It was going to happen to me eventually. I had been staving off doing it for the past few years. But after the conclusion of The Joint Training arc I finally broke down, subscribed to Viz.com and started reading the My Hero Academia Manga from the very beginning. Having totally caught up now, it goes without saying that having that in my mind is going to colour my feelings and enthusiasm for the anime in same shape or form.
Following the Joint Training Arc, the team behind the anime decided to go and flip two of the story arcs from the manga around. Those being the Endeavor Agency Arc and the Meta Liberation Army Arc (known within some circles as the My Villain Academia Arc). I can kind of see why they did it. It allows the anime to end on a much more impactful storyline than it would have been able to had the story been presented in its original ordering.
A lot of people had been complaining that it negatively effected the pacing of the story for them. Personally, I was fine with it. It didn’t really bother me a whole bunch which order this story was being told in. Rather it was the time given to each storyline that I felt let the whole thing down a little.
Having read the Manga… man I feel like such a douche when I use that statement to begin a sentence. But in the manga, the Meta Liberation Army arc was one I got really excited about. Throughout the series, Horikoshi has been building up Shigaraki and his league of villains in a very clear parallel to the growth Midoriya and the rest of Class A have been experiencing throughout the story.
This arc was the first one that really focuses on them. It’s also the story arc that transitions the group from feeling like a dangerous distraction into a massive threat to modern society. Giving at least two of the characters major development throughout and elevating them in their importance to the plot and as characters.
As much as the arc excited me in the manga, I was pretty worried that the anime wasn’t going to give the arc the time it needed to give each of it’s major players the attention and hype they really deserved. A poultry five episodes ended up being what the story arc got. Which, as it turns out, made the whole thing feel a touch more rushed than I really hoped it would have been by the time it was over.
Made all the more annoying by the fact that the series shoved a totally perfunctory filler beach episode in the middle and a reminder of what the main characters are doing episode at the end of the series that felt like it could have easily been the first episode of the next series to me personally.
The real focus of the arc in the anime ended up being Shigaraki’s “transformation” from the almost immature actions of a child acting out into the almost ascended figure of a man at peace with who is has now become. Which I felt kind of came at the expense of Toga and Twice; two characters who have been just as present in the story as Shigaraki up until this point but kind of get brushed over in these episodes during their most major moments in the series.
All so we could get the final confrontation between Shigaraki and Rikiya Yotsubashi; the leader of the Meta Liberation Army. And was all this meticulous planning and shuffling of the storyline worth this finale the anime producers so obviously wanted to give us… Eh, not really.
I mean, compared to season finale fights we’ve gotten before now, this one just didn’t feel like it held muster. Endeavor vs. the High-End Nomu, Deku vs. Bakugo and All Might vs. the Nomu were all beautifully animated fights with fantastic scores to match. They hit all the marks they needed to hit to get a Shonen man-child like me bouncing up and down in excitement after they were over.
Nothing in this series really managed to hit me in that same way. There really was no Deku vs. Overhaul moment, no All Might vs. All for One. Which isn’t the fault of the source material, because I felt that way pretty much during every fight in this final arc when I was reading it in the manga.
And maybe that really is the problem. In having read the manga now I’ve gone and spoiled my enjoyment of the anime. Knowing what’s going to happen before it does, having to endure that additional factor of critique that comes from how well it adapted the source material and the level of expectation that goes along with that.
It’s a battle of having to impress me and my expectations over just being a good show in its own right. Hence I find myself simultaneously regretting going back and reading the manga while also not regretting it in the slightest because the manga is just so damned good.
I’ll finish out by saying this. While My Hero Academia is by no means a bad anime, I do think the quality of the show has been on the decline over the past few seasons. I know COVID has most likely been a factor here in ways I can’t even begin to understand, but in terms of production, I feel like season six of My Hero has probably been its weakest.
I just don’t think it had any of those really hype Shonen anime moments that I come to the series for. Which is kind of a bummer, only for this past season though. It doesn’t do anything to lessen my anticipation for the next season and the content covered within it.
Without spoiling any of it, the next season looks like it might spend its entire run covering the single longest story arc of My Hero Academia. And it’s one hell of a story too. I would be more than happy for the series two take a whole 25 episodes to cover the entirety of this arc and give all of it’s huge moments the time and gravity they really deserve.
It’s strange. Having become the “manga guy” for My Hero Academia now, I thought my enthusiasm for the anime might have lessened after the conclusion of this series. But, if anything, actually knowing what is coming in the next season thanks to reading ahead, I’m actually anticipating Season 6 more than I think I have been looking forward to any upcoming season of the show since I first got into it.
So maybe there is a silver lining to becoming the insufferable git of manga vs anime after all.