Anime Review: The first episode of "My Hero Academia"

Weekly Shōnen Jump has been responsible for publishing some of the most popular manga and anime series in history. Shōnen Jump series recently launched its first anime episode. My Hero Academia was created by Kōhei Horikoshi and had its first manga chapter serialized in the magazine in July of 2014. After two fledgling series, this is the first major success for the mangaka (manga creator).

Now, with enough sales from the manga and positive reception among manga readers, the time has come for My Hero Academia to make the big leap from manga to anime TV series. But does the first episode of My Hero Academia have super power?

This is one of the most anticipated anime of the spring 2016 season. The original manga has received positive reception among readers, with some even claiming that this series will one day rival Naruto in popularity. Even though it’s far too early to tell if My Hero Academia will become that popular, it’s certainly easy to see why some would hype it up as such. While certainly not spotless, the first episode of My Hero Academia is a solid start to potentially the next big anime hit.

The basic story of My Hero Academia is that humanity has become a species where 80% of them have developed superpowers, or “quirks” as they’re referred to in the series, and many of them have chosen to become superheroes and supervillains similar to those in comic books.

The plot of the series follows Izuku Midoriya, a shy, intelligent boy who greatly admires superheroes and dreams of becoming one himself. Unfortunately, Izuku happens to be a member of the 20% of people who have no quirk of their own, and his dream is mocked by the other students in his class; especially the local bully, Katsuki Bakugō. Izuku nevertheless is determined to not let anyone get to him and continue to find ways to become a hero.

Then an encounter with a villain kicks off a series of events which involves the world’s greatest hero, as well as Izuku’s personal favorite hero, All Might, that might end up letting Izuku finally make his dream a reality.

The first major highlight to this series is the animation. Done by none other than Studio Bones (Fullmetal Alchemist, Soul Eater, Space Dandy, Noragami), their wondrous animation is ever present in My Hero Academia. Characters aren’t limited to still images of themselves with flapping mouths, characters preform distinct, vivid movements that fit the situation, whether it be comedic or dramatic.

Considering anime has a tendency to be criticized for its lack of motion compared to American cartoons, it is always good to see a studio like Bones break that stereotype. The character designs in the anime remain faithful to the original manga, which is a unique style which blends both Japanese and American comics. Also, colors are bright and vivid, and make each character distinct.

Of course, shiny, high-budget animation would be nothing without a solid story backing it up. Fortunately, My Hero Academia doesn’t disappoint in that department either. The first episode introduces the world in a way so viewers know enough about it, but still leaves out enough key details to keep them curious.

So far, this episode introduces only three members of the series’ recurring cast; Izuku, Katsuki, and All Might. Out of all of them, Izuku is the one who gets the most spotlight. The poor kid has it tough with most people saying he has no chance to become a hero, but he always stays optimistic despite it all.

Izuku is a likable main character who you want to root for and see he makes it out ok. The other two don’t get as much characterization. Katsuki is a big mean bully who wants to be the best hero around with his power of causing explosions with his hands. While All Might is the greatest hero around, but he also hides a dark secret. Future chapters/episodes will delve further into these two character’s backstories and motivations, as well as introduce the rest of the main cast of teenage superheroes, often considered by fans to be one of the series’ main highlights.

The story is told in a great way through action, comedy, and even some tear-jerking moments. But some people would argue that the series is too cookie-cutter shōnen. With a lot of similar beats to stories like Naruto where the main character is an underdog ostracized by most of the populace for being different, but fate smiles upon him and he has the chance to make his dreams come true.

All while experiencing action, comedy, tragedy, and a large cast of colorful characters. Yes, My Hero Academia does feel like a lot of other Weekly Shōnen Jump series, and its story might not be as different or unique as other series from that magazine, but I feel that My Hero Academia has enough of its own identity to have its own voice and not feel too much like a rip-off or cliché-fest.

My biggest criticism for this episode was how, or rather, when, it ends. I was expecting the first episode of the My Hero Academia anime to completely adapt the first chapter of the My Hero Academia manga. However, it didn’t. The episode instead chooses to adapt around 2/3rds of the first chapter; while it doesn’t end in a bad way, or even in a bad place, I just find it an odd place for the episode to end.

Because the rest of the first chapter goes into one of the biggest plot points of the series, as well as providing the catalyst for Izuku’s future. If those elements were added into this first episode, I feel that it would hook a lot more people into watching the rest of the series. But considering that trying to add all those major elements into one episode would risk disrupting the otherwise great pacing, I can forgive it in this case.

When all is said and done, though, I am quite impressed with what has been done with the first episode of My Hero Academia. Even though it could have ended better, it is a good compromise for an otherwise great first episode that is well-polished and well-written. Time will tell if My Hero Academia becomes a modern-day anime sensation in the same vein as Attack on Titan, Fairy Tail, One-Punch Man, or Tokyo Ghoul, but for now, let’s just enjoy another great new series from Weekly Shōnen Jump.

Pros:

  • Stellar animation
  • Unique art style
  • Strong intro/ origin story
  • Great pacing
  • Adapts the manga faithfully…

Cons:

  • …but doesn’t adapt the full first chapter
  • Might feel a bit similar to some people

Rating: 8/10

You can watch the anime streaming from Funimation.com. You can also buy the manga, published by Viz Media, in volume form both digitally and in print. New chapters of the My Hero Academia manga also appear weekly in Viz’s Weekly Shonen Jump digital magazine.


Comments powered by Disqus