OP: 「The Day」 by Porno Graffitti
「緑谷出久：オリジン」 (Midoriya Izuku: Orijin)
“Midoriya Izuku: Origin”
It’s obvious what Boku no Hero Academia is trying to do. That doesn’t mean it isn’t working. So far, it definitely is.
The Weakest, For Real This Time
I have a pet peeve. I hate it when a story frames its main character as the weakest, and they’re not. Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle tried this, and it didn’t in any way work. Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry did this to better effect, since there was at least a reason why Ikki was considered the weakest (even if it didn’t quite jive with the reality of battle), as did Jim C. Hines’ Goblin series, where Jig the goblin is definitely the weakest around. (Suggested, by the way.) Here, though, there’s no getting around it. Midoriya Izuku (Yamashita Daiki) is the weakest around. In a world full of superhumans, he’s absolutely normal, and he’s not happy about it. He would gladly answer the call to adventure, but the call wants nothing to do with him.
The Ultimate Underdog
It’s obvious what Boku no Hero Academia is trying to do with Izuku. He’s the absolute underdog, the weakest of the weak, but he doesn’t give up. He’s like Captain America before he got roided up—all of the heart, none of the power. We’re meant to root for him because he’s the underdog, and won’t it be so great if he works his butt off and becomes a hero after all? It’s like seeing Batman beat the shit out of Superman. We like seeing the weak mortal defy fate, and win.
Even though we know what they’re trying to do, that doesn’t mean it isn’t working. How can you not root for Izuku after seeing his enthusiasm, after seeing him refuse to give up even in the face of bullying, of protecting the other kid when he has no power, and of soldiering on despite reality so often spitting in his face? Sure, he’s a crybaby, but I don’t think that’s a weakness; brash confidence would be the height of stupidity given the reality facing him. I know they want me to root for him, but damn it all, I do. Keep on going, Izuku! You can do it!
Sidebar: Boku no Hero Academia vs One-Punch Man
Comparisons to One-Punch Man are inevitable, so let’s talk about that a bit. If Saitama is Superman—the man with seemingly endless god-like powers—then Izuku is Batman, only without all the wealth, technology, ruthless intelligence, and his parents are alive (and they’re good parents too, if his mom is representative). Or, using a theme from the woefully joyless Batman vs Superman movie, Saitama is the God to Izuku’s Man, and I don’t know who the Devil is yet. Which reminds me: seeing that movie made be appreciate One-Punch Man even more, because as Leftover Soup author Tailsteak opined, Superman doesn’t work in action-adventure stories because Superman is too damn strong. When Superman stories are done well, they’re like puzzles (“like watching a man use a backhoe to repair a pocketwatch,” as he puts it). One-Punch Man’s author must have known that instinctively, which is why his story is a comedy. Smart.
By the way, I promise I won’t spend any other posts on this series comparing it to One-Punch Man. Well, er, I will if they warrant it, but I’ll try not to. I just needed to get that out there, ’cause I thought Tailsteak’s controversial opinion was sharp, and because I enjoy poking holes in how bad Batman v Superman was. ‘Cause it was kinda shit.
There’s a lot to like about this first episode. The art style was pleasantly cartoony, giving us plenty of energetic shounen visual gags. They ignore elements that aren’t important to the story they’re trying to tell (like why Quirks started showing up…who cares, moving on) in favor of character moments. Izuku’s mom is already in the running for anime mom of the year, though being alive certainly helps. All Might (Miyake Kenta) is oodles of bombastic fun, and he used an attack called “Texas Smash!”, which, as a Texan myself, tickled me in all sorts of ways. (Everything is bigger in Texas, even our superhero fist pressure attacks, apparently.)
If I have any major qualms, it’s that this has only been greenlit for one-cour. This feels like a series that could have some serious legs to it, but with only one-cour confirmed it makes me wonder how committed the production committee is to animating this, or if it’s just another extended ad for the manga. Will we get some kind of bizarre anime original ending and never another cour confirmed? I don’t know. But everything else is looking good for now. I suppose I shouldn’t worry about later, and just enjoy the ride for now.
As with last season, we won’t be announcing what shows we’re covering until 2-3 weeks into the season. Please comment if you want to see Boku no Hero Academia covered regularly, though it’s probably safe to assume it’ll get an episode two post at minimum.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – An underdog who’s actually weak, & who you instantly want to root for. Go, Izuku! #heroaca 01
- “All men are not created equal.” In ability, sure. But that’s not what that phrase means. It means we’re all endowed with the same unalienable rights. It doesn’t have jack squat to do with how smart, strong, lucky, or rich any of is are.
- I appreciate how cosmopolitan this series is. From the first Quirk appearing in China to All Might so clearly being a loving homage to American comics, it’s not overly Japan-centric. Not that that’s always bad, nor a sin that only anime is guilty of—Hollywood movies and TV can get American-centric awfully quick—but it’s still nice to see an anime taking inspiration from other sources. It goes to something Terry Pratchett and others have said: Import, don’t recycle. This is how we get new anime, rather than the regurgitation of the same old tropes…even if we might get a few overly familiar American comic tropes in this one, lol
- Mt Lady. Ass-quaintance. She knows exactly what she’s doing. Poor Kamui Wood. Hehe, “wood.”
- It’s probably best that the author seems intent on glossing over how the whole Quirk thing works, because between the odd pinky toe joint explanation and the potential fridge logic of why, if 80% of people have quirks, there aren’t way more heroes running around, the details could derail the story. That stuff can be rationalized, but why bother? This isn’t Mahouka, where every bit of magitech has an explanation. Just roll with it and come along for the characters.
- “It’s fine now. Why? Because I am here.” That stopped sounding uplifting when framed by Izuku’s crushed dreams.
- Don’t make the obvious joke, don’t make the obvious joke…
- This series is reminding me of something, but I can’t put my finger on what. What’s another story (anime or otherwise) starring the weakest of the weak who perseveres despite all sorts of hardships? I can’t figure out what it is, and it’s really bugging me. Or maybe the setup is so archetypal that I’m thinking of several.
My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel novella. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Inside Out: What Emotion Drives You?, Superhot: Storytelling through gameplay, Deadpool: Tonal Balance Through Non-Linear Storytelling, and Through their own flaws.
ED: 「HEROES」 by Brian the Sun