The "My Hero Academia Effect": Cringe Culture and Its Impact on Anime


  • The “My Hero Academia Effect” explores the impact of cringe culture on fandoms, leading to abandonment and backlash from non-fans.
  • Anime fans faced extreme bullying and harassment, with some abandoning series due to stereotypes and cringy fandom labels.
  • The rise of anime in 2020 brought communities together, promoting creativity and healthy outlets among fanbases.

The “My Hero Academia Effect” refers to the dissipation of fandoms when they are suddenly deemed “cringe.” This change in perspective often follows certain levels of popularity or the surfacing of internet memes involving a fandom. For many years, fandom culture has been seen in a bad light. Whether a Disney, anime, or even Taylor Swift fan, large groups of devoted media enjoyers often receive some sort of backlash. Examples of teasing may include receiving a nickname like “weeb,” “otaku,” or, in the case of some music fans, “Swifties” in less severe circumstances.

However, in much more troubling cases, being a part of a fandom can lead to extreme bullying, harassment, or online berating. While some unfortunate cases surrounding fandoms include inappropriate behavior, many fans refuse to watch certain anime simply because the fandoms are considered “cringy” on the internet. Only recently has the MHA fanbase resurfaced following the series’ explosive final seasons. Nevertheless, the history of the anime’s popularity has prompted discussions surrounding “cringe culture” and its impact on the entertainment medium.


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2020: The Year of Anime

During the pandemic, anime, manga, and other Japanese media exploded

Among the boredom, fear, and isolation of COVID-19, media fans began exploring new sources of entertainment. Anime such as Hunter x Hunter, My Hero Academia, and Death Note grew immensely in popularity. While anime fandoms existed before the pandemicit truly became a mainstream medium in 2020. After social gathering restrictions were lifted, Japanese groceries and comic/anime conventions also became trendy. For the first time, anime was commonplace in the United States.

TikTok also erupted in popularity. During 2020, the For You Page was widely known to be divided into two user experiences, “straight” and “alt” TikTok. Influencers such as Charlie D’Amelio and Addison Rae spearheaded the dance revolution of TikTok, while cosplayers inspired fandoms worldwide. Cosplayers and anime fans shared in the discovery of new series, shopping for manga at Barnes and Noble, and bringing characters to life. For many, the rise of anime in 2020 is seen as a fond memory amongst the uncertainty of the pandemic. On the other hand, some use specific trends and videos from this era to label certain fandoms as “cringe.”

The Homestuck to My Hero Academia Pipeline

Some fandoms have hindered society’s acceptance of cosplayers and anime fans

One of the most infamous stories surrounding cosplayers and anime conventions happened in 2012. Homestuck is a webcomic created by American author and artist Andrew Hussie. The story follows a group of teens who inadvertently trigger the apocalypse by installing the beta version of an upcoming computer game, Sburb. The comic ran from 2009 to 2016. Because the series was drawn in grayscale, cosplayers began coloring their skin to emulate the comic’s style.

While some chose bodypaint and bodysuits, stories began circulating on the internet of Homestuck fans dyeing their skin gray by filling bathtubs with Sharpies and soaking in it. These incidents often occurred in hotel rooms during conventions, leading to Homestuck cosplayers being banned from several cons and hotels due to defamation of property. As a result, the fandom dissipated and is almost non-existent today. Similarly, while MHA blew up in 2020, fans recently took a hiatus from the series due to certain videos and fanfictions resurfacing.

The “My Hero Academia Effect” – How Cringe Culture Ruins Fandoms

My Hero Academia is the most prominent example of how cringe culture can dissipate fandoms.

Anime and many other animation-centered fandoms have been considered “cringy” for many years. Not only has this led to severe bullying in some cases, but the total abandonment of some series. For example, despite My Hero Academia‘s engaging storytellingfans on social media have claimed to drop the series altogether due to the “cringy” stereotypes non-anime watchers often place on the MHA fandom. Furthermore, recent videos circulating from anime conventions have sparked controversy as fans argue that conventions are the only place to enjoy their fandom with fellow anime watchers freely.

Image via Netflix

With the rise of anime in 2020 came fan-created videos, art, stories, and more. Alternate universes (AUs) with original characters (OCs) allow fans to create their own stories within their favorite shows, movies, and books. My Hero Academia AUs and OCs became extremely popular in 2020. Not only were fans developing their original Quirks for their OCs, but they could also ship them with their favorite characters. While a few cases of inappropriate age-gap ships were discovered, most anime fans found healthy outlets for creativity and engaging with the anime community on the internet.

However, after videos of convention goers and old TikTok’s from 2020 resurfaced a few years later, creators were attacked for their creative expression, anime crushes, animatics, and AU’s. Thus, My Hero Academia was abandoned by many, considered “too cringey.” As a result, fans began admitting that they stopped watching the show simply because of the stereotypes surrounding MHA fans. However, the superhero anime is not the only show that has received such backlash. Stranger Things and Hazbin Hotel fans have also been scrutinized. In fact, the three are often associated with each other in many TikTok’s criticizing the fandoms:

Sports fans are widely accepted in any setting, while anime fans at conventions are mocked on the internet

The positive uproar surrounding certain anime is a testament to its engaging storytelling, powerful performances, and quality animation. Fandoms embracing “nerd culture” in appropriate settings, such as anime conventions, should be encouraged. Other communities, such as sports fans, are regularly seen cheering on their favorite teams in public. Not only do fans loudly express their feelings during a game in stadiums, but at home, in bars, or anywhere a screen can be found.

Image via MGM

Furthermore, fantasy drafts are widely accepted and regularly advertised on major platforms. In contrast, anime fanfiction is considered taboo in everyday conversation. However, some might consider fantasy drafts “sports fanfiction.” When animation fans sing “Loser, Baby” from Hazbin Hotel at a convention or share an MHA OC animatic on TikTok, outsiders consider it cringy, but they need to consider that these are two places where fans should feel comfortable being “cringy.”

Anime fans and non-fans alike should not seek to alienate certain fandoms. Japanese creators are responsible for more popular media in America than people may think. Godzilla, Super Mario Bros., Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and more, are all sourced from Japan. Instead of shunning fans, communities of all entertainment types should encourage healthy, appropriate expressions of creativity. Most people can accredit joy to a song, comfort show, or favorite movie, and anime fans are no different.

Extreme cases, such as the Homestuck incident, should not define an entire community. Cringe culture, or putting down fellow fans, should come to an end. Many criticize 2020 and My Hero Academia for producing such an active fanbase, but such things carried some people through one of the most isolating, uncertain times of the recent decade. The “My Hero Academia Effect,” also known as cringe culture, should be put to rest as fans learn to find the excitement in sharing original stories across the internet, anime conventions, and social media.

My Hero Academia (2016)

In My Hero Academia, some humans have superpowers called quirks. Izuku Midoriya, nicknamed Deku, is not one of them. Deku has always idolized heroes like the number one hero, All Might, and since he was a child, he has always wanted to be a hero. However, his lack of a quirk has always held him back, but a chance encounter with All Might after discovering a classmate in danger sets Deku on the path to becoming a true hero. My Hero Academia centers around Deku and a class of heroes-in-training at UA. This school shapes young quirk users into future heroes through fake rescue missions, combat training, and other hero-tempering tasks. With young Deku inheriting the “One-For-All” quirk, he will learn what it means to be a true hero while facing off with dastardly supervillains.

Release Date
April 3, 2016

My Hero Academia

Production Company


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