Satire, or the use of humor to comment on humanity or an issue, has been a part of our world for many centuries. I’m sure we all remember the hellish assignments from English class. What if I told you that satire is interesting? For example, let’s take a look at Saturday Night Live or South Park. Even that “Weird Al” Yankovic guy, whose ‘Amish’ cover of “Gangster’s Paradise” haunts my dreams all these years later. “Amish Paradise,” however, is a very special case. While the cover satirizes the Amish lifestyle, the song itself is a parody. The two are very often confused.
Parodies are an ideal art-form for fans, both honoring and poking fun at a piece. Remember A Very Potter Musical? There’s no better example of how parody can charm a fandom. Anime is no different. The moment watching services were upgraded, it was our time. Enter what is perhaps the anime Fandom’s newest medium: the “Abridged Series.”
What Is The “Abridged” Series?
Simply put, abridged series are fan-made parodies. The creators — generally on YouTube — pick footage from their source material and re-dub it to be more comedic or silly. Think Crack Fics, only instead of writing, it’s videos. Duly, abridged series allows us to meet these warped versions of our favorite characters in real-time. The first of these is thought to have been Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series. It was created by a man named Martin Billany (aka “LittleKuriboh”) and uploaded to YouTube in 2006. It exploded in popularity, inspiring several imitations with anime like Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, and Naruto. As a result, the abridged series has become its own genre.
The name “abridged” reflects the way creators shorten their source material. While most operate using episodes, one abridged episode can include footage from two or more of the originals. This allows for the biggest tool in the abridged kit: context. In deciding what to cut and what to keep, creators can greatly change the narrative. Some even manage to tell a new story completely.
Sadly, many abridged series fall short of this feat. It’s easier to crack jokes and spoof the original plot. Abridged series have, in fact, become known for this kind of style. That isn’t bad, perse. As with Crack Fics, they’re mostly meant to make us laugh. Still, one has to wonder. What would happen if an abridged series moved beyond that?
All Abridged Are Not Created Equal
My Hero Academia is a shonen superhero manga written and illustrated by Kohei Horikoshi. It’s also a very popular anime — you know what that means! Currently, there are seven different abridged series for My Hero. They range in length and in the size of their following, with as many as 2,000,000 views to as few as 300,000.
At first glance, JoyRide’s My Hero Abridged is just another of the seven. It’s far from being the most popular, ranking fourth in subscribers and sixth in views. In addition, it’s not one of the newer series, which might account for the low stats. It’s actually the third oldest, first uploaded in April of 2016. However, scroll into the comments of any My Hero Abridged episode and you’ll start to notice a pattern. Every single one poses the question:
“Is this even an abridged series anymore?”
I asked myself the same when I was introduced to Abridged Bakugo: a self-aware, guilt-ridden martyr who calls Deku “Midoriya.” My awe grew upon Ochako’s entrance; somehow, she became the most hateful — and hated — character in the series. In short, these decisions and more raise My Hero Abridged well above its counterparts. Spoiler warning for both the anime and the abridged series; it’s time to dive in.
Meet The Abridged Cast
The cast of My Hero Abridged is, of course, full of familiar faces. Class 1-A remains in the limelight — after all, abridged series can only work from what their anime covers. However, right away, we notice that these characters are all a bit off-kilter. From All-Might to “Ida” to the infamous “rivals” — everyone in My Hero’s world has been put through the Abridged Machine.
Selfish, jaded, and immature, Abridged All-Might is the opposite of his My Hero persona. Within seconds of first meeting him, he both advises Midoriya to “always wear a condom” and jokes about letting the Sludge Villain loose:
“Relax, these cis quirkless losers could use a real struggle every once in a while.”
JoyRide uses several fan-animated sequences to re-imagine All-Might’s character. Episode five has three, and all of them are between All-Might and Nana Shimura. We learn that All-Might strongly dislikes his “quirkie” — and otherwise privileged — peers. Even after getting One For All from Nana, the founder of hero society, All-Might criticizes her and her philosophy.
“There is nothing genuine about a forced smile! It’s just another trick fake people use to pretend to understand each other.”
Eventually, in the hopes of pleasing a depressed Nana, All-Might accepts the philosophy. This leads him to become #1: a role he takes on with a grain of salt. Rescuing just to rescue, wading through self-doubt — he is a shell of his own facade. As a result, cracks begin to appear; people are quick to notice, including Midoriya.
In addition to being quirkless, Abridged Midoriya has colorectal cancer. In typical abridged fashion, the details are both absurd and gross — Bakugo’s bullying is to blame. Interestingly, Midoriya’s illness replaces quirklessness as the thing holding him back. He isn’t interested in becoming a hero. He just wants to “change the world” before he dies.
This change sets up an interesting dynamic between Midoriya and All-Might. As in the anime, Abridged Midoriya leans on All-Might’s image for strength at first. However, after meeting him, he loses that admiration at a much quicker pace. By the end of the first season, Midoriya actively reviles him for his childish behavior.
“I’d rather go back to being a friendless loser than put up with your bullshit anymore.”
Despite this, Midoriya still inherits One For All. He and All-Might started an odd alliance. They switch between arguing and friendship but are kept together by their shared quirk. On his own, Abridged Midoriya sticks close to character: smart, courageous, and full of virtue. He is the ideal heir of hero society. However, he died at the end of season one. Yes, you read that right. Midoriya isn’t our bleeding-heart shonen protagonist after all.
Like his My Hero Academia version, Abridged Bakugo is a fan-favorite. In the former, his popularity is thanks to a number of factors: good looks, badassery — or else, assholery. The abridged series, however, is different. There’s detail not only in what the creator chooses to include, but what they omit.
One such break is Anime Bakugo’s hatred of Midoriya. For example, in the Sludge Villain Arc, Abridged Bakugo doesn’t feel slighted by Midoriya’s attempt to rescue him. Instead, he snaps, “Don’t get hurt again on my account!” In the Battle Trial Arc, the two were put against one another — written as one of All-Might’s many ‘social experiments.’ Here, they address the elephant in the room: the fact that Bakugo gave Midoriya cancer.
“No shit! I’m dying because of you!”
“And I’ll have to live with that guilt for the rest of my life… everyday I’ll have to see that disdain in your eyes, and watch you slowly fade away until you die — and it’ll be all my fault!”
The two make up, with Midoriya offering Bakugo his forgiveness. In the very next episode, he’s dead — disintegrated by Shigaraki. Bakugo vows to “dedicate [his] life carrying the torch Midoriya just handed to [him].” As you can probably tell, his character has been completely reworked. Noble and self-hating, Bakugo is fixated on Midoriya. This is not out of an inferiority complex, but rather a mixture of shame and respect. All their lives, he was in awe of him.
He wanted to inspire others the way Midoriya did. However, due to the nature of his quirk, Bakugo was only ever challenged and feared. It’s an interesting subversion of Anime Bakugo’s aggressive tendencies. On the other hand, something doesn’t quite add up. If Abridged Bakugo hated conflict and admired Midoriya, why did he begin to bully him?
What happened, Best Girl? What did they do to you? Out of all the My Hero Abridged characters — including Shigaraki — Ochako is, by far, the most disliked. A mash-up of a Social Justice Warrior and a “Feminazi,” she treats everything as an attack on her own skills. Certainly, this makes her despise Midoriya, whose nature is to help anyone in need.
However, this isn’t the only reason she hates Midoriya’s guts. Gag or not, Midoriya is set up to be her rival for Bakugo’s attention. This was made clear in her match against Bakugo, where the two discussed their own messy relationship. Openly, Ochako admits to spurring a young Bakugo into bullying Midoriya. She lied that Midoriya beat her up and called all quirk-users inferior. Given Bakugo’s growing hate toward his own quirk, Ochako knew it was enough to set him off.
“I hate [Midoriya]! I hate what he did to you… he always made you compare yourself to him!”
Bakugo eventually forgives her because he lacks the ability to blame anyone but himself. Still, her motivations remain fixed to him. It’s only upon Midoriya’s resurrection — yes, you read that right — that her character is given room to grow. Ochako realizes that she was never meant to “save” Bakugo. That person was always going to be Midoriya. All she can do is become a person worthy of Bakugo’s admiration. Sadly, she never quite gets there.
Ida (aka Iida)
Midoriya’s return upsets things for Ida, too. In the first season, the two were best friends. Ida nominated himself to be Midoriya’s “cis white shining knight.” His loud, weird personality complimented Midoriya’s quieter goofiness. As in My Hero, he was ‘the friend’ character. His most striking role was to deliver some bizarre — and slightly psychopathic — lines, such as:
“I DIY’d a thermal nuclear warhead using utensils I found in my parent’s child-safe kitchen!”
This changes in the Stain Arc. Upon seeing Ida’s family life, we start to understand his scattered ideology. Ida’s hostile father hates heroes, putting him at odds with Ingenium, Ida’s brother. These forces confused Ida’s perception of hero society. In hunting down Stain, he has even less conviction than My Hero’s Iida.
By the end of the fight, Ida settles on a definition of heroism: to “make the world you want, whatever that may be.” They’re the words Ingenium said to him when he expressed disinterest in heroism. Innocent enough, right? With Midoriya back and Stain defeated, you’d think Ida’s ideal world would be that much closer. Unfortunately, Ingenium’s definition left a bit too much to the imagination.
Abridged As An Antithesis
My Hero Academia’s strengths lie in its world-building and realism. It delves deep into the culture of the superheroes and blurs the space between ‘good’ and ‘evil.’ We are constantly reminded that My Hero Academia is not a black-and-white world. Characters like Bakugo, Stain, and Endeavor are oozing with nuance. Together, they disrupt the common views of each ‘side.’
Yet, that’s just the problem. There are still sides. This is still a superhero society, founded on physical skill and grounded independence. In My Hero, only one person detests this set up in its entirety: Shigaraki, the clear villain. My Hero Abridged, on the other hand, ridicules the concept of ‘heroics.’ Hero society is seen as an old, soulless system.
Ida — the actual ‘traitor’ — isn’t even at the peak of this criticism. True, he does not share his brother’s idea of a proper world. His is devoid of heroes and villains — the labels that divided his family. However, in the end, he is not the one meant to dissolve hero society. It’s Midoriya, tasked by none other than Nana Shimura.
Abridged Nana Shimura
As in My Hero, Abridged Nana is a bit of a mystery. JoyRide inflates her cryptic nature for laughs — at least until the series’ finale. The daughter of the source for all quirks, Nana sought to steady the quirkie majority. Her solution was to build a hero society. Years later, she became keenly aware of its flaws.
“A world where some would feel so inadequate as to fall into despair or turn on each other to get ahead…if I had the strength, I would have torn it all down.”
This knowledge drove Nana to madness. When she passed, her intent lived on in people like All-Might and Gran Torino. However, the conviction was gone. In doing this, My Hero Abridged has inverted the main theme of My Hero Academia. The original asks us the meaning of ‘heroism,’ but, My Hero Abridged paints it as a self-righteous and toxic charade.
The notion begins and ends with Midoriya. As a protagonist, he is not inhibited by the absence of a quirk, but rather, a human illness. Sure, he has courage, but he is also more flawed and realistically young than Anime Midoriya. Again, all of this was reworked with obvious purpose. Just as Anime Midoriya is an ideal catalyst for his world, Abridged Midoriya perfectly reflects the values of this series. Abridged Nana perfectly sums it up:
“You don’t harm because you have been harmed…you reach out and forgive because you know how it feels to be forsaken. You are everything and nothing at once, because you are humanity, Midoriya…no different than any other life you touched.”
Going Beyond Parody, Plus Ultra!
In many abridged series, characters are set up as punchlines instead of people. Plots are scrambled or cheapened into jokes. Fan-animations behave as memes. This is all good fun. As parodies, abridged series almost always succeeds. There’s something innately pleasing about nonsense — it feels lively, improvised. Remember satire? Satire can be wacky, too. Arguably, the only difference between it and parody is its point. Satire criticizes both the foundations of a work and our perception of it. In My Hero Abridged, this is accomplished through meta-humor and breaking the fourth wall.
- The Entrance Exam Arc roasts hero tropes and accents the nasty behaviors in society.
- The Sports Festival Arc is a critique of entertainment and its backward effect on participants.
- The Forest Training Camp Arc — and series finale — leaves our moral compass reeling, then ridicules our attempt to set it straight.
Again and again, My Hero Abridged delivers harsh commentary on the human experience. JoyRide was very brave taking this route. The series could’ve easily tapped into an Abridged-Ochako-type mindset. Thankfully, JoyRide used an incredible amount of control. Every one of their points is organic. Nothing ever feels fabricated or out of place. This is impressive, given the far-fetched nature of abridged series.
Dreams Can Become Reality
Without a doubt, My Hero Abridged goes beyond parody. It’s satire, through and through. It does not deserve to slip through the cracks. Fandom — as wonderful as it is — has its flaws. Great works remain obscure all the time. Hopefully, as the abridged series grows, more will follow in the footsteps of My Hero Abridged. JoyRide could’ve settled with fart-jokes. Instead, they looked My Hero Academia in the eye and followed their own dreams.