I was on Twitter one day and noticed people were raving about a new show called, Boku no Hero Academia, based off the manga by the same name. I haven’t watched anime religiously since I was a kid, but a show about kids learning to become superheroes? Of course it was going to draw me in. There hasn’t been a good X-Men show since Evolution, so maybe the Japanese can come up with something better. Little did I know, this show was a lot more than I had bargained for.
The show is about Midoriya, a kid who grows up in a world where almost everyone has superpowers, or “quirks” as they call them. He is a part of the minority of people who weren’t born with a quirk. Even through this, he studies to go to UA, the top school for kids learning to become superheroes, taught by professional heroes themselves. Of course he can’t get in, he doesn’t have powers. But he still tries his hardest. He studies hard and creates notebooks on every hero and villain with their abilities, weaknesses, fighting patterns, etc. That isn’t enough to get into UA though.
From here on out, I’m going to be spoiling the show up to episode 10. I have yet to read the manga, so anything after that will be omitted.
In episode 2, he meets his favorite hero, All Might. All Might is the “symbol of peace”. He’s the Superman of this show. He has incredible strength and agility. People praise him as the greatest hero of all time because unlike every other person with a quirk, he has no weakness. But he does. Once he uses his strength, he turns into a puny form of himself. Always seen comidically gushing blood from his nose, wearing a baggy shirt to cover his skinny body. After an encounter with an awkward villain, Midoriya is the only civilian to learn about this weakness. So he begs him to keep it a secret.
From here on out, I want you to pretend that you are Midoriya.
Not too long afterwards, the same villain captures and tortures Midoriya’s bully. This is where the show hooked me. Midoriya has no powers. He can’t do anything but stand there helplessly. But what does he do? He runs in, without thinking, to save the kid that has been tormenting him since he was 5 years old. Of course he doesn’t end up doing much, but All Might sees this, musters up the courage to fight and defeats the villain again.
Courage. Are you the type of person that would see someone in desperate need and help? Or someone who would run away or ignore the situation? What if it was someone you loved? What if it was someone who tormented you for your entire life that you absolutely despise? It’s okay to be honest with yourself. Not all of us are meant to save people and that’s alright. But picture the best version of yourself. What would they do in that situation?
Fast forward a bit, and All Might tells Midoriya that he will give him his superpowers. Not only has he met and befriended his all-time hero, but now he’s saying that he can become just like him. But Midoriya’s body is too weak and puny to accept the powers or he might explode. They need to train together for the 6 months until the entrance exams to get into UA. Nonstop training. Every day for 6 months. 12 hours a day. Midoriya doesn’t give up. He eats to make gains, lifts weights, runs miles and miles, all to reach his goal.
Determination. Do you have the determination to reach your dreams, even after people tell you that you can’t? Look at yourself. Can you honestly say to yourself that you would put in the work, 12 hours a day, every single day for 6 months to reach your goal? Picture the best version of yourself. Would they stick to it?
Entrance exam time. Midoriya has his powers, but never got a chance to practice with them. He must compete against a bunch of other students and defeat robots for points. He watches as people rack up dozens and hundreds of points and he still has 0. A giant robot comes and starts destroying the entrance exam. The teachers and the examiners tell the students to run away from the monster of a robot. Everyone runs away. Midoriya notices a girl trapped underneath the rubble that’s about to get crushed by the robot. He uses all of his strength to destroy the robot, and breaks almost all of his limbs to save the girl.
Individualism. Could you go against the crowd, against what everyone says, to do the thing you were meant to do? Would you harm yourself, bring yourself almost to death, to save someone else? Picture the best version of yourself. What would they do?
I think you’re starting to get the point. The tropes continue in pretty cliche ways. Midoriya learns to use his powers, makes it into the school, blah blah blah. But the story isn’t what’s grasping its fanbase (at least not me anyways). It plays a small part, but it’s the character. You are Midoriya. No matter how hard you try to deny it, whether you’re male, female, trans, skinny, tall, short, big, whatever have you, you are Midoriya. You’re best version of yourself is Midoriya. You may think that in all of those situations, you could do what he does, but you probably wouldn’t. None of us would. But that’s what makes this show so great. He is you. Just the best version of you.
I know it can be a lot to be honest with yourself. Hell, even I would like to think that I could stick to a 6 months training program and save damsels in distress but I can barely make it out of bed in the morning. As Richard Dawkins says in his book, the Selfish Gene, We may frequently behave selfishly as individuals, but in more idealistic moments we honor and admire those who put the welfare of others first”. This show created a character that you could portray yourself into. It gives you hope that maybe someday, you can become the best version of yourself.
If you watch the show, I want you to think about everything he does from now on and what you would do. Even if you don’t, I want you to think about the best version of yourself in every situation you come up against, and I want you to be the best version of yourself. Work hard to become a better person than you were yesterday. You’ll always be great, but there’s always potential for you to do more. Hell, if Midoriya can do it, anyone can.