Note – Mr. Horikoshi requested that he not be photographed or filmed, so no pictures will be included.
Home to over 120,000 geeky visitors from all over the world, San Diego Comic-Con always has a number of high profile events, and among them this year was Kohei Horikoshi’s first appearance at an American convention. The creator of the mega-hit My Hero Academia, Mr. Horikoshi was treated to a packed room of over 1,000 fans as he took the stage alongside a number of the staff involved with editing and publishing the manga, as well as voice actors Justin Briner (Deku) and Christopher Sabat (All Might).
Mr. Horikoshi answered a number of questions (that were previously selected). Let’s take a look! [Note: Answers are approximate and not exact quotes]
Given the massive popularity of My Hero Academia, how does success feel?
Kohei Horikoshi: I honestly hadn’t even considered it until this very moment, sitting in this room in front of hundreds of fans. It helps me to know that there are definitely fans of My Hero Academia in America.
Why did you want to become a mangaka?
KH: When I was a kid I loved to draw, so I went looking for jobs where I could do that all day. Mangaka seemed like it was the only one.
How did you come up with the idea of making a manga about superheroes?
KH: Well, I grew up with a lot of superheroes in the anime and manga that I enjoyed as a kid, so I wanted to create a universe with even more heroes like that!
Who is your favorite super hero?
KH: Spider-Man. I’m a big fan of his costume, as well as his personality and journey.
Your character designs are very distinct – how do you start that process?
KH: Hmm…I don’t have a very direct answer. Sometimes I’ll start with a characters role, and that will play a key element in their design. Other times I’ll start with their design and decide what sort of role they will play.
How did you come up with Mineta?
KH: Yeah, seriously. Just looking at grapes.
What does “hero” mean to you?
KH: When I first started on this project, I felt that a hero was someone who brought anti-anxiety into any situation just by existing – a calming force. As the series has progressed that concept has changed, and I feel as though it will continue to change as the series goes on.
If a rock-looking character married a bird-looking character, what would their children look like?
KH: Let me think about it…we could have a child that is a rock, or a bird-headed child, or a rock bird-head child… (the entire panel chuckles at the nonsensical/joke question)
If you could have a quirk, which one would it be and why?
KH: Todoroki’s. I hate being hot, so I would always have AC.
Following the brief interview, Horikoshi began a live-drawing session while other members of the panel answered questions surrounding the significance of My Hero Academia when compared with Western comic worlds.
Justin Briner shared an anecdote that Clifford Chapin (who voices Bakugo) injured him on set while they were play-fighting one day. Christopher Sabat then follows that up with a tale of Karma getting Clifford back after he had a mishap on a “hoverboard” and fell face-first into the ground. The audience’s thirst for justice appeared to be quenched at that point.
There was a broader discussion on comparisons between Western and Japanese heroes, with the key takeaways being that Western heroes are often told to rely on their gut/instinct, and to dig deep within the find the power they need to prevail. Japanese heroes, on the other hand, are reminded to reflect on their training and to recall the hard work they’ve put in over time – that’s how they’re going to win. Expanding on that theme a bit, the panel comments that Japanese heroes go through a lot of training. Western heroes…not so much. They’re aliens from another planet with god-like powers, they get bit by a spider, they’re subjected to radioactive waves…an event happens that transforms them and they’re ready to fight crime just like that!
As Mr. Horikoshi completed his live drawing, there were a couple questions for Mr. Sabat and Mr. Briner about practical advice for aspiring young voice actors. They encouraged folks to explore the broader entertainment industry. There are so many elements of production and being a part of exciting projects, you don’t have to jump right into a lead role or even doing voices at all. Christopher Sabat closes the conversation with “Be a cool person – show up on time, get along well with everyone…that’s how you begin to establish a reputation as someone to work with.”
Next on the agenda was announcing the winners of the “What’s Your Quirk” challenge. They screened the top 3, which you can find below:
“Rock Paper Scissors”
There were two final questions for Mr. Horikoshi as the panel came to a close
What quirk do you think would be most useful at a convention?
Who’s your favorite My Hero Academia character?
*agonizes over it for about 10 seconds* Ahhh…I can’t decide, I’m sorry!
And with that, the panel came to an end! It was a real treat for My Hero Academia fans to come face to face with their own superhero: the creator of the beloved franchise himself! We hope that Mr. Horikoshi enjoyed his time at Comic Con and will return for more conventions in the future!
UPDATE: Following the panel, Mr. Horikoshi posted the following thank you to his fans:
— 堀越耕平 (@horikoshiko) July 23, 2018
The text reads: “To those who came to visit me at SDCC: I was really happy to hear your words and cheers. Since I didn’t speak English and was so nervous, I might have failed to express it correctly, but your enthusiasm did really cheer me up. Thank you so much, I don’t think I would ever forget this moment in my life! To those I unfortunately didn’t have a change to greet, I wish I could have! When possible, I’ll come again. Thank you so much for reading the Manga and watching the Anime of My Hero Academia! I hope you keep on enjoying them!”