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My Hero Academia: Season One Limited Edition Blu-ray/DVD Review

May 10, 2017 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
My Hero Academia
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My Hero Academia: Season One Limited Edition Blu-ray/DVD Review  

My Hero Academia is the new anime series based on the Weekly Shonen Jump manga of the same name that was created by Kohei Horikoshi and debuted back in 2014. The manga then received its own anime TV series, produced by Studio Bones, that debuted last year. The show has done fairly well for itself. Season Two of the anime is currently well under way, and it’s available to stream on Funimation Now and Crunchyroll. If I were to boil down My Hero Academia into a very simple sentence or description, I would basically say it’s Naruto with superheroes instead of ninjas. However, if I did that, it might not get across how strong and entertaining the show actually is.

The Series: My Hero Academia follows the exploits of young teenager Izuku Midoriya, nicknamed Deku by his peers since he’s the “one who can’t do anything.” Ever since Izuku was a boy, he dreamed of becoming a superhero like his role model, All Might, who is essentially this world’s version of Superman. In the world of My Hero Academia, over 80 percent of the world’s population has developed into random super-powered beings. The superpowers for these beings are called “Quirks.” Earth has become a superhuman society, and the business of superheroes is now a widespread profession. Unfortunately Izuku never developed a Quirk of his own, crushing his hopes and dreams of becoming a superhero. However, after a chance meeting with All Might, Izuku manages to convince the world’s greatest hero to take him on as his apprentice. All Might reluctantly agrees to train Izuku so that Izuku can inherit All Might’s personal Quirk, “One For All.” Thanks to All Might’s help, Izuku is finally able to pursue his dream of becoming a superhero, and he joins the most elite hero school in the nation, U.A. High School, which is a school that trains the next generation of heroes. Unfortunately, Izuku still doesn’t have full control over his new powers. Not to mention, using “One For All” is incredibly physically dangerous for him. The Quirk grants Izuku superhuman strength, but its use also causes devastating physical damage to his own body. Additionally, U.A. High is incredibly competitive. The one gunning for the top spot is the ill-tempered and belligerent, Katsuki Bakugo, Izuku’s childhood-friend-turned-rival. In addition, dark powers lurking in the shadows are out to put a stop to the heroes who protect and inspire the world.

Season One of the anime series covers the first 13 episodes. It goes from Izuku’s “Entrance Exam Arc” and climaxes with the “Unforeseen Simulation Joint Arc.” Studio Bones, director Kenji Nagasaki and writer Yōsuke Kuroda both brought their A-game to this series. It’s full of fun and kinetic energy. As a Shonen Jump-based series there are a lot of familiar archetypes and tropes to be found throughout the show. However, it’s elevated through its unique style, likable characters and really uplifting storytelling. Izuku is a bit of your typical Shonen Jump protagonist. However, the character brings a lot to the table through his sheer force of will and determination, despite his pint-size and undeveloped abilities. All Might sees that Izuku embodies the potential to become the greatest hero in the world, and the show skillfully expresses that idea to the audience.

The series has a brisk pace throughout the first 13 episodes, and there’s a good sense of progression as Izuku goes from the powerless Deku to the hero-in-training Deku. There’s an undeniable thrill when Deku is matched up against his rival, Kazuki, in the Battle Trial Arc and manages to use his head to strategize and get the better of the ill-mannered and irascible Bakugo. Izuku also forges new friendships and bonds with his classmates Ochaco Uraka, the designated love interest, and Tenya Iida. Uraka has the power to manipulate gravity, and Lida has steam engines that grow out of his calves that allow him to run super fast. So yeah, the Quirks in this world are beyond random at times. Think of the most bizarre Mutant characters and powers of the X-Men universe, dial them up to over 9,000, and you will have a rough idea of what the Quirk-powered super-humans in My Hero Academia are like.

Credit should be given to the original author, Kōhei Horikoshi, since he clearly put a lot of thought into this world and how it works. Even in the first 13 episodes, the show does a very good job of world-building and providing a solid understanding of the Quirks, the superhumans, heroes, the villains, hero schools and how this world works. Interestingly enough, the heroes of the world are highly regulated. It’s almost more like a world of professional sports stars and athletes. The U.A. High School doesn’t just instruct heroes-in-training. They also have a department for tech experts, the builders of gadgets and tech for the heroes, and also a marketing track for non-powered humans who will manage or represent heroes at agencies or hero firms. It’s something interesting about superhero-themed stories that will come through in Japanese anime or manga. The world of superheroes is regulated, organized. Heroes get ranked, placed into agencies, or regulated by the government. All that infrastructure is already set up and in place. Aside from My Hero Academia, similar elements are also explored in Tiger & Bunny, Ratman, and of course One-Punch Man.

The first season of My Hero Academia does a good job of ushering viewers into this rather bizarre world of superheroes and super-villains and showing how it works. It doesn’t dwell too hard on the exposition, and it’s easy to get caught up in the adventures and fun of Deku and his friends. With the manga currently running at 130 chapters or so, hopefully there won’t be any issues with the anime adapting the rest of the story in the future, because I can’t wait to see where the story will take Izuku on his road to becoming the world’s greatest hero.

Video Info: The show was animated by Studio Bones, so you know it’s going to look good and fairly consistent throughout the series. The series features many dynamic, colors. This looks and feels like a classic superhero series, with a lot of bright colors that really pop. Bones really brings the unique art style of Kohei Horikoshi to life. The only drawback is that some of the character designs and elements are a bit jarring. The show does have a very unique overall look, especially for its characters. However, sometimes the eyes look a bit weird. The characters in the show tend to have really big, round eyes with beady, little pupils, which are somewhat off-putting. Some of the unique superhuman beings in the show have also been physically altered by their Quirks. One guy will have the giant head of an eagle. Another guy will have a giant tail. There’s a lot of general weirdness and strangeness with how the characters are realized. But, the Quirk manifestations were probably caused by some unnatural phenomenon. The colors pop very well for the Blu-ray version, and the animation still looks really sharp and fluid.

Audio Info: The show features some great music by Yuki Hayashi. I especially enjoy the main hero theme typically used for All Might’s dynamic entries, which is an anthem of sorts for the show. The Blu-ray version overall boasts a crisp and pristine soundtrack and mix. After watching the show for the first time while it was streaming in Japanese, I enjoyed the English dub produced by Funimation that was also available as a SimulDub for the show’s launch online last year. Justin Briner does a great job in translating Izuku, and Christopher Sabat is a no brainer in the role of All Might.

Packaging and Special Features: The Season One Limited Edition set is a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. There are quite a few nice additions here for the hardcore anime collector and fans who still like to buy their anime in Blu-ray or DVD format. The set is packaged in a cardboard slipcase, with a nice dynamic cover featuring a group shot of the cast (see above), with a nice comic-book style art background. One of the nice bonuses with the set is a limited edition, hardcover art book featuring character designs and artwork from the series. The set is also packaged with a My Hero Academia-themed notebook with blank pages for writing notes. There are two cases in the set: one with the first 13 episodes on two DVD discs, and another case with the first season across two Blu-ray discs. There’s also a third disc dedicated to extra features. Additionally, there’s also a little Deku keychain packed in one of the cases. In terms of bonus features, there’s a nice helping of material to enjoy.

My Hero Academia: Meet the Characters: These are a group of short, animated promo spots that profile the central cast of the series. They are presented in the form of announcements at the U.A. High School, so this will give you a crash course through the main cast of the series.

Inside the Episodes: This is probably the best extra for the Season One set. This is a nice alternative to the commentary actually. Funimation included an Inside the Episode segment for each episode in the series. Here, the cast and crew for the show will recap and talk about the episode and some standout moments for their particular characters. There’s a nice variety of the cast and crew members who are represented here, and it’s nice that there is one for each episode rather than screen-specific audio commentary.

AnimeFest 2016: Artist Sketches: These are some time-lapse videos of the animators creating some drawings of the characters at AnimeFest 2016.

Anime Expo 2016: Interview with Kenji Nagasaki & Wakana Okamura: This is an interview with series director Kenji Nagasaki and animator Wakana Okamura who talk about working on the show and adapting Kohei Horikoshi’s manga. Overall, it’s an informative interview.

Anime Expo 2016: My Hero Academia Panel: This is actually the video of the complete panel for the anime series that was held at Anime Expo last year. Viewers get to watch the full panel with the cast and crew for the series, which is pretty neat.

Anime Expo 2016: Interview with Christopher R. Sabat & Justin Briner: This is live interview with main English voice actors Christopher Sabat (All Might) and Justin Briner during last year’s anime expo.

Anime Expo 2016: Interview with Masahiko Minami: This is an interview with Studio Bones President and series producer Masahiko Minami, who discusses working on the series.

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
My Hero Academia is a great Shonen Jump manga that has now become a highly entertaining and fun anime series. The show is definitely worth a look if you have time on outlets like Crunchyroll and Funimation Now. I'd recommend the Limited Edition set if you are a hardcore collector and really like and enjoy the show; especially if you like getting your merch signed at conventions because the set has a lot of built-in extras to get signed by the cast and crew at conventions. There's a surprisingly good amount of extra features as well, and a really nice art book. It's a nice set overall if you can spare the cash and still would like to organize a collection of signature anime releases on your shelf. Overall, Season One of the anime series is off to a great start and establishes a unique world with likable characters, interesting ideas and great animation. The Blu-ray Limited Edition box set is a great addition to your anime collection for those who are so inclined. If I have one major criticism, I'm not sure why Funimation is still packaging in DVDs to their Blu-ray sets. It seems counter-intuitive to pay for the extra barebones DVD when you are already paying for the show in Blu-ray. It just seems like a cost-prohibitive model to have to buy both packaged together for an episodic series.

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My Hero Academia, Jeffrey Harris