Cross stitch pattern of Katsuki Bakugou and Izuku Midoriya from My Hero Academia. The image comes from official keychains. I have a love/hate relationship with Hero Aca. Check out my rant about the anime below. The pattern is only available to my patrons on Patreon.
Grid Size: 181W x 84H
Design Area: 12.79″ x 5.86″ (179 x 82 stitches)
I’m really trying to like Hero Aca, and I do. The world is believable and everyone’s quirks are great, but there are some glaring problems that I can’t get over. A lot of people say that the pacing of the show is spot on, that it’s much faster than older shounen anime. Personally, I think the pacing is the weakest aspect of the show. Everything passes by so quickly to the point that important events are completely glossed over because there just isn’t time for them to sink in. There are many small instances of this, such as Midoriya learning Full Cowling too quickly, but I think the worst is Iida’s laughably tiny reaction to the first news that his brother is in the hospital. It’s a huge reveal and he even cries about it later, but at the time it happens, his reaction is just a couple of seconds long. The director could have used silence here to punctuate the emotional impact of what had happened and bring attention to it, but no, the story has already moved on and Iida’s world getting crushed is pushed aside in favor of cool shots of Stain crouching on rooftops. Why should I care how he feels about his brother if the director won’t focus on his reaction? Why should I care about any of these characters when it feels like the director is just checking off a list of scenes with no care into checking which are more important. Imagine how much more impactful this scene would have been if you heard the sound of the crowd slowly fade into silence as the camera zoomed out on Iida alone and small in the hallway. Imagine if his mother was given more time to set up tension before telling him the news. This moment informs his entire character arc beyond this, the name he takes and all his decisions, yet the scene itself is only twenty seconds long from start to finish. There’s a distinct lack of silence throughout the whole show, and the story suffers because of it.
The first season also falls into my least favorite way of telling a story: main character centric. Everything revolves around Deku, and if Deku isn’t involved then it’s not important. Yeah, he’s not a bad character, but he’s no more interesting or dynamic than other shounen protagonists. I’m a firm believer that the best characters are ones you can imagine doing other things when the main character isn’t around. Hero Aca doesn’t give you a lot of material to work with there. I could understand if establishing motivation was super hard, but all they had to do was have Mineta say something like “one day I want to be Mt Lady’s sidekick” and there you go, instant character depth. This gets better in the second season though, but I’m on episode 35 and I still couldn’t tell you why exactly Bakugou hates Midoriya so much more than other characters or why he started bullying him in the first place.
On a side note, the show has a bad habit of using crying as a cheap way of gaining audience sympathy. I thought it was cool that Midoriya cried because it’s pretty rare for a male main character to be a cry baby, but then I noticed that a whole bunch of characters cry so it’s not unique anymore.
There are also major power continuity problems. Todoroki makes a huge glacier of ice almost instantly in the tournament arc, but doesn’t think to use that enormous power to save his friend from certain death at the hands of Hero Killer Stain. You’re all going to die! Just freeze everything and thaw your friends out later! Midoriya can create hurricane speed winds and crush solid concrete walls to rubble just by breaking one finger, but a punch from him doesn’t even knock out Stain. They say it’s because it’s only five percent power, but five percent of a wrecking ball is still enough to shatter someone’s skull! Later, there’s an episode where Todoroki has been tied up and is hanging above some caltrops. The logic here is that he can’t burn away his restraints because he’ll fall onto the spikes below. This is idiotic because he can make a layer of ice over them or blow them away with fire. It’s been shown that he doesn’t need his hands to activate his quirk, so why doesn’t he do anything? Because the plot says he needs to be rescued, that’s why.
I know that I’m ranting and that I shouldn’t take battle shounen anime so seriously, but after watching Hunter x Hunter and Mob Psycho 100, I know that there’s more that can be done with this genre. Every episode of My Hero Academia is cut so that is feels like getting through the early episodes really quickly so we can get to the good stuff earlier. The thing is that these episodes are important to establishing characters that the audience can relate to. You can’t start in on the big stuff before we care about these people or else everything will become meaningless posturing.