As I said before in my analysis of Deku, My Hero Academia is one of the best anime out right now, and it is well worth your time to watch it. That being said, however, My Hero Academia is destined to remain a cult hit; it will have a very devoted and very active fanbase, but it will never reach the generalized recognition that Dragonball Z got (Here, I’m using “Dragonball Z” to refer to the entire Dragon Ball franchise.)
I know what you’re thinking — MHA is a great series with interesting characters and amazing plotting. It has great buzz, and it’s just plain fun to watch. If we just give it time, it will be seen as the equal of DBZ. However, that will not occur for one big reason: broadband internet.
It was the early 2000s. 9/11 had happened, and the War on Terror dominated the news. Broadband was only beginning to spread. Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter did not yet exist. Most video games were still purchased physically, in stores. I was still in high school.
And Borders Books was still around.
It was at this time that manga first boomed in the US market, and it was these books, not Marvel or DC, that shaped what “comics” was for me.
My Hero Academia is one of the best anime currently in progress. It is not a grimdark bloodbath. It is not a trippy experimental piece. It is not a harem. It is an exciting, action-packed series with an optimistic bent that gets better with every episode. You can watch the series for free on Crunchyroll, where it is officially licensed.
However, I’m not here to talk about the series generally; rather, I want to talk about its protagonist, Izuku Midoriya, called “Deku” by most of the characters. What makes Deku interesting is that in spite of how he got his powers, he is the polar opposite of a special snowflake.
Before we get to the story, let me tell you how it came to be. Just so you know, I wrote this story long before I read any pulps or Appendix N work, and long before I had any contact with Jeffro Johnson.
When researching the consequences of automation, I came across a work called Manna by Marshall Brain, founder of the HowStuffWorks website. In this story, a protagonist comes to grips with a world where robots are used for more and more tasks until there is literally no work for humans, and humanity is reduced to living in housing projects overseen by the corporations that control the robots. However, he learns of a society in Australia where the robots provide for a human being’s every need on the spot using renewable energy.
I found the work unsatisfying, since it asserted that humanity’s attitude toward work wouldn’t change in all that time; for example, the protagonist spouts cliches about hard work, and another character berates him for it, railing against not only the protagonist but the larger society. Second, it imagined that a post-scarcity society would be physically possible to begin with, ignoring resource limits while paradoxically showing concern for the environment.
Then I started thinking of something else — something all these articles and stories about automation never bring up.
“[The “Nation of Immigrants” idea] is actually more of a modern conception. The first few great waves of immigration…were actually tightly controlled affairs. And the integration was not as smooth as we’re lead to believe.”
Not a space fighter, but close enough for government work.
Yesterday, I spoke of why ancient weapons such as swords captivate modern audiences. But I thought on the issue some more and realized that the past isn’t the only source of idealized weaponry, for there are two other instruments of war that figure in stories of adventure: space fighters and giant robots. Unlike the sword, neither weapon has existed in real life, thus their image has not yet been diminished by being made obsolete in the face of advancing technology.
The weapons of true heroes. (Taken by Glsanthoshkumar)
We live in an era of truly destructive weaponry: Automatic rifles, precision guided missiles, nuclear bombs. They are delivered by tank and by plane, by ship and by rocket. Comptuer technology has taken this to another level, allowing for delivery of all those weapons with minimal human intervention. It is a capacity for destruction our ancestors once ascribed only to gods.
Yet in our fantastic fiction, we have a distinct prefence for ancient weapons: spears, axes, bows, and above all, swords. Even in modern environments, hand-to-hand combat is often emphasized over gunplay, as if the hero and the villain would rather fight with cold steel than hot lead.
I can think of a few reasons why this is the case.