「各々の胸に」 (Onoono no Mune ni)
“In Each of Our Hearts”
What a stirring end to a phenomenal season. This is only the beginning.
Victory By Seconds
To say this battle came down to the wire is an understatement. All Might blew everything he had beating Nomu, and was left with nothing but bluffs—something Izuku, and unfortunately Kurogiri both realized. Though All Might escaped this season alive, albeit not unscathed, this is why it felt so much like he could die last episode. It came down to the last seconds, and if Izuku hadn’t acted when he did, All Might might have died—or at least had his secret outed to the rest of the class, along with a whole mess of injuries. This is off-screen characters riding to the rescue done right—it was foreshadowed (Iida running to get them), it was the goal, and the heroes did every damn thing they could to survive until they arrived. Then, when All Might confirmed that Izuku saved his life—hrk. Damn if that didn’t feel good!
Chills To The Very End
This has been one of the best shows I’ve ever seen for sending a chill down my spine, something I’ll talk more about in the final impressions below. This last episode might have topped all the others in that, and if not, it’s damn close. When All Might was talking at the end about how the villains made a mistake, because this class is strong and they would only grow stronger for the ordeal they had gone through as freshmen, it was the old guard acknowledging the new guard that was coming up. As a certain other show said, we want to be seen by those we respect, and this is All Might and the other pros looking squarely at Izuku’s class, and being in awe at what they see. Even getting a taste of that feeling is heartwarming, uplifting, and cheering to a depth rarely seen in even great fiction. Once again—damn if that didn’t feel good.
Check out the final impressions below, but for now, relish in the truth that has been given to us—season two greenlit, woohoo!
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – The heroes squeak out a win by inches, as the old guard looks fondly upon the next generation growing up so fast #heroaca 13
- Godsdamn, the music really is awesome in this show. I haven’t said that enough.
- Listen again to Izuku when he’s preparing to leap at Kurogiri. His voice is so serious, it’s chilling in a different way. That’s the voice of a young All Might who is no longer smiling. It’s the voice of someone who’s about to break a foot off in someone’s ass.
- Cheers, love! The cavalry’s here!
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: I love sales jobs, Good realism is character realism, Dying idols, and Frictionless routines.
When Samu previewed this show, he called it the Next Big Thing. Now, I trust Samu’s taste, so even though my Contrary Bastard sensors were going wild at that kind of hyperbole, I let myself get a little bit hyped. An American-style superhero story via Japanese manga shounen action? That has potential.
I’m glad I decided to dive in. The reward has been magnificent.
Before I indulge in too much hyperbole myself (it’s coming), let’s be clear—Boku no Hero Academia isn’t the most unique story to hit our airwaves recently. While I appreciate that it imports instead of recycling, we’ve seen all the constituent parts before, and seen them in near enough form to be able to identify plenty of influences. Horikoshi-sensei definitely subscribes to stealing like an artist, and is more the type to opt for execution over novelty. But, if you’re the type who can’t enjoy a story when you can identify too many tropes, and who lusts after the unique in your fiction, this one might not rev your motor. That’s not a knock on it; great stories can’t be everything to everyone. It’s what Horikoshi-sensei decided to write.
Within the bounds of what it’s trying to do, though, it executes beautifully. It’s shounen action about a wimp who grows up to become the greatest hero in the world, and that’s a tale that slips right past our conscious brain and puts jumper cables on the monkey brain beneath. We want to believe that hard work, perseverance, and a great mentor can help anyone row up to do great things, because we want to believe that for ourselves. It’s not a unique tale, but damn if it isn’t uplifting when it’s done well.
And uplifting is the name of Heroaca’s game. I can’t think of an anime that so reliably gave me chills, the kind that race up your spine and renew your faith in humanity. This quality is different from those anime that try to renew our faith in humanity by being generally optimistic, or even idealistic; those are stories that bounce off the more cynical among us. But not Heroaca. Its uplifting nature comes through the struggle its characters, and especially Izuku, go through to achieve their goals. Its world is basically optimistic, because someone like Izuku is able to succeed instead of being crushed flat. Yet he must work for it, and he does.
Those chills are made even more impressive by how often I could see them coming. The tropes are there, so they’re no surprise—except when they are! From the exam to get into school to Aizawa-sensei’s day one test, from Izuku’s battle with Kacchan to the entire final battle, there were surprises in the details. I didn’t expect Izuku to burn out only a single finger to throw that ball! That was good. That shows the author working cleverly within the confines he’s constructed for himself. That’s a hard trick, believe you me, and Horikoshi-sensei manages it often.
I could go on about the characters for several paragraphs, because they’re so well characterized in so few episodes. Unlike manga like Negima, which I always remember for putting name tags in the margins of the first few tanks for its oodles and oodles of characters, Heroaca only does exposition when it needs to, and differentiates its characters so well visually and personality-wise that names are a mere formality. That makes side battles as fun as the main battles, which is a neat trick if you can pull it off.
Izuku, of course, is the shining star. He’s the nerd all of us think of ourselves as, and in a way his character has trouble breathing since he has to support so much of the plot. Yet he plays his role so damn well that I was cheering for him by the end of the first episode, and needed to experience his entire story by the end of the second.
More interesting, perhaps, and certainly more difficult to write, is Katsuki. Putting Izuku’s incandescently angry bully on the good guy’s team is a bold move, since he has such the potential to polarize the audience—which he does. Yet that also means that Katsuki has more room to grow, where Izuku, who already knows what it’s like to be weak, does not. Katsuki is the Zuko to Izuku’s Aang, and I suspect he’ll change a lot by the time the story ends.
The pacing of this first season was great. It was nice and slow, but not so slow that it felt like nothing was happening—these chapters are packed with enough action to never get boring, especially in ones like eleven that had enough climaxes for two episodes. The animation, too, was lively and well done—no surprise, with Bones on the job—and I did not say enough nice things about the soundtrack in these posts. It really elevated the major moments to elicit that spine-tingling chill I love so much.
Look, Boku no Hero Academia is good stuff. It might not be unique, but it’s good. It’s damn, damn, damn, damn good. I would recommend it to pretty much anyone, save for those with a fetish for the new. And even better? A second season is already greenlit! I can’t wait for more Heroaca. It can’t come soon enough.