My Hero Academia Fans Must Watch These 10 Underrated Anime

My Hero Academia has become one of the most popular anime of our time. If you loved it, you'll love these shows too.
My Hero Academia anime funimation
Image Source: PennLive

My Hero Academia, or Boku no Hero Academia, began with a manga series written by Kōhei Horikoshi. It was first released on Nov 4, 2014 and re-released in English on August 4, 2015.

Since then, the series has come out with 308 chapters and been adapted into a wildly successful anime that began in April of 2016 and is currently releasing its fifth series which will soon reach its 100th episode. My Hero Academia has also released two movies, Two Heroes (2018) and Heroes Rising (2019), as well as four OVA’s. 

According to an article by Funimation (published July 2020), My Hero Academia ranks as the second most popular show in America, beating out Stranger Things, Game of Thrones, and Avatar: The Last Airbender. This data comes from the Observer, which ranked the most in-demand shows for those past two months. It also comes in at #6 on the most popular anime list according to MyAnimeList. 

Additionally, My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising, the franchise’s second film released in 2019, had a profit of nearly $6 million, according to Forbes. This total makes it the seventh-highest grossing film in anime to hit domestic theaters. 

Overall, between the manga, anime series, and films, My Hero Academia has achieved staggering global success. So what is it about this series that makes it so popular? 

What My Hero Academia is about

deku izuku midoriya my hero academia
Image Source: TOHO Animation

In the My Hero Academia universe, everyone is born with special super abilities called ‘quirks’. With these powers, superheroes and supervillains rose to the forefront as superheroism evolved into a combination of public figures and legitimate career paths.

Izuku Midoriya, a young high-school student, is obsessed with superheroes and dreams of attending U.A. (Hero Academy) to become one himself. However, Izuku (nicknamed Deku) is one of the very few people born quirk-less.

Izuku still dreams of becoming a hero. After the heroic rescue of fellow classmate Bakugou Katsuki,  he is taken under the wing of the number-one hero, All Might. All Might reveals that his power, unlike others, can be transferred from person to person. He chooses Izuku to become his successor and grants him super strength. 

Although Izuku gets accepted into U.A., his body is not fit to contain his newfound powers. He must work to unleash the full extent of his ability and keep the secret of his power’s true origin, all while preparing to take All Might’s place as the world’s greatest hero.

The top five best elements in My Hero Academia

my hero academia boku no hero academia
Image Source: MMO Culture

1. My Hero Academia has all the elements of the classic superhero story

This anime is full of action-packed sequences, unique superpowers, and classic rivalries between heroes and villains. It can be compared to stories from the Marvel and DC franchises, particularly to the X-Men series. The fast-paced narrative and high stakes make the story more enjoyable to follow. 

2. Izuku Midoriya is an underdog, and fans can't help rooting for him to succeed

Although Deku has super abilities, the nature of their origin makes them ill-suited to his body. He has to fight for everything he has and constantly work to better himself. Therefore, it never feels like his power is undeserved or that he is overpowered as a character.

All-Might’s hidden weakness from his severe injury and the limitations of every student still learning their powers keeps the victories from being too easy and makes the dangers more genuine and the victories more worthwhile. 

3. My Hero Academia  takes time to create memorable, complex side characters and villains 

Each character, even the minor ones, is given their own motives, ideals, and purposes. Fans are particularly fond of Bakugou, Izuku’s classmate and rival who shares Deku’s goals but goes about achieving success through sheer aggression and force.

Even the villains have understandable motives and unique personalities, which makes the conflicts between them and the heroes more nuanced and interesting throughout the show. 

4. Izuku Midoriya's coming of age journey is relatable, especially to younger viewers

Izuku’s journey is just as much about superpowers as it is the struggles of growing up and finding identity and self-worth. As a high-school freshman, a lot of the struggles Izuku faces parallel issues that young viewers may be experiencing in their own lives.

Still, it’s not just young people who can relate to Izuku Midoriya.  Watching him succeed not only as a hero but as a person is inspiring to all viewers, regardless of age. 

5. A blend of overarching and shorter story arcs keep the story constantly progressing

The storylines in this show are morally ambiguous because viewers can understand the fears and aspirations of the villains as easily as the heroes. This larger plot is interwoven with arcs following different characters as they train to become stronger, develop crushes and friendships, and work together to represent the class of 1A.

The combination of the storylines that drive character development and the tension of knowing the larger battle to come makes this a story whose plot is constantly driven forward. 

Ten Underrated Anime Recommendations for fans of My Hero Academia

Fans of My Hero Academia who are looking to explore the world of anime for the first time or who are looking for shows they haven't heard of before, and even people who have never seen anime but are looking for a place to start, can find new recommendations on this list. From romance to sci-fi to dystopian, these ten underrated shows have elements for all audiences. 

1. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic (2012)

Genre: fantasy, coming-of-age

Rating: TV-14

Available on Netflix

Based heavily on 1001 Arabian Nights, this anime follows a young boy called Aladdin and his friend, Alibaba, as they venture into a mysterious, mystical dungeon in hopes of claiming the riches within.

While Aladdin is a young, naïve boy whose only wish in life is to find a friend, Alibaba has strong and clear goals of escaping the poverty that lead him to undertake this dangerous task and to bring Aladdin along for the ride.

The story takes place in Israel and has many fantastical elements in common with the movie Aladdin, including a flying carpet, Djinn, and magic. 

The main protagonist, Aladdin, shares many character traits with Deku. Both are young and enthusiastic, willing to do anything for the sake of justice and to protect those they care about. 

Bonus: the unique setting and fantasy elements make this anime entirely unique and fascinating to watch. 

2. Assassination Classroom (2015)

Genre: Action, sci-fi, comedy

Rating: TV-14

Available on Funimation, Hulu

In this story, a superpowered creature with the odd appearance of a yellow octopus appears on Earth after destroying 75% of the moon and leaving it in ruins. He threatens to do the same to the Earth in a matter of months. The creature’s only demand is to be allowed to teach the E class, nicknamed the ‘end’ class, at a prestigious private school.

Sensing the opportunity, the government agrees to the creature’s demands on the condition that the students work together to find a way to defeat the creature and save the planet by the end of the year. Thus, the ‘assassination classroom’ is born. 

Assassination Classroom is quirky anime that follows the entire class as they work to excel in both academics and assassination. Similar to My Hero Academia, this show takes time to introduce several unique characters, each with its own strengths, weaknesses, and motivations.

It’s fun to watch the dynamic between the class and the monster, nicknamed Koro-sensei by his students; although their mission is to kill him, he still works hard to help them succeed. 

Bonus: the show’s finale, which neatly wraps up the story and makes the show truly memorable. 

3. The Disastrous Life of Saiki K (2016)

Genre: fantasy, comedy

Rating: TV-14

Available on Netflix

The Disastrous Life of Saiki K is a series starring Kusuo Saiki, a high school student who was born with unordinary psychic abilities. He can move objects with his mind, read other people’s thoughts, and even has x-ray vision.

Despite these gifts, Saiki feels disconnected from his high-school peers and lives what he describes as a generally unexciting life. The show follows Saiki’s misadventures as he tries to hide his powers from his classmates and friends while navigating the same ups and downs that ordinary high school students face. 

This show’s format and the premise are reminiscent of My Hero Academia. Both shows feature groups of high-school students and both have elements of classic superhero stories. In some ways, these stories are opposites of each other; while Deku finds himself hiding his (original) lack of powers, Saiki must try to blend in despite his abilities. Both characters try to balance everyday student life with extraordinary circumstances, a juxtaposition full of possibilities and entertainment. 

Bonus Element: Saiki’s character design and voice actor’s deadpan line delivery, both of which give him an entirely fresh take on the ‘anime protagonist’.  

4. Hikaru No Go (2001)

Genre: sports, fantasy, coming of age

Rating: general 

Available on Crunchyroll, Hulu

This story begins when a young boy named Hikaru Shindo accidentally uncovers an ancient game of go- a strategy-based board game popular in China, loosely equated to chess. By uncovering this gameboard, Hikaru unknowingly releases the trapped spirit of a man called Fujiwara-no-Sai.

Sai was the go advisor to an ancient ruler until he was falsely accused of cheating in a game, ultimately resulting in his death. The spirit stays connected to Hikaru, agreeing to help the boy with his schoolwork if he can use him to play go again and one day achieves the ‘Divine Move’. 

Following the typical sports-anime structure, the show follows Hikaru’s growth and eventual love of the game, as well as the progression of Hikaru and Sai to a professional level of playing. The importance of the game for both characters acts as the focus and driving force behind this longer series.   

Like most sports anime, this is an easy watch with a surprising amount of heart. Hikaru’s coming-of-age journey and desire to improve in skill is similar to Deku’s. Additionally, the relationship between Hikaru and Sai can easily be compared to Deku and his mentor, All Might. 

Bonus: The art style and animation in Hikaru No Go is a nostalgic throwback to the early 2000s and a nice change of pace from modern anime. 

5. The Devil is a Part-Timer! (2013)

Genre: Comedy, fantasy

Rating: TV-14

Available on Funimation

This show is about the devil retreating through a portal during a battle and finding himself in the human realm for the first time. Accompanied by his trusted servant Alciel, who takes the human identity Shirō Ashiya, Satan renames himself Sadao Maou and takes a job at a fast-food chain called MgRonalds.

While Maou quickly rises in his company role, he is pursued by another human named Emi, who is actually the hero who followed him to Earth after facing him in battle. 

The Devil is a Part-Timer! is less about the plot and more about the comedy, and in that aspect it certainly delivers. The sheer ridiculousness of the storyline is enough to carry the entire story. It’s a great pick for fans of My Hero Academia’s funnier moments and more lighthearted television. 

Bonus: the rivalry between Emi and Maou, which is both adorable and hilarious. 

6. No. 6 (2011)

No. 6 anime Shion Nezumi
Image Source: Anime Planet

Genre: dystopian, drama, LGBT+

Rating: TV-14

Available on Amazon Prime

In a utopian society known only as No.6, citizens are kept contained and secure by the government in exchange for protection from what lies beyond the city walls. A boy named Shion lives with his mother in this society, with no knowledge of life outside of his city until he comes into contact with a runaway named Nezumi. Shion disobeys the government by helping Nezumi escape, feeling an instant connection to the boy. 

Years later, the two meet again after Shino witnesses a disturbing incident of rapid aging and death in one of the city’s citizens. The government tries to cover the incident by taking Shion against his will, but he is rescued by Nezumi and taken into hiding beyond the walls of the city for the first time in his life. 

This mini-series mainly follows the relationship that evolves between the two main characters. Set in a post-apocalyptic Earth being overtaken by an unstoppable species, the care that Nezumi and Shion have for each other acts as the embodiment of hope. 

Bonus: The opening and closing themes, which are hauntingly beautiful and elevate the story’s tone. 

Closing Theme:

7. Your Lie in April (2014)

Genre: Romance, slice of life, drama

Rating: TV-14

Available on Netflix

Kousei Arima is a junior high student and musical prodigy who has devoted his life to playing the piano. However, after his mother’s death, he finds himself unable to play anymore. In this story, Kousei meets Kaori Miyazono, a golden-haired, free-spirited violinist who encourages him to accompany her during a musical showcase.

The two are opposites in every way, and yet Kousei finds himself enchanted by her. In this shorter series, Kousei learns to overcome his past fears and regain his love of music, while also discovering a love of life through his connection with Kaori. 

At its core, this is a story about life and loss that uses music as a way to explore complex topics like unhealthy parental relationships, mortality, and feelings of inadequacy. It’s a story about young blossoming love but also about growing up and accepting harsh truths without losing a sense of self. Fans of My Hero Academia’s larger morals and overarching storyline about self-acceptance will truly appreciate this anime.

Bonus: the art style of this show, with its soft color palette and cherry blossom trees, elevates it to another level.  

8. My Roommate is a Cat (2019)

Genre: Slice of life

Rating: TV-14

Available on Crunchyroll

This anime centers around Subaru Mikazuki, an introverted mystery writer who is reclusive and withdrawn from society. He made the decision to live alone among his books and within his own imagination after the accidental death of his parents.

One day, while visiting his parents’ gravesite, Subaru encounters a stray cat and is instantly struck with inspiration for his next book. He decides to bring the cat home with him and must learn to care for it; at the same time, the hardened stray must adapt to life as a pet and learn about humanity through her owner. 

My Roommate is a Cat is full of emotionally-driven storylines that touch on darker topics such as grief but also provide wholesome, lighthearted storylines between the cat (Haru) and Subaru. It’s perfect for those who enjoy slice-of-life stories with more realistic elements. 

Bonus: switching narrative perspectives between Haru and Subaru is an interesting twist that keeps the story fresh in each episode. 

9. Violet Evergarden (2018)

Genre: drama, coming of age

Rating: TV-14

Available on Netflix

In this Netflix original, a child called Violet who was used as a weapon must learn to adjust to the world after the end of World War 1. Her general, General Gilbert, wishes for her to live happily and find a normal life. He sends her to live with the Evergardens, where she chooses to work as an Auto Memory Doll.

This job involves writing letters for those who cannot write themselves or aren’t sure how to convey the emotion they wish to express. Violet wants to understand human emotions better, particularly to understand the phrase 'I love you', which Gilbert says to her the last time they see each other. 

Violet Evergarden is less action-oriented than many shows on this list. Rather, it focuses on Violet’s recovery and integration into normal society after the war and the loss of both of her arms. This anime is character-driven and a great pick for fans of historical pieces or those who enjoy the coming-of-age and personal journey aspect of My Hero Academia. 

Bonus: Violet is a great female protagonist and a well-written, multifaceted character more than capable of carrying the series. 

10. Sk8 the Infinity (2021)

Genre: sports, adventure, coming of age

Rating: TV-14

Available on Funimation

In this brand-new sports anime, an underground skateboarding competition called ‘S’ lets select skaters compete against each other in an ‘anything goes’ style race. Reki Kyan, a young student who finds his happiness through skating, ends up attending one of these competitions with new Canadian exchange student Langa Hasegawa.

Although Langa has never skated before, he ends up winning the competition using his many years of snowboarding. The two boys become friends and Reki offers to teach Langa skateboarding, which is where our story truly begins. 

This exciting new show has unique characters and a goal-oriented plot that makes it watchable and fun. The skateboarding races are full of impossible stunts and high-speed action sequences paired with a competitive, combative element that feels similar to My Hero Academia’s battle sequences. 

Bonus: Langa’s character, who is soft-spoken but serious and is working through his father’s death and the move to a new country. Viewers can’t help but root for him as he discovers friendship and a passion for skateboarding that’s been missing from his life. 


Anime is a genre full of beautiful artwork, interesting stories, and enjoyable characters. My Hero Academia is a great example of the genre, but there are many more wonderful shows out there that deserve more attention than they get.

A twenty-something writer trying to find her place in the world. I love my dog, mugs of hot tea, and all things make-believe.

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