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How My Hero Academia Explores Heroism

It’s time again, ladies and gentlemen! Deku and the gang are back for another round of heroic escapades! And you know what that means!

The horse lives! Long beat the horse!

At the heart of the greatest classic stories is a question. What does it mean to be free? Who decides what is good and what is evil? What does it mean to be a god? So on and so forth.

My Hero Academia asks a simple question: what does it mean to be a hero?

As you’d expect from a series with the word ‘hero’ in the title, the world is full of heroes. Super heroes ripped straight out of American comics! Icons of truth and justice that patrol the streets, stop crime, beat up the bad guys, all that good superhero shit. Everywhere you look, there’s a hero.

At least, someone with the job title of ‘hero’. See, in this setting, superpowers have become so commonplace that it’s become an official position. It’s basically a cop, a firefighter, a paramedic, and a secret agent all at once. And all of that is if they don’t have a side job, like a career in modeling or acting or whatever else.

But that begs the question: can you really call yourself a hero when you only do it for a paycheck?

How many firefighters do you know? Now, how many of them became firefighters because the pay was good? Chances are: very few. If any. More often than not, they took the job simply because they wanted to help. Which is exactly why there’s no such song as ‘Fuck the Fire Department’.

Now, getting back to My Hero: how many heroes in this world became heroes for the sole purpose of helping people? The answer is: not many. Some are just there for the pay. Others, the publicity. Some are there for the competition.

Are these people heroes? Their actions say yes. But is it about action? Or is it about intention?

Furthermore, can the opposite be true? Can someone with good intentions who does terrible things be considered a hero? Stain, for example, was a brutal serial killer who murdered heroes. He did this with the intention of weeding out corrupt heroes and breeding more pure ones, like All Might and Deku.

That in it of itself raises a whole heap of questions and concerns. But if we went on like that, we’d be here all day.

It goes on like that for a long time. My Hero Academia does a fantastic job of exploring the world of heroics in excruciating detail. What becomes of heroes when the public turns against them? Or when the job gets to be too much? All of these questions are born from the same baseline: what does it mean to be a hero?

Time can only tell how the series will explore these questions further or how it will answer them. They certainly aren’t going to be answered in season five. That one’s set to focus more on kids beating each other up.

Which… you know, I’m cool with that, too.

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