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 of 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 with the same concept of a guy coming to a school and learning how to use his supernatural powers it’s just in it’s execution is where it divides. 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 as well as majority of other people. 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 mean the teachers you pervert). 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 seen a lot of anime set in High School 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 for a number of reason some financial because you know school kids are dumb enough to read anything other times they use it 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. In the majority 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. Then we have the learning is impossible characters which makes no sense for them to be in High School.
Like a too cool for school character 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 it’s the future and because of a incident certain people have supernatural powers and they have these fights called Festas and they fight to get money for themselves and glory, Ayato and the rest of the cast fight in these to achieve their goals, for a number of reasons being in school doesn’t make sense. I mean why do you need to be in a school for this as the institutions are built for people to fight in Festas wouldn’t it make more sense to create guild houses wouldn’t that be better for the narrative structure as it doesn’t appear to me they have a reason to continue their education. Now to me and everyone that I know school is a place that you learn and grow as people and in anime set in High School this is a theme present in a majority of High School anime that I have seen with of course a few exceptions to the rule but even in the most mind numbing anime I have seen (Comic Girls) the people change even if it’s just a tiny bit 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. But in essence it’s basically wish fulfilment you insert yourself into the main character and just be completely awesome but there isn’t any growth in the character it’s the rest of the world that changes not the hero of the story. In essence school is without meaning here.
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 and grow this isn’t High School but Middle School but is still a place of education where our characters actually do school work.
My Hero Academia’s character have actual interactions with their settings that go beyond a place that you show up to do something not related to school work or just going to School. 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 between where the students and 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 he blows away the rain with a single punch and next he’s 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 and flinging it out of the USJ 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 where the rescue squad is rendered motionless in All For One’s presence.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.
With this story being seen through Izuku’s eye’s, who has been behind everyone his entire life with his quirk as he got it much latter than everyone else. He’s catching up to the level the rest of his classmates started on during the first day albeit slowly but yet at a timely speed when he is given the proper information as he wants to learn to achieve his goals and make All Might proud. Even if he is not our most beloved character in the series we are still learning through the person we favours eye’s because they all have to grow exponentially fast to face the challenges in front of them it’s not a leap in reality but rather nostalgic as when I learnt something new and just got it was if I was running a mile a minute to the finish line. It’s nice to see exhibited by the characters, a universal experience shared by all who went to school or are currently in it.
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 My Hero Academia works so well it knows what it is and expands on it incorporating the setting into what they are doing and having the need for the school there rather than just using it as a framing device or to sell this story to kids. It is refreshing for the viewer to watch with actual school actives, people growing in a timely manner in their studies and being able to enjoy school in a way that doesn’t frustrate the viewer with the way the characters want to learn rather than character who are just coasting by, just not getting it or just having idiot woven into their fibres.
Things I rarely see in anime of this genre where there is a stink of stagnation when the school work is focused on like with Blue Exorcist and it feels as if the main cast are stuck in the same scholastic mold they’ve always been in, we have the studiers and the idiot’s and the idiot character never seems to change in his scholastic studies despite the fact that his power levels grow’s it feels as if this change has occurred because of sheer force of will rather than studying, nor does the studier character take a nose dive in scholastics or at least feels like after being in High School and seeing how amazing everyone around them is, especially when Rin’s brother who is the same age is him is teaching a class there should atlas be a little jealously but no, nothing changes for them at least from what I witnessed in the first season of Blue scholastic endeavours.
The students of U.A are learning and growing in leaps and bounds some incredibly fast others going a bit slower, 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 and it does not forget this.