With the recent releases of Thor Ragnarok and Justice League, it seems that American superhero films are a cultural staple that are here to stay. So, when a country like Japan puts their own spin on an American trend, it is more than just another superhero film.
Take My Hero Academia, for example. Published weekly in Shonen Jump since 2014, My Hero Academia is set in a world where humans encounter another step toward evolution, thus creating a new breed of superhumans.
Unlike other japanese animes, My Hero Academia offers a much more realized world. Instead of a generic modern Tokyo, the city is constantly expanding throughout each episode. The characters evolve past the basic expectations of a comic book hero.
It becomes clear that these character’s face complex decisions.Their values become blurred; a plot point that has not been explored by America superheroes. In both the DC and Marvel universes, being a superhero means to be good. In My Hero Academia, being a hero does not come with a moral compass—instead, it comes with state of the art perks and notoriety.
This is what would happen in reality: aiming for a profession for the sake of financial gain. While there are few characters, such as All Might (the anime’s version of Superman), who has shown the true qualities of a hero, by showing concern for the safety and prevalence of the world.
Aside from that, there is a huge moral gray area, which makes this anime a breath of fresh air for comic fans. Of course, it being an anime, it may be too goofy for some. It is not entirely serious like a traditional Batman story and not radically zany like a Deadpool comic. But among the silliness there are moments with a realistic and hard approach.
Taking on a massively popular genre from the west is no easy task. My Hero Academia subverts any clichés that come with big comic book adaptations and adds a lighthearted, yet realistic, approach to its execution. It doesn’t concern itself with bright characters who save the world because it’s the right thing to do, but super powered beings who do it out of convenience.
This anime is well worth checking out and will keep any comic or anime fan invested from beginning to end. It’s deserving of the title “The Eastern Marvel.” Fans can check it out on the anime streaming service Crunchyroll.