Unless you happen to be a real pop culture guru, you might not notice that the creators of My Hero Academia littered the series with references to a plethora of Japanese and American franchises. If you’re an MHA fan who also loves Star Wars, prepare to get a kick out of the series’s locale names and the visage of the main baddie.
Marvel fans might take note of the plentiful Marvel references in My Hero Academia, including a scene from Iron Man 2. The series even nods to anime like Fullmetal Alchemist, Naruto, and Dragon Ball Z. Plenty of western cartoons reference anime in clever ways, so it stands to reason many anime and manga series will return the favor.
These My Hero Academia Easter eggs feel all the more awesome when you learn Kohei Horikoshi, the manga creator behind the series, has a deep love for Western superheroes, anime, and other pop culture that influenced his work. He throws this stuff in for more than just the hell of it – he includes it because it’s his passion.
These cultural references in My Hero Academia only make the viewing and, in the manga’s case, reading experience a lot more fun.
You’ll Definitely Recognize A Few Of These Heroes
At the beginning of the My Hero Academia manga, one panel features the silhouettes of a ton of Japanese and American fictional superheroes. This collective includes Spider-Man, Superman, Ultraman, Kamen Rider, Moonlight Mask, and more. This callback to the classics is a great way to get new readers pumped for what’s to come.
Plus, it implies to the reader that the heroes of My Hero Academia rank among these famous heroes in their own ways.
Present Mic’s Challenge Explanation Features Mario Silhouettes
When Present Mic explains the UA High School entrance exam requirements, he does so with images from the popular Nintendo franchise, Mario. Mario represents the prospective students, while the villains appear as Goombas, Koopa Troopas, and the Piranha Plant. How many points each enemy is worth is even based on how difficult they are to defeat in the Mario games.
Because of copyright issues, these images don’t appear in the anime – this Easter egg is manga-only, but no less remarkable.
Mirio’s Strongest Move Is A ‘Star Wars’ Reference
Mirio Togata appears at the end of Season 3, so anime-only fans have yet to see his ultimate power move – Phantom Menace. Using this technique, Mirio propels his body in and out of surfaces at rapid speed, allowing him to quickly and accurately target his opponent. You may recognize the name as the title of a Star Wars film.
This is just one of many Star Wars references in the My Hero Academia series.
Izuku Wants To Be Like Mega Man
Izuku Midoriya is a huge fan of the real superheroes who populate his world, so it comes as no surprise that he’s also into superheroes who are fictional. When thinking about how to train, he considers modeling his kicks after those of Mega Man, a robotic superhero from a Capcom video game franchise that started in the late ’80s.
Not only does this show that certain fictional franchises exist in My Hero, it also means the anime medium exists in this world as well.
Disney Exists In The ‘My Hero Academia’ Universe
When it comes to fictional universes, one must wonder how other fictional universes fit into the canon. Are the characters people who the cast could conceivably meet, or are they fictional in that world, too? Do they even exist at all? My Hero Academia makes it clear that in its world, Disney totally exists as a fictional construct.
This is parallel to the real world, such as when Hagakure suggests that an event they’re planning will be an all-out bash, kind of like a Disney parade.
Himiko Toga Wears A Bane Mask
Himiko Toga, a particularly unhinged member of the League of Villains, appears wearing a face mask that helps her avoid breathing in the toxic gas released by her comrade, Mustard. Her mask doesn’t look like a standard gas mask – instead, it closely resembles the mask worn by Bane, a supervillain from the Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises.
Both characters live outside of regular society and have disturbed ways of relating to the world. They’re different characters in many ways, but the mask serves as a pretty visual indicator for how Toga is meant to be perceived.
Mei Hatsume’s Super Suit Comes From ‘Iron Man 2’
When Izuku wants to tweak his costume design to better support his body and prevent mishaps, he seeks out Mei Hatsume, an eccentric inventor from the Hero Support program. Mei often appears less interested in actually helping the people who seek her out than she is in showing off her newest inventions, which she calls her babies but they sometimes fail to work as she intended. She sticks Izuku in a high-powered suit that malfunctions and starts twisting his body.
Unless you’ve seen Iron Man 2, you might not realize this scene comes straight out of the MCU movie. When Tony Stark attempts to testify before Congress that he should be able to keep his Iron Man tech, his point is undercut by video footage of his own gray metal suit doing the exact same thing that Izuku’s does. The reference is subtle, but some of the best ones are.
Todoroki Fights Off A Group Of Naruto-esque Ninja
During the provisional license exam arc, Todoroki squares off with a group of ninja-themed trainee superheroes. The ninja themselves, as well as the ensuing battle, strongly resembles the fights that take place between enemy ninja in another shonen anime – Naruto.
To be fair, ninja in anime exist outside the world of Naruto. But if you combine the colorful outfits and forehead protectors with the fact that Masashi Kishimoto – the man who created Naruto – once called My Hero Academia the next Naruto, it’s a fair bet these ninja were meant to pay tribute to the series.
Many Of The Locations Involve ‘Star Wars’ References
Fans of Star Wars might recognize some of the place names in the world of My Hero Academia, as many of them do reference the space-faring franchise. Kiyashi Ward Shopping Mall (Wookiees) is a shopping mall where people can buy clothing and other products designed to accommodate the wide variety of body types found in people with quirks. The name hints to Kashyyyk, the place where Wookiees come from.
Dagobah Municipal Beach Park is the beach where Izuku cleaned while training his body to accommodate his new quirk called “One for All.” The name is a reference to the planet Dagobah, the site where Yoda trained Luke Skywalker as a Jedi.
But wait, there’s more! The fictional city that My Hero Academia takes place in is called Musutafu, which comes from planet Mustafar.
All For One Is Clearly Inspired By Darth Vader
Darth Vader, the main villain of the Star Wars franchise, remains one of the most classic characters in media history. While references to him aren’t especially surprising, they often provide a lot of fun. All for One, the main villain of My Hero Academia, bears so much in common with Vader, he seems to be based on him.
Both villains sit at the helm of shadowy organizations and refuse to reveal their true identities. Both wear machine-like helmets to help them breathe and perform other vital functions after a major mishap deformed their bodies. Could these similarities mean that Izuku will turn out to be All for One’s son as Luke did Vader’s? Probably not, but hey, it’s a fun idea.
Jurota Shishida References Beast From ‘X-Men’
A minor character from Class 1-B, Jurota Shishida, appears to be a reference to Beast from the X-Men franchise. Both characters wear glasses and possess protruding lower teeth, but the similarities go deeper than that. Shishida’s quirk is literally called Beast – talk about direct!
The X-Men reference feels especially awesome because My Hero Academia actually shares a lot in common with X-Men. Both feature large casts with a multitude of impressive powers and center around institutions that are supposed to serve them.
‘FMA’s Scar Appears In The Crowd
Numerous random crowd shots appear in My Hero Academia, and some of them contain pretty amazing references to other series – one shot features a character who resembles Scar from Fullmetal Alchemist. This guy doesn’t look exactly like Scar – he doesn’t, for example, have the signature scar that gives the character his name – but the resemblance is still noteworthy.
My Hero Academia and Fullmetal Alchemist are actually produced by the same company, Studio Bones, which increases the likelihood this reference happened to be intentional – after all, there are no copyright issues to get in the way if you own the copyright.
Double Detroit Smash References Father-Son Kamehameha
One of the most incredible moments in recent film My Hero Academia: Two Heroes involves Izuku and his mentor, All Might, fighting together against the movie’s villain. They combine their moves to create a super-powered strike called Double Detroit Smash.
This calls back to an equally moving moment from Dragon Ball Z, where Goku’s spirit adds strength to his son Gohan’s Kamehameha power, which he launches at Cell. Both moves show the bond between child and mentor and are just as incredible as they are touching.
Shoto Todoroki Is Basically Ice Zuko
If you watched My Hero Academia and thought that Shoto Todoroki seemed really familiar, it might be because he shares a ton in common with Prince Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Both boys have complicated relationships with despotic fathers and mothers who failed to protect or support them. Both sport burn scars over their left eyes and have the ability to manipulate fire.
Furthermore, both start off opposing the protagonist before ultimately coming to befriend him. While some minor differences between the two, if Todoroki isn’t at least partially influenced by Zuko, it would be genuinely surprising.
‘My Hero Academia: Vigilantes’ Features A ‘Dragon Ball Z’ Reference
My Hero Academia: Vigilantes is a spin-off manga which takes place prior to the original series. The protagonist, Koichi Haimawari, appears in one panel practicing his quirk, which he will soon use to help rescue Eraserhead from treachery.
Fans of Dragon Ball Z will recognize his stance as the one that Goku assumes before launching his signature energy blast, Kamehameha.