If you happen to have been living under a rock or just haven’t been keeping up with the latest and greatest anime then you may have missed out on a little title known as My Hero Academia. If you have heard of it then you’d rightly be as excited by its release in the UK as we are, although it does come with a caveat. A pricey one at that, although that may largely depend on your love for the series versus your wallet’s pleading cries. So, without further ado, let’s get into the details.
I have to start by saying that it’s a great pleasure to see a series that you have been on board with since the very beginning take the anime community by storm and be so well received. To say the very beginning might be an understatement as I’ve been a fan of Kōhei Horikoshi, the original manga author of My Hero Academia since his first manga serialisation in Weekly Shōnen Jump – Oumagadoki Zoo (Ōmagadoki Dōbutsuen). Fast forward seven years, and while Oumagadoki Zoo saw its end, as did Barrage after it, My Hero Academia has been enjoying popularity in manga form for some three years and is currently airing the second season of the anime adaptation. Now here I am, reviewing the home video release of the first season and what a release it is.
My Hero Academia is your typical Shōnen battle manga but with a western superhero comic twist. It takes its influences from both eastern and western popular culture and sits firmly as a great marriage of parody of the two. As someone who has dabbled in superhero comics but often found the majority of them too cheesy and comical, I found a love in parody versions, and My Hero Academia fits nicely in that category. If you’re new to the series and haven’t yet taken the plunge yet then I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
The premise is simple enough, in a world where superpowers have become the norm and being a superhero is now a career path, not just a fantasy, one hero stands heads and shoulders above the rest – All Might. The classic chiselled mass of muscle with a smile showcasing his glorious rows of pearly whites, All Might could have literally just walked off a page from Superman. Then we have our main character Izuku Midoriya a boy born without any powers, or “quirks” as they are known in this story, who idolises All Might and dreams of becoming the greatest hero of all even with his lack of prowess. I’ll not say more but you get the idea and it’s not even a story we haven’t seen before but in this meeting of east and west it’s given a life of its own and I can’t get enough of it.
Season one, it’s fair to say, was criticised a little during its original airing last year due to the pacing. Now I have always maintained that the manga itself didn’t have the best pacing in the beginning and with the anime adaptation being very faithful to the source material I believe that to just be the result of faithfulness. That said, now that I have re-watched the series in its entirety I can see that the story’s pacing didn’t lend itself well to a weekly format but as a binge-watch, it works perfectly fine. So, depending on how you decide to consume the series, whether as a binge-watch, or more spread out, it could affect how you perceive the pacing. Overall, the series is a really fun watch with great and well-rounded characters, plenty of action and good storytelling.
This anime adaptation is produced by Studio Bones and, honestly, I couldn’t have picked a better studio for this series. Bones seem to really understand what a series like My Hero Academia requires, both visually and in audio, and that no doubt comes from a great deal of experience. I’ve always been a fan of Kōhei Horikoshi’s unique character designs, and to see them come to life with such vibrancy is a real pleasure to experience. My Hero Academia was easily one of the best-animated series of 2016 and I don’t see 2017 being any different for season two.
As far as the audio goes, the soundtrack is really strong, just like the visuals the sound has been used in an excellent fashion. Having seen the series twice once with each language audio track, I honestly cannot say which I prefer, which is definitely a new experience for me. Justin Briner (as Izuku Midoriya), Clifford Chapin (as Katsuki Bakugō ) and Christopher Sabat (as All Might), just to name a few, really gave an immensely enjoyable experience which rivalled that of the Japanese dub. Christopher Sabat, in particular, was a brilliant call for All Might and I’m not biased just because he voices Vegeta, the best character in Dragon Ball. So I know I say it on occasion, but in this instance, you really cannot go wrong with either audio track and I recommend even watching both.
Finally, there is a Collector’s Edition with a wealth of on-disc extras I have said too many times that more needs to be included and, here, we have a prime example of it done right. There are also some very nice physical extras, which you can see by checking out our unboxing article here. Back to the on-disc extras, and I’m so happy with what has been made available on this release. There are interviews with the Japanese director and other Japanese staff, a panel from Anime Expo 2016 which includes, again, the Japanese director and staff alongside some of the English voice cast. The character sketches and “Inside the Episodes” are all worth watching and really interesting. There’s a lot of content to watch when you’re done with the series and lastly the textless opening and endings have karaoke that can be turned off which is also a plus.
My Hero Academia is easily one of my favourite series of the past few years and this release from Funimation ticks all the boxes in what a fan would want from a Collector’s Edition set. It’s a shame no cheaper standard edition is available, but I think for fans of the show this set might just be worth the entry price. Newcomers to the series may be put off by the price and understandably so, but check out the series via a streaming service like FunimationNow or Crunchyroll and see whether it’s worth it. I personally highly recommend watching the series and I know this will appeal to the collector’s out there.