Preliminary Review: My Hero Academia (post-season 3)

The latest season of the popular anime continues to progress the story.

The Lowdown:

Show: My Hero Academia (Boku no Hero Academia)

Studio/years aired: Bones, 2016-

(SPOILERS INCOMING. If you want a spoiler-free My Hero Academia Review, check out Season 2’s right here. Grading contains some minor spoilers, unlike my thoughts.)

AniB’s thoughts:

As you’ve no doubt noticed, school once again has unfortunately caused me to cut back on how much I write here for AniB Productions, but I was both excited (and determined!) to bring you the post-season review of My Hero Academia, which incredibly enough as a series now has almost more episodes total than Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. (That had 64; Hero Academia is now up to 62 and a 4th season was confirmed.)

So the the golden question is if Season 3 continued the momentum of the first two. To start with, this past season continues to be faithful to the manga, bookending the opening arcs of the show with All Might’s final battle against the ultimate evil- All For One; and with his forced retirement opening up a resurgent villain presence in the world that had slowly been built up from season 1 with the events at the USJ at the time to now, where Tomura Shigaraki is biding his time as his organization grows stronger.

While summary is nice, this season showcased a good deal of character development in addition to its shifting plot lines. Midoriya, who I wrote about at about the halfway point of the season, continues his path towards becoming All Might’s successor, ultimately developing his own unique combat style while taking to heart the consequences of his previous recklessness and the damage it caused to his body, especially his arms. His rivalry with Katsuki Bakugo is also revisited- and in turn, displaying the ever-shifting dynamic as the former’s steady gains forces his long-time childhood specter to properly acknowledge him.

It’s actually quite difficult on some level to believe that My Hero Academia is now 3 seasons into its run, but yet, here we are- and overall, to answer the main question, with a wink and a nod to the show’s famous catchphrase- it’s been pretty “plus ultra” so far. While minor complaints have cropped up over the show’s run, from extended flashbacks in certain important scenes to some more vocal parties complaining about under-utilization of the side students in Class 1-A, the fact remains that the next big thing in shonen has delivered in spades, both upon the promise it’s shown so far and the strong leads of the show- which, in any event, are more important than a side cast any day of the week. That isn’t to say the complaint in that department isn’t valid- it very much is- but it seems more a byproduct of an increasingly vocal and growing fanbase that comes with the popularity territory Hero Academia has staked out.


Animation Quality: Quoting from last year’s season 2 review: “As you might expect from Bones (the people who did Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, the quality of the hand drawn, computer shaded 2-D is on point. Vibrant and faithful to its source material, the fight sequences are beautifully crafted; a wide ranging and immersive color palette brings the world of heroes and villains to life, and it’s all done in a tasteful way that completely enhances the effects of the show at every turn.” Since my views on this haven’t changed this past season, and continued to be justified between a presumably high budget and some amazingly faithful scenes done well.  5/5 points.

 

Characterization: Carrying over from season 2, BnHA’s extensive cast continues to be led Izuku Midoriya, but features several prominent developments for major characters.

Best known as “Deku” (his chosen hero name) from both fans of the show and the actual cast alike, Izuku’s dream of becoming the world’s number one hero is initially a pipe dream for him in a world where 80% of the population possesses superpowers, (or “Quirks”, as they’re referred to in-universe) and he has none. His life changed though with a chance encounter with the current #1 hero and his idol, All Might- where he is bestowed the powerful “One For All” quirk. Driven by relentless determination and a kind heart, Izuku’s got a lot of crazy in him- jumping into situations with little regard for himself- but he’s also committed to the suddenly steep and difficult journey that piece by piece, unfolds before him. Izuku continues to take major strides in both his training and character development, as this season introduces a seismic shift in the hero-villain dynamic of the show, along with several major events for Class 1-A on their paths to becoming heroes.

Deku’s archrival from childhood continues to be the brash and ill-tempered Katsuki Bakugo (spelled “Bakugou” in the manga). True to his personality, his Quirk allows his sweat to have nitroglycerin-esque properties, which in turn allows him to create localized explosions from the palms of his hands. A prodigy in terms of skill, his persistently foul moods mask to many his brilliance or his undying resolve to also be the top hero. As BnHA unfolds, Bakugo begins to resent Deku more and more, which leads to the beginnings and development of said rivalry properly. After season 2’s practical exam saw the duo win a dysfunctional but ultimately triumphant victory over All Might, the last season came to a head at the end with a proper duel of wills and skills.

For both Midoriya and Bakugo, All Might serves as their inspiration to be the next great hero- and as a major character in the show. Previously, he juggled multiple roles as Midoriya’s mentor, his still-extant run as the #1 hero, and a brand-new teaching position at U.A. Academy- but after a titantic battle with the ultimate evil- All For One- he burns out the final “embers” of the Quirk he passed onto Midoriya. Effectively retired, he fully entrusts himself to Deku’s hero training.

Previously as a hero, he’s the stereotype of a Silver Age comic book hero on the outside, wielding the awesome power of One For All- but hides his true form as a skinny man with disheveled hair and baggy clothes from all but a few. Despite the huge difference in strength and appearance, All Might is the same on the inside as a steadfast protector of the people and takes seriously his role as the “Symbol of Peace,” so much so that he’s unable to pace himself in his hero work…which eventually does lead to the end of his era.

It would take a while to highlight every last important character on the cast beside these three, but there are a few more worth mentioning in brief due to having larger supporting roles:

Tomura Shigaraki’s role continued to expand from his initial plans and failures at the climax of season 1; by the end of this season it’s clear he’s juxtaposed as the anti-Midoriya- All For One’s chosen successor- and has built himself a truly lethal little squad of villains, who wreak havoc on U.A.’s secret training camp in the first half of the season.

Ochaco Uraraka is the first person Deku meets at the U.A. Entrance exams, and after said sequence of events, they become quick friends. Noted for her ability to manipulate the gravity of objects with her fingertips, she’s bright, kind and hard working…but also has a crush on Deku, which is low-key but quite obvious. The latter point becomes a side character plot for her more prominently in the past season, but she also shows growth in her training.

Gaining a great deal of relevance originally in Season 2, Shoto Todoroki is the son of Endeavor- a man he despises- and another prodigy with a powerful Quirk that allows him manipulation of both ice and fire. Todoroki continues to be a standout in Class 1-A through his performances, though things don’t quite as expected when the time comes for hero licensing exams…As was true before, his level of control and personal path to walk pose their own issues for him.

The rest of Class 1-A continues to receive varying levels of attention, from more in the case of homeroom teacher Shoto Aizawa and students like Tsuyu Asui and Eijiro Kirishima, to far less as in the case of Koji Koda- a student mostly noted for his control of animals and very small amount of speech. While some see the class as being underdeveloped, it’s far more preferable to have great leads and a slightly lesser supporting cast than the opposite. (Of course, the best example of a class who receives even development is Assassination Classroom’s Class 3-E; you can read about that series here!)

It’s a bit of a shame that this section can’t cover every last one of these characters in the show, but it’s a solid cast that translates the incredible design work of the manga well and in turn, the animation itself does wonders in bringing them to life through 3 seasons. 4/5 points.

Story: This season’s Hero Academia plot saw some big moves from the League of Villains after biding their time in season 2, and a U.A. Academy in flux- from the student who via forced trials are demanded to grow stronger in the crucible of a rapidly changing world, to a school facing increasing questions about its perception and viability- a double edged sword that came with prestige. Sure, some of it is typical shonen-stuff, but it’s well executed, there’s only one (admittedly fun) filler episode neat the end of season, and the pacing is quite good. Good work all around. 4.5/5 points.

 

Themes: As the openings of this season stresses, a big idea of Hero Academia is one’s ideals. Who can back up their convictions? How about when they are pitted in a classic struggle of good versus evil? Or what about when such distinctions aren’t quite as clear in a given moment. The idea of justice is severely tested, as are society’s faith in the heroes they believe, and it created a panorama of tension that served as Season 3’s backdrop quite effectively. 3.75/5 points.

 

Don’t Insult the Viewer: Hero Academia definitely takes some darker turns this season, but it remains an easily accessible anime for both older and newer viewers alike. The soundtrack continues to be stellar, and in terms of intangibles, it remains a fun ride. 4.75/5 points.

Overall: 21.75/25 (88%): My Hero Academia’s past season continues to expand faithfully upon the manga and delivers on some vast promise, while continuing to develop its core characters and remain a delightful balance of fun and serious. The “next big thing in shonen” is the big thing now, and with season 4 already confirmed, it’s a good time to pick it up if you haven’t already.


Like what you see? Big fan of My Hero Academia? Leave a comment!

What’s In A Character: Izuku Midoriya

All Might’s chosen successor and the future ‘Symbol of Peace.’ Who is My Hero Academia’s leading man?

To keep the ball rolling on this series, and perhaps inspired in part by the previous two entries in the series that addressed characters who also were students, we now jump from Class 3-E and Nagisa to a class expected to be the elites of hero society- U.A. Academy’s Class 1-A, considered the best and brightest in Japan, with the burden of expectation that they can become the next great generation of society’s protectors. And who better to talk about then the main focus of the entire series in Izuku Midoriya, hero name “Deku”?

(SPOILERS for the My Hero Academia anime follow. This will not cover events that are still manga-only.)

In an unusual twist for the “What’s In a Character” series, Deku’s a character that is still very much a work in progress as his series is ongoing. However, there has been enough material about him at this point to start writing something compelling about his character, especially in the context of his very important role: that of the shonen protagonist.

 

Izuku Midoriya is compelling in both his earnestness and plainness. Nothing about him screams “leading hero” immediately, but everything about him does yell back “likable!” His younger self is simply precious (Little Deku!) and his current incarnation is simply pleasant, with expressive eyes, messy dark hair and freckles that seem to complement his aesthetic in a pleasant manner. Matched with his appropriately kind manner, he feels like a comfortable old friend you’d root for and you get the sense you’ve seen this type of kid before in some other show, but maybe not cast as the main hero. And yet, it comes together splendidly not only because Midoriya proves to be a natural rooting interest, he’s also genuinely interesting beyond his looks. (Sorry, Kirito.)

“Stay out of my way, Deku! I’m going to be the #1 hero, so you better give up now!”- Katsuki Bakugo

In that vein, Midoriya’s contrasting appearance is notable with that of Katsuki Bakugo, his childhood “friend” turned archrival. There are several thematic subversions that can be observed between the two, starting with the color of their hair. Traditionally, blonds are seen in fiction as “chosen ones” or “prince charmings” or something of that nature. Bakugou certainly believes he’s the latter, but he’s also no gentleman. Deku’s dark hair suggests a fairly unremarkable character with no particularly interesting fate. Furthermore, to reinforce this thematic idea is that All Might himself has blond hair- and is a realized version of that great promise and potential fulfilled. In fact, the show makes it very clear from the start that Midoriya’s desire is not enough to overcome the obvious disadvantage of being Quirkless, or simply lacking the talent to match how motivated he might be.

A curious note to the Midoriya-Bakugo dynamic is actually the perception of the two from their classmates in junior high versus how they’re viewed at U.A. Midoriya, for the first time in his life, finds himself quite popular among his U.A. classmates for both his earnest, kind nature, incredible resolve and detailed planning (though his mumble storms with the latter tend to backfire a bit for people.) Bakugo on the other hand, after being the king of the hill in high school, finds a similar position at UA with his talent, but not nearly the same kind of admiration at first due to his abrasive nature and generally angry tendencies. However, both Midoriya and Bakugo gain respect from their fellow classmates as the events of the story unfold, and the rivalry continues to bloom, with the explosive power of two rising heroes very much on two sides of the same coin, with two very different approaches yielding them results.

Perhaps this simultaneous difference and similarity in approaches was never fully on display than when the rivals were forced to work together in passing their first semester practical exam, where they approached the difficult task of having to hand-cuff or escape through a designated gate from All Might (“Katsuki Bakugo: Origin,” season 2, episode 23). Forced into a situation where their clashing philosophies and individual strategies did nothing but put them at a disadvantage, it was here that both young men put everything on the line- even their rivalry for a brief moment- and came together to achieve a goal against the very man they aspired to be like in their own ways.

Finally, it is interesting to note that Bakugo was the one to inspire the hero name of “Deku.” Literally playing off the meaning of “do/can’t do” in Japanese, he uses the nickname as a way of taunting Midoriya, reminding him that he won’t amount to anything. However, when the latter meets Ochaco Uraraka, she actually tells him that “Deku” was a great name, giving off the vibe “of a hero that can do anything!” And so, with a renewed outlook, Midoriya embraced the name, something which truly infuriated his rival considering the original intent.

“I AM HERE!”- All Might

Of course, no self-respecting Deku piece would be complete without some discussion about his relationship with the “Symbol of Peace” himself- All Might. The chance encounter in which Deku was saved from the slime villain in season 1, episode 1 turned into an emotional ride in just two short episodes as the mighty hero was revealed to have a surprising and crippling weakness (Superman, he is not), and the fanboy with nothing more than dreams stepped up and inspired him in the most unlikely of ways. Part of what makes this dynamic so interesting is that Midoriya isn’t from some special bloodline, crazy backstory or mythical family ties- he’s just an ordinary kid who with luck and circumstance, combined with unlikely action, won the lottery to begin the unlikeliest of underdog stories just as society’s greatest success story was about to hit his twilight (All Might.) The fact that All Might then followed it up by making Deku train through “10 months of hell” reinforced that even receiving the gift of “One For All” was an obstacle in itself, not to be taken lightly. As the world’s #1 then transitioned to be a U.A. teacher, it was obvious that while he wished for Deku to grow into his role, he also needed to be more engaged in training his successor than he already was- a fact that was exposed by retired hero Gran Torino during Midoriya’s internship when he was the first to help Deku’s power be controlled properly. This breakthrough was juxtaposed against All Might’s professional duties as a hero and more importantly, an educator who had to give focus to all the promising kids under his tutelage, suggesting the underlying strain that came with being the so-called “Symbol of Peace.”

 

 

“This is a Quirk passed on from generation to generation. Are you prepared to carry on ‘The Symbol of Peace?'”- Toshinori Yagi, to an overwhelmed Midoriya

One For All as a Quirk in My Hero Academia isn’t just an incredible power, but also a narrative framing device for all of Midoriya’s actions once he earns the right to hold that flame. The old saying “with great power comes great responsibility” rings truer and truer as Midoriya continues to slowly get stronger, eventually gaining a small level of control over his amazingly powerful Quirk- while All Might grows weaker, highlighting that Deku’s control of his power is actually on a clock- a race against time only intensified by the emergent League of Villains and an anti-Deku figure- Tomura Shigaraki, whose relationship to the mysterious All For One is a bizarre inverse of Midoriya’s chance All Might encounter. For Deku and Tomura, both have been given a path to change the world- but whose path will shape the future is now an increasingly tenuous question as the series continues on. Indeed, everything comes to a head when All Might and All For One engage in their long-foreshadowed rematch, and it is at this moment that both sides officially pass the torch on to their fated successors- as All Might fights and wins with the dying embers of his Quirk, and All For One’s defeat leads to his arrest by the authorities, moving both men out of the picture as events move forward.

 

Deku’s steady but slow growth in learning to control his Quirk occurs at a believable pace within the framework of the story. In a well-done twist, he first has to train his body to receive One For All, but upon gaining it from All Might, he’s able to tap all that power-but incurs a serious cost on himself. After literally breaking himself on a number of occasions, he gradually begins to learn how to control the powerful Quirk he was gifted after the aforementioned training internship with Gran Torino. While it’s my intention to not dive into manga spoilers for the anime-only viewers, Deku’s power continues to develop concurrently with his own self-discovery of his own style. What Midoriya comes to realize is that while striving to be the #1 hero is is goal, he’ll have to be his own man in doing so- and making One For All his own Quirk, rather than mere imitation of his mentor and idol proves to be an extension of that important lesson.

 

“Come at me with everything you’ve got!”- Izuku Midoriya, issuing a challenge to Shoto Todoroki at the U.A. Sports Festival

 

Undeniable yet still is Midoriya’s effect on those around him not named All Might or Bakugou. He manages to start making a skeptical Aizawa a believer in his power with a simple ball toss test (“What I Can Do For Now”, season 1, Episode 5), is the first to draw out Todoroki’s fire side during the U.A. Sports Festival (and in turn, trigger a healing process for that boy; “Shoto Todoroki: Origin”, season 2, episode 10), and even shows the so-called “Hero Killer” Stain enough resolve and conviction that the villain, despite being recently beat by Deku, Todoroki and Tenya Iida, has enough tenacity to save his enemy’s life when he is snatched by a Noumu. (“Climax,” season 2, episode 17). It is also Midoriya’s example that inspires a small group of his fellow classmates in the daring rescue attempt of Bakugou after the League of Villain’s successful infiltration of the summer camp, and prior to that, he becomes an embittered young boy’s (Kota) hero in a life-risking battle versus the villain Muscular (“My Hero,” season 3, episode 4.) It is examples like these that in individuals ways, show just why Midoriya was given One For All, as he’s shown a profound ability beyond merely powerful punches and kicks to change hearts and minds, backed by his own conviction in his ideals.

While Midoriya’s story isn’t yet finished, the fundamentals of his character shine through even as important plot points and scenarios shift in the narrative flow of My Hero Academia. There is little doubt that even as Midoriya continues to grow gradually into the massive shoes of his idol and successor, his underdog path, coupled with his conncious choice of hero name (“Deku”) and his vow to “keep a smile on my face, just like All Might,” will serve him well and keep a consistency to the character that has already been established in the series. He might not have the completed story of his rise from hero otaku to top hero, but with a well-crafted fundamental build as a compelling protagonist, the ride continues to promise a lot of enjoyable moments and steady growth as the series continues on with more depth. On a final note though:

Little Deku is already the best. Truly adorable.


Like what you see? Big fan of My Hero Academia or Deku? Leave a comment!

10 Thoughts: Week of June 18th

Now presenting live: a week of heroes and villains, plus some other animation musings.

It’s Hero Week unofficially here at AniB Productions- between the highly anticipated debut of Incredibles 2 this past Friday and the current arc in My Hero Academia, it’s hard for it to be anything else.

 

1.This week’s thoughts came a week late, thanks to the comprehensive Incredibles review that was posted last Monday instead. Before jumping into the highly anticipated sequel  this past weekend, it was worth a look back into its predecessor, which was an absolutely terrific film. Check out the review here if you haven’t!

 

2. Naturally, Incredibles 2 was a Day 1 viewing for me, and it lived up to the hype, which was impressive considering how good the original film actually is. While I don’t intend for this week’s 10 Thoughts to turn into a shilling column for The Incredibles franchise, here’s a link to that review as well.

 

3. One more Incredibles thought: It was an almost surreal experience to finally revisit that universe after all that time and anticipation, and while the true measuring stick for the sequel will be against its illustrious predecessor, this film will be the clubhouse leader for Best Animated Film of the Year, particularly at the Academy, where the revised rules as of last year made it far harder for foreign films to win at the expense of critics who often don’t take animated fare that seriously unless they specialize in the field. Much as I enjoy Pixar films and The Incredibles in any capacity, this is a change that feels for the worst- and in its first year of implementation resulted in The Boss Baby and Ferdinand getting nominations, which simply felt off.

 

4. Alright, I suppose it’s time to talk about My Hero Academia again, isn’t it? The series’ biggest fight to date in the anime finally occurred, and for those of you keeping up with the series, you’ll be well aware of the stakes that were involved in this one…which was translated pretty nicely from the manga.

 

5. I’m sure the followers of My Hero Academia also want more details on my thoughts of the fight that are spoilery for everyone else, so skip down to #7 if you haven’t seen or followed the series.

 

6. All For One is one scary dude with a terrifying Quirk that makes his options virtually limitless in a fight. Chances are that his abilities to augment Quirks was the inspiration for the Noumu program he’d spawned, given that the creatures are known for being essentially organic meatheads of stacked combat Quirks with enhanced physicals acrost the board.

What you really came to ask about though, was my thoughts on All Might’s final battle against his archenemy. It is in a word, symbolic. It’s not just that All Might throws the final embers of One For All in his body into defeating All For One, but it’s also the proverbial passing of the torch to Midoriya at last. Izuku is now truly the wielder of One For All, and the weight of that finally hits him as he gets All Might’s victory message… More importantly, it is a total changing of the guard. All For One is probably headed to a max-security outfit where he’ll no longer be in the picture, while All Might is no more as a hero, meaning Izuku and Shigaraki- who was teleported out of the battlefield against his will- now represent the new generation. (For the sake of knowing the manga, I’m just going to keep it to anime spoilers that I discuss here, but I’ll say this much: don’t expect things to slow down.)

 

 

7. Don’t look up if you want to avoid spoilers! It was definitely a fitting arrangement to have events go down the way they did in My Hero Academia and Incredibles 2 releasing in back to back days, which made for a vividly entertaining weekend in animation.

 

8. In non-hero week related stuff, the request to write a piece on “a anime harem of my choice” was quite entertaining, partially because it was so unexpected, but I do thank The Luminous Mongoose again for the nomination to do so. I think it embodied something important about life though: sometimes, when you write something outside of your usual routine, you grow from it, and even get rejuvenated to some extent as well. So it was a fun exercise!

 

9. Heard from a friend that Disney’s DuckTales reboot has had some more character developments, including a Gyro Gearloose that in their words, “is much meaner.” I’ve yet to sit down and really dig into the series, but I am intrigued, and last year even wrote an initial impressions piece based on the very entertaining pilot.

 

10. Since the success of the past character piece featuring Nagisa Shiota from Assassination Classroom, I’ve been hard at work on a new one, which hopefully I’ll release sometime this week. There’s also a few other ideas in the works going forward, so every day and week will continue to bring surprises!


I hope everyone has a great week, and feedback is always appreciated! If there’s any animation show, character, movie, or even episode you might want me to take a look at, let me know!

10 Thoughts: Week of June 4th

 

Alright, so back again with this week’s 10 Thoughts column! It’s finally June, which means summer is truly just about here at last. While this means the season of being outdoors, swimming and every other summer pursuit is very much here to stay for a few months, there’s still plenty to talk about when it comes to animation. Here’s this week’s musings:

 


1. Rewatching Assassination Classroom’s OPs actually gave me a newfound appreciation of them. Seriously, watch them in this video back to back to back:

There’s a condensed version of the show’s narrative being told in them, and even more cool (which can’t be noted here) is the fact that as new students or teachers join the class, they actually join the OP. This was most noticeable after Irina Jelevic joined the staff in season 1, as well as two other “transfer students.”  The amount of detail as a result, is actually worth noting…as is the silly dancing of the first two iterations of the OP, which grows on you. Sometimes, the lesson to to be learned is that a refreshed look at some aspect of a show can make you learn new tidbits, and appreciate it all the more.

 

 

2. As has started to become a habit in this column, My Hero Academia isn’t far from the mind, and especially so with such a hugely pivotal episode hanging in the balance for next week. For those of you not watching the third season yet, this information should probably serve to ignite more intrigue, and for those of you who are watching, it’s going to be appointment television. (Then again, it’s really more like computer streaming these days. Seriously, I always liked the phrase, but it really made me just stop and think about my audience, and now I feel old.)

 

 

3. A big thank-you to all the new followers this week, and the continued support of those who’ve stuck around for a while here on AniB Productions. You know who you are- and it means the world to me. As for the past week’s pieces: It’s really true what they say about your favorite pieces not getting as many views, but plenty of love from the audience you care about the most, and that was certainly true with young Nagisa from Assassination Classroom. The feedback was pretty awesome on that piece, and for anyone still on the fence about the show in question, watch it! (Heck, I even talked about its OPs as point 1.)

 

4. I’m going to believe to the end of time that Coco was the best film of 2017. No, not just best animated film, but best overall film. It had everything- eyecandy animation that augmented the storytelling, an authentic cultural experience, lovable characters, a heart-rending narrative, and one of the most emotional endings I’ve seen in any film. I did write about it at Christmas, but this thought was reinforced after seeing quite a few of last year’s films since the semester ended.

 

5. Since we’re on the topic of movies, I really hope the third iteration of DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon franchise really flies next year. To put it bluntly, the first two films are the only thing in the last decade that even remotely reached the level of Pixar (or now, Walt Disney Animation’s) finest movies in the same stretch, and they were both a pleasure to watch, complete with wonderfully fluid animation that brought this intoxicating, rough world of Vikings and dragons to life, and an emotional core to match. Maybe it’ll win the Academy Award this go-round though. Who knows?

 

6. Last week, I brought up Martian Successor Nadesico. I’ll be looking to try and turn that into a review, perhaps even this week. One heck of a catchy opening in that show, as I noted in the previous 10 Thoughts.

 

7. I’ve been meaning for a while to do a deeper dive into retro Western animation. You may or may not recall a while back that I did in fact take a look at Hanna-Barbera’s The Huckleberry Hound Show, and also wrote about the classic Looney Tunes episode “Duck Amuck,” but not much else. The classics are the classics for a reason though, and I’m very fond of them, and there’s a reason for that, beyond the history: most of them are still really, really good productions.

 

8. I noted recently that in a little over a month, it will mark the ten-year anniversary of the Avatar: The Last Airbender finale of “Sozin’s Comet.” What an incredible finish to an incredible show, and one that still resonates as deeply now as it did when it debuted.

 

9. Since I asked last week, if you’ve got a favorite character, leave a comment below! I might turn it into a “What’s in a Character piece” for the future, and that could be exciting.

 

10. Now I definitely need an Incredibles 2 thought in here: We’re finally within a tangible distance away from the movie’s release and I’d be lying if this wasn’t my most hyped movie in forever. It’s not just the fact that audiences waited 13 and a half years for this sequel to come along, but it’s also the fact that The Incredibles has always been my favorite film, since I first saw it in theaters back during December of 2004. The timeless narrative, which had an appeal to people of every age, and the innovative blending of a dynamic family narrative and the silver age of superheroes combined to form one heck of a movie, and one that bias aside, can still be consider one of Pixar’s best. Who knows? Maybe I’ll have an Incredibles review in the next 10 days…and then of course I’ll cover the film. I know my M.O. is shows, but my first love was always movies and you bet I’ll be covering this one.


Like what you see? Enjoy the 10 Thoughts column? Still have a character or show you want to see done? Leave a comment!

AniB’s Summer Kickoff: 10 Thoughts

Hi everyone!

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? While I do deeply apologize for the long hiatuses (and this was one was the longest of all), life sometimes demands that you put your best foot forward into other endeavors, and thus, through both a desire to maintain the quality of AniB Productions as well as the need to take care of academic pursuits, that was the reason that until today I’d been so quiet. With my return though, I can assure you that new reviews and pieces will be coming your way all summer long- and in turn, I didn’t stop thinking about animation during this layoff, or some brand new thoughts and ideas. I also like to do plenty of reading, and inspired actually by hockey columnist Elliotte Friedman and his 31 Thoughts column, it seemed like a fun idea to get the ball rolling with some insights of my own on animation now in the middle of May 2018 (at the time of this writing). So, here we go:

 

1. I never understood the rush by people to obsessively pour over new seasons of shows, be it Western animation or the cours they have in anime. Of course I like to watch new seasons or try a new show out or two, but I think you’ve got to be selective and pick your spots when it comes to jumping headfirst into an ongoing series. It’s not a bad thing to commit to a series that you know you’ll enjoy regardless (like My Hero Academia for myself right now), but it’s not always fun to get stuck watching something you simply are watching because the internet is talking about it. Don’t chase fads, but always chase quality.

 

2. Coming this summer, I plan to write a treatise on fanservice. This issue has been boiling in the back of my mind for quite a while now, and similar to that Valentine’s special I wrote over a year ago on shipping, it’s a controversial big picture topic worth talking about far more intelligently. To put it bluntly, fanservice is something that I at least view as a bigger threat to the medium’s legitimacy outside niche circles, particularly when it comes to anime, but I’ll have more on that when the time comes.

 

3. Speaking of Hero Academia, the end of season 3 should really be something. It’s one of the few series I picked up in manga form on the side, and let’s just say the finale will blow some minds if they stick to script like they have. High hopes, I have there.

 

 

4. On the Western animation end of things, I’ve miraculously avoided spoilers on Season 3B of Star vs the Forces Of Evil, though I am aware the season wrapped over a month ago now. While my studies kept me from watching the rest of the season yet, I do plan to follow it up with a post-season 3 review when I watch it soon. As for the first half of season 3…it’s fair. For better or worse, I’m hoping for a bit of “wow” from a show that’s now established and has built itself quite a bit of character development and storyline at this point. (And no, don’t spoil me in the comments if you follow the show.)

 

5. Coming soon to you: A Devilman Crybaby rant. Seriously, this has been in the works for months, but between bigger priorities and a piece that never seemed to come together right, it hasn’t been published yet. Here’s a preview: I have a bone to pick with this show, and it ties into my first thought on this column. Either way, it should be fun.

 

6. If you couldn’t tell by most of these thoughts so far, my watching habits have taken a heavy turn towards the East in the past year, and it has little to do with Western animation, but more so to do with always wanting a deeper context to the medium of animation and the diverse genres and plots it can carry. Anime is pretty terrific, but it definitely has shortcomings, and the same can always be said for the Western cartoons I’ve covered at length in different reviews as well.

 

7. However, one Western show has caught my notice in the days of my malaise, and it’s classic The Simpsons clips. You only have to watch a few of these to get a sense of why the show has stuck around so long, and there’s some absolute comedic gold (such as the woebegone lunch Skinner attempts to put on that spawned an Internet meme), but like other shows that became long-running phenomenons, doing a complete review and grading might just be the most daunting task any of us could ask for. I don’t think long-running, “classic” series should be immune to criticism, but it’s also hard to dish out a balanced report over a run that spans 3 decades as of next year. (Still, I might write about the show in some capacity at some point.)

 

8. I noted in passing that Rick and Morty, the Adult Swim phenom show, got renewed for 70 more episodes. Good for those guys, but even at this point, I really don’t get the hype about the show. In one of those rare “behind the scenes” moments I’ll talk about, I watched the first 4 episodes of the show a while back, and found myself with some mix of revulsion and general boredom, but I might resume the show at some point for purely professional purposes…if someone can persuade me. I want to be fair to every show I encounter, and so I find myself at an impasse with this series: Something I really don’t want to watch any more of against something people might really want to read about. Who knows? The comment section is useful for this sort of question (or for any of these numbered points, really.)

9. On a hint of what I’ve watched in the past few months, I can tell you all that there’s been a lot of anime as previously mentioned and a pretty healthy backlog of shows that could make their way on here for a review outside of some of the aforementioned shows in this column. The hope is that I can get back to writing regularly this summer, and schedule things moving forward so that I will have time to deliver the same quality material at a more consistent rate. The best news about this point though is that shows are coming! (and you are all hopefully excited now.)

10. It has been 2 years, 3 months and 4 days since Gravity Falls ended its run on Disney X.D. Man, time flies when you’re having fun…and when you’re busy too.

And there you have it- 10 thoughts on animation, for better or worse! If there’s one thing I was doing, it was giving everyone who has been so patiently awaiting a new piece something to chew on as more new material does in fact come your way. A long break off deserved a long response. I look forward to a lot more interesting pieces to write and commentary to be read and replied to!

-AniB


Like what you see? Thrilled to have me back? Leave a comment!

Preliminary Review: My Hero Academia (Boku no Hero Academia), post season 2

The Lowdown:

Show: My Hero Academia (also often referred to as Boku no Hero Academia)

Studio/years aired: Bones, 2016- present

AniB’s thoughts: First off, happy October to everyone! As with any new beginnings, something had to end, and so the last day of September also saw the conclusion of My Hero Academia’s second season- an action packed season that stretched all the way from April.  It also has been a while since I’ve done one of these pieces, and so perhaps there’s no better way to return than by covering my personal favorite pick of the various anime that I covered over the course of the past summer; one in which I even gave in my initial thoughts on a while ago. With the official conclusion of this cour, it’s now time for the full review process to commence, and I couldn’t be happier to note that the show has continued to impress since those first impressions.

With two seasons of brisk, vibrant material to pick through, as well as a (now) full knowledge of the source manga’s full run, it’s safe to say BnHA is in fact, an incredibly faithful translation of the source material. While I noted this key point in my preliminary thoughts on the show, it mostly works to the benefit of the production (though there have been some complaints about how accurate the flashbacks are too). It’s also safe to say that it’s quickly developed into one of the better shonen productions around, mostly striking a critical balance between storytelling and heated action sequences in just the right fashion.

(SOME SPOILERS HERE: SKIP TO GRADING IF YOU WISH TO AVOID.)

After Season 1’s rousing finale featuring top hero All Might in a no-holds barred fight against the incredibly powerful mutant Noumu, Season 2’s was a much more subtle but no less tense event featuring the ever growing audacity and newfound conviction of Tomura Shigaraki (the major antagonist), and his mentor, the hidden All For One, as a looming threat not just growing but beginning to thrive in the shadows. Along the way, fans were treated to an action packed follow-up that built off the end of the first season, from U.A.’s world famous Sports Festival, to the saga of the so called “hero killer”- Stain.

Something that stands out for My Hero Academia in particular is how wonderfully the aesthetic of the super-powered world it exists in pops, from the snappy designs of the extensive cast, to the wide and varied color palette used that does everything from painting U.A. Academy as bright and clean, to the dingy hideout in which Shigaraki carries out his sinister (and still developing) plans. It was in all likelihood an enormously difficult task to truly keep the feeling of the manga run ingrained in here, and while this preliminary review is specifically focused on the show and its merits, it’s hard not to admire how well the cast came to life in full motion and color.

As for the second season in particular, it brought a good deal of major story lines and arcs to the forefront, along with vibrant new additions to the cast, which had varying roles, and along with the growth in the story came progression for the characters, both in their own paths and powers (5% One For All hype!) but also in the growing sense of unease, which persisted as a constant undercurrent through the season, and sometimes, right out in the open, which was the case with Stain. All this primes Season 3 for another big tonal shift when it comes, and, if the manga is anything to go by, the anime-only viewers are potentially in for a real treat.

Two solid seasons with plenty of standout moments and a few, but not major flaws is always a real positive, and I’m looking forward to how the anime progresses (mostly expecting a continued manga-centric path, but being excellent in its own right.) The bar has been set high; simply put the show has gone beyond thus far, but let’s see if it’s truly… PLUS…ULTRA!!!


Animation Quality: As you might expect from Bones (the people who did Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, the quality of the hand drawn, computer shaded 2-D is on point. Vibrant and faithful to its source material, the fight sequences are beautifully crafted; a wide ranging and immersive color palette brings the world of heroes and villains to life, and it’s all done in a tasteful way that completely enhances the effects of the show at every turn. 5/5 points.

Characterization: BnHA has an extensive cast, but a few core players worth mentioning here specifically, led by the main character of the series, Izuku Midoriya.

Best known as “Deku” (his chosen hero name) from both fans of the show and the actual cast alike, Izuku’s dream of becoming the world’s number one hero is a pipe dream for him in a world where 80% of the population possesses superpowers, (or “Quirks”, as they’re referred to in-universe) and he has none. His life changes though with a chance encounter with the current #1 hero and his idol, All Might- where he is bestowed the powerful “One For All” quirk. Driven by relentless determination and a kind heart, Izuku’s got a lot of crazy in him- jumping into situations with little regard for himself- but he’s also committed to the suddenly steep and difficult journey that piece by piece, unfolds before him.

Speaking of which, All Might serves as a major character in the show, juggling multiple roles as Midoriya’s mentor, his still-extant run as the #1 hero, and a brand-new teaching position at U.A. Academy- the premiere school for training future heroes in the BnHA canon. As a hero, he’s the stereotype of a Silver Age comic book hero on the outside, wielding the awesome power of One For All- but hides his true form as a skinny man with disheveled hair and baggy clothes from all but a few. Despite the huge difference in strength and appearance, All Might is the same on the inside as a steadfast protector of the people and takes seriously his role as the “Symbol of Peace,” so much so that he’s unable to pace himself in his hero work…

Deku’s archrival from childhood is the brash and ill-tempered Katsuki Bakugo (spelled “Bakugou” in the manga). True to his personality, his Quirk allows his sweat to have nitroglycerin-esque properties, which in turn allows him to create localized explosions from the palms of his hands. A prodigy in terms of skill, his persistently foul moods mask to many his brilliance or his undying resolve to also be the top hero. As BnHA unfolds, Bakugo begins to resent Deku more and more, which leads to the beginnings and development of said rivalry on a grand scale.

It would take a while to highlight every last important character on the cast beside these three, but there are a few more worth mentioning in brief due to having larger supporting roles:

Ochaco Uraraka is the first person Deku meets at the U.A. Entrance exams, and after said sequence of events, they become quick friends. Noted for her ability to manipulate the gravity of objects with her fingertips, she’s bright, kind and hard working…but also has a crush on Deku, which is low-key but quite obvious.

There’s also Tenya Iida, who despite his uptight nature, becomes close to Deku and Uraraka as well. The younger brother of the hero Ingenium, Iida looks up to his sibling and has a stringent, strict sense of honor and decorum…but there’s more to his character than meets the eye, as he has an ability that grants him great speed produced from the jets in his calves…

Gaining a great deal of relevance in Season 2 is Shoto Todoroki, the son of a very famous hero (no spoilers on that!) and another prodigy with a powerful Quirk that allows him manipulation of both ice and fire. Since he’s a walking spoiler for parts of season 2 (for those who have not seen the show) I’ll note that his resourcefulness and power are very impressive, though his level of control and personal path to walk pose their own issues for him.

Finally, I’ll mention Shigaraki again. I talked about him in my thoughts, but know he’s the major threat moving forward.

It’s a bit of a shame that this section can’t cover every last one of these characters in the show, but it’s a solid cast that translates the incredible design work of the manga well and in turn, the animation itself does wonders in bringing them to life thus far. 4.25/5 points.

Story quality: As you may have guessed from the character section, My Hero Academia’s tale is following Izuku Midoriya’s tale of “how he became the the #1 hero.” However, it’s never quite as simple as getting from point “A” to point “B” in a good to great series, and so it’s the vibrant mix of character development and different subplots converging at key moments that really makes the show’s story. It’s got a good flow and pacing for the most part; there have been gripes from some about the show’s usage of flashbacks, particularly in key moments, but this slight drawback hardly outweighs what otherwise is an enjoyable ride as heroes and villains alike gather their strength on the collision course known as “destiny.” 4/5 points.

Themes: Perhaps the most impressive themes of the series are the comprehensive exploration of “just what does it mean to be a true hero?” and the ever-well received (and in this case, well executed) message of one’s ability to always aim higher and break past their limits in a worthwhile pursuit to be great at one’s goals. There’s plenty of other more typical themes in there, from the friendship and rivalries aspect that’s typical in shonen, but the in-depth look and partial subversion of the hero genre is really very, very interesting thus far. 4/5 points.

Don’t insult the viewer: Clean-cut with just the right amount of rawness around the edges for a superhero shonen show, My Hero Academia’s an easily engrossing watch. There is some minimal fanservice, but hardly enough to warrant a deduction in the intagibles of the show (I’m looking at you, Mineta). A special note for the OST of this series, which has been fantastic up to this point and fits the essence of this world and its characters perfectly. 5/5 points.

Total Score: 22.25/25 (89%). A joy to watch unfold, My Hero Academia captures both a great sense of fun and storytelling within its immersive world; with a Season 3 coming at an undisclosed time (as of this writing) it’s a rock-solid start for a show that figures to stay on the forefront of conversations.

 

First Impressions: My Hero Academia (Boku no Hero Academia)

Hello long-awaiting readers,

It has been a while since I posted something, but I’ve not been simply twiddling my thumbs, and so my star summer anime project has turned out to be finally watching what’s been released so far of My Hero Academia. Consider this a very strong impression, indeed…PLUS ULTRA!

If you’re a fan of anime or have been following anything at all the past year or so, the biggest show outside of the long-awaited Season 2 return of Attack on Titan was this one- My Hero Academia, often referred to by its Japanese name, Boku no Hero Academia, or BnHA for short. The bottom line here is simple from yours truly: it’s becoming the next big shonen to erupt in the popular conscience…and it’s really, really good.

For those who don’t know (like myself before watching), it’s a show about a version of Earth in which superpowers- known as “quirks” in the BnHA universe- manifest and become commonplace, so much so that society itself becomes the stuff of comics, and regular humans with no such abilities dwindle to a mere 20% of the population. In turn, there’s heroes and villains- and becoming a hero has become a highly sought after and revered position in society. For the main character- a quirkless boy named Izuku Midoriya- this is his dream, though his status as a normal kid makes him a big dreamer and fanboy of the actual pros but not much else.

As fate would have it, it all changes with a fated encounter where Midoriya is rescued by his childhood hero, who also happens to be the world’s symbol of peace- All Might….and it takes off from there.

While I normally don’t like summarizing the beginnings of plots at all, these sort of initial impressions are almost difficult to do without them since in my excitement, I’ve caught up to the current run of the show. I’ll also mention that BnHA is being simulcast online via Funimation. But to get to the meat of what really is at stake here: this is a show absolutely worth watching for a number of reasons:

-The characters: Just from watching many shows and writing many reviews, there’s a premium to be placed on character development and a great cast, and this show delivers, big time. Midoriya is a delightful protagonist, and the rest of the main and supporting cast is diverse and interesting, with distinct personalities– a must in a show that features the superhero genre.

-The animation: The studio doing the show is Bones- and if you know anything about them, they’re the folks behind Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (which I gave a glowing review of.) The action sequences are richly detailed and vibrant, the colors pop, and everything is just so lively.

-The soundtrack: There’s some really catchy tunes and appropriate music that enhances this show exponentially. The theme songs in particular are real winners. Here’s a taste.

-Faithful manga adaptation: While I’m not really so much of a stickler about the exact 1:1 accuracy of manga adaptations, this show’s really faithful. It also doesn’t have filler, which is a huge plus in my book.

-Themes: Strong, straightforward themes are given a new lift and weight by the other strong story and character elements…plus, there’s some very real issues that occur aside from the tropes you’d expect in a show of this style.

 

I’ve completely fallen in love so far with My Hero Academia, and while I’m not doing a graded analysis today (given this is an impressions piece), I will give a 2-season preliminary review once the second half of the current season finishes its run. The show’s well worth a look as both a summer treat and for viewing purposes in general, and while I could say much more that is specific to the show, I’d like others to experience it too without spoilers. Find out what it truly means to be a hero and go beyond…


Like what you see here? Love My Hero Academia or has your interest been piqued? Leave a comment!