The My Hero Academia Anime Is Not Very Plus Ultra

This is what it's supposed to look like.

I have what may be a controversial opinion. The My Hero Academia anime adaptation is swiftly becoming one of most visually unimpressive anime that I have ever seen. This has been in the back of my mind for a while now. This is one of a handful of anime that we get together to watch as part of the "Anime Club" that spawned this podcast and this website. As we've moved into season 5, though, the show has become more of a chore. The pace has slowed to a crawl and the animation is flat, cheap, and boring. I have been something of a My Hero apologist in our group. I have read the manga up to the currently released chapter, and I have assured my co-hosts that "it gets better." 

With the release of the trailer for The Dark Hero arc, I'm not so sure anymore.

In The Dark Hero arc, Horikoshi steps up his art to near Berserk levels. It features some of the best illustrated manga panels that I have seen in a decade. In the age of Mob Psycho 100, Chainsaw Man, and Demon Slayer, I could not wait to see what the animators would do with Horikoshi's panels. With the trailer we can see what they did with some of them. (Note: These are not one to one comparisons as I'm not sure of where these frames fit in the anime. Instead I am showing shots and panels that are visually similar in pose and background.)

No effort was made to preserve the stylistic shift into a dark and brooding, almost Frank Miller-esque, style that made this arc so special. This looks like the same bland, flat work that they have been phoning in for 2 seasons now. With the exception of the occasional fight scene that goes the extra mile, the style of the manga has been lost. 

This grittier visual style sets the tone for the entire arc, and without it the anime audience will have a lesser experience than readers of the manga. I have stated many times that I prefer manga to anime. I'm not an advocate of adaptation for adaptation's sake. With that said, recently the likes of Ufotable, Studio Mappa, and yes, even Studio Bones (with Mob Psycho 100), have been doing work that elevates the properties they adapt. Particularly in the case of Demon Slayer (Kimetsu no Yaiba) the anime improves upon the manga in almost every way. Failing to step up the art and animation for this arc of My Hero is nothing less than a failure to translate the material from the page to the screen. I'm stunned that this is happening to a property with as much appeal as My Hero Academia. 

I know that Bones is capable of some of the best animation in the world. Why they aren't able to bring that to the table with My Hero Academia is baffling to me. Perhaps there is some budgeting or scheduling issue behind the scenes that is driving this. Whatever the case, if the final product is not way better than the trailer looks, I'm out. 

I would encourage anime-only fans up to this point to give the manga a try. You can read cheaply at If you want to skip the story that was already covered in the anime start around volume 32 (or chapter 307). 


  1. It's always a fulfilling experience to watch an anime of a manga you're a fan of and see it bring even more to the story than what was there. We've had a few of those recently, some of which you mentioned, but Spy x Family stands out to be because even though there are a few things I think the manga does better, the animation and voice acting elevate it. All that said, when the manga you love has an anime adaptation come out and it's not as good or is even bad, it's devastating, and in the case of My Hero for you, Ben, I think it's even worse because the earlier seasons were great.


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