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  • I grew up on the likes of Naruto, Pokemon and Dragonball on TV.

  • Despite falling out of love with them as I grew older, the battle shounen genre has a

  • left a distinct mark on my anime viewing experience.

  • Newer fans of the medium might not remember this but there used to be a selection of anime

  • calledThe Big Three”.

  • A term that, in it's prime, was one of the pillars of the anime landscape.

  • It referred to three titles, Naruto, One Piece and Bleach, that at a point all aired simultaneously

  • and were the undisputed most popular shows.

  • Since then Bleach has finished, Naruto has finished, and One Piece at almost 900 chapters

  • isn't gonna be the sharp edge of a new generation.

  • For a while I've watched at the sideline as nothing has come to replace the big three.

  • popular shows like Attack on Titan have shorter, more condensed run times and less frequent

  • releases.

  • And even they didn't hold my attention.

  • The formulaic arcs of shounen anime that seems to repeat and repeat until people stop watching

  • just don't seem entertaining.

  • I'm not interested in seeing a character's 15th power upgrade or watching enemies be

  • defeated with willpower and friendship.

  • These, along with many others, were the problems that plagued the battle shounen genre.And

  • I had come to accept that myself and the genre had moved on, leaving everything behind in

  • the era of the big three.

  • Until a certain show came along...

  • Boku no Hero Academia.

  • I sat down to watch HeroAco and realised that it was taking the traditional battle shounen

  • format, that I had grown to hate, and was turning it on its head, injecting a large

  • variety of influences from outside Japanese media.

  • It takes aspects from western superhero comics and battle shounen, combines them to make

  • one of the most refreshing shounen series i've seen in years.

  • One of the first things that hit me was the show's stylistic influences.

  • Hero Academia is distinctly un-Japanese, instead taking inspiration from western comics to

  • create a world of super heroes.

  • The manga's author, Kohei Horikoshi, grew up on classic western comics like Superman

  • and Spiderman, using these as inspiration for his story rather than traditional japanese

  • series.

  • This completely changes how HeroAca is designed and it makes crucial diversions from Battle

  • shounen tropes that stop the series from falling into cliches.

  • If we look back to western comics of the 50s and 60s we can immediately see the links to

  • HeroAca.

  • This was a time of enormous commercial success for the comic industry and they're considered

  • some of the best works in the medium.

  • You can really see it in comics like Justice League of America.

  • Lot's of different, contrasting super powers coming together to fight evil super powers.

  • And with this idea of social justice, a uniform idea of right and wrong that is established

  • by society rather than the heroes.

  • Character designs share a similar inspiration, Horikoshi uses similar skin tight suits that

  • echo the hero's power.

  • I'll discuss character in more detail shortly.

  • The story story of HeroAca is set in a world were some humans are born with super powers

  • called 'Quirks'.

  • The author normalizes this concept by giving most of the world's population superhero

  • abilities and by setting narrative in a time when this phenomenon has been accepted and

  • integrated into society, Heroes acting almost as the new emergency services, attending academies

  • to train their quirks.

  • They even go as far as to introduce an economic class system into the world.

  • Having people with quirks hone their skills and try to get spots at agencies depending

  • on their abilities.

  • Much like how the current education system works.

  • And this is where our story comes in, we follow Izuku as he journeys through the academy to

  • become a professional hero.

  • Instantly you can see the strong resemblances to western Superheroes.

  • Characters like Peter Parker are superheroes, but they're civilians first.

  • Showing how society and fantasy would mix is something annoyingly rare in the battle

  • shounen genre.

  • While Shounen stories usually revolve around good guys fighting bad guys with no real consideration

  • for society, western superhero stories focus more on saving someone rather than defeating

  • a bad guy.

  • Usually a villain is attacking a city rather than just attacking the good guys.

  • This is an important difference in narrative style that HeroAca really embraces.

  • This is what gives an extra layer of depth to the stories.

  • When people are fighting, it's not just their pride or dreams on the line, it's

  • the lives of innocent civilians, their jobs and their public image.

  • Variables sorely missed in Battle Shounen, This is very interesting to see in our age

  • of salary and social status being at the forefront of desire.

  • In a lot of traditional hero stories, the hero just turns up, saves the day and returns

  • to a completely disconnected existence.

  • HeroAca forces society and its heroes to mix constantly as being a hero doesn't separate

  • you from being a normal person too.

  • We have constant shots of people in hero costumes doing normal things like commuting to work.

  • Creating this kind of world just makes it a lot easier to connect with the story.

  • Now all of this genre subversion and building upon the idea of society integration gives

  • the series a solid base to build upon.

  • The first season doesn't do much with the concept and the tournament arc that follows

  • is, let's face it, a but shit, it's in the 2nd half of season 2 where the series

  • really starts to shine.

  • The student heroes are sent out on internships into the real world and a villain appears

  • that, for me, puts the series on a whole new level.

  • A character called Stain is introduced, a brilliantly designed villain that, at first

  • seems like the incarnation of evil.

  • His ripped clothes and tattered appearance give him a psychotic serial killer look.

  • But it's not his visual design that impressed me the most.

  • Lot's of characters in HeroAca look interesting, I think it's Stain's ideologies that make

  • him stand out.

  • Now, at the time of writing this, he's only featured in half a season so his character

  • could progress differently in the future.

  • It depends on the direction of later seasons.

  • But, certainly the dialogue he's been given so far has suggested a really promising collection

  • of themes.

  • He exposes a hypocrisy in the world of HeroAca, criticising the hero system for having a fake

  • righteousness and favouring money over real justice.

  • And you start to realise that he might be right.

  • Heroes in the show work, they're employees of companies.

  • Although they preach their desires for justice and peace, they're really not too dissimilar

  • to the villains.

  • This becomes more and more apparent as Heroes are get TV advertising contracts and strict

  • laws on the use of Quirks start to appear.

  • Stain starts to blur the lines of good and evil, which becomes the strongest narrative

  • arc in the series.

  • We start to look at every character differently, realising that there isn't a binary good and

  • bad in the world of Hero Academia.

  • This is furthered by Stains attitude to the more traditional villains in the show as well.

  • He doesn't easily side with the villains either, almost declaring war on everybody.

  • He really reminds me of Scar from Fullmetal alchemist, a comparison that starts to become

  • ever more common in these later episodes.

  • Much like in FMA you start to doubt the system, little details such as Laws controlling the

  • intentions of Quirks start to suggest that morality isnt as black and white as it seems,

  • and it might not be the #1 objective.

  • There's so much control and mystery around their integration into society that the ideal

  • of Heroes all fighting for a unified justice seems so unrealistic.

  • In Full Metal Alchemist, the show established very firm beliefs in all of it's characters.

  • And then, as the series goes on, it slowly breaks down each of those beliefs and makes

  • characters 180 on their ideologies.

  • It does this in a way that forces characters to change in the story, creating some of the

  • most interesting character arcs in anime.

  • I don't wan't to be as rash as to say that HeroAca has currently been on par with

  • FMA's narratives but it is interesting.

  • And the show has already established a number of characters that fit this potential mold,

  • Bakugo and Todoroki have backgrounds where they both wan't to be Heroes and fight for

  • justice but also have Disdain for the system in which this needs to take place in.

  • I can quite easily see this being a future story arc.

  • Endeavour is probably the best example of this.

  • He's hailed as the #2 Hero after all might and is pictured saving people countless times

  • on screen.

  • But, he's far from a just character.

  • His story is that Endeavour forced a marriage on Shoto's mother for the sole purpose of

  • having a child with their combined quirks.

  • He birthed Shoto Todoroki as a weapon to become an even stronger hero than himself.

  • Endeavour put Shoto through extremely harsh training as a child and mentally abused Shoto's

  • mother.

  • This is the kind of back story you would normally find in a villian but in the world of HeroAca,

  • Endevour is considered a Hero for justice.

  • It's this contradiction that Stain is talking about, they're fighting evil with another

  • shade of evil.

  • There seems to be no true justice in the world.

  • Not all the characters are ambiguous though.

  • You have clear villains such as Tomora Shigaraki and clear heroes like All Might and Deku.

  • These are the characters that will help us navigate the moral landscape of Hero Academia,

  • almost providing a scale.

  • I think it's this mixture of good and evil that gives Hero Academia a unique twist, setting

  • it aside from the typical battle shounen.

  • It's the reason i've ended up watching over 30 episodes of a genre that I thought

  • I was done with.

  • It nicely reflects our own society of people worshiping fame over morality.

  • Justice isn't put on a unrealistic pedestal.

  • And Stain is just the start for the series.

  • Like I mentioned, so far he's only had one small story arc and would need a very calculated

  • and well written trajectory to be anything close to the likes of Scar from Fullmetal

  • Alchemist.

  • It's important to not get carried away too quickly in a story like this.

  • The first 20 or so episodes were not nearly as impressive as the most recent ones.

  • But the foundation is now there for a story that subverts traditional shounen and superhero

  • narratives.

  • I think, what the story needs to do is continue blurring good and evil.

  • With Deku as a kind of pillar of morality, we need to explore the faults with heroes

  • and the hypocrisy of the system.

  • I'd love to hear about incidents were Heroes had to chose between one of two evil outcomes.

  • Where Heroes, who pride themselves on their unwavering loyalty to justice, were forced

  • to break that moral code.

  • We've already seen this at the end of season two were more experienced Heroes tell Deku

  • and the younger heroes that they should have picked an option that would have left 2 other

  • heroes to a certain death.

  • Todoroki loudly protests this and we enter a moral grey area.

  • This is the kind of storytelling Hero Academia needs to stick with if it wants to continue

  • breaking the battle shounen mould.

  • But that's all to be seen in later seasons.

  • But let me know your thoughts on what i've discussed in the comments, do you think the

  • story is on it's way up?

  • Can it progress into something more than your standard battle shounen?

  • Leave your thoughts in the comments.

  • And if you enjoyed this video, please do click the like button and check out some other videos.

I grew up on the likes of Naruto, Pokemon and Dragonball on TV.

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僕のヒーローアカデミアの秘密の成分 (Boku no Hero Academia's Secret Ingredient)

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    二百五 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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