What happened to the My Hero Academia anime?

My Hero Academia — it was one of the series that carried on the spirit of the “big three” that came before it. You could see not only the inspiration from the Shounen Jump series that came before it, but also Horikoshi’s obvious love for western superhero comics. It brought about an emphasis on being confident in your own unique quirks, allowing them to flourish, and believing that no matter what, we can achieve our dreams.

It is one of my favourite ongoing manga and I eagerly look forward to the new chapters as they release every Sunday. My feelings for the manga have been consistent from the moment I read the first page to now — however, my feelings towards the anime have slowly but surely changed drastically over the years. 

What Happened to the My Hero Academia Anime?

The early years

I want it to be known that I love My Hero Academia. I have been reading the manga for a long time and watched the anime as soon as we here in the west had access to it. The first season was fantastic and hit numerous emotional notes that I still go back and revisit even today — episode 2, where the main protagonist Deku throws himself into harm’s way to act the part of a hero, and the final episode of the season in which All Might, the prolific hero of the series, shows exactly what it means to go beyond — Plus Ultra!

At this point, my opinion of the anime was extremely positive — the art was accurately emulating Horikoshi’s brilliant style, the soundtrack composed by the motivational mastermind Yuki Hayashi gave birth to You Say Run. Bones were doing a great job with the overall animation of the series and continuing to live up to their standard set by their portfolio of past works. 

Around two years ago (2019) there was a rumour floating around that My Hero Academia was set to have a movie a year made for a total of 10 movies. Jump forward to today and we are awaiting the release of the third movie, so as of right now the rumour has some truth to it. I grew up on the Shounen Jump series, so the idea of a popular Jump series having multiple movies made complete sense — they make money and I can totally understand that. 

The second season of the anime was just as good, if not better than the first, and again the third season hit hard — each season also delivering excellent openings and consistently amazing work on the soundtrack. The first movie felt very much in line with the story of My Hero Academia and delivered some nice fanservice with some incredible visuals. This all began to change once we reached season 4, though…

My Hero Academia

The later years

Season 4 was going to be huge — this was an arc in the manga that I was incredibly excited for and I couldn’t wait to see the response from anime fans once they had witnessed what this season had to offer. We’re introduced to new heroes and villains, ones who delve into a darker background, and developments that would leave fans stunned. 

The season was good, don’t get me wrong, but I would be lying to myself if I said it didn’t feel like it was missing something. This was content that I remembered being incredibly hype in the manga, but this was all deflated as I watched these same scenes in the anime — and I totally admit that I cannot place exactly why it is that I get this feeling. I certainly don’t blame the animators. 

Now here we are with season 5. Admittedly some of the content, even in the manga, was rather dull — specifically the Joint Training arc. Whereas past arcs delved into some of the side characters and fleshed them out, this arc didn’t really do anything but reaffirm that the strong characters are still strong — until the big reveal with Deku of course, that I won’t spoil here. 

This season would be saved, however, by the incredibly brave move by Horikoshi to have an entire arc in which main heroes are absent, and instead replaced by Shigaraki Tomura and the league of villains; content worthy of being 12 episodes long, and yet it feels as though this content is being sped through at a rushed pace. 

You hear the murmurs about how the movies are pulling away from the anime series’ resources and that this is the cause of the drop in quality throughout seasons 4 and 5, but I don’t know if that’s the case. Animators are incredibly hardworking people who are fueled by pure passion, and I refuse to discredit these amazing people.

Regardless of what it is, I just want My Hero Academia to return to its rightful place as an anime series that does justice to the source material.

What do you think? Have you noticed a drop in quality of the anime adaptation lately?

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Conor Evans
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