I didn’t much like the first episode and a half of the superhero show My Hero Academia when I saw it for the first time. Izuku is far from the type of main character that you can get behind. We see that he longs to be a superhero despite his lack of a superpower, but he is not confident enough in himself to stand up for his dream and strive for it regardless. Even when he meets his idol, All Might–the world’s greatest superhero–he asks permission to follow his dream instead of simply announcing that he is going to do it.
Then, the second episode begins with All Might, who is supposed to be the hero of heroes, destroying Izuku’s spirit by rejecting his dream and telling him to focus on reality. He does this not because he necessarily believes it, but rather because of the uselessness he feels in himself now that his powers have a time limit. All Might is too focused on his own drama to help a kid in need. Not exactly the most heroic of mindsets.
So by this point, I thoroughly disliked both main characters. However, it is because the two are such broken people that the next scene–and the entire series overall–works so well.
As the two head their separate ways, they both end up at a crime in progress where a liquid-based supervillian is attempting to take over the body of a young super-powered kid, making the kid both the hostage as well as the villian’s possible new body. The kid is also the bully we’ve seen picking on Izuku. Yet, as the superheroes on the scene wonder what to do and hold back, it is the powerless Izuku that runs forward to help–and for no greater reason that he felt like the bully was silently begging for help.
This in turn inspires the fallen hero All Might. Yes, his powers have a time limit, and yes, using them past that limit hurts him massively, but how can he give less than his all in the face of such heroism from a normal boy. And so the day is saved.
What makes a hero is more than powers; it’s a person’s spirit. A hero runs toward danger while normal people run away from it. Moreover, heroes have the power to inspire the best in others. So while Izuku may have been useless when it came to defeating the villain in the physical sense, the fact that he was even there at all proves that, when it comes down to it, his core is that of a hero.
But it’s not just that which won me over. The other aspect is that, as a person not used to having powers, Izuku relies on his brain to get him out of most situations. He is amazingly good at thinking on his feet and uses that to continually stun those around him who look down on him.
From the moment that Izuku ran headlong into danger, I’ve been having a blast with My Hero Academia. And I am excited to see its final climax this coming week.
My Hero Academia airs on MBS and TBS in Japan. It can be viewed for free and with English subtitles in the US on Funimation.