My Hero Academia – U.A. Beginnings Arc (Episodes 1 – 13) Review

My Hero Academia UAB Arc

This is a first for the blog as I’ve technically covered these episodes on Anime UK News when I covered the Season 1 blu-ray release, but as those are more of a quick, relatively spoiler-free, look at the show and the physical release, this will be my normal more detailed (and spoiler-filled!) look at the story. My Hero Academia is the latest hit for Shonen Jump!, but has already impressed me enough that I believe its opening stories put it above all but one (that I’ve seen), gaining it the #2 spot on this list. Why? Well, why don’t you read on to find out!

Official Synopsis:

In a world where people with superpowers (known as “Quirks”,) are the norm, Izuku Midoriya has dreams of one day becoming a Hero, despite being bullied by his classmates for not having a Quirk. After being the only one to try and save his childhood friend Katsuki Bakugo from a villain, All Might, the world’s greatest Hero, bestows upon him his own Quirk “One For All”, and soon enrolls him into a top Hero academy for training…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

My Hero Academia UAB Arc 1

Go on, try and dislike him! I dare you!

Izuku Midoriya / Deku (Daiki Yamashita / Justin Briner) – Midoriya has always dreamed of being like the legendary hero All Might, but he was sadly born Quirkless. He never gave up on his dreams, however, and despite all the odds, he might just make it…

Katsuki Bakugo (Nobuhiko Okamoto / Clifford Chapin) – Bakugo, despite his rough attitude, also always looked up to All Might and wants to be a famous hero like him. His explosion-based Quirk gives him an edge, even if his personality holds him back…

All Might (Kenta Miyake / Christopher Sabat) – All Might is a legendary hero who everyone looks up to, though secretly he was badly injured in a fight with a villain known as “All For One”, and can now only access his powers for brief periods. A successor to his power, One For All, must be found, before it vanishes from him for good…

Shoto Todoroki (Yuki Kaji / David Matranga) – Todoroki is the son of the #2 hero Endeavour, someone who is a harsh and not well liked hero, an even worse father. Shoto has his mother’s ice Quirk as well as his father’s fire, but he refuses to use the power of the man who he hates…

Ochako Uraraka (Ayane Sakura / Luci Christian) – Uraraka is looking to be a hero for a different kind of noble cause: to be able to pay and support her parents. Her ability to control gravity to cause weightlessness is handy in some cases, if it didn’t make her a little sick when she uses it…

Tenya Iida (Kaito Ishikawa / J. Michael Tatum) – Iida is the younger brother of famous hero Ingenium, and he wishes to do justice to the legacy when he graduates. Very straight-laced and by-the-books.

Tomura Shigaraki (Koki Uchiyama / Eric Vale) – Tomura’s past is complicated, but his views aren’t: he hates Heroes and all they pretend to stand for, especially the #1 hero All Might. He is gathering a group to see if he can do something about it…

Plus MANY more!

The Good:

My Hero Academia UAB Arc 4

The first of what I’m sure will be many fights, either against each other or side-by-side…

First things first, one of my (admittedly minor) issues with the previous entry was how it had a weaker introduction to our protagonist, and therefore the reason I’m putting this above it is because of how well it establishes its lead character. Midoriya is so damn likable it’s quite amazing, frankly. Seeing him want nothing more than to be a hero, only to discover he’s “Quirkless” is heart breaking, it’s a revelation that’s filled with teary scenes between himself and his single mother and works so effectively. Then within the first three episodes he acts like a hero to save his school friend / bully Bakugo despite having no powers, and ends up the successor to the hero he idolized in All Might. It’s certainly a feel good moment, and it’s backed up by some harsh training montages to show that he wasn’t just handed his powers, he had to earn them.

All Might is a great parody of the Superman type of hero, seemingly perfect and invincible, all smiles and hope in the face of danger. It’s soon revealed that he took a particularly nasty blow from a villain a few years ago that left him only able to hold is buff form for a short time, and the rest of the day he’s an emaciated, pathetic-looking guy. It adds some vulnerability to him (take that Superman!) and some sympathy too. The fact he picks Midoriya as his successor because he showed heroism despite not having powers is a nice moment too (though makes sense when we find out more about his powers and how they work…)

Then we get to the U.A. High School entrance exams, where we see a bunch of the regular cast going forward, as well as Bakugo, who is now confused and irritated that the weak boy he bullied was being billed on an equal level to him, and somehow has powers all of a sudden. Bakugo is an interesting character, he acts like a “villain”, or at least a bit of an arse, but he has pretty much the same backstory as our lead, just that he got a powerful Quirk early on and therefore gained a sense of arrogance, which eventually lead to a bad way of treating others. He still saw All Might as an idol growing up, and wants to save people like he did, just in his own… exaggerated style. Other characters like the sweet girl Uraraka or straight-laced Iida begin adding to the ensemble, though don’t really come into their own until later. Midoriya ends up saving Uraraka instead of completing the U.A. challenge, but passed anyway.

When he starts with U.A. we get to see even more of the regular cast properly, including classic quiet but powerful character Todoroki, who has a unique Quirk of having both ice and fire powers. He has a tragic backstory, but it’s not explored until the next arc, so I’ll leave that here. A lot of the other cast ranges from straight up comic relief to just other classmates with unique Quirks. It’s a fun bunch, but it takes a while for other class members to be more than side characters (though that makes sense given the size of the classroom!) We also see a 2-on-2 fight situation in a training exercise that sees Midoriya battle Bakugo, and eventually outsmart him. You almost feel sorry for the school bully as he freaks out at being beaten by the person he’s always perceived as weak. Almost…

Finally in these first 13 episodes we get everyone heading out to do some training at a big arean, only for their training session to get interrupted by the first appearance of what becomes known as the League of Villains, headed by still-being-teased lead antagonist Tomrua Shigaraki. There are some great moments, with some of students managing to hold back some lesser villains, and some of the teachers battling some of the more tricky ones. The main scene is All Might doing battle with a creature known as Nomu, eventually coming out on top and narrowly avoiding the whole world finding out the secret of his limited powers. Some really well animated fight scenes get added to a fun cast, and it finally begins to show how great the show can be, and it only gets better from here…

The Bad:

My Hero Academia UAB Arc 2

All Might gearing up to deliver a giant “Smash”.

Not much, unlike One Piece some of the secondary protagonists don’t get fleshed out here, but it makes sense as they spent so much time making sure you liked the lead characters. The other top characters get more added to them in the next two major arcs anyway, so you don’t have long to wait before the cast is full of interesting, well-rounded characters supported by lighter-weight character types.

Overall Thoughts:

My Hero Academia UAB Arc 3

I just realised I never mentioned the whole “using the Quirk is severely hurting Midoriya and breaking his fingers/arms” thing. Well: that’s a thing. The end.

My Hero Academia has become a pretty big hit in the last few years, and it’s easy to see why. In just 13 episodes Midoriya is already one of the most sympathetic characters you’ll see, and you’ll want to support him through every step of his journey. The fact he’s surrounded by such a great cast and is in the middle of a pretty unique setting helps as well, then throw in great fight animation and it’s no wonder the show is so widely liked. Watching it weekly as it airs has been a pleasure, and re-watching the old episodes is anything but a chore. A well deserved silver medal to MHA.

5 Star Watch

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