Photo Courtesy of Cancerhart

May 9, 2016

MANGA MONDAYS | Satire and Celebration

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First things first, watch this video. That ought to convince you to watch Boku no Hero Academia if you aren’t watching it already. I’m seriously loving this show, and I highly recommend it to anyone who liked One Punch Man.

Which brings me to my main point for today. In many ways, Boku no Hero Academia reminds me quite a bit of One Punch Man. I guess in Japan, the whole “everyone gets superpowers!” trope is the next in the line of trendy settings, following on the heels of things like zombies, vampires, and dystopia (well, those are probably more American trends, but still). After all, even though it wasn’t nearly as popular, we’ve also been seeing shows like Concrete Revolutio coming out lately as well.

Photo Courtesy of J.C. Staff

Photo Courtesy of J.C. Staff

That said, it’s not like these shows are the first to do this sort of thing! The To Aru series (or Raildex or whatever you prefer to call it) has been doing this for a long time. In particular, A Certain Scientific Railgun. Check out this post on why Misaka Mikoto is an homage to American superheroes. It’s really quite interesting.

But I digress. The thing that gets me about the recent shows is how convinced they are that traditional heroes are completely outmoded. One Punch Man isn’t as edgy about it as Concrete Revolutio or Tokyo Ghoul, but as I discussed in a different post, the show still heavily satirizes traditional heroes and villains. And shows like this are hugely popular these days! Admittedly, I have a soft spot for edgy anti-heroes, but that’s mostly because I used to feel like they were few and far between. Honestly, it’s a little depressing that no one believes in good old-fashioned champions of justice.

In many ways, Boku no Hero Academia looks at first like it’s ready to perpetuate this tradition. In fact, the show’s version of the ideal superhero can be seen to very visibly deflate and weaken periodically. Rounding out the setup for another one-way ticket to gritty deconstruction town, we see a powerless main character being told over and over again that his dreams of being a superhero are dead. And I was on board. I love that kind of thing.

But then show turned all those preconceptions on their head. And let me tell you, I was even more on board. Instead, the story seems to laugh in the face of every saying that superheroes are a thing of the past. Instead of being a satire or deconstruction, Boku no Hero Academia is turning out to be an homage to traditional shounen anime. A weak protagonist inherits a mysterious, uncontrollable power, and slowly masters it through nothing but courage and hard work.

Perhaps this is just indicative of how I’ve gotten into shounen and superpower anime lately, but I find this message really inspiring. It’s reassuring to see that not everyone in the industry is trying to be as edgy as a razor blade factory.