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!

10 Thoughts: Week of June 25th

AniB goes to the movies, watches some anime, and stumps for the hometown hockey team. (Beware of T-Rexes!)

In this week’s 10 Thoughts, AniB takes a look at the movies, the usual look at this past week’s My Hero Academia episode, and as usual, a few other musings.

 

1.One of the issues with going to see animated films at the cinema is that you never know what kind of previews you’ll be forced to sit through. As the general audience is expected to be younger, you usually get a grab-bag of animated fare with promise, some ghastly looking premises, and the occasionally amazing-looking film. In the end though, it’s mostly exciting just to get to the movie you came to see…

2. …so in that vein, The Teen Titans Go! preview looks every bit as awful as I suspected it would. Memo to Cartoon Network: it’s your #1 show because you guys pushed into roughly 95% of your available time-slots. It’s not hard to make something the de-facto top show when it’s the only game in town, and if I had access, I’d like to see the numbers of their rarely other-aired shows extrapolated over the same time, or rather, TTG’s number’s averaged together for every viewing at the same rate of something else. I bet things don’t add up, and this film isn’t going to move a lot of people at all outside the 7-12 boys demographic (and their parents.) Mark my words on that.

3. Since this is a movie-centric 10 Thoughts so far, Incredibles 2 is definitely the clubhouse leader when it comes to to the animation award at the Academies so far. Going back to what I said a week ago (at the time of this writing) in a prior column, I’d be willing to bet even now it’s the odds-on favorite regardless of what Wreck-It Ralph 2 does as a sequel later this year, unless it’s absolutely stunning in a way no one saw coming. (Before anyone references Spirited Away or Wallace and Gromit, a friendly reminder that those awards were in 2002 and 2005 respectively- and the rules got worse for foreign films aside from the long drought. So I’m not holding my breath.)

4. One last movie thought, non-animated: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is definitely a popcorn-munching film, but from a purely critical standpoint, something about it doesn’t quite pack the same punch as the franchise’s revival song in Jurassic World. Maybe (spoilers!) it’s because weaponized dinos is such a silly premise with a fancy coat of paint over it that I can’t take it seriously. But then again, anything Jurassic Park or World related requires a suspension of disbelief, and from my experience, an IMAX screen if you’re actually living near a theater that has one. Something about dinosaurs on the biggest screen makes it that much better.

5. Alright, I’m sure you want some anime thoughts now to balance things out, and that begins with this past week’s My Hero Academia, which more or less capped off a big turning point for the series, without spoiling too much of anything. I’ll say this: Izuku’s mom is a really loving person who truly has her son’s best interests at heart, and that should be lauded.

 

6. Continuing on with Hero Academia , it was killing me not to include manga spoilers about Izuku Midoriya in this past week’s character piece.That said, he’s a really good example of a shonen protagonist done right, and has definitely become a favorite character of mine since I first picked up the series.

 

7. I’ve been reading the One Piece manga for a little while, on and off, which is absolutely terrific. However, it is somewhat of a daunting proposition even just covering the Shonen Jump publication from the start, so don’t expect me to talk about the anime (or it various filler arcs) on here, since it’s simply too darn long to actually pick up and watch to the current point. That said… the manga is truly wonderful. I recommend it if you haven’t touched the series.

 

8. On a non-shonen note, picked up the first five episodes of Welcome to the NHK. What a weird, darkly humorous show so far, which is just odd enough to be intriguing without being a total turn-off. Hard balance to achieve, definitely…and this is one I’d like to see through to the end in due time.

 

9.   I’m planning to review a show again this week, but what that is yet isn’t even clear to me at this point. I’ve got a few pretty good ideas of what to go over though, and it might just be a Western show. Also, did anyone notice I finally added a “Movie Reviews” tab to the main site’s page? I’ve got three of ’em now, so the time seemed right…and while the focus here is still going to be primarily on shows, I’m open to animated film suggestions as well.

10. Finally, in one other non-animated thought, the Buffalo Sabres (my hockey team!) finally drafted Rasmus Dahlin, the Swedish wunderkind defensemen, this past Friday with the top overall pick. While I doubt most, if any of my readers, have a vested interest heavily in sports, it’s a big thing for the city and the hopeful continued resurgence of a massive turnaround in the pro franchises’ fortune of Buffalo, coming on the heels of a Bills playoff berth this past January. So coming back around, I suppose my question for the week is “what sports team do you root for, if any; and if not, could you recommend a sports show or movie you might have liked?” (I suspect I might get some Draft Day and Hoosiers comments if I say nothing…or just sports anime. Either way, fine by me!)


Like what you see? Any thoughts on the question of the week, or any other suggestions about things you’d like me to write about? 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 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!

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!