Do you know what I find weird about My Hero Academia the setting and I’m not meaning Japan. I’m talking about the redundant and often overused, to the point that it has become defined as a genre; the High School setting.
Not to brag and I mean that in a literal sense because a part of me is ashamed for having watched so much High School anime but I’ve been around the block a few times when it comes to watching shows set in this genre. To name drop a few, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzimiya, Bleach, Goodbye Mr Despair, My Bride Is A Mermaid, Lucky Star, Familiar of Zero, Shuffle, Negima, Code Geass, School Rumble, Ouran High School Host Club, Princess Princess, Karin, Shaugan No Shana. Honstley I could go on but for your own sanity I’ll stop. I’m not saying that they’re not a variety of different approaches to how the show takes the plot line and adds a twist to distinguish themselves from other shows. I can practically hear someone screaming in the distance about how D-Frag isn’t basically the same as Pet Girl Sakurasou or how Hagani isn’t the same as My Teen Romantic Comedy. I recognize that these aren’t just the same anime hashed out time and time again. The Asterisk war and Chivarly of a Failed Knight is proof of that. But it can be argued that, conceptually, these are redundant series.
I know these aren’t the only shows out there that aren’t set within a High School but as how people circle around a certain genre like one person going from Hagani to My Teen Romantic Comedy or after watching Oremio they go to Ero-manga sensei. I think it’s because I was so oversaturated by High School anime that in a way has become redundant to me. But then My Hero Academia pulled me back into it and strangely enough it doesn’t bore me. The settings are the same, the immature High School kids are the same, the fan service is how I remember it but this time I want to see them naked so I can’t complain there. I should be bored but I wasn’t and this has puzzled me for sometime but then as I was re-watching Assassination Classroom I think I have figured out the answer and it’s comically simple, the reason why I’m not bored is because the characters are actually doing school work, let me explain.
Now for those who have never watched anime set in a school for the majority of these shows they focus less on the actual education and instead focus on the lives of the characters wether in school or out of it. Usually the author use’s the school setting to spurn the plot onward with a cast that is emotionally immature enough to keep the drama going, while having it as a back drop to their problems while simultaneously showing us how they work through problems or not work through them and of course the wish fulfilment point for the viewer in a lot of cases. I find with the majority of people the setting doesn’t matter as long as the story’s interesting. Though in a lot of these stories we never focus on the school work and I’m not saying that’s a negative because seriously who wants to think of math when watching an anime besides Bennet The Sage.
Other times the shows going on about how great the main character is and how they are just too cool for school like Ayato from Asterisk Wars, which if you have seen I feel nothing but sorry for you and if you haven’t I will try to summarise it without going into much of a rant. The story is basically people who use magic in this world and they have these fights called Festas and they fight to get money and glory, Ayato and the rest of the cast fight in these to achieve their goals. Now to me and everyone that I know school is a place that you learn and grow as people and that’s a bit of a problem for Ayato. He can’t he’s too OP and his character never really changes he is the same at the beginning of the series as he is at the end, although with the list of things wrong with this anime you could make a two hour video of how fucking wrong everything is but I will not torture myself with watching that garbage again not for a second.
Making a left turn to Assassination Classroom where a group of Middle Schoolers try to assassinate their teacher Koro-sensei, but instead of hindering there efforts in killing him he actually teaches them how to assassinate him and along with this shows them how to handle school work in the most effective method while fighting against a school system that always wants them to fail. This is where the story appropriately uses the school setting as it’s about teacher trying to teach his students. This show is actually about school and the scenes where they are tasked with beating a question is done rather spectacularly with guns and knifes and explosions, lot’s of explosions. In this school it is a place where learning actually takes place and the characters actually learn this isn’t High School but Middle School but is still a place of education where our characters actually go to there classes.
My Hero Academia is one of these settings that use’s it’s setting properly, as they have actual interactions with their settings that go beyond a place that you show up to do something not related to school work. No one here is not too cool for school, because no matter how strong their quirks are, they’re teachers are miles in front of them in terms of strategy and strength. It has a clear line of distance of strength between the individual’s and shows how much more they have to go to reach the pro status. At the start of the series All Might is the gold standard of hero’s he is unquestionably the best as his rank as the number one hero and from the actions he takes we know that there is pudding of proof he’s giving us.
We know from reports that All Might is strong as shown when we see him rescue 30 civilians from a burning wreckage as we progress into the series his next feat is stopping 3 crimes that happen in a hour but when the villains attack the USJ do we truly get a taste of his strength as he battles a Nomu with absorption, regenerative abilities punching it wildly/ He is flinging out of the USJ and into the wild blue yonder. That power gap between the kids even the strongest in the class have yet to match up to his sort of strength and again this is exhibited in the fight between ALL Might and All For One.
The world of the pros is marginally different from the level that the school kids are at and how they grow and evolve in this school environment, using what the school teaches them and grow accordingly which makes for a entertaining watch especially when they have to grow exponentially fast to face the challenges in front of them. It honestly reminds me of when I was in school and pushed onwards and forwards. Most of those days I would rather forget but I remember that feeling well and when I found the answer to a question I was tasked with answering, I was elated when this happened to me and it’s nice to see exhibited by the characters as well as a universal experience shared by all who went to school.
I’m not saying that shows should go the Assassination Classroom and My Hero Academia route in terms of using the high school setting like this. Shows like Kill la Kill use’s the authoritative student council and up it to 100 and that works for the story they are trying to tell and other shows of it’s nature. Which is why Boku no Hero Academia works so well it knows what it is and tells the story in an imaginative way but still incorporates the High School setting that is refreshing for the viewer to watch with actual school work and reward for a job well done things I rarely see. The students of U.A are learning and growing, they don’t come to realisation on their own and instead by the mentorship of others around them do they change, which makes it so relatable to us. As much as we hate to admit rarely do we come to conclusions by ourselves it is through others who help us see what was staring at us in the face. That’s one of the reasons I can’t be bored of the show the setting is used in a that I rarely see, a place where you can learn instead of just another place.