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I grew up on the likes of Naruto, Pokemon and Dragonball on TV.
Despite falling out of love with them as I grew older, the battle shounen genre has a
left a distinct mark on my anime viewing experience.
Newer fans of the medium might not remember this but there used to be a selection of anime
called “The Big Three”.
A term that, in it's prime, was one of the pillars of the anime landscape.
It referred to three titles, Naruto, One Piece and Bleach, that at a point all aired simultaneously
and were the undisputed most popular shows.
Since then Bleach has finished, Naruto has finished, and One Piece at almost 900 chapters
isn't gonna be the sharp edge of a new generation.
For a while I've watched at the sideline as nothing has come to replace the big three.
popular shows like Attack on Titan have shorter, more condensed run times and less frequent
And even they didn't hold my attention.
The formulaic arcs of shounen anime that seems to repeat and repeat until people stop watching
just don't seem entertaining.
I'm not interested in seeing a character's 15th power upgrade or watching enemies be
defeated with willpower and friendship.
These, along with many others, were the problems that plagued the battle shounen genre.And
I had come to accept that myself and the genre had moved on, leaving everything behind in
the era of the big three.
Until a certain show came along...
Boku no Hero Academia.
I sat down to watch HeroAco and realised that it was taking the traditional battle shounen
format, that I had grown to hate, and was turning it on its head, injecting a large
variety of influences from outside Japanese media.
It takes aspects from western superhero comics and battle shounen, combines them to make
one of the most refreshing shounen series i've seen in years.
One of the first things that hit me was the show's stylistic influences.
Hero Academia is distinctly un-Japanese, instead taking inspiration from western comics to
create a world of super heroes.
The manga's author, Kohei Horikoshi, grew up on classic western comics like Superman
and Spiderman, using these as inspiration for his story rather than traditional japanese
This completely changes how HeroAca is designed and it makes crucial diversions from Battle
shounen tropes that stop the series from falling into cliches.
If we look back to western comics of the 50s and 60s we can immediately see the links to
This was a time of enormous commercial success for the comic industry and they're considered
some of the best works in the medium.
You can really see it in comics like Justice League of America.
Lot's of different, contrasting super powers coming together to fight evil super powers.
And with this idea of social justice, a uniform idea of right and wrong that is established
by society rather than the heroes.
Character designs share a similar inspiration, Horikoshi uses similar skin tight suits that
echo the hero's power.
I'll discuss character in more detail shortly.
The story story of HeroAca is set in a world were some humans are born with super powers
called 'Quirks'.
The author normalizes this concept by giving most of the world's population superhero
abilities and by setting narrative in a time when this phenomenon has been accepted and
integrated into society, Heroes acting almost as the new emergency services, attending academies
to train their quirks.
They even go as far as to introduce an economic class system into the world.
Having people with quirks hone their skills and try to get spots at agencies depending
on their abilities.
Much like how the current education system works.
And this is where our story comes in, we follow Izuku as he journeys through the academy to
become a professional hero.
Instantly you can see the strong resemblances to western Superheroes.
Characters like Peter Parker are superheroes, but they're civilians first.
Showing how society and fantasy would mix is something annoyingly rare in the battle
shounen genre.
While Shounen stories usually revolve around good guys fighting bad guys with no real consideration
for society, western superhero stories focus more on saving someone rather than defeating
a bad guy.
Usually a villain is attacking a city rather than just attacking the good guys.
This is an important difference in narrative style that HeroAca really embraces.
This is what gives an extra layer of depth to the stories.
When people are fighting, it's not just their pride or dreams on the line, it's
the lives of innocent civilians, their jobs and their public image.
Variables sorely missed in Battle Shounen, This is very interesting to see in our age
of salary and social status being at the forefront of desire.
In a lot of traditional hero stories, the hero just turns up, saves the day and returns
to a completely disconnected existence.
HeroAca forces society and its heroes to mix constantly as being a hero doesn't separate
you from being a normal person too.
We have constant shots of people in hero costumes doing normal things like commuting to work.
Creating this kind of world just makes it a lot easier to connect with the story.
Now all of this genre subversion and building upon the idea of society integration gives
the series a solid base to build upon.
The first season doesn't do much with the concept and the tournament arc that follows
is, let's face it, a but shit, it's in the 2nd half of season 2 where the series
really starts to shine.
The student heroes are sent out on internships into the real world and a villain appears
that, for me, puts the series on a whole new level.
A character called Stain is introduced, a brilliantly designed villain that, at first
seems like the incarnation of evil.
His ripped clothes and tattered appearance give him a psychotic serial killer look.
But it's not his visual design that impressed me the most.
Lot's of characters in HeroAca look interesting, I think it's Stain's ideologies that make
him stand out.
Now, at the time of writing this, he's only featured in half a season so his character
could progress differently in the future.
It depends on the direction of later seasons.
But, certainly the dialogue he's been given so far has suggested a really promising collection
of themes.
He exposes a hypocrisy in the world of HeroAca, criticising the hero system for having a fake
righteousness and favouring money over real justice.
And you start to realise that he might be right.
Heroes in the show work, they're employees of companies.
Although they preach their desires for justice and peace, they're really not too dissimilar
to the villains.
This becomes more and more apparent as Heroes are get TV advertising contracts and strict
laws on the use of Quirks start to appear.
Stain starts to blur the lines of good and evil, which becomes the strongest narrative
arc in the series.
We start to look at every character differently, realising that there isn't a binary good and
bad in the world of Hero Academia.
This is furthered by Stains attitude to the more traditional villains in the show as well.
He doesn't easily side with the villains either, almost declaring war on everybody.
He really reminds me of Scar from Fullmetal alchemist, a comparison that starts to become
ever more common in these later episodes.
Much like in FMA you start to doubt the system, little details such as Laws controlling the
intentions of Quirks start to suggest that morality isnt as black and white as it seems,
and it might not be the #1 objective.
There's so much control and mystery around their integration into society that the ideal
of Heroes all fighting for a unified justice seems so unrealistic.
In Full Metal Alchemist, the show established very firm beliefs in all of it's characters.
And then, as the series goes on, it slowly breaks down each of those beliefs and makes
characters 180 on their ideologies.
It does this in a way that forces characters to change in the story, creating some of the
most interesting character arcs in anime.
I don't wan't to be as rash as to say that HeroAca has currently been on par with
FMA's narratives but it is interesting.
And the show has already established a number of characters that fit this potential mold,
Bakugo and Todoroki have backgrounds where they both wan't to be Heroes and fight for
justice but also have Disdain for the system in which this needs to take place in.
I can quite easily see this being a future story arc.
Endeavour is probably the best example of this.
He's hailed as the #2 Hero after all might and is pictured saving people countless times
on screen.
But, he's far from a just character.
His story is that Endeavour forced a marriage on Shoto's mother for the sole purpose of
having a child with their combined quirks.
He birthed Shoto Todoroki as a weapon to become an even stronger hero than himself.
Endeavour put Shoto through extremely harsh training as a child and mentally abused Shoto's
This is the kind of back story you would normally find in a villian but in the world of HeroAca,
Endevour is considered a Hero for justice.
It's this contradiction that Stain is talking about, they're fighting evil with another
shade of evil.
There seems to be no true justice in the world.
Not all the characters are ambiguous though.
You have clear villains such as Tomora Shigaraki and clear heroes like All Might and Deku.
These are the characters that will help us navigate the moral landscape of Hero Academia,
almost providing a scale.
I think it's this mixture of good and evil that gives Hero Academia a unique twist, setting
it aside from the typical battle shounen.
It's the reason i've ended up watching over 30 episodes of a genre that I thought
I was done with.
It nicely reflects our own society of people worshiping fame over morality.
Justice isn't put on a unrealistic pedestal.
And Stain is just the start for the series.
Like I mentioned, so far he's only had one small story arc and would need a very calculated
and well written trajectory to be anything close to the likes of Scar from Fullmetal
It's important to not get carried away too quickly in a story like this.
The first 20 or so episodes were not nearly as impressive as the most recent ones.
But the foundation is now there for a story that subverts traditional shounen and superhero
I think, what the story needs to do is continue blurring good and evil.
With Deku as a kind of pillar of morality, we need to explore the faults with heroes
and the hypocrisy of the system.
I'd love to hear about incidents were Heroes had to chose between one of two evil outcomes.
Where Heroes, who pride themselves on their unwavering loyalty to justice, were forced
to break that moral code.
We've already seen this at the end of season two were more experienced Heroes tell Deku
and the younger heroes that they should have picked an option that would have left 2 other
heroes to a certain death.
Todoroki loudly protests this and we enter a moral grey area.
This is the kind of storytelling Hero Academia needs to stick with if it wants to continue
breaking the battle shounen mould.
But that's all to be seen in later seasons.
But let me know your thoughts on what i've discussed in the comments, do you think the
story is on it's way up?
Can it progress into something more than your standard battle shounen?
Leave your thoughts in the comments.
And if you enjoyed this video, please do click the like button and check out some other videos.
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Boku no Hero Academia's Secret Ingredient

165 Folder Collection
二百五 published on September 11, 2019
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