My Hero Academia’s 6th Popularity Poll Results Are Puzzling

My Hero Academia's sixth annual popularity poll results have been released in what has now become a December tradition for the series. Featuring the top 10 winners in a two-page color spread -- this time with a steampunk theme -- the poll itself was the tally of Japanese fans sending in votes on which My Hero Academia character was their standout favorite in 2020. Over the years, the poll's participation level has risen alongside My Hero Academia's own popularity, with this sixth edition having well over 40,000 total votes.

While the top three favorites are no surprise, the results this time are a break from the norm in a lot of ways. Some of the peculiarities aren't all that surprising when you take into account what's been happening in the anime and manga, but other details just make no sense.

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To start off with, the top three favorites for many years running have been Katsuki Bakugo, Izuku Midoriya and Shoto Todoroki — in that order — and nothing is different in this regard for the sixth popularity poll. It would take a truly seismic shift in the way the series is going for these characters to be knocked off from the top three spots, given that they're the most important and powerful members of Class 1-A.

Tenya Iida, Eraser Head and Eijiro Kirishima take the next three spots, which is also nothing too unusual. Eraser Head is a bit higher than he usually is, but he's also had some incredible acts of valor and general drama in the manga lately, so that checks out. Iida's popularity may come as a surprise to some, especially since he hasn't been a relevant character for a long time now, but he's always been a fan favorite in Japan. Kirishima, for his part, is almost universally loved by My Hero Academia fans.

The final members of the poll's top ten are Hawks, Endeavor, Yo Shindo and Tomura Shigaraki. This is where things get interesting. While three of those characters are arguably the most complex in the series and have received major character arcs in the manga, there is one man among them who does not belong: Yo Shindo.

Many fans may not immediately know who Yo Shindo is, and for good reason. The character hasn't been relevant for years in terms of both the anime and the manga. He's appeared in a total of one panel in the manga's current War Arc, and in that panel he wasn't doing anything particularly memorable. He's handsome but not enough to rally legions of fans to him; he has a powerful Quirk but not one unique enough to make him stand out. Most importantly, he's always ranked a bit higher than one would expect in past popularity polls, but never this high out of nowhere, even during the Provisional License Exam Arc when he was... somewhat of a relevant character.

So why the sudden surge in Yo Shindo's popularity? We won't ever know for sure, but chances are it was a collective troll effort rather than a legitimate groundswell of love for the character. This isn't a theory that stretches the realm of possibility – Japanese popularity polls have a history of getting trolled. The most famous example of this is what is known as the "Magnemite Incident," which happened in 2008.

During a Pokémon popularity poll that occurred to promote the movie Giratina & the Sky Warrior, Japanese fans conspired together to make Magnemite the winner of the poll. Not only is Magnemite an incredibly minor background character in the movie the poll was promoting, but it's also not even a popular Pokémon in general. It got to the point that officials decided to change the results and declared Shaymin #1 in the poll instead, rather than try to promote and celebrate Magnemite as the victor.

Yo Shindo is likely a moderately successful attempt at replicating another Magnemite Incident, selected for his general obscurity and a bit of trivia series creator Kohei Horikoshi shared that the character himself loves to troll on the internet. That the real-life trolls managed to get Yo Shindo as high as #9 in a poll where hardcore fans will buy tons of manga copies and magazines to spam votes for their favorite character is impressive. It may have come at a cost, however: for the first time ever, no female character is featured in the top 10. Momo Yaoyorozu is a bit lower than she normally is, and Ochaco Uraraka surprisingly has about half the votes she typically does.

Whatever the case, it's unlikely we'll see Yo Shindo show up this high in a poll again. May the true Yo Shindo fans out there enjoy it while it lasts.

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