The quirks of My Hero Academia part 1
Let me begin by saying that I have not seen My Hero Academia, beyond the clips that have been popping up in the amine groups on facebook that I belong to. That being said, however, I have enjoyed what I’ve seen and I am intrigued. What can I say? I am a sucker for shounen manga and anime, doubly so at the end of the year as I can count the days until I am out of Mongolia for the summer. I love teaching here, but it is a long hard year, and the food really doesn’t like me very much. Anyway, I did a bit of digging around on the My Hero Academia Wiki and discovered some things that are worth discussing, the science behind the different quirks and their drawbacks.
Now for the uniformed, quirk is what the superpowers in My Hero Academia are called, and are implied to be due to genetic mutations. An easy way to think of it is that a quirk is the My Hero Academia version of the X-gene in X-men. Quirks typically do not appear until the child is around the age of four, but if an individual has only 1 joint in their pinky toe they have a quirk, while normal people have two joints in their pinky toe.
This is actually a pretty smart move by Kohei Horikoshi as there are real world instances of certain unseen physiological traits having a physical tell such as a study linking an earlobe crease to an increased risk of coronary disease. Now on to the traits themselves. I am not going to debate the real world possibility of super powers, but rather discuss whether or not they make sense in context.
Ochaco Uraraka- Zero Gravity
Ochaco’s power, zero gravity, allows her to eliminate the force of gravity on herself and/or anything she touches. This was the first trait that caught my eye and the one that inspired me to create this article. While she has a limit on how much she can render weightless, I am more interested in the side effects of when she makes herself weightless. When Ochaco uses her powers on herself to float, she is struck by nausea and vomiting. While there are a laundry list of effects from being in zero gravity, I will be focusing on the immediate effects and not the long term ones, which would explain Ochaco’s problems.
The human body has two systems to detect when the body is in motion, the eyes and the vestibular system, found in the inner ear. If you remember my post on SAO and motion sickness, you will of course remember that the eye sees motion, and the vestibular system feels motion. If the information from these two systems are in agreement, you are fine; if they disagree, you end up getting motion sickness. This is thought to be a protective response due to some plants causing visual hallucinations, and your body’s response is to vomit and expel the offending material.
Ochaco’s issue is a bit more extreme than that, as zero gravity completely confuses the vestibular system and several other pressure senses that the body uses to maintain posture and position. These systems all work on the force of gravity to tell the body which way is up and down, and with the absence of gravity up and down can completely switch, thereby disorienting the body. This is known as space adaptation sickness, and astronauts can adapt over several days, but Ochaco never remains weightless long enough for this to occur. She could use motion sickness medications if she knew she was going to make herself weightless for a long period of time.
Denki Kaminari- Electrification
This was another quirk that caught my eye, because there are real world animals that can emit electricity, such as the electric eel. In fact, all animals generate a small degree of bioelectricity, or electrical energy that is created by biological systems. The nervous system of all animals, including humans, runs on minute electrical impulses known as action potentials. The action potentials are generated by neurons. The neuron uses a pump known as the sodium potassium pump to generate an imbalance in the charged particles around the cell where the inside of the cell is more negative than the outside.
When certain signals are received by the neuron channels open in the cell, this allows sodium to enter the cell and potassium to leave the cell. Because more positive ions (sodium) enter the cell than leave (potassium), the inside of the cell becomes more positive than the outside flipping the charge on the cell. The inside is now positive and the outside negative. This flipping of charges then races down the cell to the next cell in the chain.
If the next cell in the chain is a muscle cell, the electrical impulse causes the neuron to release a chemical, called a neurotransmitter, that causes the muscle to undergo a change in its electrical balance, causing it to contract.
Under normal conditions most animals do not generate enough of an electrical charge to damage their own body. While weak, these charges can be detected by certain medical devices (EKG- heart, EEG- brain).
In the case of the electric eel and other electric fish, their body has modified muscle cells that focus on generating electrical impulses and not muscular contractions. I would imagine that Denki has something similar where some of his muscles are modified to create stronger electrical impulses and not contractile force. Certain electrical fish can have a max output of 600 watts, and they are protected from electrocuting themselves by a layer of fat between the brain and the rest of the body since fat is not a good conductor of electricity. Denki unfortunately does not have that and thus the problem of electrocuting himself the more power he uses. FYI- powerlifters can generate up to 2kw when doing certain lifts. Now this is used for contractile force and not electrical generation, but without any other information it’s a good starting point for Denki’s maximum output.
Mina Ashido- acid
Mina’s quirk is another one that has a biological basis in the real world, as some animals do produce acid as a defense mechanism. Ants, specifically wood ants, can project formic acid from a specialized structure known as an acidopore as a defense mechanism. Formic acid is not a particularly strong acid, or that dangerous to humans in most cases, and it is quickly broken down by the human body. Now Mina turns purple when she uses her acid, and I have no way of knowing what type of acid she can create, but I would imagine her purple skin coloration is a result of her body breaking down the acid residue on her skin so she doesn’t melt herself. The time limit to her acid production is probably due to her body running out of the material needed to create the acid in the first place, or she uses up the acid reserve her body keeps on hand. Not all that dissimilar to many venomous animals which can only carry so much venom at a given time.
I know I didn’t get to everyone so stay tuned for part 2 next week. Also let me know if there are any quirks you want me to look at or take a deeper look at.