With the recent release of My Hero Academia Season 5, we thought it fitting to take a stroll down memory lane to see just how this Shounen action masterpiece managed to survive in a world filled with Slice of Life love comedies and sappy emotional dramas! Let’s take a look!
Adam and Eve...and Vegeta
In the beginning; there was nothing. Then, from nothing, Miyazaki created the Shounen and the Slice of Life. Upon banishing the demonic hentai snake to the depths of depravity, he said “let there be light” and up from the ground rose Dragon Ball. DBZ is the grandaddy of Shounen action anime. From its loins birthed what we anime fans refer to as “The Big 3” (these being Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece). The Big 3 dominated the action Shounen genre and left seemingly little room for others trying to make a name for themselves (aside from notable exceptions like Hunter x Hunter, Attack on Titan, and Fairy Tail). However, as all good things must do, these shows would be forced to eventually end. After all, no good show can go on forev...One piece is on how many episodes!?
So, as Bleach went on permanent hiatus and Naruto handed off the reins to Boruto, the world seemed content with the meal it had been served. The world of anime seemed to be heading towards more experimental or touching storylines; attempting to break the mold The Big 3 had set in place. The Big 3 had left their mark and nobody was clambering to dethrone them. After all, with the content already available, it’s much more likely people would rewatch something they know will be excellent, rather than diving in headfirst to possible disappointment. Sure, you can offer someone a hamburger but if their plate is already teaming with the Soul Society invasion arc, there’s little you can do to draw their attention.
PLUS ULTRA!! Has Entered the Battle!
So, setting the scene, we now live in a post-Big 3 era where Shounen are still being produced, but fail to live up to their predecessors. It seemed that Shounen anime were an endangered species and so, as with any creature on the verge of extinction, it is important to protect it. How best to do this? By creating new life, of course! My Hero Academia burst onto the scene in the Spring of 2016 and quickly rose to acclaim among the fanbase. It’s strange, by all appearances, My Hero Academia is a Shounen as by the books as it gets. We have a boy-scout hero wanting nothing more than to attain power to help people. We have a villainous group with no motives deeper than “TaKe oVeR tHe WoRlD”. We have crazy powers and an ensemble cast that suffers from lacking character development for its tertiary members. So how did this show manage to breathe new life into a dying breed?
Simply put, My Hero Academia executes its Shounen vision to absolute perfection. While it’s a hot debate whether or not MHA is better than any of The Big 3, it’s easy to see where it got its inspirations from. Sometimes, the new item on the menu will fail to satisfy you. Yet, the same meal you’ve ordered for the past twenty years, cooked to perfection, will satisfy you all the same. My Hero Academia satisfies that Shounen action itch we’ve all been longing to scratch by taking so much of what The Big 3 did right, and removing where they failed. All in all, MHA with its cliched protagonist, numerous tournament arcs, and by-the-books narrative, is one of the greatest shounen action anime of the past decade.
My Hero Academia’s Impact on the Shounen Genre
My Hero Academia gave new hope to the Shounen action genre. Now the mission was clear; repopulate! All the trembling mangaka lurking below; worried to release their manuscript at the mercy of The Big 3 fanboys, now saw just how successful and desired a Shounen plot could be. Since MHA, we’ve seen countless new competitors throw their hats into the ring. Anime like Jujutsu Kaisen and Vinland Saga, which rose to critical acclaim upon their release. Additionally, the immense success of Kimetsu no Yaiba is proof in itself of the fan’s interest in the Shounen action genre.
It’s difficult to determine exactly whether or not My Hero Academia is solely responsible for this resurgence of interest. While the dates all line up very nicely for this article’s sake, there is no way of knowing the inspirations of each mangaka, nor no way to gain information on a world that may have existed had MHA never been released. Regardless, MHA was released at a time where fan interest in the Shounen action genre was dwindling. Since then, a Shounen action anime has topped box office records to become the highest-selling anime movie of all time.
You do the math...
My Hero Academia is a wonderful Shounen action anime that, despite not breaking any new boundaries in regards to the genre, executes its vision so perfectly that it does not matter. Michael Jordan will always be the GOAT, but that does not mean you can discredit the impact Lebron James has had. What do you think of My Hero Academia? What is your favorite Shounen action anime? Let us know down below!