Behind Every Great Anime Protagonist Is A Great Supporting Cast

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Previously I’ve looked at reasons why being a villain would suck and I’ve certainly looked at various characters on my blog and why they shine, but with the exception of Natsume (see the supporter battle Irina and I worked on), I seldom discuss the supporting cast and their importance in making or breaking a series. Which is something I decided I needed to change because the more I think about it the more I come to realise that great characters don’t occur in isolation.

For every character I’ve connected with or instantly fell in love with and wanted more of, surrounding them is usually a plethora of well written, developed and interesting characters. Each one holding up their end of the story and playing the role they need to play in a way that allows the protagonist to shine.

Obi from Snow White With The Red Hair
Obi is a fantastic supporting cast member in Snow White With The Red Hair. See my top 5 favourite moments with him.

However, this also highlights my general problem with harem anime (whether standard harem, reverse harem, or not a harem but using more or less the same tropes). That is, generally (not always), while there might be good characters in the anime, they aren’t working to complement each other.

Not every supporting cast is made up of a harem in anime… just a lot of them.

The focus is on each of the girls (or guys) standing out from the others with a distinct visual and personality. Their job is to carve out their own niche audience and fan group rather than support a main character or even the cast as a whole. As a direct result, the supporting characters pull attention away from what frequently turns out to be a fairly dull protagonist and because of the shared screen time none of the supporting characters ever really feels fully realised (again, generalising).

Going through some of my favourite characters, or characters I am drawn to, I can see time and again, that a lot of what makes them so amazing comes from those surrounding them.

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March Comes in Like a Lion (I promise this isn’t another love letter) has Rei at its centre with the Kawamoto sisters as almost dueteragonists. Particularly in the second season where Akari becomes a major focus for a large arc. All four of these characters are fantastically written and interesting characters and honestly I’d probably happily watch them just stay inside the Kawamoto house and interact at this point.

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But, that wasn’t what drew me to the show and to Rei early on before the deep connections were formed and I learned more about these characters. Whether it was Nikaido as a self-proclaimed best friend, Shimada as a mentor character, Kyoko and Goto as potential antagonists, the members of the Science/Shogi club… every single character we encounter (even the one episode rival shogi players) felt like a fully realised character that helped to flesh out the world.

More importantly they gave Rei a wide range of people to respond to and react to bringing out more of Rei’s personality and pain and allowing the audience to feel that he was also a fully realised character rather than just a one note ‘tragic young shogi player’.

Yuri on Ice Episode 6
Yuri and Victor

On a lighter note, Victor and Yuri from Yuri on Ice are amazing. No question I loved watching the two of them interact and grow closer together. I would happily watch more of just the two of them. But again, that wasn’t the immediate draw. What draws you in to Yuri on Ice are all the small touches throughout, including every supporting cast member we meet feeling like they have their own story to tell and just being fun.



Yuri on Ice Episode 7 - Yuri's family - The supporting cast members

Whether it is Yurio running from his fan club, JJ and his over-bearing confidence, Yuri’s family and their support, all of the characters bring something to the mix that helps to elevate the whole shoe and provide a context for Yuri and Victor’s relationship to grow within.

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However, even something like Noragami, where I genuinely love Yato, it is again the support cast that manage to bring out his full charm. Hiyori and Yuki stand with him and each brings something relatable and interesting to the story, but the other gods, the regalia, Hiyori’s friends, those who call Yato, even the phantoms, each of them add something to the story and while we may not get a huge amount of time with them, or back story, they are a delight to meet and interact with.

Noragami - supporting cast

Where Noragami manages to go even further is in the portrayal of Nora who remains for most of season one an incredibly enigmatic figure but one who is sufficiently built up that when she takes a more active role in season two it doesn’t feel like she’s come from nowhere. It feels like a natural extension of where her story had been heading from the beginning and it is largely through her interactions with Yato that more of Yato’s past can be revealed to the audience.

My Hero Academia Support Cast

Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it in terms of whether a great support cast can make or break a show and a protagonist. Look at My Hero Academia. I like Midoriya, I really do, but he isn’t a particularly memorable character on his own. It is the zany cast that surrounds him early on that fills the anime with so much energy and enthusiasm and allows Midoriya the chance to grow into his role as both protagonist and hero. There’s almost as much fan art around plenty of his classmates as there is of him (and of some characters I’d bet there’s even more).

When creating something it is important to remember that while the protagonist will probably be the character people remember, a great protagonist on their own doesn’t normally carry the story alone (unless they are Tom Hanks in Cast Away in which case I still give the award for best supporting cast member to the Volleyball). It is the support cast that create the space and opportunities for the protagonist to be who they need to be and draw out the best of the main character.

Cast Away - Tom Hanks and Wilson

So remember, behind every great protagonist is a great supporting cast. Or a really emotive volleyball.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Do You Need Characters You Can Relate To? Do You Like To Look In The Mirror?

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When reading reviews a comment that is regularly mentioned is how relatable a certain character or situation is and why that makes something more or less interesting. I find this an intriguing comment mostly because the bulk of my viewing growing up was strictly fantasy and science fiction and while you can relate well to the human elements of those shows and some of the characters, the fun of those genres is that they can take you outside of what you know and make you see things in new ways.

However, as I got older and really started looking at what made stories work, I realised that even within fantasy and science fiction, the stories I was drawn to were the ones where the struggles the characters went through felt real. And what made those conflicts and problems real was that I could usually see a parallel to something in my own life or the real world. It was kind of at that point where I started expanding outward from fantasy and sci-fi, as well as copious amounts of horror, and started finding other stories to lose myself in though I never lost my love for fantasy.

While making something easy to relate to might be a draw, does it make it good?

Anyway, the reason I’m thinking about this at the moment is I recently tried to review the first season of Kuroko’s Basketball and what I realised was I didn’t actually like the show. I watched the entire series (25 episodes) in less than a week while working 55+ hours and doing episodic views and reviews of currently airing anime, and I came to the conclusion I didn’t particularly like the show, though I didn’t dislike it either to be honest. So why couldn’t I stop watching it?

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Kuroko.

He is an incredibly boring character when you just kind of describe him. He barely talks, he has no presence for either the other characters or even the audience (even when he is seemingly supposed to be the centre of attention) and his overall character journey isn’t that interesting in this first season. He didn’t like the way the other members of his middle school team played basketball so now he’d like to beat them. Well, that’s profound. So again, why couldn’t I stop watching?

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Because of the relatability. I really related with Kuroko right from episode 1, and not because of basketball because I really did not care about that part of the story. Without the gross exaggeration, Kuroko is someone who is easily overlooked. The guy in the room that even when people know he should be there, they just forget about him. It isn’t that he lacks talent, or that he is getting picked on, or anything like that, he’s just an existence like air. And that is something I could relate to.



At school I was the person who the teacher would ask someone else in the room if they knew where I was, when I was sitting in the classroom. I’m the person who can stand at a service counter forever and will have to wait while everyone around me gets served, sometimes even people standing behind me, and then the service person will start cleaning up behind the counter because they genuinely don’t see me standing there (something which my real life friends find hilarious for some reason).

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However, what made Kuroko easy to relate to wasn’t just that he was invisible. It was that he wasn’t bitter about that aspect of his life, he wasn’t hiding because he was being bullied, he wasn’t on some quest to be noticed or not to be noticed… it was just part of who he was.

There are so few characters like that and it was such a novel experience seeing a character that just owned that attribute. That isn’t to say he doesn’t make his presence felt when needed, but again, that makes him relatable. While I might have a presence like air by default, you can’t get through life like that. You have to make people see you sometimes.

So one character, with one relatable trait, was enough to draw me into a show that I don’t actually dislike but it isn’t exactly blowing me away and it made me realise just how powerful this idea is. People are drawn to characters they relate to. They don’t need to be exact mirror images, but when they have that one trait or one thing that the viewer connects with on a personal level, they grab the interest of that viewer in a way that all the brilliant plots in the world probably wouldn’t.

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Which made me wonder about a show that I thoroughly enjoyed the first season of, My Hero Academia. What is the draw for that show? Its fun, high energy, great fight sequences, but ultimately it is the characters that I’ve fallen in love with. And when you look at each of the characters what you realise is that they all have some trait or characteristic that you can relate to.

Even if it isn’t a trait you have, it is one you recognise in someone near you. Those characters are incredibly interesting but more than that, you can relate to the struggles they are individually going through even as they are on this fantastical journey to become a superhero.

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In one of my favourite shows was March Comes in Like a Lion, I connected very strongly with Rei as he progressed through the story. As a character I wanted to see him succeed but I could understand him when he failed and when he felt he needed to give up. I cheered when he pushed forward, even if it was only a small step, and I cried for him when things got hard.

There were so many moments in my own life where I felt Rei’s struggles related and so many people I know who have gone through depression or similar situations that I could relate Rei’s story too. It felt real and I loved every moment of Rei during its run I really looking forward to its return for season 2 (and was absolutely not disappointed).

What are your thoughts? Do you prefer characters you can relate to?


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Top 5 Moments in Anime That Left Me Breathless

Top 5 Moments in Anime That Left Me Breathless

There are some moments in movies, TV shows, movies and books where the only appropriate reaction is to sit stunned. Either amazed by the beauty, audacity, shock factor, or sheer amazingness of what you’ve just witnessed/read. These are my top 5 moments in anime that have left me breathless and stuck with me long after the anime has ended.

What are your top 5 moments in anime?

Definitely a spoiler warning in effect from this point onward.

No. 5 – Ichigo’s first Bankai (Bleach)

A top 5 moment in anime - Ichigo goes Bankai

While there are any number of truly epic moments throughout Bleach’s 366 episode run that could have qualified for this list (particularly as I watched Bleach when my access to anime was pretty limited and so scenes that others might find pretty ordinary seemed truly amazing and stuck with me) Ichigo’s first time using his bankai against Rukia’s brother Byakuya was a truly show-stopping one.

Prior to this point, Ichigo’s sword was really big and not much else. Even his special move was really just making a really large swipe at something which left some very cool impressions on convenient rocky mountains but compared to the plethora of interesting swords in the show, his left very little impression.

Therefore, Ichigo managing to unlock a new form for his sword after some gruelling and very truncated training in order to achieve the feat in time to save Rukia, is one of those moments that really just made sure I was glued to the screen as the battle played out.

No. 4 – The Colossal Titan Appears (Attack on Titan)

Another anime where any number of scenes and sequences could have made the list. Attack on Titan played on shock factor and delivered a number of truly gruelling and cruel moments for the cast of characters as well as some very cool moments such as literally every time Levi actually gets to fight. And yet, none of them ever topped the scene in the first episode where the Colossal Titan appears.

This is just such a well paced sequence where we know what is coming and yet the sheer immensity of the threat and helplessness of the characters just brings everything to a halt. It wasn’t just the characters whose lives were inevitably changed by the events here. Viewers were also left staring in awe and a little fear as this menacing figure appeared over the walls.

Its one of those moments in anime where even if you saw the promotional images before hand and kind of knew what was coming, it was still pretty amazing to see unfold.



No. 3 – Yuri and Victor Kiss (Yuri on Ice)

Yuri on Ice Episode 7 - The Kiss
Best Moments in Anime

Okay, I’m more surprised this one didn’t end up higher up the list.

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time or if you were on Twitter during 2016, you will know that this moment didn’t just leave some viewers breathless it literally blew up online. Whether it was the argument about whether it was a kiss or not or just people happy to see their ship sail, episode 7 of Yuri on Ice was a game-changer and one of those extraordinary moments in anime that you never quite forgot.

While it is easy for an epic fight sequence to be a spectacle and grab your attention, there’s something special about a character moment, a personal celebration, that manages the same feat. As much as watching Yuri perform his routine and execute an amazing move toward the end of his performance was spectacular, the moments that follow are far more meaningful and will stick with the viewer long after the season comes to a close.

No. 2 Roy Destroys Envy (Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood)

Again, Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood is full of epic battles and emotional moments that more or less take your breath away. However, Roy’s cold and ruthless revenge against Envy still stands as one of the best moments in anime I’ve ever witnessed.

It isn’t just that Roy is saving Hawkeye in this sequence. Nor is it simply that his use of fire is a visual spectacle to behold. Even knowing that Envy is the character that was responsible for the death of Maes Hughes isn’t the reason this scene remains one of the best anime moments ever.

No, what sells this scene is Roy himself. Usually playing a bit of a fool or a competent leader, depending on the requirement of the moment, in this scene we see Roy as the devastated friend face to face with that friend’s killer. If looks could kill, the look in Roy’s eyes as he faces of against Envy would have been enough before he ever used alchemy.

While I’m not big on an eye for an eye, there’s something just utterly compelling about this scene and it may very well have been my number one pick if I’d written this list back when I first started the blog.

No. 1 – Your Turn (My Hero Academia)

While I’ve made no secret of the fact that I kind of grew weary of My Hero Academia and am now taking a break from the newer seasons, there was definitely a moment in season 3 of the superhero tale that truly grabbed my attention. And it was the moment All Might publicly passed the torch to Midoriya, even if the public didn’t quite know to whom All Might’s gesture was directed.

Again, it is odd that it wasn’t the epic battle that lead to this moment as All Might was battered and eventually unable to hold onto his hero form. It is the character moment where he has made his choice and Midoriya’s (and the audience’s) understanding of what this really means.

As far as moments in anime go, this one is one that can truly be appreciated even by non-anime fans. It isn’t a visual spectacle or a colourful explosions across the screen. Instead it is a deeply personal moment playing out on a very public stage and one that has far reaching consequences for the society in the story and the characters at the heart of it.

Top 5 Moments in Anime That Left Me Breathless

These were my top 5 moments in anime that left me breathless but I’d love to know which moments in anime you would have picked. Be sure to leave me a comment below.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Why I’ve Never Been A Fan of Anime Tournament Arcs

Why I've Never Been A Fan of Anime Tournament Arcs

For some fans, the announcement of an anime tournament arc starting is enough to make them squeal with joy and start anticipating the awesome show-downs to come.

For me though, finding out that a story I’ve been enjoying is about to embark on a tournament arc is usually enough to make me sigh. I’m happy enough when it turns out I was wrong. My Hero Academia managed to turn their anime tournament arc into quite the impressive fare with some of the show’s best episodes and fights appearing during its run, but that’s more of an exception rather than the rule.

My Hero Academia showing us that anime tournament arcs can be entertaining.

So what is it about anime tournament arcs that really puts me off before the arc has even started?

Anime Tournament Arcs – A Different Kind of Fan-Service

For me, it very much feels like a tournament arc is just a different kind of fan-service. Largely because it puts characters we love up against one another and shows of their flashiest moves. This includes characters who normally wouldn’t fight each because they are friends.

Dr Stone - Anime tournament arc in the midst of invention.

However, unlike a beach episode, tournament arcs tend to run through multiple episodes if not entire cours of a season and so while the tournament may exist for a purpose and there may be some goal the characters wish to achieve by entering it, the narrative as a whole more or less screeches to a halt while we essentially watch action sequence after action sequence with character match-ups that might be thrilling but ultimately if we skipped to the conclusion we wouldn’t be much worse off.

Even My Hero Academia wasn’t exactly progressing its plot throughout its tournament but it did compensate by delivering some of the strongest character moments and break-throughs for the series making it feel meaningful and needed with the characters emerging from the tournament with some improved mind-sets and motivations.



But when we look at anime built entirely around a death game or tournament style match up such as Juni Taisen: Zodiac War we can really see the weaknesses of this kind of narrative.

Juni Taisen - A continuous anime tournament arc

Sure watching super-powerful characters pummel each other can be fun but it works better if we actually know the characters first and want at least one of them to succeed in the end. It also helps if we understand what the purpose of all the fighting is in the first place.

No Consequences To Losing An Anime Tournament

The other issue anime tournament arcs suffer from is a lack of consequences of failure within them. As much as the stories might try to make the stakes seem impossibly high, a tournament arc is by its nature a controlled setting and generally speaking regardless of how out of control the situation gets you kind of suspect that someone will step in before the characters actually die.

Likewise, while a character might go in needing to win in order to obtain some goal, losing seems to only mean they don’t get it (that and they have a massive bump to their pride). At times that doesn’t seem like a particularly huge consequence.

The Asterisk War - Anime tournament arc with school students

If we look at something like The Asterisk War, one of the biggest issues early on was while winning the tournament may lead to the characters learning something new or gaining something they were seeking, they did have other options to pursue and losing just meant things kept going as they had been.

The anime tournament didn’t result in any earth shattering consequences or even concrete and clear personal losses for the characters in question. And you could never actually believe that the schools would allow the students to be critically injured during the fights even if they were getting beaten up quite badly.

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Of course, it is equally ridiculous when the fate of the world rests on the outcome of an anime tournament simply because, who does that? Whether it is Mirai Nikki with its god planning to hand his powers over to the final survivor of the death matches or something like the Fate series with its Grail Wars, it just feels so contrived and not like a real consequence.

Fight, fight, fight!

Lastly, tournament arcs in anime have this nasty tendency to outstay their welcome.

In an effort to appease everyone they shove as many characters as possible into the matches and then of course you have to justify their presence. Or give each and every character a shining moment before moving on. It eats up screen time and season time that could be better spent else where.

One Punch Man - Anime tournament arc that felt empty.

Plus, each fight ends up starting to feel much the same as the last as some fail to make each match-up feel unique and energised.

I definitely felt this fatigue in Dr Stone which actually had a relatively short tournament arc when they were looking to elect a village leader. In the grand scheme of the story, an anime tournament arc felt out of place and more than that, it slowed our progress toward a conflict with the revived Tsukasa to a crawl.

Dr Stone - more anime tournament images

While there were some funny moments along the way in the mis-matched battles throughout the tournament mostly it felt like an intrusion into the story and for an anime that focused largely on science and building cool inventions out of stone-age materials, it was one of the least original ideas they could have brought into the story.

Do you like anime tournament arcs?

I’ve probably made this clear already, but there are some truly great anime tournament arcs out there. And when it fits the story’s purpose and helps develop characters, there’s definitely a place for a tournament arc.

But for anime that just kind of throw it in there to pad out there story or to provide some candy for viewers who were always wondering what would happen if X character fought Y, they end up being largely something that make me wonder how many episodes I can safely skip before I lose track of the story.

So I’d love to know how you find anime tournament arcs and whether you are a fan or not? Also, what has been your favourite anime tournament arc? Be sure to leave me a comment below.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Visualist x 100!!!! – My Hero Academia Season 4: Episode 20 Review

Visualist x 100
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Eri’s First Day Out

Kapodaco’s Thoughts

So, this is… still going… Are we going to end the season with this as an actual arc? That would be… something.

I have to admit: I’m starting to like Gentle and La Brava in a sort of dumb, wholesome way. They’re like the bumbling idiots who are just trying their best that you can’t help but support… with questionable motives. Almost like Team Rocket or… uh… another duo like them. I have yet to deduce what exactly Gentle wants (Attention? Fame? Bored?), as his reasoning from the last episode doesn’t really add up. Perhaps that will be explained in time; I’m not sure.

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We have five episodes left in this season, and assuming this all doesn’t end next episode (I believed it would end this episode), I’m inclined to believe this “Gentle” arc is an actual arc that the author intended for people to take seriously, as opposed to just some filler fluff. That being the case, it’s an arc that reminds me of the earlier days of the series (first season specifically), only with the weight of substance of all that came afterwards. It’s interesting that the circumstances have changed the way I perceive its importance. Where the first season was fresh-faced and unpredictable, now we’re at a point where the series doesn’t seem to have anything more to say. So while the semi-aloof manner of this point kind of worked in the first season, it’s not as becoming currently.

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What more can I even say? I feel like my thoughts are just going to get shorter as the season continues, with the pretense that this is all that’s left. What more can be said? “Ah, Mirio’s butt hanging out of the bush was really funny and saved the entire season!” It’s pretty by-the-numbers. I appreciated it as a cooldown segment, but an entire arc like this? Not sure I dig it.

Affiliate Link – Soundtrack
my hero academia 2nd original soundtrack 537493.1

Karandi’s Thoughts

So we’ve gone from catching up with the class and the support characters we actually like to meandering about the school and catching up with every bit character Midoriya has previously encountered whether they are of any importance or not? In the grand scheme of this season calling this arc padded seems fairly pointless and yet most of this episode feels entirely skippable. About the only noteworthy facts are that the police wanted the festival cancelled so when it inevitably ends badly that will surely have consequences and that Midoriya has ordered a new support item from the weird girl in the support class.

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Gentle and La Brava seem as underwhelming as a potential threat this week as they did last. They save their appearance for the end of the episode but really there’s nothing there worth noting. The interactions between these two characters are not that interesting and when you couple that with their plan feeling doomed to fail and not even in an interesting way there’s little reason to bother investing any thought in them.

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Meanwhile class 1A are rehearsing and making tea. That’s cool but not exactly compelling viewing. 

Even Eri’s first day out ended up being a bit of a fizzle with limited interaction between Midoriya, Mirio and Eri as they moved around the school. If they’d had less input from other bit characters and more actual interaction between each other it may have been half-way interesting but honestly they really just used the visit as an excuse to take the audience on an unneeded tour of the school and side characters.

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While certainly not the worst episode there’s little to really get a viewer excited here.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Keep up to date with Kapodaco and I as we cover the latest season of My Hero Academia!

Images from: My Hero Academia Season 4. Dir. K Nagasaki. Bones. 2019.

Visualist x 100!!!! – My Hero Academia Season 4: Episode 18 Review

Visualist x 100
Hero4 18b

Festival Time

Kapodaco’s Thoughts

O-kay! So! This episode may turn off some people. From the very beginning, we are treated to the high-octane heroism of breakdancing! “Filler” is a word we tend to throw out somewhat often, and here, it fits spectacularly well. This is a filler episode, with only gradual indications that it will mean anything to the whole of the story.

Establishing this, I will admit (if that’s the appropriate wording) that I liked this episode a lot. More than that, I think this might be my favorite episode in the entire season. Why? Spirit. Never at any moment in eighteen episodes had I felt like it exhibited the same spiritedness and exuberance as that of previous seasons, whether in learning to be a hero or just goofing around with classmates. Karandi and I were reluctant to become comfortable with an overall lack of screentime from the entire U.A. body. Huzzah! This is the first episode where the writing complements the usage of every voice within the class, even Koda, whom I completely forgot had a very tiny voice for their gargantuan form. For the first half of this episode, it felt like the class was an actual class and the antics among them were… enjoyable?!?!?

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It could’ve played out harmlessly, but then they decided to incorporate Eri into the picture. A glimpse of meaning has invaded the filler! Even that was cute! Using the school festival as a means of providing relief for a small child, who apparently can’t even smile from the tortures pressed onto her, is a quaint, but nice proposal. This seems to be a two (maybe three?) part episode, so it only promises more filler time to come.

Yet said filler can’t be left without a little conflict. Some stupid dude named Gentle and his little cohort in La Brava are on the loose among the city and… they don’t seem threatening in the slightest. Their only reason for existence seems to be a possible curveball thrown into the plans of the school festival, which I expect to see next episode. Really, this whole bit could be a two-episode OVA thing and it wouldn’t remove anything from the main plot, except perhaps the moments with Eri. That’s where I believe some will chastise this.

Hero4 18g

I’m sold, though. I don’t think the series has been this fun since the end of the second season. I’ll take a lack of consequence if it means the students of U.A. are back to being prominent. Just seeing Ashido dance without warning to open the episode, with others viewing it in their own ways, was incredulous. “Are they really doing this?” As it continued, I found myself accepting it, which gradually became that rare ecstaticism that came with watching My Hero in ye olden days. For me, it’s always been the characters. When they’re being cute, I’m smitten. Whether they drive the plot or are lazily enjoying life, that’s what I’m here for.

Affiliate Link – Figures
My Hero Academia Figures

My Hero Academia Figures

Karandi’s Thoughts

Kapodaco is right. This episode brings back some of the old spirit from My Hero Academia. While from a narrative point of view this episode seems largely meaningless outside of reuniting Togata with Midoriya and Eri and their plan to take Eri out of the hospital (nothing could go wrong with that), just getting to hang out with the whole of class 1A and seeing them bounce off of one another reminded me of when I actually enjoyed watching the episodes of My Hero Academia unlike most of this season where I’ve just kind of endured them. 

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Where I am a little less thrilled is that it does seem decidedly pointless. When they announced a school festival coming up I was hopeful the League of Villains would have some ambitious plan and we’d end the season on a reasonably dramatic note and yet instead we’re apparently introducing what feels like another throw away villain into the mix who will probably end up being the focus for the time. Now he could end up being another Stain, an independent villain who actually had major narrative consequence, but I’m not seeing Gentle being anything but filler and I’m so far not particularly impressed by him as a character.

Still, the bulk of the episode is taken up by the class meeting about what they will contribute to the festival and that does give each of the students a chance to share their idea, returning their voice and personality clearly into the series. Seeing Iida leading the meeting was actually really fun and in small doses I find his character to be very entertaining, particularly when balanced by the voices of the rest of the class.

Hero4 18c

Overall though, this episode isn’t exactly a massive turning point for the show. We’re still just kind of puttering along without really getting anywhere and after feeling like the story has been locked in neutral for a season, seeing that not changing as we head towards the final episodes is a little on the disappointing side (though it isn’t unexpected at this point).

That said, I’ll take it. This episode was pleasant, seeing the class interacting made me smile, I loved the scene where Midoriya and Togata visited Eri, and the festival looks like it will be reasonably fun as far as school festival arcs go. If Gentle turns out to be even a half-decent antagonist for the sequence this could be a reasonable way to close out the season but again, I’m keeping my expectations low.

Hero4 18e

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Keep up to date with Kapodaco and I as we cover the latest season of My Hero Academia!

Images from: My Hero Academia Season 4. Dir. K Nagasaki. Bones. 2019.

Am I Being Too Judgemental Or Is My Hero Academia Season Four Just Not Good?

Feature Academia

The answer here is that there’s probably a bit of both going on. I am being incredibly judgemental of My Hero Academia Season Four and that’s because it gave us two phenomenal seasons (season one and season two) and a third season that had an emotional peak that deserves to be remembered and season four just hasn’t stood up to the predecessors.

However, given the high quality of some of those early seasons, is season four actually a pretty alright show that is just being judged harshly? Given I’m still watching Darwin’s Game, would I argue that My Hero Academia Season Four is actually worse? I decided to step back a bit and take a more objective look at the situation and why I’m finding season four so hard to feel interested in.

What is it about My Hero Academia Season Four?

MHA S4 Bakago and Todoroki

Note: I will only be discussing anime in this article. I have not and probably won’t be reading any of the manga for these anime.

The Problem With Long Running Shounen

I’ve previously made it clear that the only long running shounen I’ve ever really gotten into was Bleach. I love Bleach. Partly that was because it was one of the earlier anime I watched as an adult and the thrill of being able to find the next part of an episode on YouTube with English subs that made sense was always pretty great.

I also started watching it once it was well on its way so was able to binge most of the earlier seasons though did have to skip parts of some episodes just to not being able to find them. The whole ten minute maximum video length on YouTube at the time was not particularly friendly to anime episodes that were 23 – 24 minutes in length and so various people cut the episodes at various points and fan subbed them in a variety of languages.

Bleach also exemplifies a lot of the problems with long running shounen. The first three seasons are fantastic and have a wonderful character arc for the protagonist as he goes from ‘average guy who can see ghosts’ to the guy who fights his way through Soul Society to save the shinigami who gave him her power from being executed.

It’s nicely done, though even those three seasons have an excess of characters, long running fights, and padding in the form of cuts to Ichigo’s sisters and other side characters that break up the flow of the main narrative.

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From the end of season three on, the filler becomes the main story at times meaning there are entire seasons that can be skipped because they actually add nothing to the overall narrative and the fights become more overblown and prolonged, the character count keeps escalating, and ultimately you aren’t really sure why any of the characters have any stake in the matter other than bad things happen and good guys get to work beating the villain who caused them.

Keep in mind, I really like Bleach. I own the box sets of the DVD’s and regularly binge whole seasons of the show over a weekend just to relax. That doesn’t mean I’m blind to its flaws, just that for me it was the first of its ‘type’ that I watched and so it holds a special place for me.

The other big shounen titles have largely been misses for me. I never finished season one of Naruto. One Piece barely got a few episodes before I just kind of shrugged. I have watched segments of Dragon Ball but I’ve never been a fan. It’s watchable and if someone else wants to watch it I’ll join in.

Somewhat ‘shorter’ stories like Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood and Soul Eater fare a great deal better as they tend to demonstrate the characteristics of that first arc of Bleach. They tell a story, bring their characters to a nice resting point and then let things come to a close. We know there’s more to their stories but they don’t just stretch on and on adding further complication upon complication just to try to engage an increasingly jaded audience.

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Hunter x Hunter is perhaps the one other long running shounen series that I’ve made significant headway through. After repeated recommendations I started watching it and for a time was reviewing episodes two at a time when I found the time, but it’s now been twelve months since I watched my last episode of it (that sounded almost like it belonged in an AA meeting).

I haven’t finished it, though I’m close-ish. I actually enjoyed various bits of the story, but again, it started to feel like it had said everything it had to say and now we were just going through the motions.

So let’s bring this back to My Hero Academia.


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My Hero Academia’s Diminishing Returns

Back when season one of My Hero Academia was airing, I originally didn’t start watching with everyone else at episode one. It was another shounen title and I was already aware they weren’t my favourite kind of show. Worse, it focused on super heroes and with the plethora of Hollywood movies even back then coming out on the topic (not to mention the various TV series) I was just kind of over it. The rave reviews of those first few episodes though made me want to give it a try at around the episode five mark and so I binged all the available episodes and was hooked.

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What worked in My Hero Academia was that it was a beautifully animated show with a central character who exemplified the underdog trope while still holding onto that can-do shounen spirit and, as the story progressed, it seemed to have a lot to say about how we define and view heroic acts and those who commit them.

Outside of the story being very generic in that we have a bunch of would-be super-heroes attending a training school and the main character starting powerless but telling us he’s going to become the strongest, there was almost nothing to complain about in that first season. The pace didn’t go too fast but nor did it dwell on things too long. It all just flowed in a nice looking, easily digestible package. However, it was the tone and feel of the anime that made it stand out. From the beginning, I’ve always loved My Hero Academia’s energy.

With season two dipping into a sports tournament arc, my heart initially sank. Foolish really given that group of episodes ended up being amongst the strongest that My Hero Academia would deliver over all four of the seasons that have currently aired. Character growth was logical and well delivered during this sequence and so many of the characters we’d grown attached to in the first season had a moment to shine.

Also, All Might and Midoriya’s relationship also further developed as Midoriya moved less from being a fanboy to actually being a protege. They took the opportunity to identify again some of the problems with both the school and the society and then they built on that with the arrival of the best antagonist the series had ever produced (and that remains true even now) with Stain making the scene with his interesting philosophy on the heroes of society.

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Unfortunately, season three ended up being a mixed bag of ideas as the League of Villains rose up and the various characters continued their various journeys to get stronger and get their provisional hero’s licence. The mid-season peak, where All Might gave his everything in one final fight, was perhaps the best moment My Hero Academia has ever produced, but it was surrounded by a season that couldn’t meet the standards of what had come before it.

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And now we have season four. A season that manga readers kept insisting was going to get better, that we’d get to the awesome, it was just around the corner. Now that the whole fight with Chisaki has fairly generically drawn to a close without really raising an emotional response the chatter has switched to saying that what is coming next in the story will be amazing. Yet, My Hero Academia, as it stands, is perhaps at its lowest point in terms of being entertaining, well animated or well paced.

You Can’t Expect Gold Every Time

Taking a step back, My Hero Academia season four isn’t actually bad. It’s just in that weird mid-phase that a lot of long running shows go through. That peak with All Might passing the torch to Midoriya was right up there with Ichigo finally rescuing Rukia, and it is taking the show some time to set up the next big stage.

When I’m not annoyed at the anime for feeling dull, I can see that The League of Villains is continuing to work away at things, that the society is changing in how it views heroes and the occupation of being a hero, and how Midoriya is trying to grow strategically instead of just frantically running to catch up. All of these developments (and dozens of others) continue throughout season four and very likely will lead to something amazing further down the track.

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But right now, having watched 17 episodes of reasonably unimpressive fight sequences and character moments that don’t really go anywhere just yet, I’m feeling fatigued. A binge watch of this story would definitely have been better as it wouldn’t have prolonged this phase of the story over months of viewing but rather have been watched and done.

However even then, the fight between Midoriya and Chisaki didn’t have the emotional stakes of any of the previous fights so can’t be the stand out moment that previous fights have produced and that leaves season four so far without any real climatic moment for the audience to remember and just think: “Awesome!”

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When we get more critical and start thinking about the visuals of season four and the lack of screen time for so many fan favourite characters, the cracks in this franchise become more pronounced. Again, this isn’t a My Hero Academia exclusive problem. Long running shounen stories crowd in characters but they can’t all be involved in every conflict so there are large spaces of time where they get sidelined. It just feels here like that was to the detriment of the tone of the story. That energy I mentioned before.

I could also mention something about the treatment of female heroes but to be honest that deserves a whole post all on its own and I’m definitely going to get to it at some point.

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Curious though as to whether it was just me being contrary or whether my feeling that My Hero Academia had already peaked and the latest offering was somewhat sub-par I naturally turned to Twitter (you know because Twitter gives you great insight into things without any knee-jerk reactions). Over two days 147 people votes in the poll and while ‘Still Fun’ won out, the vote was a lot closer than I’d initially expected. Ultimately only 54% of respondents thought it was awesome or still fun while the remaining 46% said it was only watchable or they were losing/had lost interest.

Imagine if I’d asked that same question about season 2 or 3. I’m thinking we’d have had at least 75% of respondents being awesome or still fun and far less in the lost interest category.

So is this just a lull or has My Hero Academia had its day?

Honestly, I feel like while the story still has a ways to go, my interest in it has gone. All Might passing the torch is that significant plot moment that allows the story to rest and I would have been satisfied with that as an ending. In fact, let’s change it up a bit. Let’s have All Might point saying its your turn but let’s leave Midoriya in the scene. All Might publicly passing the torch to the still green but hard working Midoriya. While he’ll need protection and mentoring from other heroes for a time, he can continue to grow into his power and eventually take the place of All might. The end.

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That there are heaps of other characters still unresolved and that there are plenty of complications that can come up and be explored is not disputed. However, if the story isn’t going to be fun while exploring them, wouldn’t it be better to let it all draw to a close and end on a high note?

But I’m aware I am biased. I felt Buffy should have ended at season three and then again at season five. That is clung on to season 7 always kind of made me roll my eyes. So many TV shows just keep stretching their ideas and adding complications to the detriment of the overall narrative but for the sake of getting another season (and I am assuming more money). While some fans may be delighted by more of the characters, for me, if there’s nothing more to say, no interesting point to add, or if what they are doing is undermining what I enjoyed in the first place, I just don’t see the point.

So am I being judgemental or is season four of My Hero Academia just not good? The answer is definitely both. There are problems in season 4 of My Hero Academia. It is in an awkward transition phase and there’s been a lot of down time and less than stellar moments. Can it improve? Sure. Will I wait for season five to do that? Possibly not. Am I being judgemental? Absolutely. And it is a judgement I’ve delivered on many a story that I felt stayed past its welcome.

However, I’d love to know your take so share your thoughts below and let’s discuss the latest My Hero Academia (anime only – no manga spoilers).


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Visualist x 100!!!! – My Hero Academia Season 4: Episode 17

Visualist x 100

Kapodaco and I aren’t exactly seeing eye to eye this week as we review episode 17 of My Hero Academia over on The Visualist’s Veranda. Check out our latest episode review and if you’ve missed any be sure to find the other reviews below.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Keep up to date with Kapodaco and I as we cover the latest season of My Hero Academia!

Images from: My Hero Academia Season 4. Dir. K Nagasaki. Bones. 2019.

Visualist x 100!!!! – My Hero Academia Season 4: Episode 16 Review

Visualist x 100
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Babysitter Club Edition

Karandi’s Thoughts

I considered editing my initial thoughts. I thought of maybe toning them down, stepping back, looking for more positives… But you know, ultimately my initial thoughts are how I feel about this episode so I’m just going to let them go.

So last week I went and said I was looking forward to seeing Todoroki and Bakugo trying to get their provisional licence. I take it back. I hated this episode. I hated it with an absolute passion and spent the majority of it resisting the urge to skip ahead or just exit out of the window. 

Why did I hate it?

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Largely because it reminds me of the episodes of Bleach that focus on Don Kanonji. Ultimately relatively pointless and with an annoying central character. In this case, they unleashed an entire class of annoying and pointless characters in the form of an elementary group on four of the students resitting the exam and then made us watch them fumbling around for far too long before ending the episode with the would-be heroes deciding that challenging the group to a battle would somehow be a good plan. I’m calling this absolute idiocy and going to forget it and move on.

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The only redeeming parts of the episode came from the conversations between All Might and Endeavour but this could boil down to about three minutes of the whole thing. 

Yeah, I’m just going to go with ‘ouch’ and move on.

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Kapodaco’s Thoughts

…Well, I can’t say I share in my colleague’s resentment, but the whole of the episode is pretty reminiscent of the season itself. Stilted, uninspired, a little off, and containing only hints of genuinely interesting material.

Whatever significance the episode had in making these heroes try and do good by, uh, doing good, I guess, was not lost on me. Clearly stated by the Orca dude, these heroes were lacking in the mental compartment of heroism, relying on the strength of their quirks to blaze through without any second thought. This is especially apparent of Bakugo and the Wind Dude, but Todoroki can be a little stiff and… uh… Camie? Who is she again? I remember her from last season, but was she always this… sexualized valley girl type? Why is she here? To make breast jokes? Yeah, probably. Anyway, to try and quell the sullied hearts of these problem children makes sense in theory. Inspire and impact these brats to do good.

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The issue is that it’s played off as mostly comedy… that isn’t really funny. This anime’s had some comedic moments, sure (a lot more this season, it feels like), though the spirit has always been a sort of action/thriller type. If they had brought in, say, a few kids who were reserved, maybe rude and standoffish (mini-Bakugo’s, perhaps?), and had them individually try and get them to feel inspired by the might of heroism or whatever, with a serious enough intent and tone, it may not have felt so inauthentic. Instead, they paint it like some zany babysitting gig that everyone in the audience is using for vapid entertainment. And the fact that they basically push all the no-name heroes aside and just focus on the four “important” characters was laughably apparent. That blonde kid in the corner spouting painfully mature dialogue was also hysterical.

Like Karandi, the only bits of the episode where things began to swing in its favor were the dialogue between Endeavor and All Might. I’ll say this now, but I think All Might is the best character in this show, as he’s had so little done with his character that hasn’t been in ill taste or of little importance. When he’s onscreen, it always leads to something more, and his very figure moves people just from its representation and past. A true hero, and one that thinks and acts like one, too, complete with inner struggles and faults that make him human. He’s great. So to see All Might involve himself with a former rival, who now takes his place, and for said rival to reveal to him some indecision of his worth as replacement, that means something. And it’s taken with enough conscious consideration to not make it feel dumb. More of that, please.

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I can’t really describe the worth of this episode in words. I’d rather go with a single action: a shrug. Whatever. Okay. Fine. Yeah. It exists and it continues to masquerade as the great show this used to be. The writing’s too far gone, and it seems like it’s said all that it wants to say. Anything past this is icing, so hopefully people like that enough to keep watching. I want a bratwurst.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Keep up to date with Kapodaco and I as we cover the latest season of My Hero Academia!

Images from: My Hero Academia Season 4. Dir. K Nagasaki. Bones. 2019.

Visualist x 100!!!! – My Hero Academia Season 4: Episode 15

Visualist x 100

You just have to wonder sometimes what is going on with season 4 of My Hero Academia. The series seems to be going through an awkward phase and while there are plenty of good moments to point to, the whole season isn’t really coming together in some clear manner. That said, Kapodaco and I continue our episodic coverage this week over on The Visualist’s Veranda.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Keep up to date with Kapodaco and I as we cover the latest season of My Hero Academia!

Images from: My Hero Academia Season 4. Dir. K Nagasaki. Bones. 2019.