Superheroes. The hallmark of imagination since the calendar year began with a 1 and a 9. Beacons of hope born from the recesses of authors, illustrators and any other person who dared to leap outside of reality. With power born from the simplicity of their existence, heroes serve as idols to a world not their own, becoming more than fiction as they lay bare the greatest powers of humanity. Compassion, consideration, goodness, all that cliche hallmark crap that will never cease to inspire. Sure powers have gotten more complex than flight, and costumes more specialised than a cut of billowing red fabric, but the message has never, and will never change; being righteous is never wrong.
For the sake of argument, and arguably reality, I’m going to assume you’ve all heard of at least one costumed crime-fighter in your life. Marvel, DC, that movie Sky High, it doesn’t matter, you know the basics of heroism. So, with that in mind, we find ourselves in yet another origin story, the beginnings of a nobody who will one day be a somebody. Luckily for us, this someday is a direct correlation of the event held betwixt these manga pages, so we don’t have to slog through ten or so years of inane schoolyard drama. This time around, our hero-to-be is named Midoriya, and he is powerless. Sure, the champion born from weakness is a tried and true origin, but poor Midoriya really drew the shortest straw in fictional history. See, My Hero Academia exists in a world where 80% of the population possesses superhuman abilities. For a reason even top ficitional scientist cannot fathom, humanity suddenly and near unceasingly began the next step in evolution, with children born possessing amazing powers. Though not laid out in so many words, a fact which I appreciate, Quirks (the in-universe name for powers) are unpredictable. Now, if you have read this particular manga, you may know that they do indeed detail this uncertain nature, however there are a few additional tid bits that feed into what is laid bare. Quirks are all over the place, we know this, however the manga consistently used the revelatory age of 4 as a sign of Midoriya’s Quirklessness. Despite this hallmark age of awakening, the very first known Quirk wielder was a bio-luminescent baby, born shining. Though far from my favourite thing about this manga, the fact that it immediately gives off the feeling that you are entering a pre-existing world is immensely comforting. Sure Midoriya’s tale is just beginning, but it doesn’t feel like this world was spurned into creation for him alone.
Of course, our really-wannabee hero is not left powerless for long, with a rather garish deus ex machina presented in the form of All Might. As the resident numero uno of the heroic world, All Might cuts a rather striking figure. Whilst due in part to his ever present smile and towering physique, his aptitude for standing out in a crowd may have just a little to do with the fact that he is in an artstyle all his own. Unlike the other character who retain a to be expected manga-esque visual, All Might is unabashedly drawn in the style of old school heroes. With a more defined form and a tendency to be shaded even under direct sunlight, this hero of heroes immediately references and proudly displays at least one of the inspirations behind this series. Additionally, it’s just kind cool. Anyway, back to the machina and the deus ex, All Might’s unique nature allows him to pass his power on to one he deems worthy; cue a meeting with Midoriya. Through circumstances that are one part never say die attitudes and two parts soul searingly horrifying, the self analysing pro-and-con-tagonist that is Midoriya proves himself possessive of a hero’s heart, something that All Might values immensely. I bring this up not only to whet the proverbial whistles of the interested masses, but also so that I can at least mention the old fashioned training montage that occurs as a direct result. Is it a new idea? No, not at all, but I honestly don’t remember the last time I saw a hero training on page. Most of the time we just get to witness some dialgoue, a sudden and secretive realisation, then neither hide nor hair of the results until the climactic moment. I mean, this manga also hits all those notes to a tee, but I just feel like My Hero did a better job of capturing the struggle of Midoriya as he forced his way from zero to hero.
Without just blurting out everything that happened in this volume, the manga also managed to provide a number of interesting supporting characters who have yet to gain their time in the sun. There’s that strong guy with wings, a frog girl…some short guy…a girl with a ponytail. They’re more interesting than I’m making it sound, trust me. If you need any proof at all, just look at the dramatic line up on the final page. Also, read all of the pages before that, because this manga is awesome and you should read it. Did that come across in this review? I meant it to. I think this paragraph started leading into a point about the curiosity surrounding the characters who have yet to officially debut, but I got a little distracted. Oh well, read My Hero Academia. It’s cool. Also Bakugo is an explody jerk who will hopefully get punched or something…but, like, in a way that makes him better for the experience. I’m not that malicious.
Do you have the makings of a hero? Muster up your courage, prepare for every eventuality and head over to Madman