Remember that time Gandhi punched a man into the stratosphere? Or when Nelson Mandela dropped the atom bomb? While such events might make for a good game of Civilization VI, the societal and cultural implications would be rather bleak.
That’s the world of Boku no Hero Academia. A world where peace is assured, not by treaties and accords, but by the threat of overwhelming force. The threat of All Might bearing down upon you with all his might.
The surface level problem with this arrangement is not so much an issue for the majority of law-abiding citizens. At least, it wouldn’t be if not for the way this society pushes people toward villainy (which I wrote about here).
The deeper issue here, is the idolization of violence.
Pictured above are 4 of the top 10 ranked heroes in Japan. There are 2 others, but they don’t support my claim, and the remaining 4 are unknown.
All Might - OFA: punches so hard the sheer pressure changes the weather Endeavour - Hell Flame: kills it with fire Ryukyu - Dragon Form: claws, fangs, probably eats livestock whole Edgeshot - Foldabody: makes body thin as a razor, punches at speed of sound
Ignore the Shigarakis and All For Ones of the world, they are few and far between. Consider the more innocuous criminal, like a shoplifter. What strategies would any of these heroes employ in that case? Step 1, offer chance to surrender. Step 2, murder? These heroes do not have a non-lethal option.
And that’s a real problem. Not just for these heroes, but for the society that elevated them to the top 10, rankings which account for popularity more than anything else.
Every child dreams of being All Might. Everyone looks up to this incredible powerhouse. The term “Hero” was meant to mean “one who saves others,” but has twisted to mean only “one who fights villains.” This perverse understanding of what makes a hero pervades society at an institutional level.
Take it from Aizawa, the UA entrance exam is illogical and harmful, stemming from society’s fascination with brute strength. To get in to the UA Hero course, you need a combat-capable quirk. This system precludes people like Shinso or Aizawa from gaining admission, people who posses some of the greatest and most useful quirks any hero could ask for.
But the exam never asks, “What’s your true potential?” It begs but two simple questions, “How many villains can you beat up? How many people can you save (from villains)?” And the results end up looking like this:
That’s right, Lord Explosion Murder is the star of this year’s class. Bakugou’s quirk and personality are only useful for trying to kill things. Maybe he just needs a better role model. Who does he look up to? Oh, right, it’s All Might.
All Might is a defacto demi-god of this world. Outside of villainous circles, you won’t find anyone who doesn’t idolize him. But what good is that idolization? If someone like Bakugou genuinely believes himself to be following in All Might’s footsteps.
Well, maybe this is an isolated problem. All Might is UA’s celebrity alumni, of course they’ll try to keep up that image. But the other hero schools can’t all be like that, and the hero licensing program is bound to be–
Oh, nope. It’s all violence, all the time. Neat.
Granted, the provisional license exam does have a rescue phase, but almost everyone passed that. The part intended to cull 95% of the applicants is combat-based. Are there even enough villains in the world to justify being this focused on combat?
As tragic as it is, the elevation of violent heroes is only half the problem,
Because this is a zero-sum scenario: if brutality rises to the top, then utility is pushed to the bottom.
Non-violent heroes simply do not have a clear path to success. I’m using Shinso as an example again, because there are so few like him that manage to rise to the point of being mentioned in the story. The realm of heroism is all but institutionally sealed off for them.
Society wants heroes who fight villains. That is what their purpose has become. And anyone who can’t conform to that mold gets pushed out. Maybe Stain was on to something; heroes have deviated from their original purpose, they now exist only for the spectacle of the fight.
All Might’s position as the Symbol of Peace does not extol heroism, but rather violence in heroism’s name.
i know that’s hard to imagine with chloe, but for a moment, imagine she says something impossibly cruel, something she doesn’t necessarily mean, perhaps as a way to keep the upper hand, to win an argument, to keep up the superiority complex she has, what have you
imagine it’s directed to marinette who’s usually up and ready to banter back with her….and marinette doesn’t take it well
maybe it’s personal. maybe it digs deep in a way that marinette didn’t expect. but it leaves her with tears welling up, or perhaps it makes her run from the room in mortification
adrien screams at chloe, asks her what she was thinking. even sabrina is edging away from her and can’t look her in the eye. imagine the entire class losing complete respect for her and completely shutting her out.
imagine chloe being alone
it’s maddening: adrien and sabrina won’t talk to her, no one will sit next to her in class, no one acknowledges her, and all she gets from the entire class is dirty stares
marinette’s are the worst. marinette stares at chloe like she’s wishing the world’s misfortune on her. marinette’s never looked at chloe like that.
and it isn’t until she sees how marinette bores holes into the back of her head during class that chloe realizes she really messed up
imagine her hastily putting together a half-assed apology so that people will start talking to her again. but marinette isn’t having it.
“you know, that’s really cold. to just apologize to me bc you want your friends back and not bc you mean it. how dare you. don’t waste my time with this again unless you mean it.”
after that, marinette isn’t mad at her anymore. she’s just done. it’s as if chloe is invisible, as if chloe isn’t at all worth her time, as if nothing chloe does can affect her anymore. sabrina still won’t speak to her. adrien acts as if he can’t recognize her.
and that’s when chloe realizes she made a huge mistake. and she feels bad.
so she actually starts apologizing. leaving apology notes in marinette’s locker and on her desk. sending her fb messages pleading with her to hear her out. approaching her desk everyday and asking her if she’ll just please speak to her and let her apologize.
but marinette throws the notes out. blocks her on fb. ignores her when she approaches her. won’t let her in.
chloe tries to do little things. orders huge commissions from the dupain-cheng bakery just to give them business. stops by in the mornings for croissants and fills their tip jar with bills. sends marinette expensive designer clothes in the mail to give her inspiration. offers to drop off her homework to her parents when marinette is sick.
it does nothing, even though marinette notices the gestures, but chloe keeps trying
because she never actually meant to hurt anyone this bad. she knows no one will believe her when she says this but this isn’t what she wanted. she didn’t want marinette to treat her like this. didn’t want anyone to treat her like this.
and deep down, she realizes that ladybug – her idol, her hero, her role model – would hate what she’s done. and disappointing ladybug is the absolute last thing she ever wanted to do.
so chloe keeps working. working to make ladybug proud. working to win back marinette’s trust. working to show adrien and sabrina that they weren’t wrong to befriend her. working to show the whole class that she’s a good person. deep down. somewhere. she is. she promises. she’ll show them.
one day after school, when there’s a torrential downpour and marinette has no umbrella, chloe catches her before she leaves, gives her an umbrella, and apologizes for probably the hundredth time. marinette doesn’t respond to the apology, but accepts the umbrella, mutters a short thanks, and heads home
chloe accepts the coldness, realizes she deserves it, and doesn’t stay angry. instead, she pulls her sweater over her head to cover herself from the rain, and waits on the steps for her car to come
she doesn’t realize that there’s an old man a few blocks from the school who watched the whole exchange
when chloe gets home, she finds a small wooden box with strange markings sitting on her desk that she doesn’t remember putting there
she opens it to find a haircomb shaped like a bumblebee
So I realize that there are some things about Korean culture that people might not think of readily, so I wanted to offer a few fun thoughts and tidbits:
To recap, Hana Song aka D.Va is a teen World Starcraft Champion from the port city of Busan, famous for its beaches and Buddhist temples
At 19 years old, she is old enough drive, but the legal age is 18, so she wouldn’t have had a license for long. Oh, and personal anecdote: The Korean system makes it so that you can attain your driver’s license in three days if you really wanted to. So, I have a license, but I haven’t touched a car since I got the license… which I got in three days…
Also, within Korea, Busan is known for its aggressive taxi drivers / drivers in general, aha. I did a day trip with some friends the other day and it was gorgeous, the beach was stunning, but the bus ride was… a little nervewracking…
Korea has mandatory military service for its men for about two years, which you can fulfill between the ages of 18 and 25. So, unless Overwatch plans to change the system in their world, D.Va is working in a military with this in place.
Dunno what Overwatch is going to do with futuristic Busan, but in Korea, if you’re super famous, you’re going to end up on a lot of pizza, fried chicken, cosmetics, and or air conditioner commercials. Each of those are links, but if you want an example of how excessive Korea can get about one person, look at this Kim Yuna compilation. That’s not even all of them - just some of the ones from the year 2016. If D.Va is recognized as a national hero and an idol simultaneously, I wouldn’t be surprised by this kind of treatment.
Further, Korean idols are held to a high standard of moral character, as they are expected to be hardworking, positive role models for children and other youths.
But seriously, I could write an essay on how celebrity culture / marketing in Korea differs. Heck, I have, for school.
- Eraserhead is little shinsou’s idol
- shinsou knows all about him! well, all that there is to know (which isn’t much, considering the low profile he keeps)
- but one day, something happens, something that’s a near mirror of a future encounter between a popular hero and a quirkless boy
- it happens when elementary schooler shinsou sees a man and realizes - that’s HIM
- that’s shinsou’s hero!! that’s ERASERHEAD!!!
- and young shinsou, he runs up to his idol
- with the little eraserhead toy his mom made for him (since there’s none in stores) clutched tight in his little hands
- those hands are shaking as shinsou asks - “can i be a hero? a hero like you?”
- aizawa looks at the young boy in front of him, crouches down, and asks - “like me?”
- and shinsou tells him, tells his idol how his quirk isn’t physical like most heroes’ are, and how his quirk won’t work, won’t be effective if everyone knows what it is, so he’s worried that even if he manages to become a hero, soon enough into his career it’ll just be useless
- and aizawa cocks his head, thinks a bit, and then tells shinsou a few things about how he does his hero work and what it means for a hero to have a non-physical quirk
- he’s not going to give a tiny child battle advice, but he makes sure to encourage and reassure him a bit
- and then, then
- aizawa, aizawa asks shinsou what his quirk is
- and shinsou gets nervous and fidgety
- aizawa tells him that it’s okay, that he doesn’t have to tell him his quirk
- and shinsou is ready to cry because this is all so overwhelming
- (his mom watches nervously because she just wants her little boy to be okay and happy and doesn’t meeting your heroes never end well?)
- and shinsou whispers it out, whispers how he can control people, can make them do anything, but only after they respond to him
- and aizawa, he puts it together from all the hints, he realizes that this little boy probably has people being mean to him because of his quirk
- (is this because aizawa was bullied? because maybe aizawa once was a child just like shinsou, would get beat up even when he took his bullies’ quirks away? it’s possible)
- and aizawa just looks shinsou in the eye
- and tells shinsou -
- “that sounds like a FANTASTIC quirk. perfect for fighting villains”
- (shinsou tears up real fast, he’s positively BEAMING at this point)
- aizawa leaves shinsou with a parting comment as he pushes himself up into a standing position
- “I can’t wait to work with you one day”
- “…work with me?”
- “work with you, yes. as heroes. good luck, i know you’ll be a great one.”
- (years later, aizawa smiles when he sees a boy in the sports festival with a mind control quirk, smiles as he recognizes the quirk and thinks back on an old memory)
- (“shinsou hitoshi,” he whispers to himself. “i gotta remember that name.”)
Ok guys I’m sorry I’m not uploading some stuff but here’s some bnha sketches done in october/november uploaded on twitter, if you’d like to follow me there here’s my account GAYNESS SHRINE I’m working on commissions, deadlines for projects THAT I WILL SHOW YOU ASAP, I just need time to define everything. I’m also working on some merchandise to sell at japan expo, obviously I’ll have BNHA Stuff. If time helps I will make a sort of BNHA charms pre-order if you’re interested, I’ve never done something like this so…dunno? I hope you’ll be interested :^ I could upload here on tumblr some preview!