flashbacks are worth mentioning because this series uses them really well. They aren’t overdone. They’re positioned nicely and there’s a variety of different ones to get the point across instead of the lazy thing where they hammer you with the same couple flashbacks over and over again. I also appreciate the aesthetic. It’s like a really good super hero comic, like the ones they wrote back in the 80s before most things had to be dark and stupid. It’s been dark times for comics since the Frank Miller law passed.
There are a lot of aspects to the characters I appreciate. The dynamics among them are pretty strong. We get a pretty good sense of what the major characters’ families are like. Which is a nice touch. Every single character in the class gets their moments to shine. Naturally, that is more true for the major characters but I do like that it’s not exclusively true for them. The antagonists do have some reasoning behind their actions, albeit twisted reasoning. Stain is a great example since they actually go into detail on his. I also like the way they subvert expectations with some of them. Like Shinsou wanting to be a just hero but with his design and ability that would normally scream villain.
The big negative thing I can say about the characters is that there are a few minor characters who don’t really have much to them. Aoyama, Kouda, Mineta, Satou, Hagakure and Shouji are the big examples. Which is kind of to be expected when a series is trying to juggle an entire class. And most of them are fair enough. Except Mineta. He’s basically like Carrot from Bakuretsu Hunters, a crazed, obnoxious pervert. The only thing that makes him slightly more tolerable is that, unlike Carrot, there aren’t any female characters stupid enough to be romantically interested in him. Watch, now that I’ve said that I’ll find out that changes in the third or fourth series.
The artwork looks really nice. The character designs are varied, interesting and just really creative. The costuming is really reminiscent of comics. There’s a variety, some bright and popping while others are darker and more plain but they still stand out as a contrast to the vast majority of the costumes we see. Which is nice to see given how many adaptations of those do away with the bright, colourful, good costumes in favour of ones that are drab, and boring. I’ll give Horikoshi credit, he knew where to take his costuming inspiration from.
The action sequences are great and there’s a real sense of impact when someone gets a heavy hit in. It’s also interesting to see how different characters use their quirks. It’s clear a lot of thought went into that.
There are too many strong performances to go into each and every one of them. I’ll just name a few of the most prominent good ones. We have Miyake Kenta as All Might, Yamashita Daiki as Midoriya, Okamoto Nobuhiko as Bakugo, Sakura Ayane as Uraraka, Yuuki Aoi as Tsuyu, Inoue Marina as Yaoyorozu, Kaji Yuki as Todoroki & Ishikawa Kaito as Iida.
I could go through the vast majority of the cast and whoever I listed would have a strong performance. The only real exception is Hirohashi Ryou who chews the scenery so much that you’d think it was made of chocolate. It’s not her fault. She’s a capable actress and has been very strong in several anime I’ve heard her in. She just has the misfortune of voicing a character who has a lot of heavily exaggerated lines. Have I mentioned that Mineta is awful?
The closest we have in the first two series is Ashido & Jirou both commenting on how cute Yaoyorozu is. It’s fine, the three of them can form a sapphic hero agency.
Areas of Improvement:
- Subtract Mineta. I’d seriously just lose the little perv altogether. Give his screen time to the other, better characters. Like literally anyone.
- Less exposition, more substance. I’d cut back on the amount of time dedicated to explaining points, let them stand on their own a bit more and use that time to show the students just interacting with each other or their families a bit more. Maybe pump up that ho-yay factor. Then again those of you who know my writing know there’s no “maybe” about that.
- Explore All Might’s Decision more. Here’s the thing, All Might’s decision to pass his quirk to Midoriya makes sense, but it also feels a little rushed. So, I’d probably have the villain event that causes it be the catalyst and have All Might test Midoriya in another way before revealing the truth about his quirk and offering it to him. I think it would make that whole sequence a bit stronger.
All in all, the first two series of Boku no Hero Academia are great. Yeah, I have a few issues with them but they’re relatively minor and don’t affect enjoyment all that much. If you’re a fan of stories involving super powers, I can heartily recommend it. In the end, I’ll give it an enthusiastic 8/10.