All Might – the teacher every kid wanted.
There’s a reason why Boku no Hero Academia is topping the Weekly Shounen Jump reader polls (Bakuman fans certainly know about those) pretty much every week these days. It’s that fact- and the already robust and ever-growng manga sales – rather than projected disc sales that give me confidence the one-cour decision for this season is a positive and not a negative. Even massive WSJ hits like Ansatsu Kyoushitsu rarely do boffo disc sales (those tend to be reserved for the Ikebukuro specials, mostly sports-related). Boku no Hero will do OK – maybe a few thousand discs per volume – but it should be on pretty safe ground for multiple seasons, because Shueisha seems to rightly view it as a crucial franchise for the long term.
Still, there’s a tiny niggling fear in knowing we’re almost halfway through the season, and that the season isn’t even going to get to the manga’s best material. A tiny fear and a much larger frustration in knowing that for sure we’ll have to wait (my guess is six months) for that next dose of pure shounen perfection. I said yesterday that Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge was doing what it was doing about as well as that thing could be done, and I think you could say the same for BnHA. For straight-up martial spirit, carp streamer shounen, this is about as good as it gets.
Was anyone surprised that Eraserhead-sensei was lying about the expulsion? I wasn’t when I read the manga, but it was his follow-up conversation with All Might that was really interesting in light of the fact that Deku placed 20th out of 20 in Class 1-A. Who knows where the truth lies, but I tend to side with All Might on this one, and it’s quite the thought that Aizawa would go back on his own word for the sake of a student capable of finishing no better than last without putting himself in traction.
Also interesting to me was Deku’s follow-up conversation with Recovery Girl. She makes it clear that her quirk is not a magical cure-all – it has limits just like every quirk does. That’s a theme that’s already clear in Boku no Hero Academia – quirks may be “magic” in that they don’t conform with real-world scientific laws, but in this mythology they’re not magic – they’re just really amped-up human abilities. And like any ability they have limits, and extract a cost when over-relied upon. And they don’t excuse one from having to use their head – and use it all the time.
This is something I can’t stress highly enough, and a reason I reference Togashi quite often when talking about BnHA. As any fan of Hunter X Hunter will tell you no matter how superpowered some of the characters are, the real battle is always the mental battle. That’s why it frustrates me a bit when I see some new viewers calling it a cop-out that Izuku ends up with a quirk rather than fighting his battles with his own power and his wits. In what way are those two things mutually exclusive? And what part of Deku’s experience to this point has come remotely easily to him because of his quirk?
It’s been a great year for moms in “Boku” anime, and it seems only fitting on Mother’s Day to credit Midoriya-san for being the great mom she is. It struck me when she walked in with Izuku’s jumpsuit that he was taller than her – he seems like such a little kid still, but such is the way of boys and mothers. She’s such a trooper, this woman – she got fat for Izuku, and now she supports him in pursuing a dream that fills her with fear for his safety because she knows it’s what he wants. That Izuku wears the old-school jumpsuit (a clear homage to All Might’s costume) she made rather than use the high-tech hero wear Yuuei provides is proof that Deku understands full well just how lucky he is in the mom department.
All Might walking into your classroom is about as big a thrill as the average student hero could ever hope for, and he doesn’t disappoint. Despite being the most beloved hero in town All Might is blatantly a kid at heart himself (those two things may not be coincidental), and he can’t hide his enthusiasm as he lays out the plan for his “zygotes”. He may be a soft-hearted great bear of a fellow, but this is still U.A. and the test is a hard one – flat-out combat between teams of two in an indoor environment with the instructions “Don’t be afraid to get hurt!”.
It’s a “fated battle between men” that Deku and Kacchan should end up opposing each other, that Kacchan should be on the “Villain” team, and Ochako and her skin-tight costume should be Deku’s partner – all a shounen cliche that I’m happy to let slide. Alliances are beginning to form, true natures are revealing themselves (Ochako is a sweetheart, and Iida as earnest as a faithful bulldog), and these kids are learning what it means to try and survive as a hero. It’s yet another scenario where Izuku’s quirk is not a good fit – if he uses it he’ll kill the opponent – and it’s obvious that Kacchan will take advantage of the situation to try and strike back at Deku for “tricking” him (f there’s anything bullies hate, it’s victims who act unpredictably – and who fight back). But there are advantages to being a hero otaku with a house full of notebooks – it may not be a quirk, but that sort of dedication is a kind of superpower too…