Posted by amun on 21 October 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, My Hero Academia

Welcome to the kick-off of My Hero Academia, Season 4! (Last week’s episode didn’t really count, since it was FILLER…not a recap!).

Before we get into it, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the show in general, since I wasn’t part of Star Crossed for the past seasons. So full disclosure on my feelings about MHA – right now, it’s my second favorite show on my all-time tier list.

The reasons being –

  • MHA has maintained excellent quality over 4 seasons. Even some of the greats, HxH or FMA struggled at times, but MHA has been consistently superb.
  • The fresh take on a genre that feels worn out in every other instance deserves major props (looking at you, Marvel movies).
  • The characters are wonderful and refreshing and fun. An overpowered Japanese superman? Yes, please.
  • It’s a great world, great setting – the show has a simple gimmick, executed well.

All that to say – I’m a huge fan. So I will tend to give a bit of the benefit of the doubt – but if it fails me like OPM S2 did…there will be no kind words from me.

Alright, so Season 4! We’re here in the aftermath of All Might’s retirement and already we’re seeing the stage set as a tale of two successors. One thing I’m a bit unclear on is if All for One can be transmitted like One for All – I’m sure that will get resolved later. I’m especially excited since we get to see something unusual in succession stories – the once future kings.  All Might’s potential successor is pretty interesting – he seems much closer in temperament to All-Might than Midoriya, a contrast I’m sure they’ll expound upon.

And yikes – episode 2 comes out swinging!

It occurred to me that there have been remarkably few deaths in MHA. I think Stain might have killed a few people? No one that we really knew – he only injured Iida’s brother. Other than that, All Might’s teacher seems dead and some other people along the line for One for All – really a fairly low body count, all things considered.

Or it used to be – because 2 bodies were dropped (and an arm) right off the bat.

One thing that annoys me no end is that any time a minor character has a flashback…they’re dead. By the way, anyone know who the weird bearded lady was (did they wander in from Sherlock?) Had we seen them before in the anime? Doesn’t really matter, but I didn’t recall that scene from previous seasons or the movie.

Finally, we have Nighteye’s….very illegal harassment tickling machine. Like – that is Ten Billion percent a lawsuit, I don’t care if you’re a superhero or not.

I guess maybe MHA is trying to set a more mature tone, with bloodshed and…underboob tickle torture? Bold moves – we’ll have to see if they pay off.

At any rate, I’m glad to see we’re back into things at the Hero Academia. It feels like the show has gotten its feet back under it and we’re going to start moving along at the typical breakneck speed. Production quality still looks good, and although we’re going to have some character creep – I think it’ll be manageable.

Overall, off to a good start – tickling not withstanding (if they had put cat ears on her, so help me – I would have been triggered off this planet….)

And Midoriya’s All Might impression/smile must be protected at all costs.

5 Responses

  1. Avatar Animosh says:

    I actually think the (better parts of the) Marvel cinematic universe offers a pretty good analogy for MHA: both tend to rely very heavily on genre conventions (the school setting in MHA and its many shounen tropes, for example) and tend to play it safe so as to not ruffle any feathers, with the result that – within its predicable safe limits – the quality is consistently solid yet rarely truly exceptional. MHA is a solid battle shounen, no doubt, but it doesn’t have the thematic depth of FMA (and HxH to a lesser extent) or the creativity of Jojo’s (and HxH – same point). And that’s exactly the impression I have of many Marvel series and movies too: they’re predictable and rarely leave a deep impression, but it’s pretty good entertainment.

    What makes MHA stand out for you? What do you find so refreshing about the series? Not criticizing you, just curious about your take on the series. :)

    By the way, now you’ve made me curious about your all-time favorite too: if MHA is your second favorite show, what series is on the top of your list?

    • amun amun says:

      Oh dear, you’re going to get me roasted by commentators and my writing peers alike.

      So you mentioned 3 different entities here: Marvel movies, FMA, and HxH. I never really got into Jojo so I can’t really comment on that.

      Also, disclaimer: I’m an anime only, subs only guy. So I can’t really speak to any quality differences in manga.

      For me, Marvel movies are doing a good job monetizing the innate desire for heroes coupled with gritty realism – with just slight tweaks to reality, they build a world realistic but still fantasy fulfilling. It’s worth billions. Why is MHA better? Characters in live action have a hard time expressing emotions clearly – anime characters, being simpler by definition than live humans, are often times a better canvas for communicating the human condition (ironically enough). Live action has other “noise” from either the actors themselves or various factors (how pretty they are, the fact that they are a human pretending to be another human, etc). I think probably the best example of this is RDJ – Iron Man – in Tropic Thunder (although I disliked the rest of that movie): that illustrates the distortion of characters that’s a built in property of live action.

      So, FMA. For my personal rankings, I take a dual approach: shows must both give me something above and beyond and avoid making mistakes. I felt the original FMA was excellent – some minor missteps in the anime only adaptation. I even enjoyed the movie as well (love the underground city with the giant Greed). FMA Brotherhood I felt was an inferior remake (again – I’m anime only, so I know it was truer to the manga, etc. I don’t judge on that). I felt it became more of a political thriller and strayed away from its stronger points (and it’s name!) of exploring the brother alchemists. To me, MHA hasn’t made any of the mistakes that FMA:Brotherhood did by trying to be too big – even the changing of the guard with All-Might, One for All has (SO FAR) been handled still at a personal level. FMA:BH got lost in the macro politics and world, I felt, and as a result lost some of its potency.

      Now, HxH. HxH is a top 10 show for me, no question (probably top 5 if I were to go back and reevaluate fully). I feel that HxH didn’t make any major mistakes in the anime adaptation (I’d also note that I’m talking the most recent remake, not the original, which I’m not very familiar with). HxH also had probably the best world and setting of any anime I’ve seen. Why do I pick BHA over HxH? It’s a subtle reason, and I’ll use an analogy. It’s like if you have the most beautiful, vapid supermodel in the world vs someone with a great personality. HxH is the supermodel, but if you really get into it, Gon is a very flat character. In fact, HxH is really about realizing his potential (which is a major plot points vs Ants) – MHA engenders (to me) a much deeper connection with its MC due to the fact that Midoriya wasn’t even supposed to be there. Both HxH and FMA have the benefit of OP fathers which give their sons immense latent talent – Midoriya’s father has yet to be even mentioned (and quite frankly, wouldn’t really matter). Also HxH has a few too many Deus Ex Machina’s – I wouldn’t call them a mistake, but they lessen how impressed I am with the show (the entire person of Nanika, bomb Netero, etc).

      All that to say, MHA is currently sitting at #2 mainly because of how it makes me feel (which I personally believe is the definition of “art”). HxH and FMA were amazing shows that I just don’t love quite as much as I love MHA. Sure they had some better technical aspects, better worlds, maybe better fight scenes – but the impact, the feeling, the joy, the wonder, and the excitement they gave me is less than MHA currently gives me. Maybe it’s because there’s some predictability (but also many unexpected twists) that makes MHA feel both familiar and fresh. For me, it’s less about deep impressions or grandiose life changing revelations, and more about: how does the show make me feel?

      Can MHA poop the bed and drop out of the top 5? Absolutely. In fact, I definitely could see that happening this season. Just for right now, it sits #2 for me. MHA shouldn’t be this good – it should be just another tired superhero shtick. Maybe it’s because the show itself overachieves like its MC that I’m so impressed.

      #1 is the Ghost in the Shell franchise (excluding Arise, which I consider a different beast). Mainly for personal enjoyment and resonance issues, but also because it’s a genre definer and the amazement I had when first watching it is unparalleled. I also very highly rank Girls Last Tour, Haruhi, and Natsume’s Book of Friends – they don’t quite break into the top spots, just because of their sometimes lackluster action (their highs just aren’t as high as some of the other shows, but they are very well executed and give good feels).

      *Whew* Thanks for making me rant! Your turn – what show do you have as the top spot? How do you judge what makes an anime “number one” (-Taiwan joke here-)?

      • Avatar Animosh says:

        Thanks, that was interesting! I judge shows similarly to how you’re doing it: by how they affect me, both emotionally and intellectually. I don’t think there are any “objective” criteria for evaluating a show: in the end, it comes down to what kind of experience it gives you, and what kind of experiences you like, and both of those things will inevitably be different for different people, with different personalities and preferences.

        My highest rated shows on MAL are Mushishi and Kino no Tabi (see my list here: both are kind of … philosophical travel stories that offer sketches of different countries and communities and get you thinking about the human condition. They don’t elicit particularly intense emotions in me – other shows do that much better – but I do really like their calm yet melancholic atmosphere, helped by their relaxing soundtracks and strong art. In the end, though, any ranking will be arbitrary to some extent or other. Mushishi and Kino no Tabi excel in their “intellectual” and “artsy” respects, and are therefore, perhaps, somewhat less “forgettable” than the more brainless entertainment battle shounen tend to offer. But the latter offer excitement (and relaxation after a day’s work!), and is that really inferior to moody reflections on the human condition? They’re very different experiences that both have their own value, and I wouldn’t want to miss either of them.

        In any case, going back to MHA: I agree that it offers a different kind of superhero series than most Marvel productions. As you said, many Marvel works (and western productions more generally) have recently focused on giving a “gritty / realistic” perspective on superheroes, where the heroes are often morally gray (think Guardians of the Galaxy, Deadpool, The Boys, The Punisher), live in a world that struggles to accommodate them (Daredevil is a good example, as is The Dark Knight trilogy), and struggle with moral dilemmas forced upon them by a harsh reality. And now villains (The Joker) get their own movies too! MHA, on the other hand, hearkens back more to the older, optimistic look on superheroes, where the superheroes are simply good guys fighting bad guys, and trying to overcome their own weaknesses and limitations in the process. I think both approaches have their merits, but I can see how MHA’s bright and hopeful approach can feel refreshing amidst the onslaught of gritty realism.

        As for the comparison to other shounen: I personally quite liked the politics and big themes of FMA: Brotherhood, but I suppose that’s a matter of taste. I agree Gon was a rather flat character (though he got a bit more complicated later on), but then, Midoriya has very simple desires too. Gon wants to be an adventurer, Midoriya wants to be the greatest hero – that’s it. As you wrote, though, compared to MHA, I think FMA and HxH have far more interesting worlds and settings (I’m really not a fan of its high school setting), and their battle mechanics tend to be better fleshed out too. For example, impressive though the clash between All Might and All For One was, it was basically a matter of who punches harder, and the same goes for Midorya’s fight with Muscular. And as I said in my previous comment, their themes are more interesting for me as well. But although MHA has its limitations, I agree it’s one of the most enjoyable shounen airing right now, and Bones has done an excellent job over the last few season. And in the end, I suppose the fact that we both enjoy a series is much more important than whether we agree on where exactly it ranks among the greats. ;)

        That’s an interesting list of favorites, by the way: it has everything from slice of life to cyberpunk! Ghost in the Shell is one of my favorites too: the Oshii movies are both fantastic, and SAC is great as well. I’m generally not a big fan of sci-fi, but GITS is definitely an exception. It’s a very smart series, with a very distinct character.

        • amun amun says:

          You’ve got a great list! (excluding Katanagatari, which has the worst ending of any anime I’ve seen) Anyone who is a fan of Kino is a friend to me ^_^ Did you like the recent remake?

          • Avatar Animosh says:

            Thanks! I did like the ending of Katanagatari (though admittedly much more on my second viewing than on my first): I think it gives all of the characters a fitting, even if perhaps not entirely satisfying, conclusion. But I can see how it wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste: it is rather unsatisfying, and arguably a bit anticlimactic as well. Why did you hate it so much?

            I did like the remake, but I can’t say I *loved* it. The selection of stories was far less interesting (and some of them were already covered in the original series), and the remake missed the strong ambience Kino 2003 had. It was a decent adaptation, but not a great one like the original. I’m still happy it was made, though! I’m always happy to see more Kino stories.

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