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Misses most (but not all) of the shonen genre's pitfalls; a fun and engaging ride

/anime/532942/boku-no-hero-academia
Review of Boku no Hero Academia
by Rivka
Posted on May 1st, 2019
Positive 8
Overall Rating
 
+

IN BRIEF: in a future/alternate history where humans spontaneously mutated a few generations ago to get superpowers called Quirks, those who are born Quirkless are discriminated against, while those with Quirks hope to become Heroes (basically a combo of military, cop and SWAT team, with a sprinkling of disaster relief) and fight Villains (anyone who commits any level of crime). Midoriya Izuku, a Quirkless middle schooler, still yearns to become a Hero. One wild day involving a Villain attack or two, the #1 Hero, and Izuku's friend-turned-rival, leads Izuku on the path to acceptance at UA, the premier Hero academy.

***SPOILERS BELOW. This review covers seasons 1-3.***

OPINION: This shonen is an excellent example of the genre, and is really exciting to watch. Viewers almost can't help rooting for Izuku, whose earnestness and woobie-ness adds to his appeal, as he struggles to deal with the Quirk he's been gifted. Many of the characters are similarly engaging, and it's fun to see Quirks being used creatively. The various plotlines are interesting - at least through the current arc - and there's a compelling sense of urgency and high stakes to the conflicts. While the show doesn't explore the implications of the society the characters live in very much, what does appear is a convincingly frightening world that makes it easier to understand why the Villains almost always claim society is corrupt. It's great to have antagonists who aren't completely without reason.

NITPICKS: I could wish for world-building that included a more realistic percentage of female characters (if entry to school is entirely Quirk-skill-based, then there should be 50% female students in each class, give or take; 1A has 6 girls to 14 boys, and some of the boys have Quirks that couldn't have helped them pass the exam). Also, the pacing can defy belief: why are they doing role-play rescue training in the first weeks of school before learning any techniques; why is there a sports festival in what seems like the first month?

GRIEVANCES: 1) HARASSMENT. This is yet another story that plays sexual harassment for laughs - it's the entirely of Mineta's character, and many Western viewers will hate his every appearance as spoiling the show. The other boys are better, but there it is. 2) ANTI-FEMINIST. The female characters often have great skill and/or intelligence, but they're never the ones to proactively participate in the storylines (one slight exception: Uraraka's fight with Bakugou - she still loses, but she gets to show off) and are often crammed into fanservice-y outfits that can't possibly protect them from Villains (and yes, this is a universe with guns as well as lethal Quirks). Adult female characters are thin on the ground, and as Heroes they are outnumbered almost 10:1. 

Rivka
My reviewing system for films and shows that are NOT anime:
1-5: I hated it. I also don't think it has redeeming qualities, so you shouldn't watch it either.
6: I didn't like it. It's not my thing, I didn't like the execution, I don't want to see it again. However, I don't think it is a BAD film or show - it has qualities that will recommend it to those who like that kind of thing.
7: It was fine. I didn't love it, and I don't need to see it again. I won't be sad if I never see it again.
8: I liked it. I didn't love it, and while I'd like to see it again, I wouldn't want to see it often.
9: I loved it. I would be sad if I never saw it again. I might want to see it every few years.
10: I loved it beyond description. I wouldn't mind re-watching it every year.

*********************************

Clarifying my Anime rating system:
My number key below is an attempt to parse the small differences between 5 and 6, 7 and 8, & 9 and 10. When I rate, I consider my own enjoyment, the characterization and the plot, the appearance of the animation, and occasionally the soundtrack - in roughly that order. An anime will lose at least 1 point for presence of deal-breaker tropes (for example, comedic pedophilia), and more if the trope(s) ruined my enjoyment. On the other hand, it will gain at least 1 point for artistry in animation or sound.

Never Recommend:
1-4, inclusive. Further clarification: I don't expect to rate anything 1-4, as I would probably never finish watching something in this range of rating. It's likely to have bad plotting, subpar animation, bland characterizations, silly and/or irritating tropes, etc.; I would consider it to be pure excrement.

Cautious Recommending:
5: In this case, it started out with a higher score and slipped over time... because I normally don't watch anything that I would score below 6, except for movies (small time commitment).
6: I may or may not have watched the whole show, but I recognize deal-breaker issues in it, and I'm unlikely to rewatch. It just wasn't enjoyable enough for me to forgive its flaws. There would be huge caveats to any recommendation.

Likely to Recommend:
7: Not my thing, but usually I at least respect it. Generally, I didn't like it enough to think I would rewatch it, but also didn't see huge problems in the plot, characterizations, etc. and thought it was worth finishing. I might suggest it to someone if I know they like the specific sub-genre or other work by the studio.
8: I had a good time watching it, but it didn't move me the way a 9 or a 10 does; it's possible that over time I would upgrade it if I liked it more on reflection. I would be willing to rewatch it. I'd recommend it with the occasional caveat.

Highly Recommend:
9: I enjoyed it very much. It may have had one or two issues, but not enough to diminish enjoyment. It's possible that over time I would downgrade it to an 8 (changing tastes) or upgrade to a 10 (realize it's never left my mind). I'm likely to rewatch, and likely to buy the DVDs. I'd recommend it to most audiences.
10: Virtually flawless. I'd definitely rewatch, and definitely want to buy DVDs. I would shill this to anyone.

EDIT: for 2021, I'm participating in the MAL Anime Challenge. Any anime in the Completed section with a * in the note was watched for the challenge.
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