My Hero Academia brings the best of Shonen titles and the American comics industry together to create a story that resonates with both Shonen and American comic fans. Therefore, it is not surprising that anime/manga has been one of the best Shonen series of the last decade. It is even touted to take the place of Naruto or Bleach in Shonen Jump’s Big Three. The popularity of the anime/manga in the last few years is proof that it won’t be shocking if My Hero Academia became one of the best anime/manga of all time.
The Shonen series interestingly takes a lot of inspiration from American comic heroes. The most prominent example of this is All Might, who is obviously an amalgamation of Superman and Captain America. Izuku too is inspired by earlier heroes like Son Goku and Yusuke Urameshi. There is a recent trend that most Shonen series have embraced, which is fixated on making Shonen heroes more rounded. It is done to make their journey multi-dimensional instead of them just chasing powers to defeat supervillains.
Izuku surprisingly has bucked that trend and instead is portrayed as the protagonist who goes back to the Shonen roots wherein “I must be the best” is the motto. It would be wrong to presume that he is a cold protagonist, but still, he is quite smart about his choices and never indulges in nonsense. He is very clear about not having whimsical friendships, which is very crucial for his overall journey.
Izuku does not ignore the importance of friendships, in fact, he loves making friends, but he is very strict with himself. Izuku has still got out of his way to extend the hand of friendship to many of his classmates; he is a kind boy who is very compassionate about the struggles of people around him. It is therefore not strange that even self-absorbed Yuga Aoyama found reasons to sympathize with Izuku. His friend Ochaco has feelings for him, but she never tells Izuku because she knows that they are training to be professional heroes, and there is no time to goof up.
Well-known anime series like Fairy Tail have instead emphasized the importance of the power of friendship, and they portray how necessary it is to have friends that one can trust. But, Izuku is much more focused on getting more powerful and becoming the best hero like his mentor. He wants to help as many people as possible, so he puts all his efforts into getting stronger. It is not wrong to be ambitious or even dream of becoming the greatest hero, but he would be better off if he has friends and companions who push him forward instead of just hanging out for fun.
Since Izuku inherited his Quirk “One for All” quite late, he has spent very little time understanding and controlling his powers. He needs to work harder to make up for the lost time, which means he has limited time for others. Izuku, as the successor of All Might, is supposed to become the hero of all people that means he has to make sacrifices. It’s true that the power of friendship is something that should be valued, but Izuku is also aware of its dangers. It can make someone selfish, and since he is destined to be the hero of all people, he has to sacrifice his relationships for the greater good. He has to train and gain enough strength to defend ordinary people who deserve his time more than his friends. It is an essential aspect in which he is different from other Shonen heroes like Ichigo Kurosaki and Natsu Dragneel.
Even though Izuku has made a ton of friends on his journey so far, but they are not only there for fun but instead help him grow. He has been very mindful about his choices and makes friends with students who can help him get better. So, his relationship with his friends is not only emotional, but there is an ulterior motive to it. For example, he became friends with Ochaco on his first day at U.A. when he needed someone. Even for Ochaco, who probably has feelings for Izuku, he is not just a friend but an important ally who will help her become a better hero.
Izuku’s relationship with Gran Torino is also of the same sort, and even though he cares for his mentor, Izuku knows that Gran Torino is a vital ally who has the experience that can be helpful for him. Izuku and Bakugo, who recently became friends, also help push each other to perform better, and they too are aware that they are not just friends. Bakugo is Izuku’s Vegeta who keeps him on his toes.
Izuku’s friendship with Mirio also started on a professional note, and they went on to fight Overhaul together. Later they became great friends. Izuku, being the successor of All Might, needs to learn and grow as quickly as possible because he has the responsibility to protect the people. He understands the value of friendship, but it is much more important to have allies for him because of the duties that he is trusted with. Becoming the greatest hero requires Izuku to put duty first and everything else, which is true for friendship as well. Therefore, he needs allies more than friends to accomplish his mission and succeed the number one hero, All Might.