My Hero Academia just wrapped up its second season, and anime fans the world over breathed a collective sombre sigh of sadness in the knowledge that they must now painfully endure an agonising period before season three graces their Crunchyroll accounts. Throughout its thirteen episode first season and twenty five episode second season, My Hero Academia has dramatically exploded in its popularity, and has become referred to as the future of the Shōnen genre on multiple occasions as a result of its knockout quality. But exactly how good can a show that seems to recycle an overused ‘high school for gifted/super powered students’ concept actually be? Does My Hero Academia deserve its plethora of praise, or is it simply being held afloat by an influx of overhyping?
In a society where approximately eighty percent of the population is born with a super power (known as a quirk), Izuku Midoriya is one of the tremendously unlucky twenty percent that exists as entirely unremarkable, void of a single scrap of super to show. Despite his quirklessness, he longingly dreams of becoming a professional hero in the same vein as his idol, the wildly popular and publicly adored All Might. Following a chance encounter with the aforementioned honcho of heroism (along with the transpiration of various other events within My Hero Academia’s introductory episodes), Izuku Midoriya winds up being taken under All Might’s wing in order to effectively cultivate a newly acquired power, and enrolling at the world’s most prestigious of academies for aspiring heroes, U.A. High School.
Whilst this plot synopsis may seem to lean heavily on the side of predictably conventional, what makes My Hero Academia stand out from the superhero crowd is just how darn well its multitude of elements are brought together and executed. It may not break boundaries, and it may not drastically alter the landscape of its oversaturated genre, but what it succeeds in is delivering a perfectly paced narrative that is effectively driven by an expansive cast of engaging characters. From U.A. High School’s awe inspiring range of professional hero teachers, to the many students that share a classroom with and befriend Izuku, each and every one of them flaunts both a fascinating personality and mysterious quirk. My Hero Academia effectively takes ample time to indulge in meaningful character development for almost every facet of its excellently eclectic cast throughout its two seasons, and this marks one of its standout strengths. Dialogue between characters is naturally entertaining when said characters are a pure joyous delight to behold, and as a result of its aforementioned wonderful cast, even non-action episodes of My Hero Academia feel thoroughly engrossing and worthwhile.
Although much of My Hero Academia places focus on Izuku’s school life, that is not to say that it is lacking a sense of threat. The existence of the League of Villains is made shockingly clear throughout the nail biting conclusive episodes of season one, and is expanded upon to far greater degrees throughout season two. A gathering of powerful and intimidating foes that utilise their quirks for evil, from terrorism to murder, pose as a lethal counterpart to the righteous teachers and students of U.A. High School. Responsible for delivering much of My Hero Academia’s edge of your seat action, they hint at a future that gradually sinks deeper into darker depths, possibly one day resulting in the gruesome demises of beloved characters. The juxtaposition in seriousness that the League of Villains provide against the sometimes comical and lighthearted school antics Izuku and his friends share together serves to maintain My Hero Academia as tonally diverse, and as a result, consistently entertaining.
Season one serves as a thirteen episode introduction into My Hero Academia’s wild world of heroes and villains, placing focus on Izuku’s acquisition of his power, his induction into U.A. High School, and his growing friendship with his idol turned mentor All Might. Season two effectively throws fresh ideas into the mix, providing a story that focuses on an Olympics-esque sports festival between U.A. High School’s students (imagine a school sports day, but one million times less boring). This is succeeded by Izuku and his classmates being thrust into work experience with professional heroes, fending off a murderous opponent associated with the League of Villains, and undertaking a fierce practical exam that pushes them to their physical and emotional breaking points. It’s a wild ride that is held firmly afloat by the introduction of new characters, the growth of current characters, and action set pieces that boast gorgeously colourful and explosive animation. The final curtain to fall upon My Hero Academia’s bombastic second season is delivered in the form of a bleak yet touching finale. It offers both insightful character development and tense exchanges that successfully raise the stakes and set the stage for a darker season three.
My Hero Academia won’t make you view the world in a different light, change your perspective of that which you take for granted, or make you cry with emotion. However, it doesn’t ever try to, nor does it ever need to. Instead, what this tale of heroism accomplishes in bucketloads is making you feel an overwhelming sense of childish joy as you root for your beloved characters to succeed. You’ll grin gleefully as the upbeat opening theme music kicks in triumphantly, and you’ll experience genuine happiness in its purest form as you see the masterfully crafted wonder of each and every episode unfold before you. Its narrative, pacing, characterisation, action and animation all achieve consistent greatness, and My Hero Academia’s quality is out of this world as a result. When it comes to pure unadulterated fun, no anime hits the nail on the head quite like this one, and it deserves your undivided and absolute attention as a result.
This is a superhero anime that truly is super.