Yes! It’s finally here, and I finally get to talk about it! The smash hit manga of 2014, My Hero Academia!
Imagine, a world where 80 percent of the population have superpowers. Because of this sudden appearance of superpowers, the manga calls them quirks, there has also been a surge of superheroes and supervillains. To train the next generation of heroes protecting the world from dangerous quirks, a school has been created to mold young minds. This school is known as U.A. High School and it teaches only the very best and brightest to be heroes.
Not exactly an original idea to be honest. A slice of life story about life in a superhero school. It’s basically X-Men minus the discrimination. However, our main character is Izuku “Deku” Midoriya and he was born with no quirk. None. No superpowers whatsoever. To top it all off, he’s a bit of a dork and a huge fanboy. Deku’s dream, even though the entire world is against him, is to one day get into U.A. High School. A foolish dream and everyone gives him grief about it, compounded by the fact that all of his classmates have their own special quirks. There’s no one more special in Deku’s class than Katsuki Bakugo. Bakugo is a bully and a superhero prodigy who gets a lot of enjoyment out of destroying Deku’s dreams. These two are polar opposites, whereas Deku wants to be a hero for the sake of saving people, Bakugo sees it more as a show of how strong he is. These two ideals clash often, which makes up most of the drama between these two characters.
Now, you know the story doesn’t end there. Deku loves heroes, but there’s one hero he loves more than all the rest. All Might, the number one hero in all the world. Let me put it bluntly, All Might is amazing. He’s basically the all American hero with ultimate strength and a winning smile. I love this guy. Despite All Might’s powers and charm, there’s still humanity behind is over the top design. All Might is a damaged hero, but his fate changes forever when he meets Deku and learns about the kid with no quirk. From there, Deku’s life also changes and his journey to be a superhero becomes more than just a day dream.
If you couldn’t tell already, I love this manga. It début only a few months ago in America, but it has already become one of the highlights of my week. Though it started off half way through the continuing storyline, I eventually got the gist and all the characters won me over through their personal struggles.
My Hero Academia comes to us from author Kohei Horikoshi. Now this is the fun part because Kohei has an interesting manga career. His series Barrage was the first manga to be run simultaneously with the Japanese version in the revamped Weekly Shonen Jump digital magazine. The series did very poorly, only lasting 16 issues. Despite it’s poor showing in the Japanese market, it seemed to have made a home in America and received two print volumes in English. I don’t recommend Barrage, since it is a very amateurish manga and Kohei was still refining his style. My Hero Academia is a fully cooked Kohei, and it shows that he learned from his failures. While Barrage’s story was clunky and unfocused, My Hero Academia is simple but has a lot of depth in its world and characters. If you read My Hero Academia and enjoy it, then I would say give Barrage a look to see where Kohei began his career and how far he has come.
But enough about Barrage, let’s keep talking about My Hero Academia! In the manga industry, it’s hard to retain a unique style while working in the mainstream market. Despite this, Kohei has charged forward with his own way of doing things. My Hero Academia’s art isn’t particularly pretty to look at, but it oozes charm and Kohei’s sensibilities all the way through. Just look at All Might. Kohei loves comics and it shows in this manga. All Might is such the stereotypical “hero” that even the characters in the manga comment on how different his design looks. Everyone else has their own unique look, making sure every character is easily recognizable. I would say that Deku’s design is a bit bland, but that’s really the point since he’s the quirkless wonder. I will say that when he gets his own superhero suit later on his design becomes something memorable.
I’ve kept this review vague because I think everyone needs to read this. If you’re new to comics and manga, this is an easy to follow superhero story you can just pick up and read. This is a great starting point since only the first volume has been released so far. If you’re an old comics fan, buy this book! Kohei stuffs plenty of references and gags about comics and superheroes into this book that will leave you smiling. It pains me not to spoil a future storyline, but one of the characters has a very familiar design if you grew up in the 90’s. There’s so much to love about this story. Deku is a really charming protagonist you want to root for. The supporting cast all get their time to shine over the course of the story. Finally, All Might is awesome! A hearty recommendation!
You can purchase a digital copy of My Hero Academia at Viz Manga and Comixology. You can also get a physical copy at your friendly local comic shop or any online retailers. I’ll sign off with All Might’s catchphrase.
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I'm James Ristig. I've been reading comics for ten years and I'm a freelance writer and editor. Follow me on twitter @RisTigger