Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Super Heroes Are Back!

Gather round, friends, and witness the Return of Super Heroes! 

If you're anything like me, then you've been a fan of super heroes since you were very young. You might've watched the Spider-Man cartoon, or Batman: The Animated Series, the original Teen Titans, and shows like them on television, read the plethora of cape comics available from such once-venerable publishers like Marvel and DC, and maybe even gotten your fix in anime with spectacle fighters like Dragonball Z and Fist of the North Star. I list these because I did them (although Fist of the North Star came later), and I know that I am not alone in having enjoyed these things almost my entire life.

As soon as I could read I was getting my parents to buy comics for me. I loved Spider-Man, Venom, Captain America, even Batman and Superman had some good arcs when I was coming up. Super heroes were my jam. They provided an idealized example of what good people could do to help others given the ability and opportunity. I wanted to be like them when I was little. I still maintain that attitude today, although keeping in mind realistic means. But if I'm able to help someone, I try to. That attitude is, in part, imparted from the examples in these comics and shows I loved so much as a child, and still love today as an adult.

Now comes the sad part of our tale. If you've been keeping up with comics for the past few years, before Gamergate was a mote in the Doritos Pope's eye, you'll know that the quality of cape comics has declined rapidly. It's directly in the shitter. All you have to do is scroll through the YouTube channels of people like Cap'n Cummings, Diversity & Comics, Douglas Ernst, Captain Frugal, Just Some Guy, Underground Geek, and other comics reviewers and you can see for yourself. Captain Frugal in particular has a segment on his channel wherein he takes a look at old comics from his stash, and compares them to the dreck being published now. It's very enlightening, and disheartening. 

If you are a fan of super hero comics, your part of the industry is dying. Comics are doing fine. Cape comics are dying. Marvel is dying. DC is on the fast track to following Marvel into an early grave. So, in this morass of terrible writing and anti-beauty post-modernist art, where oh where are we super hero fans to get our cape fix? 


And yes this post is the complete fault of Rawle Nyanzi and JD Cowan, both of whom you should follow on twitter and check out their websites, and These two fellow weebs watched this show, read the manga, and proceeded to not shut up about it to the point that I was motivated to get off my ass and give it a try. And fam, I am so glad that I did. I'm a total convert, and am here to spread the good news to those in need of super hero stories that Marvel and DC just aren't providing anymore.

So where to start? I suppose a simple, spoiler-free plot synopsis would do. I'll try to keep it to things you learn in the first couple chapters/episodes, or that you can tell just from looking at the thing for five seconds.

My Hero Academia takes place in an X-Men type world where people suddenly, for no adequately explained reason, begin manifesting powers. Unlike X-Men, this continues to escalate until 80% of humanity has some kind of super power. The powers are very interesting as well. Some people can grow to giant heights a la Hank Pym/Giant Man, some have pyromancy a la Pyro, electromancy, psychokinesis, some are actual mutants like Tsuyu (the frog girl), and the list goes on. There are far too many to name here, but you get the idea. These powers are called "quirks", and they give the gifted person a severe advantage in a fight with a "quirkless" person. Normal humans have become a minority. Not an oppressed minority, but a minority. 

This obviously led to a lot of super crime, and while governments scrambled to deal with it, good people with quirks became heroes and fought the villains. This led to governments basically employing the heroes to fight the villains, and now the top heroes train the next generation of quirked people who want to protect others. There's Present Mic, Eraserhead, No. 13, and at the top of the pile, All Might, the number one hero of them all.

The story follows a quirkless boy named Izuku, called Deku, as he becomes the successor to All Might, gains a quirk, and enters U.A. High School to train to become a hero. And that's all you'll get out of me on plot. You really should go watch the show, at least. The rest of the plot is well worth your time.

So I'm sure that you're wondering how seriously this IP takes itself. What with One Punch Man coming out recently, as well as the shitty practices of companies like Marvel and DC lampooning themselves, people could be forgiven in thinking that My Hero Academia is a piss take on super heroes before they've watched it. I thought much the same thing until I heard from Rawle and JD. 

I'm here to tell you this plays the super hero genre 100% straight. There is not a hint of irony in this manga or show. That's not to say that it doesn't have funny moments, it does. What I mean to say is that there's no clown nose, no lamp shade, no wink and nod, none of that. This is a super hero IP made by a fan of super heroes for fans of super heroes. Even All Might's ridiculous super moves like the Detroit Smash are played completely straight. It's amazing.

All Might saves people's lives with a smile to cover the, in his words, "[...]overwhelming pressure and fear I feel." He doesn't reveal that he's been an enemy operative all along.

Eraserhead plunges into battle against a horde of villains to protect his students, and fights them 30 on 1. He doesn't do a shitty stand-up routine.

No. 13 gets himself hospitalized in a heroic sacrifice to also protect his students. He doesn't convince the big bad of the wonders of feminism. 

After seeing the videos on the channels I talked about earlier going over the current runs of some of my most beloved characters who are damn near unrecognizable thanks to the people writing them, My Hero Academia taking itself completely seriously wasn't a breath of fresh air.

It felt like making it to the surface after almost drowning to death. 

This is the first show period in a long time that I binged out of a need to know what happened next. It took me two sessions, and at the end of every episode I thought, "Oh, this one's almost over. I'll cut it here and finish while I'm eating breakfast tomorrow." Then the ending of the episode would come, and the cliffhanger would be so extreme that there was no way I was getting to sleep without knowing what happened next. I don't care how drunk I was. It was exactly like watching the 90's Spider-Man show again. This show isn't getting its hook, line, and sinker back from me. I ate them. They're gone. 

This show also does heroic drama very well. Deku, the quirkless main character, starts off with a core of wanting to help people surrounded by nervousness and fear because almost anyone around him can kill him without even thinking about it. He wanted to be a hero so badly, and watching him find out at the tender age of four that, as the show says, "Not all men are created equal," and he would never be able to fulfill his dream of becoming a hero was heartwrenching.

And then, after he meets All Might, and the number one hero in the world tells him that not only can he become a hero and save people, he can become just like All Might himself, Deku's disbelief and joy brought tears to my eyes. Literally. 

This show has heart, and it demonstrates that in the first couple of episodes. If you're not hooked completely by episode three, check your pulse, because you're probably dead. 

The music is just as action-packed as the super hero fights. It's mostly metal, and fits in perfectly with the tension and drama that the show brings to the table. It does it's job, and does it very well. It amplifies the mood, and never overtakes the scene, as it tended to do in shows like Fooly Cooly. This is also an opening that I never skip. I watch it completely, all the way through, every time. For thirteen episodes I didn't get tired of it, despite having watched it five times already that night. I'm going to look into getting the OST for this one. It's that damned good.

The voice acting is also outstanding. Once again, everyone plays their part completely straight, and all the VA's are perfect for their part. All Might has a very deep, serious voice, Eraserhead sounds constantly bored by everyone around him, Tsuyu sounds like she has a frog in her throat, Bakugo sounds arrogant and angry, and so on. All of the VA's are perfect for their parts, and I wouldn't change a single one.

I will say that I have not watched and have no intention of watching the dub. What with all of the shenanigans going on with localizers actually shifting scripts to push political agendas when they dub anime, I've completely sworn off dubbed anime altogether. So I have no idea how the dub came out. Watch at your own risk. The subs are amazing, though. Top notch voice work, everyone did a great job. 

The characters also all feel completely distinct. Somehow even the secondary characters, who are usually just there as plot devices, have a feeling of depth and importance to them that most large cast shows aren't able to give. They give each of these people just enough screen time for you to get a rough idea of their character and personality, and then we're back to Deku, Bakugo, Ochako, All Might, and the others in the main cast. This, combined with their unique character designs and specialized and differentiated quirks, makes the entire cast feel vibrant and alive, which is a feat I don't see attempted, let alone performed well, in many shows at all. 

This post is getting long as hell so I'll wrap it up. This show and manga is damned good, fam. Damned good. I know people say this as a cliche a lot, but I mean it when I say that this show made me laugh, cry, and kept my ass glued to the edge of my seat. Season 1 is a bit of a slow burn with lots of explosions along the way, but the climax in the final four or so episodes is beyond good storytelling. 

This isn't a, "Hey, you should watch this if you get the chance," kind of show.

Go buy it.


Not only does this get my recommendation and seal of approval, I'm telling you right now to go buy the damn thing. Manga, DVD, Blu-Ray, whatever your personal speed is, go buy it. With Marvel digging its own grave and DC looking to follow it, this deserves to be the biggest super hero IP out there right now. I'm going to myself. It's just that good. This is a must buy. I want it on my shelf, I want it in my collection, I want to support the creators, and I want this to become the next big thing in super heroes. Give these people your money, because they deserve it for a product at this level of quality. Stop buying shitty Marvel comics where they bastardize your favorite childhood heroes, and go buy this manga/anime and get some new favorite heroes.

Here are some links via my RightStufAnime affiliate account to where you can get the DVD's and the first volume of the manga. But however you support the creators, if you enjoy it, and you love super heroes, please find a way to do so.

Anime:                                        Manga: 




  1. Glad you liked it! I'm beyond excited that more and more people are jumping onto the Plus Ultra train.

    The dub turned out really good. Like Blood Blockade Battlefront and Dragon Ball Super, Funimation won't mess with its popular shows' scripts. They sneak it into the ones that aren't a high priority for them.

    But yes, MHA is incredible. One of the best superhero/shonen/action/whatever series out there. The second season ends this Saturday, and it's gonna be a long and hard wait to see season 3 and the amazing material it will adapt.

    1. I love it because it looked like a goofy spectacle fighter, like Kill la Kill, but it turned out to be a no-shit super hero show. It's everything that Marvel was 25 years ago, and should be right now.

      And after that performance near the end of S1, Eraserhead is definitely my favorite character.

    2. Unfortunately, after learning that they've been doctoring scripts for politics for fifteen years, I am loath to give Funimation any grace--or money.

      MHA is awesome, though.

    3. I can totally understand that, to be honest. But like JD said in (iirc) a thread on twitter, they don't doctor the scripts of their top earners, and he said that they did a good job with the dub, and it was faithful. Trust me, if there were another way to support the anime team without giving money to Funimation, I'd do it, but these guys deserve monetary support for this in my opinion, and my newfound love for this franchise outshines my longtime hatred for Funimation.

      I understand why you wouldn't want to support them, but I'm willing to give Funimation some money when they do something right, and publishing this in America is a good thing they did.

  2. Good that you mentioned side characters. The mangaka does from time to time made them the center of attention during specific story arc. Some of them are just great. Current story arc features no less than 3 specific character dive.

    Watch season 2. The manga is well pass season 3 material (if they decided to do another 25-26 episode run) and there's no let down.

    1. That was another thing that struck me about this show, is the detail in the background characters. They feel like the heroes of their own stories, rather than ancillary people related to the main story. It really impressed me, and the manga is no different. I'm loving it so far.

      And I'm definitely going to watch S2. There's no way I'm missing this. Whether I'll get there by Saturday so I can get caught up is anyone's guess. Probably not, given how big S2 is, but the manga has more than enough material to keep me entertained. And given how S1 is only 2.4 or so volumes of manga material, I can imagine that they've got enough material to keep this running at least as long as Yu Yu Hakusho.

    2. After the material of season 1, the mangaka sort of settled down on the average length of each story arc (about 12-13 chapters), this makes translating to anime easier. The second season, which is 25 episodes covers 3 story arc. The third season is likely to cover 3 more story arc. The current story arc kinda of breaks with that pattern with a 40+ chapters and it's a rather long arc that needs all of the chapters.