Tuesday, June 20, 2017

My Hero Academia (Review)

So, I've been missing from this blog for almost 2 years due to relentlessly workloads and various circumstances. But here I am, rising from my grave thanks to this series. My Hero Academia (or Boku no Hero Academia, in Japanese) is one of the rising manga in Japan that has been serialized since 2014. It touched me to the point that I bother to write this useless article.

On a Saturday night 3 weeks ago, I had a free time so I thought it's okay for me to watch anime in streaming sites. My original intention was to watch Yuri on Ice since there's many people that seems going crazy about it. Moreover, it's about ice skating.  I'm interested because it's something that I haven't seen before in anime. But at the website main homepage where they list the newest anime episodes, I saw My Hero Academia and change my original intention.

I can't say that I'm a fan of Shonen Jump, but it's true that I follow many Jump series. From Dragon Ball to Naruto. From Rurouni Kenshin to Gintama. Shonen Jump has many famous shonen series, including one of my all time favorite, Death Note. I've been hearing about My Hero Academia as one of the recent Shonen Jump famous series, but I haven't check it yet. So out of curiosity I clicked and watched it.

My Hero Academia take place in the future where 80% of human population have special powers called "quirk". Due to rise of people with superpowers, the criminal rate is also exploding and the world come into chaos. But this is also make a profession come into the limelight. Heroes fighting villains, saving people, and now become an established position where they are paid by the government based on their performance. This manga follow story of the main protagonist on his journey to be the greatest hero, starting from his high school days in hero course of the elite U.A High School.

If you asked me whether My Hero Academia offer something new to shonen genre, I will say not yet. So far, it gives me "been there, done that" feels. But it's done in an excellent way, you couldn't help to love it anyway. It really has all the best that are offered by a Shonen series. Heartfelt story? Check. Amazing battles? Check. Interesting characters? Check. I had watched thousands episodes of anime, but My Hero Academia managed to snatched my weaves just after a mere 2 episodes.

The main protagonist of My Hero Academia is Izuku Midoriya, a young boy without superpower in a society full of people with superhuman abilities. He idolized the no. 1 superhero, All Might, who always save people with smile no matter what trouble they're in. Dreaming to be a cool hero in the future, he experience setback when it was known that he was born "quirkless". Nevertheless, Izuku keep chasing his dream even when people mock him, told him to give up, and even when his mother thought it will be hopeless for him to become a hero. But a fateful encounter with his idol, All Might, bring miracles to Izuku's life. He was chosen to inherit All Might's quirk, One For All.

The question that change everything
At first, All Might said that people can't be a hero without power since pro hero always risking their life. But one accident where Izuku show his heroic nature make him acknowledged by All Might who eventually told him "You can become a hero". Honestly, that scene touched me so much I end up downloading all the episodes & read the manga right away.

What I like about My Hero Academia is the characters are simple but at the same time there's also layers of their personality to keep your interest in them. Here what I thought about them:

  • Izuku Midoriya
Izuku Midoriya is introduced to us as a sincere, selfless, diligent, timid with great analytical skills and hero fanboy passion. But as the series progress, we know that despite seems timid at first, he actually a strong-willed boy. He's still a crybaby though, but that makes him even more adorable. He become more confident as he progress in controlling his power and we found out the polite boy surprisingly has a brash and abrasive side that comes out when he's in combat.

I really like Izuku since the first time I saw him. He's the kind of boy that make you want to root for him. Many protagonist in shounen manga are all brawn and no brains, but Izuku is a smart boy who usually think before act (except when someone is in danger and need help, his body move without thinking), able to form complex plans and execute it. He has this hilarious habit of analyzing everything too much, which makes him start mumbling to himself a lot.

Some people might think Izuku is just a lucky boy since his encounter with All Might is the event that make it's possible for him to become a hero. The others might also think that it's better to have someone more powerful to get One For All rather than a quirkless boy like Izuku. But honestly that's just motivate me to cheer for him more. As All Might said, received something because you're lucky and being given something because you're recognized are different. Whether Izuku can prove that he's the worthy one to wield One For All is a challenge that pops out not only in reader's mind. When I write this review, the story is precisely discuss about this topic since the one who originally suggested by many people to inherit that power is the best student called Mirio Togata, a 3rd year student in U.A. So, I'm pretty sure the mangaka (Kohei Horikoshi) will present us with satisfying conclusion about that.

  • Katsuki Bakugo

The deuteragonist of the series is Katsuki Bakugo, Izuki's childhood friend as well as his former bully that violent, arrogant, and aggressive.  I think the relationship between Izuku and Katsuki is fascinating and will spark many different opinions between people.

At first, I terribly hate Katsuki, mostly because his aggressive behaviour & casual remarks for Izuku to pray he will have quirk in his next life and suggest Izuku to jump off the roof (indirectly suggesting suicide, most probably because he speak without thinking. But it still so ewww, I want to smack him for this). Although Katsuki's other pals comment that he's being harsher than usual, I still think that kind of behaviour is inexcusable. Kohei Horikoshi actually plan him to be an airhead character that inadvertently hurting others without any malicious intent. But since he felt that will be lame, he make him into a detestable character instead.  He promised to handle Katsuki's character with care and as the series progress, we will see more about Katsuki's psychology and come to understand him, bit by bit.

Katsuki is the case where too much talent, power and enormous praise from other people inflate his ego and propel him towards the wrong path. He is smarter and stronger than anybody in his school since he was a kid, making him having too high opinion about himself and belittle other people.

This is especially the case in Katsuki's attitude towards Izuku, which in his opinion is the least amazing of them all since Izuku was born quirkless. That's why it's irritated him when Izuku show genuine concern about him, thinking Izuku look down on his ability and leading Katsuki to bullied Izuku for years. Overall, I think Katsuki is an insecure teen with superiority complex who lived his whole life for validation from his peers, unfortunately without any self-actualization.

It's funny that despite his past as a bully, in U.A he is the one who often get teased by his classmate, shocking Izuku. Now Katsuki are surrounded by fellow students with high ability that he start evaluating himself, even briefly intimidated by Shoto Todoroki's strength. All of that make Katsuki's realized that he still have a long way to go & motivate him further to become no 1.

I was worried that Izuku - Katsuki relationship will become like Naruto-Sasuke relationship (both relationship have similarity: intense rivalry where the main protagonist admire the deuteragonist's strength & the deuteragonist jealous with the main protagonist's spirit & great progress), but it seems that's not the case. It's fascinating how Katsuki's behaviour might seems villain-like for others, but his determination to become a top hero is unwavering and greater than most people. Hence, he wouldn't be seduced to join the dark side like what Sasuke did. I still very much hate the fact that Sasuke turns into villains, even had goal to destroy Konoha in the past. I don't think Katsuki will fall into that kind of dark path though.

By the way, although most people will be appalled by Katsuki's attitude in chapter 1 of manga/1st episode of anime, I think 119 chapters later many people will start seeing Katsuki in different perspective.

  • All Might
Toshinori Yagi, more commonly known as All Might, is the "Symbol of Peace", the greatest hero that both Izuku and Katsuki's admired since childhood. Some people who love Japanese anime might dislike All Might since his character design pretty much resemble American superhero. The fact that he has hero-mode and normal-mode is source of comical relieve in the anime and manga. In his hero-mode, All Might is colorful and has dramatic flair (like comes out with big smile and loud laughter, shouting "It's fine now. Why? Because I'm here"). In normal mode, he's less dramatic. 

All Might is the one who chose Izuku as his successor. He is Izuku's mentor as well as a teacher in U.A high School. I love his fatherly attitude to all students of U.A, such as when the battle training and when he's presenting the awards for the winners of U.A Sport Festival. 

Damn ninja cutting onions again! I really love Izuku and All Might disciple - mentor relationship
All Might give advice to Katsuki and Izuku.

  • Shoto Todoroki
When I thought that the main rivalry in this manga is between Izuku and Katsuki, here comes Shoto Todoroki which become the 3rd rival. He hasn't really prominent yet in Season 1 of the anime, but he is one of the main focus in Season 2. Hailed as the best in class 1.A, even Katsuki was briefly intimidated by his strength. He is a character in My Hero Academia with one of the most interesting backstory (although somewhat tragic).

Shoto Todoroki's quirk, Half Cold Half Hot
Shoto Todoroki is my favorite character and I want to thanks Izuku for helping Todoroki to see that he is not his father.

It's going to be interesting to see the rivalry between Izuku, Katsuki and Todoroki to become the strongest. I personally really like their rivalry that push each other to become better. It's a bit unfortunate he didn't do his best when he battled Katsuki (he still unsettled about using fire power like his father, really understandable), I wonder who will win between them at full power. Having said that, the 3 of them still far from their full potential and I can't wait to watch their improvement.

I want to talk about Tenya Iida, Uraraka Ochako, Eijiro Kirishima and other characters too like Shota Aizawa, but I'm afraid this post will be very long so I will stop right here.

If there's something from My Hero Academia that I wish to be better, it's about the villain. I would like to have a strong villain with interesting goal. The biggest villain in this series so far is All For One, but his true motive is still unclear. All For One's successor, Tomura Shigaraki, is an interesting villain but his story hasn't really live up to his potential.

Tomura actually has an interesting backstory. During his childhood, he suffered from an incident where no hero came to save him. Additionally, people who passed by never offered to help him, because they assumed that a hero would take care of it, leaving him to be ignored.  I think if the story explore more about the shortcomings of a society that too rely heavily on heroes, it will be more interesting. But so far Tomura is just a childish villain and his hate for heroes still appear too shallow. It will be interesting to see what will he become in the future since All For One is All Might's archenemy, consequently Tomura will become Izuku's archenemy since both of them are the chosen disciples.

I wish the villain is someone like Shogo Makishima in Psycho Pass, someone with an ideal that you can't really deny. In Psycho Pass, Shogo Makishima want to liberate people from Sybil System since it's making human society become mere "sheep" that aren't able to think by themselves. I honestly swayed by his ideal since I also thought Sybil System took people's freedom to think and act (I really think it's dumb how people create Sybil system in the first place to control society). But his method of using violent to give shock value to open people's eyes about the shortcoming of Sybil System is evil and I can't agree with him on that.

In regards with this, in My Hero Academia there's a villain called Hero Killer Stain. He actually has an interesting ideal where he believe heroes must not desire rewards or compensation, and that people can only have the title of hero when they commit the ultimate acts of self-sacrifice. He kills many heroes because he believe heroes nowadays are fakes who pretend to be hero. He's actually interesting but he soon defeated by Izuku, Todoroki and Iida. But maybe the mangaka still preparing another big story where he will appear again since he is now in the same prison as All For One. There's possibility those 2 villains will team up.

That's all I can say about My Hero Academia. Overall this manga and its anime has potential to be very big and to become the next flagship series of Shonen Jump. If you want a light series with heartfelt stories, interesting characters and amazing battles, this series is for you.

Have you read/watch My Hero Academia? What do you think about it? Comment below and let me know.


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