my hero academia

“My Hero Academia” slows down for horseplay

“Strategy Strategy Strategy.” My Hero Academia Episode 17 (Season 2 Episode 4)

After the excellence set by the previous episode, what came after, by comparison, would be less interesting in My Hero Academia. This is a reality, not a flaw: you can’t have that kind of an explosive climax with Izuku’s victory in the Obstacle Course and follow it with another over-the-top moment, lest you exhaust the audience. Moving to the more stable ground of the Cavalry Competition allows “Strategy Strategy Strategy” to focus on the abilities of the other characters, while forcing the show to draw upon its other strength: comedy.

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And hey, we learn Izuku had a Quirk all along: drowning his enemies with his tears!

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“My Hero Academia” Season 2 slows down to introduce Todoroki’s struggle

“Roaring Sports Festival.” My Hero Academia Episode 15 (Season 2 Episode 2).

Available to stream at Funimation.com, CrunchyRoll.com, and VRV.co

After an opener that was light on action but excelled at re-introducing its characters, Season 2’s second opening brings together what serve as the characters’ motivations that determine the action we’ll see in this narrative arc–as well as a cliffhanger for more action to come.

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And hey, someone kicks Mineta’s ass–that’s a five-star episode already!

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“My Hero Academia” returns–and it is awesome!

“Hero Notebook.” Episode 13.5

“That’s the Idea, Ochaco.” Episode 14 (Season 2, Episode 1)

God, I missed the series.

It’s not just because it is hopeful, it’s not just because it focuses on abilities and disabilities in a superhero context, and it’s not just because in terms of music, writing, acting (in both Japanese and English), and animation (give or take an episode), it is just fun. Despite being 10 months since the most recent episode, and with some OVAs not yet released in the United States, it has not felt like a long time since My Hero Academia had new episodes.

And still, I have so much to say.

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My Presentations at #NeMLA17: Poe’s Pop Culture Afterlife, Disability in My Hero Academia, Batmanga and Spider-Man Sentai

Yeah, the only Poe image I could find that fits here was from Bungo Stray Dogs–don’t blame me, it’s a fun series!

I’ll be presenting (and working the registration table) at the upcoming Baltimore meeting of the Northeast Modern Language Association, March 23 to 26, at the Marriott Waterfront. The full schedule of presentations is available to search or download, and if you have any questions about the convention, feel free to tweet at me, email me at derekmcg@buffalo.edu, or approach me at the convention (my name badge will have “Staff” on it).

The Pop Culture Afterlife of Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe is a zombie: his themes, tropes, stories, tone, and arguments persist long after his death, not only in subsequent poetry, short stories, and criticism but also in film, television, music, and new media. This session looks at approaches to reading Poe’s influence forward into later popular culture, in particular strategies for incorporating works of current popular culture in the classroom when teaching Poe. Presentations look at Poe’s influence on The Following, Richard Corben, Fight Club, and Black Swan. Friday, March 24, 8:30-9:45 AM, Grand Ballroom 2

Batmanga and Captain America Ramen: DC vs Marvel in Japan

Shifting from comics publishers to multimedia content-branding enterprises, DC Entertainment and Marvel Entertainment have enlarged their markets overseas. While their fictional accounts are set largely in the United States, their film productions have sought to appeal to a wider global audience, especially in marketing towards Japan. Starting in the 1960s, DC licensed Batman for a 50-chapter manga series that proved popular in Japan. However, as this Batmanga series only recently has been translated and distributed to United States audiences, the potential bidirectional partnership between DC and Japanese publishers has been far less obvious compared that same partnership opportunity for Marvel. The list of Japanese properties featuring Marvel characters is extensive: ramen shops produce Captain America and Iron Man-themed meals; studios such as Sony and Madhouse produce anime based on Blade, Black Widow, the Punisher, and the X-Men; and Marvel has partnered with manga publishers for transpacific crossovers, such as between its Avengers and Kodansha’s Attack on Titan. Even the live-action Spider-Man series in Japan in the late 1970s allowed its local producer, Toei, to develop the tropes, special effects, sets, and costumes that would give birth to the ubiquitous brand Super Sentai, known in the United States as Power Rangers.

While Marvel is more visible, this competition between it and Marvel has not necessarily translated into more cinematic success in Japan: both Batman vs Superman and Captain America: Civil War opened much later than they did in other parts of the world, and sold far fewer tickets than Japanese films in the same opening weekends. This presentation will consider how economic, cultural, and media differences between DC and Marvel’s United States and Japanese distribution networks have led to innovations for both companies, while also increasing Marvel’s presence in Japan compared to DC. Friday, March 24, 11:45 AM-1 PM, Heron Room

The Quirkiness of a Superpower: Normalizing (Dis)abilities in Kōhei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia

Superpowered individuals are commonly treated in popular culture as the outsiders, their abilities making them stand out as othered. Japanese mangaka Kōhei Horikoshi reverses that idea in his comic My Hero Academia, recently adapted as an ongoing animated series. In his story, superpowers are the norm: 80 percent of the Earth’s population possesses such abilities, known as Quirks. This fictional world has adjusted considerably well to suit the needs of these superpowered individuals, who vary in size, ability, and shape: entrances serve persons both short and gargantuan, clothing stores make on-site adjustment to attire for multi-limbed or tailed individuals, and the government sanctions schools and agencies to allow for training of superheroes. In such a setting, My Hero Academia raises complicated questions about how othering can still persist, treating non-powered individuals as if they are analogous to persons with disabilities. For example, series protagonist Izuku Midoriya, who admires popular superhero All Might, is in that 20 percent of humans without a Quirk and is bullied by a superpowered classmate who mocks him with the nickname “Deku” (“Weakling”). A chance meeting with All Might reveals to Izuku that his superhero mentor has been living with an injury that is slowly sapping him of his Quirk, leaving the usually buff and tall superhero emaciated and bleeding. All Might’s injury is treated in-series as analogous to enervating conditions experienced by many people, showing how he lives with his condition while striving to maintain his previous and still arduous schedule of superheroing. My Hero Academia also prompts disconcerting questions regarding All Might giving his superpower to his new mentee Izuku, as this ability inheritance is treated as a way to normalize his supposed disabled body, prompting careful consideration about how this series reinforces and subverts representations of disabilities in superhero stories. Friday, March 24, 4:45-6:15 PM, Grand Ballroom 8

Fandom Report for March 2, 2017

My Hero Academia premieres its English dub the same day as its Japanese premiere. And adults are licking Nintendo games–because they have awful taste…the games and the adults.

My Hero Academia Season 2

New footage is out, including its new theme song, along with color character models, including of Class 1B.

And the season may be 24 episodes.

The season will premiere its English subtitled and dubbed versions the same day it premieres in Japan.

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REVIEW: My Hero Academia, Season 1 Finale: “In Each of Our Hearts”

Holy crap, All Might–that was a great episode!

Last week, I criticized lacking animation in the climactic battle between All Might and Nomu. The recap for this, the season finale of My Hero Academia, goes a long way to summarizing that battle to some of its key moments, such as the glowing blast tearing into Nomu’s body that sends him crashing through the clouds themselves a la Team Rocket

This condensing of the action to that abbreviated recap is paralleled by how this episode, “In Each of Our Hearts,” condenses the emotional impact felt by the characters–effectively reducing to its essence the students’ shock upon learning of the injuries All Might, Thirteen, Aizawa, and now Izuku have suffered. And that reduction makes the comedic moments of this episode as well more concise and all the more hilarious, such as Police Officer Kitten–I mean, Sansa. (If only other stories would figure out how to edit down a joke to be concise and hence funny rather than dragging.)

Actually, as a denouement to the previous episode’s climax, there is a lot of new content introduced, and elements that were in the previous episodes–in terms of animation, acting, even sound editing–seem to be condensed to their most effective qualities, making for an excellent finale that makes up for the flaws in this story arc. Coupled with the recap during the closing credits, and “In Each of Our Hearts” makes up for so many flaws present in the earlier episodes of this Hero versus Villain arc.

That the episode focuses its teasers not only on the introduction of a new villain, but also on All Might’s physical recovery, and Ochako and Iida waiting for Izuku’s medical release, emphasizes that this show, even as it happens to have superpowered bouts, is still invested in its characters’ development. That the reunion of Izuku, Ochako, and Iida is paired with Izuku’s narration, warning of a major incident coming, is a reminder to the audience that this show is not just about seeing heroes and villains beating the crap out of each other: you need investment in the characters’ relationships with each other if you want the fights to mean something. Otherwise, you’re stuck with a Batman v Superman situation–or Bleach.

That All Might interrupts his friend on the police force to ask first about the safety of his fellow teachers and of his students, then praises his students’ endurance and skills, is a message to the viewers that they should be watching for these characters, not for the battles alone. In just its first season, My Hero Academia has done great work at respecting its audience: there are no cheats to let the characters overcome adversity through unrealistic means. And it is a show that wants to keep its focus on where these characters move from this battle.

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