Thursday, May 9, 2024

My spoiler-free first reaction to My Hero Academia

I heard enough about the manga  My Hero Academia over the years that I finally decided to give it a go.

It’s basically school for superheroes. 

Yes, there’s a lot more going on than that and I’m pretty sure it will go beyond that. However, superhero school is the cornerstone and if you can’t get beyond that, it’s just not going to work.

(Is it weird that to me while the X-Men were technically always a school but it never felt like one until the 2000s because there was never a real student body until then?)

It is a Shonen manga and, oh boy, is it ever Shonen. It reads to me like mashup of Sports story and an action/adventure story.  Midoriya, the protagonist, is having a coming of age story as he slowly masters his Superman-like potential. It’s like the creator Horikoshi wrote a checklist of Shonen elements.

So, is it any good?

I have to admit that I was not impressed at first. It felt like a parody of a sports manga with being a superhero being a comedic standin for being a professional athlete. All Might, the Superman/ Captain America figure, in particular, seemed like a parody. The initial introduction of superhero economics seemed silly and the world building felt shallow.

But I kept trudging away, hoping to find the magic everyone said was there.

Then came the point when actual supervillains showed up. Not rivals at the school. Murderers and terrorists. Serious, dangerous plot elements.

Suddenly, My Hero Acamdeia had stakes.

The world stopped being one where superpowers were economic commodities and one where they were matters of life and death. Characters get horribly hurt and death seems like a real possibility. 

All Might stops being  a silly figure as we are shown how much he has risked and sacrificed. More than that, as opposed to an ideal word where super hero shenanigans just get to happen, we are shown that his example of morality may be all that keeps the world from sliding into a dystopia.

I went from wondering why I should care to Shogoth got real.

It took a bit but I eventually saw why folks get engaged by My Hero Acadenia and why the characters are interesting. How there is a deeper world beneath the shallow sports metaphor and that world is scary.

So I’ll keep reading. (I was on volume four when I started writing this and I’m on volume ten as I finish it up lol)

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