Boku no Hero Academia is about a world in which a huge majority of people have discovered that they have some sort of superpower, or “quirk.”
The story follows Izuku Midoriya, who is one of the unlucky few with no special powers at all. Despite being weak, he works tirelessly to become a hero, and eventually earns the notice and respect of the legendary hero All Might, whose quirk is that he can pass on his strength to a successor.
Having been chosen as All Might’s successor, Izuku enrolls in UA High, a top-tier school specifically for those grooming their powers. And so begins a shounen anime about a weak kid growing strong and making friends in the process.
It isn’t the most original premise for an anime, but it’s a popular one for a reason, and is uniquely influenced by DC and Marvel comics, per the author. Let’s take a look at some other ones that cover some of the same ground.
Where My Hero Academia is all about training students with superpowers to protect innocent people all over the world, Assassination Classroom is all about training student with assassination skills to kill their teacher.
So, that’s a bit different. Except that said teacher is a weird, smiley-faced alien with tentacles and super speed who has carved the moon into a permanent crescent shape, and is now threatening to do the same to Earth. So maybe killing him is actually the same as saving countless innocent lives!
But then, if that’s the case, why is the teacher so nice? And how is it that he happens to be the best teacher any of those kids have ever had? Is killing him really the right thing to do?
This is a trip, and maybe the themes don’t match up perfectly with My Hero Academia, but there is more overlap than you think, and regardless, it’s still worth your time.
Tiger & Bunny
Ever wonder what some of these heroes get out of, well, heroism? Well, in Tiger & Bunny, they get “hero points” and sponsorships.
More sponsorships means more money. More hero points means more appearances on “Hero TV,” the reality TV show that picks the “King of Heroes” each year.
In other words, it’s a big racket for publicity. And wouldn’t you know it, My Hero Academia also has a hero ranking system. Pretty much the same racket.
Speaking of hero rankings, do you remember One-Punch Man? The latter half of this series is about Saitama struggling to make headway in the hero ranking system, and repeatedly being overlooked as a hero despite clearly being the most powerful entity in the universe.
The absurdity attached to the hero ranking system, and the way even side characters rise and fall through the rankings is a big part of both series.
And besides that, just watch One-Punch Man. You’re guaranteed to not regret it.
Hajime no Ippo
You know what has really, really formal rankings to determine who the strongest fighters are? Boxing does.
But believe it or not, the ranking system has nothing to do with the reason this makes the list. It makes the list because, it addition to it being one of the objectively greatest anime of all time, it starts out with similar things.
Makunouchi Ippo is just a wimpy short kid who gets bullied all the time and beat up after school. He gets saved by one of Japan’s strongest professional boxers in a way that inspires Ippo himself to become stronger – and later, to ponder the nature of “strength” altogether.
What’s interesting about Hajime no Ippo is that it centers around a cast of characters at vastly different skill and strength levels. Ippo, despite being the main protagonist, isn’t the strongest character in the show. He’s not even the strongest in his own gym or weight class. He’s just working to see what the limits of his own strength are, and how much he can push past them.
Hunter x Hunter
The settings are certainly different between this and My Hero Academia, but the style and feel manage to be similar.
Both series happen to be about kids looking to grow stronger through the defense of innocent people from criminals. Of course, Hunters in this world can also go on expeditions for treasure and monsters, as well.
While they could hardly be more different in their construction, both these series are cut from the same shounen anime cloth.
Let’s see. Guy wants to be a hero? Check.
Gets training from the hero he idolizes? Check.
Makes friends with other people working to be heroes? Check.
The biggest difference between Samurai Flamenco and My Hero Academia is that the latter pulls most of its influence from the American comic book scene. Samurai Flamenco is more about addressing the tropes of the typical Japanese hero.
Katekyo Hitman Reborn!
Again, we have the trifecta: Weak main character, gets training from really strong people, and then surrounded by other strong people.
Of course, My Hero Academia is set in a typical school setting. Katekyo Hitman Reborn! is a bit more outlandish, as it is about a boy learning to become a hitman to succeed a famous Mafia family.
Mahou Sensei Negima!
Normally this isn’t a problem, but in this case, it’s important to specify that the manga is what should really be considered the matching piece of media here.
Negima‘s anime adaptation was such a drastic variant from the path of the manga, they ended up writing a new manga that followed the plot of the anime instead.
But Ken Akamatsu’s original Negima, once it moves past the initial school life fanservice sequence, becomes a series about a class of girls who wield magical powers via contracts with their wizard teacher, Negi Springfield. This results in full-scale magical battles with a healthy dose of martial arts, starring a class full of girls with wildly different and unique powers.