My Hero Academia has too many characters and not enough time or worldbuilding for all of them to make sense in the story.
The world of My Hero Academia is extensive, highly detailed and seemingly neverending as new characters with exciting quirks are constantly added to the story. However, one of the most common complaints about the series is that the cast feels too bloated. The series constantly mishandles compelling side characters in favor of rehashing the main cast’s issues. Characters like Eri, Mirio and Lady Nagant could have been amazing additions to the story, but they’re often cited as three of the biggest wastes of potential. The most unfortunate part is that so many side and background characters are well-designed and have interesting quirks, but they’re often never seen again after their few chapters in the spotlight. Some even joke that Horikoshi enjoys designing characters more than actually writing them.
It doesn’t seem like the story has any idea what to do with such an excess of characters, and it does a major disservice to the story. Recent arcs of My Hero Academia are often criticized for being lackluster and repetitive, especially since exciting new editions to the cast are killed off a few chapters after their debut. MHA has fallen into a common shonen pitfall where many colorful, well-designed and quirky characters have been introduced to the mix even though they don’t have much of a role in the story, which makes things overly confusing and conflated.
My Hero Academia Has Too Many Characters And Not Enough Time to Explore Them
Having a massive cast of characters doesn’t always hurt a series. In some cases, it helps with the worldbuilding and makes the story more exciting. One Piece, for example, has over one thousand named characters. However, the difference between One Piece and My Hero Academia is how much time they have to explore every character. One Piece is one of the longest-running manga series of all time, while rumors about My Hero Academia’s end have been swirling around since late 2020. My Hero Academia got too far ahead by introducing so many characters between pro-heroes, students and villains without considering how much time it would take to fully flesh all of them out. Not every character needs a backstory or a drawn-out arc, but it would be nice to understand why they’re in the story and how they’re significant to MHA’s world.
Despite being at the forefront of the series, most students in class 1-A are virtually irrelevant to the story. Characters like Koji, Ojiro, Shoji, Sato and Sero have virtually no screen time compared to the rest of their classmates. Even Iida, the class president, was forgotten about and reduced to barking orders at his classmates while robotically flinging his arms around as a running gag after the “Stain” arc. Students from class 1-B and the rest of U.A. High are further proof of MHA’s overzealousness about introducing new characters, only to forget about them a few chapters later. Asking for a series to expand upon every single character is unrealistic. It would be equally harmful to the story, but there are ways to show immense worldbuilding without over-bloating the cast because certain individuals will inevitably fall through the cracks.
My Hero Academia’s Revolving Door of Characters Has Damaged the Story & Worldbuilding
My Hero Academia has a bad habit of introducing characters during pivotal moments of the story, building them up to be important cast members and then discarding them within a few chapters. Characters like Mirio, Eri and Lady Nagant are the best examples of this trend. Mirio was introduced as everybody’s top pick to succeed All Might as the Symbol of Peace, with an unshakable smile and ridiculously powerful quirk to boot. However, he lost his quirk during the “Overhaul” arc after getting shot with a quirk-erasing bullet.
Eri was also introduced during this time and instantly caught everybody’s attention because of her Rewind quirk. However, neither of them was really seen again after Overhaul’s defeat. Instead of an important cast member, Eri was reduced to more of a cute mascot for MHA than anything else. Meanwhile, Mirio didn’t reappear until the later chapters of the Paranormal Liberation War, when it was revealed he got his quirk back. Still, his return wasn’t satisfying to the audience, and many argued that the vague explanation of how his quirk came back fumbled the story’s flow.
Lady Nagant is another example of MHA’s mishandling of compelling characters. Introduced during the “Taratus” arc, Nagant gave fans a glimpse into hero society’s shady underbelly and Hawks’ surprisingly heartbreaking backstory. She was part of the Public Safety Commission but defected and became a villain to rebel against the hell she was put through in the name of becoming a hero. She could have become the series’ most exciting female villain, but she was killed off within a few chapters of her debut. The same could be said about the entire female cast, including pro-heroes like Midnight and Mirko.
While having tons of characters isn’t necessarily a bad thing or even a major weakness, it certainly harms My Hero Academia’s narrative instead of helping it along. Such an overblown cast only results in plot holes and countless loose ends that need to be tied up before the story’s conclusion. Though My Hero Academia’s main cast is dynamic and proactive, the same cannot be said about the side characters since most of them get lost in the mix. Ultimately, MHA could greatly benefit from extensive refining and editing. Unfortunately, it may be too late in the game to salvage the damage caused by such an oversaturated cast, as currently, neither the narrative nor the audience knows what to do with so many characters.