Anime, My Review Academia

My Review Academia S1 E1: Scrawny Boy

Because I really like writing these posts (and I have a mild addiction to this series) I’ve decided to go back in time and review the first two seasons of My Hero Academia while we await Season 4. Much like when the new season was airing, we’re going to be doing one a week every Saturday. Now, without further ado, here’s the review of the series’ first episode.

The opening scene, for only being about forty seconds long, is a very well executed and informative scene. Right off the bat, we learn about Deku’s relationship to Bakugo, what kind of people they are in general, and we’re informed that this is a world where superpowers are the norm. All without a single word of exposition.

It’s also a solid story hook. Bakugo drops a few interesting proper nouns, those being Quirk and Hero, which immediately ignites your curiousity. In terms of getting people interested, this scene does a great job.

Unfortunately, it’s after this that we get the exposition dump.

After the opening (which is still my favorite in terms of the song) we get a brief scene of Deku explaining the origins of Quirks, how heroes came into the limelight, so on and so forth. Sure, it gets the explanation across well, but it immediately answers the questions that the opening scene made us ask. Within a few minutes, the show managed to set up a mystery and then solve it for us.

Still, credit where it’s due: it doesn’t just leave off at telling us about superheroes. The exposition is accompanied by a scene where various heroes fight a giant villain. It feels ripped straight out of a Marvel comic, which fits the tone and atmosphere of the overall story very well. Exposition aside, it’s still a solid scene.

Although the dialogue of the crowd (which serves as the introduction to these heroes) does feel expository and unnatural. But that’s a minor complaint.

This scene also establishes two norms you can expect throughout the show: fantastic music, and high energy kinetic animation. In terms of visuals, this introductory scene is spectacular, and set the bar for the rest of the show.

A bar that has been since passed, knocked over, and stomped on while they install about twenty new, far higher bars.

After this, we get another scene with Deku and Bakugo, further developing their characters and relationships. This is also the scene that made people across the world despise Bakugo even more than most big anime villains. He’s brash, arrogant, and his actions are incredibly reprehensible, such as him telling Deku to fucking kill himself by jumping off of the roof!

This is all made better with the knowledge of where this character is going to go. Seriously, if you’re caught up on Season 3, go back and watch these episodes. They feel completely different now than they do first watching them.

We’re then treated to the briefest but best character introduction in all the series: All Might. Now, this is but a brief preview, as we don’t learn a whole lot about his personality, but we do learn about how important he is to this world. First, Bakugo mentions that he is the top hero, this planting the seed for who this guy is. But then there’s his arrival, where he changes forms behind a crowd of onlookers at a crime scene.

What makes this such an effective introduction is the reactions, both from the crowd and the villain. The moment the civilians catch sight of him, their demeanor changes. Their eyes light up with admiration, they all smile, and it becomes abundantly clear that they all feel completely safe just by looking at him. The villain, on the other hand, changes from a cocky grin to a terrified widened stare, establishing that he is, to the bad guys, a symbol of terror.

And that’s before we even learn anything about his personality, which we get when he and Deku meet. But that’s for after the show tears my heart out.

Deku’s backstory is simple, to the point, and heartbreaking. As a kid, he admired All Might, to the point of watching his debut on loop over and over again, and all he wanted was to manifest his own Quirk so that he could be just like him. But when he was diagnosed Quirkless, his whole world shattered. Simple and sad. Just the way it should be.

Part of what makes this so interesting is that’s something new for a story of this ilk. If I asked you to name a Superhero backstory, then you’d immediately think the words ‘dead parents’. Bruce Wayne’s parents being shot in the alley, Peter Parker losing Uncle Ben to some thug, Tony Stark’s parents being killed in the car crash, Barry Allen’s dad being wrongfully thrown in jail for the murder of his mother, etc.

Deku isn’t anything like that. He’s just a kid with big dreams and a disability. Sure, his dad isn’t there, but his mother seems to be doing a fine job, and it’s clear she cares about him a lot. It’s a very relatable backstory, which is why it’s so heart wrenching.

And then the show becomes hilarious.

After a brief attack on Deku by the sludge monster, we get the scene that truly establishes All Might’s personality: his meeting with Deku. Deku’s fanboying and All Might’s nonchalant attitude in the face of it is a treat to watch, and it tells you a fair bit about these characters. And all of it culminates in a great cliffhanger at the end, as All Might turns to face Deku once he’s asked his question: “Can someone without a Quirk be like you?”

Overall, this is a very solid episode. The pacing is a bit slow, sure, but none of it feels wasted. Each piece of information feels important, although some of them are presented to us in a very expository and uninteresting way. It establishes some solid characters, the world of the setting, and gets you interested to see where the plot is going. It’s a pretty top tier first episode.

One that still gets me, even after watching it four times.

I may have a problem…

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