#1 The boy without a quirk
In the world of My Hero Academia, a large percentage of humanity has developed superpowers referred to as “quirks”, ranging from typical stuff like strength, elemental powers, and firing lasers, to more abstract stuff like a dude that fires tape from his arms.
This led to the creation of heroes and villains, which our main character Izuku Midoriya is a big fan of. Midoriya was born without a quirk despite growing up wanting to be a hero, making him a social outcast in a world that is increasingly populated by people that do have them. Despite this handicap Midoriya remained determined, studied all his favorite heroes, and has made up his mind to try out for U.A.. the most prestigious school for heroes in his country.
Midoriya is very easy to sympathize with and a protagonist you can’t help but appreciate. He soon meets his idol, the legendary hero All Might, and during an incident he proves himself worthy to become this legend’s pupil. You see, All Might’s power turns out to be “One For All”, a quirk that is peculiar because it can be transferred between people. Midoriya is set to be All Might’s successor, and can finally become the hero he was always determined to become.
What makes him work as a character is that Midoriya is so completely earnest and he is full emotion, you can’t help but feel moved by him. Though he is the hero in a shonen anime, you really feel like he earns that position and a large part of the first arc is spend just on him training, which continues well into the story. He is always working to improve himself and through his actions ends up helping or inspiring his friends. You really want to see him succeed and that alone kept me coming back to the show every week.
#2 Class of lovable weirdos
Once school starts proper we are slowly introduced to all the characters whose powers were impressive enough to make it into U.A. alongside Midoriya, and this is truly one of those shows where you may find yourself falling in love with its side-characters. While not everybody is as important and a few classmates are overshadowed, those that do get enough screen-time or some running gags were very entertaining.
From fan favorites like the frog girl Asui or the master of his own shadow Tokoyami, to the less prevalent heroes like invisible girl Toru and the “French” Oayama, each character is a joy to watch, be it for their fun and well-written dialogue, the struggles they are working to overcome, or just to watch them fight and work alongside the rest of the cast. This also makes side-stories a lot more bearable, as the show can safely spend an episode on stuff like Asui interning as an assistant hero without it feeling like filler. Heck, I’d actually like it if there were some specials focusing on the other characters.
#3 Arcs done right
With two seasons out (a third is one the way) and a total of 38 episodes, the anime adaptation currently covers a handful of the manga’s arcs and doesn’t seem to be running out of Steam. The show is really good at keeping up a steady pace and the transition from one arc to another never feels abrupt, nor do any of them feel like they drag on. The show manages to get it just right, as it feels like it always manages to tap the maximum amount of potential out of any storyline.
Even something so overdone as a tournament arc manages to really excite and deliver on everything you could hope it contains. My favorite, however, has to be the relatively short Battle Trial arc, simply because I find the character of Bakugo absolutely fascinating and this story presents a major shift in his character. His entire childhood he has been the top dog, unbeatable, feared, but now at U.A. there are people around him who could be better than him. Even worse, the one person he hates the most, the kid he always bullied, Izuku Midoriya, might be better than him. It’s fascinating to watch him cope with that.
Even so, it’s hard to compare Battle Trial with the phenomenally-executed Hero Killer arc. A chapter that tells you exactly what it’s about right on the cover, as it zooms in on the darker side of being a hero in this world where villains can count on the same powers as the good guys.
#4 Bones working their magic
Helping all of this come together is the fantastic animation work by Studio Bones, who have done similarly solid work on shonen anime like Fullmetal Alchemist and Soul Eater. Everything in this show looks solid, but it’s during the action scenes that it truly comes alive and where I feel My Hero Academia proves itself as the next big name to look out for. Superpowers clash in explosive combat while the excellent soundtrack by Yuki Hayashi (Haikyuu, Death Parade, Welcome to the Ballroom) accompanies it.
Being a fan of both those Bones shows I mentioned before, this did worry me slightly. Both Fullmetal and Soul Eater were really well-made shows that both ended up less than what they could be due to the anime overtaking the manga. For Fullmetal Alchemist this was resolved by a remake in the form of Brotherhood, but Soul Eater was just left with a scrambled together mess of an ending. So far it’s too early to say whether we’ll see similar issues arise for Hero Academia, but from what we have seen so far I am optimistic. Even then I’ll take a show that is 90% fantastic and 10% a little poo rather than a show that is 50% entirely poo, looking at Tokyo Ghoul here.
#5 Solid dubbing (if that’s your thing)
I am more or less a hybrid when it comes to anime audio tracks; I’ll watch both versions a bit and then stick with whatever one sounded best to me. Rarely has this contest been as one-sided as it was in My Hero Academia, which had me settle for the English dub after just a few lines of dialogue.
Taking a lot of inspiration from American superhero stories and with a little dubbing magic from the fantastic people at Funimation, My Hero Academia simply sounds stellar in English. Every character’s performance is pretty much spot on, no way to improve it any further. Again, this is a quality that applies to both the main heroes and pretty much every side-character, and it really helped endear the likes of Tenya Iida and Mineta to me, who draw a lot of personality from the way they speak. Don’t get wrong, the Japanese voices are definitely fine, but they can’t beat performances like Christopher Sabat’s All Might, while at the same time I found some castings like Hiroyuki Yoshino’s take on the announcer Yamada very difficult to bear.
I also noticed that the English script was all-around a tad funnier without straying too far from the original. Then again, some people really can’t tolerate dubs, so if you fall in that category just imagine I spent the last three paragraphs ranting about how much I like Bakugo.