OP Sequence

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.

Other Thoughts

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

Random thoughts:

  • “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 Sequence

ED: 「HEROES」 by Brian the Sun

Preview

76 Comments

    1. Agreed. A lot of anime adaptations lately seem quite rushed compare to the source material.
      It’s nice to see some series that decided to took their time with the pacing.

      runner
  1. The thing about this anime that got my attention was the buzz about it being the manga series that took Naruto’s spot in the Shonen Jump magazine, and how Kishimoto-sensei is so enthusiastic in promoting it, with Naruto even congratulating Izuku for getting an anime. So I’m definitely interested to see how this series goes that I’m resisting reading the manga. So far though I agree Stilts that it really makes you wanna cheer for Izuku like how I cheered for Naruto during his outcast days. I really just wanted to hit that bully. He reminded me of a more nasty Gary from Pokemon. And I’m even more intrigued by All Might’s story as I couldn’t believe he was that skinny coughing guy. And btw, my guess on what the series reminded you of is Tiger and Bunny, with both having a premise of heroics being considered a job and how they compete for attention and popularity. Personally it also reminded me of a reverse X-Men, where instead of mutants being feared and hated, people actually WANT their kids to develop powers.

    Zhinvu
    1. It’s probably not Tiger and Bunny, considering I haven’t seen that one, lol. That came out during one of my anime slow periods, and though it’s on my list, I haven’t had a chance to go back and catch it.

      1. Oh ok. I didn’t know you haven’t seen it yet. It’s funny because Tiger and Bunny also reminded me of a movie that showed years back: Mystery Men. Now that I think about it, My Hero Academia now reminds me of Mystery Men too.

        Zhinvu
    2. People love seeing the underdog succeed, especially when they gotta work for their happy ending, because we love supporting those who are less fortunate as a sign that we can give some hope to the world. Izuku is just like those weak protagonists who start at the very bottom and show some virtues that makes them happier. I find myself seeing a lot of Izuku in me in fact.

      I IMPLORE you to cover this show! If the marketing is any indication we’ll be seeing a ton more colorful characters in the mix!

      starss
      1. I agree! the underdog winning makes anything a lot more interesting. If you an experienced team against a less experienced team, you’d naturally think the less experienced would lose. But if that team won, seeing them win would be a lot more enjoyable than watching the more experienced team win for example.

        Lyfe
    1. It’s a pretty fun story. It tries to tackle some more serious themes (some now, more later) – the nature of heroism and power are the big ones, obviously – but honestly I enjoy it most when you just stick all the fun characters in a room and let them bounce off each other like a zany pinball machine.

      Guile
    1. I thought I was the only one who thought that. Through out the first EP, it gave a lot of KHR vibe with a hint of OPM but they are different anime. The vibe was just the same because KHR MC was the weakest link like Deku. I am looking forward to what this offers since I chose not to read the manga for the sake of enjoying it in the best way possible.

      Nyurufufu
  2. I haven’t read the source material (but have heard a lot of good things about it), and the art will take a little getting used to, but I enjoyed it overall. I definitely feel a lot of the “being a hero isn’t about the powers you have, but about the kind of person you are” type of thing happening with this first episode.

    I also agree with the “underdog” status being utilized not very well for a long time and have noticed it a lot more as I got into more anime after I started watching it when I was young.

    It feels like “underdog” has become little more than a simple label slapped onto a protagonist as a cheap way to get people to sympathize and cheer for them and yet by the end (or even the middle) of the story, it tends to turn out that protagonist is one of, if not THE most “special” person of all usually by…

    1.) Having some sort of unique, often times ancient, forgotten, and/or ultra powerful bloodline.

    2.) Some sort of special hidden power(s) that, if the story isn’t written well, acts more like a convenient deus ex machina crutch just to hand the protagonist the win for a lot of their (main) battles.

    3.) The story making them turn out to have “always” been “strong”, but merely “holding back” for whatever usually piss-poor reason.

    4.) Able to magically do things or have things happen for them that, for some reason, NEVER seems to happen for anyone else (usually because people magically respect that protagonist’s determination, never-give-up attitude, or whatever and just give them stuff or something).

    …and so on.

    Looking back over it, ironically, Naruto ended up a big violation of such things and you end up seeing that Rock Lee was actually the true underdog of the series, but even Lee at least found a part of the shinobi profession that he was able to work his ass of in (with assistance from a caring sensei) and become very good at thus enabling him to be a shinobi despite the odds, but Izuku doesn’t even have THAT much to go on. He’s a complete zero with no capability whatsoever of being in the Hero business, with pretty much nobody believing he can, and so pretty much everything is stacked between himself and his dream and so you really do want to root for him and feel that if/when he does overcome obstacles, then those achievements will feel truly earned and not merely handed to him just to force the plot forward.

    HalfDemonInuyasha
      1. That’s not what the pinky toe thing meant. Having a Quirk is genetic, like being a Mutant in the Marvel universe, only the Quirk gene is a lot less recessive than the Mutant gene. The fused bones in the pinky toe are just a sympathetic mutation. The same gene that causes the Quirk causes the pinky toe mutation.

        quigonkenny
    1. When you mention Rock Lee, it made me think that Shirou (FSN) might have been one of the ones I was thinking of. After all, he’s pretty useless at almost all of magecraft, but heavily specializes, like Rock Lee and Rakudai’s Ikki.

      Though actually, that’s probably just a similarity between those three characters. Izuku doesn’t seem to have any area he’s good at so far, lol. Other’n his heart.

    2. Yep, not Batman, but Denku does overanalysis things a bit much. And he does have to work to get his power to work right. Not Saitama workout regiment, but harder.

      BigFire
  3. Excellent start! I read the first volume of this and I hope it will be a great adaptation even though it’s only 13 episodes. The tear-jerker scene moved me quite a bit. ;___;

    starss
  4. I have to admit, I didn’t have high expectations for My Hero Academia.
    I was pretty sure it was gonna be at least fun, like any visually appealing anime would be. But other than that, I didn’t have high hopes for the story to present something special, like what One-Punch Man did with the superhero story angle.

    And yes, even though an underdog story isn’t anything new, My Hero Academia proved to me with just its first episode that it never gets old.
    I didn’t even think the show wants me to root for Izuku, I just outright rooted for him. Partly because I could see myself in his shoes for a moment, but more than that, like Batman said in the end of The Dark Knight, sometimes the truth isn’t good enough, sometimes people deserve more, sometimes, people deserve to have their faith rewarded. And Izuku’s case is definitely one of those times, because his faith is just too big to not be rewarded. It’s just like the preview described it, that it celebrates inspiration for the ungifted, and I love that angle. The animation and music and also Izuku’s voice acting also certainly helped suck me in.

    I’d like to think that a superhero style underdog story is special enough for My Hero Academia, so I’ll most definitely watch all of it. Nice first impression Stilts. Would like for you to cover it if you want 🙂

    1. For some reason your comment made me think of No Game No Life, and how the Imanity (humans) are the weakest of all the races…which is one of the reasons why seeing Sora and Shiro own people is so damn awesome. Not sure why that Batman quote reminded of that, but there it is. The funny connections my brain makes.

  5. I am highly surprised they are going for the slow build on this show. I would’ve figured he would’ve been in training already by the end of the first episode. Or at least I figured that’s how they would’ve gone.

    The slow build though, I do like. I also think non-manga readers will like, because it’ll be great to appreciate it all. As a reader, it is a pretty fantastic manga. Or so I think.

    BTW, Stilts, if you were using the Batman analogy, it would work better with him being Terry from Batman Beyond, rather than Bruce. For many reasons, which you will get to see soon. I think. Or slowly, if they continue with the build they are going for.

    Dorian S.
    1. Finally, a series I’ve seen some of! Only a few episodes, but at least I know the schtick. Side note: that Batman Beyond Joker movie was messed up. Really good, but fuuuuucked up when you think about it.

  6. This first episode certainly did justice to all the hype going around. I’m really liking what I’m seeing so far and judging from the preview, we’ll be in for a big WHAM! next week.

    Kindle
    1. All the character names will be punny. Seriously. And no character will point this out at all in-universe, because that particular meta-recognition is forbidden.

      Monimonika
  7. Did you watch re zero? I think its the best first episode (there is part a and b) and beat boku no hero for me (i am a fan of manga BnHA) . Its really a surprse hit for me. Please cover it if u have a time, Stils.

    Vayne2
    1. I always blog in the order of release, which is why the Re:Zero post came out later than this. And yes, I was pleasantly surprised, and that was probably the superior premiere. But I’ve gotten burned on strong premieres before, so we’ll have to see how both progress.

  8. I wouldn’t compare Izuka to Batman, especially when there is another hero in that universe that suits him more. That’s Shazam. Billy Batson is a boy with the heart of a hero, and thanks to the wizard Shazam.

    Now, whether or not he is granted his quirk through a wizard is another story. I haven’t followed the source material. Just my two cents if we’re going to compare him to another superhero.

    Nikki
    1. Aye, I was mostly playing off the recent crappy Batman v Superman god/man/devil theme, which was the only thing I liked about that steaming pile. Other’n that he doesn’t seem a great fit for the comparison.

  9. Hahaha oh Stilts if you have these kinds of harsh words for the “he’s the weakest!” trope I do wonder what you would say if you read World Trigger…

    Though in WT’s defense I will say that Osamu is the most genuine average joe I have ever seen in a battle shounen and there has been absolutely no plot contrivance (no bloodline, no “chosen one”, no accidental fall into chemical waste, no hidden power all along, etc.) for him to get strong.

    Archiepiscopus
    1. I didn’t mind Osamu in the one episode of World Trigger I watched. I mostly just got bored with that anime in general almost immediately, lol. Though I hear it wasn’t a great adaptation, so *shrug*

      1. I wholeheartedly recommend the manga, the first 20 chapters are rather slow but when it picks up, it becomes the best currently on-going shounen (barring HxH). It’s a good read by itself, but even more so if you use it as a comparison piece with Hero Academia.

        Archiepiscopus
  10. Aaaand we’re back to the whole super hero cliche formula, RIP OPM, you did everything right but you only get one season ever because MadHouse and Season 2 is like Valve and number 3, if they come together the world will blow up.

    Jips
    1. Boku no Hero Academia is a loving send-up to the genre, while OPM is a deconstruction. Different motives entirely. Although Boku no Hero Academia isn’t quite as simple as it appears on the surface; it has a few things to say about what happens when you turn superheroing into a job. And even the simplistic parts give it a sort of purity, you know?

      I liked OPM a lot, but I also like Boku no Hero a lot. I’m having fun when I’m watching both, but the source of the fun is different.

      Guile
  11. My reaction is kinda mixed. I have no problem with ‘starting from the very bottom’ (although sometimes I think watching OPM kinda influenced me when this show is returning back to the basic tropes), however I think there’s something that felt kinda missing in this premiere.

    Probably the comedy, since some of the comedic timing on some comedic scenes seems to be not working for me. Also, there are some bullying scenes where I have no idea that it’s supposed to be what kind of scenes. Comedic? Tragic? Sad? Irritating? Normal? The music, art style, timing and the writing seems to contradict each other there.

    The second half is a fine watch though. Has some potential, but for now it’s still a typical shounen (which is not a bad thing).

    zeroyuki92
    1. Sfalcin mentions that the first chapter is fine but the rest gets awesome. Given the hype for this show, I was suspecting that would be the case. Intros are always hard because you’ve got to introduce and set up but still entertain, and you don’t have all the tools you’ll have later on. This has plenty of potential though, which is what I wanted to see.

      1. Yeah, it’s not like I’m going to drop this over a normal first episode. In contrary, this might be the sign of confidence in taking its own time to build up things.

        So in the end it’s unlike the superly epic ep 1 like OPM, but this might be a start for a new backbone for shounen series.

        zeroyuki92
  12. I loved it. Please cover this.

    As a fan of the manga I have to say that the fisrt chapter is not that great, but as time passes it gets better and better. I like almost all the characters and the battles are very well done.

    I just need some best girl Uraraka now.

    Sfalcin
  13. What’s another story (anime or otherwise) starring the weakest of the weak who perseveres despite all sorts of hardships?

    Well, I don’t think he’s weakest of the weak, but among crybaby runts with messy hair Lag Seeing from Tegami Bachi is the crybabiest. And he does perseveres through uncommon amount of hardships.

    puppygod
  14. An old Hero, that perhaps has an Time limit or an illnesses using his Power, perhaps someone from texas US (or an US Fanboy), taking in an “quirk less boy” as discipline?

    Lets see, a bit of One Punch Hero + “Rock lee” = good? Well lets wait for the next 2 episodes. The voices are very good.

    Worldwidedepp
  15. I’ve never seen such a disparity between the reviewers and patrons on their opinion of a movie like there is with BvS, at least for a mass market film (unabashed arthouse films usually get the opposite treatment). The movie’s flawed, sure, but so far the only people I’ve seen that *don’t* like it overall are reviewer types and Marvel fanboy internet trolls (and I’m pretty sure only the former have actually watched it). It’ll be interesting to see, after the large second weekend drop, if the box office ticks up a bit (or at least drops at a slower rate) now that March Madness is over with and the internet hate stream has ebbed as the opinionators move on to other prey.

    As for Academia, your question about why there aren’t more heroes will be answered, though not overtly. There are several reasons why, which will all become apparent as the story moves forward.

    quigonkenny
    1. On the contrary, I’ve talked to people who aren’t reviewer-types who saw it and didn’t like it. Some of them liked it fine at first, but the more they thought about it, the more they realized it was shit. But even this is anecdotal, just like your experience, and therefore not representative. And remember, box office does not equate to quality. Even before this came out it was assured to be a cultural touchstone/moment, which is why I bothered to see it on opening weekend (also, I was drunk at the time).

      Recall that The Avengers has a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics don’t always bash comic book movies. The difference is that The Avengers is a very good movie, while Batman vs Superman is crap. That doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed—I enjoy some pretty shifty anime on occasion—but that doesn’t mean it’s good either. The critics are right here, even if that might not matter to some people.

      Good to hear that those questions have answers. Hopefully they’ll get to that during the course of this (short) season.

      1. I don’t know if the reasons why three-quarters of the adult population aren’t walking the street in costume are something the show has to exactly “get to” (save for one particular in-universe reason that they have to get to, since it’s part of the premise). It’s more that you’ll understand why as you see more of the setting and the characters.

        Honestly, you should probably already have some idea, given what we’ve seen in the first episode and given some of the series’ clear inspirations.

        quigonkenny
      2. And Rotten Tomatoes’ ratings aren’t a guarantee of an enjoyable time. They say Avengers is 92% fresh certified and I considered it bad enough to put me off the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, of which I haven’t watched a single movie afterwards.

        And, well, the whole “high fresh certificates for the Fast and Furious franchise” thing.

        But yeah, it’s more of a matter of “to each their own”. No matter how well-made something is, if it’s not for you then you’re not gonna like it, and that’s pretty much it.

        ElHuesudoII
  16. Hi! I saw your Batman comparasion. Did you know?

    “Mangaka Horikoushi Kouhei has noted that American superhero comics are the inspiration for the series, and has based character pages on logos for Marvel and DC comic characters.”

    itsmypurgatory
  17. Solid first ep. I was fairly hyped for this series, having read the manga, and really enjoyed it. Disappointing its only greenlit for 12 eps. Hopefully it will get more. As far as shonen manga go, it’s about as solid a replacement for Naruto as one could hope for. As for what it’s reminding you of, for me personally the premise seems like that of Break Blade but without the mechas. Same idea: guy with no powers in a world where everyone’s a super.

    MF9769
  18. I’m surprised at how little they covered in this first ep considering there are only 12 eps. It went by quite leisurely. I read a few chapters of the manga a year ago, and it honestly did not strike me as good as many people have raved about it to be. I’m a long-time shounen fan, so I know that many shounen series usually start out slow. So I’m giving the anime a try this time. I’ll give it a few more episodes, but this first ep. was not particularly riveting…

    Yukie
  19. Agree with Yukie.

    I found the first episode to be extremely thin, albeit the emotional beats were very well executed, it covered something that another director would have done it in half the time without losing any of the plot. Some scenes were too drawn out.

    But since the hype is so big, I will stick to this ride. Can’t wait for the school interaction. I’m a big fan of training and competitions arcs 🙂

    Mill
  20. To me this series reminds me of Avatar (The Last Airbender), because there are people with powers and regular people.

    It will be fun to watch how powerless people live in that world.

    scampjot
  21. This series is reminding me of something, but I can’t put my finger on what.

    If it’s manga, maybe it’s Iris Zero: A world where everybody has a special power, cue main character without.

    Or maybe M×0: A guy enrolled on a magic school, while being the only one without magic.

    sillk

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