I’m nearly caught up with the all the tankōbon published in English so far. Volume 8 of My Hero Academia / Boku no Hero Academia takes us through “Chapter 71: Kota.” If you’re a super-fan, MangaFreak has all the scanlated chapters up to chapter 153.
I’m still trying to decide if I’m enough of a super-fan, myself to want to catch up to the “live-stream,” as it were. I have been very burned by getting that invested in a weekly manga (and its fandom). To add to that, My Hero Academia / Boku no Hero Academia is a Weekly Shounen Jump (WSJ) product, just like Bleach and Naruto, which both ended abruptly and so, so very badly.
I’m not sure that I trust the editorial staff at WSJ to understand *why* their product is successful and to cultivate and lead their mangaka to explore the important bits.
I mean, there’s an obvious canon ship in My Hero Academia / Boku no Hero Academia. If the numbers drop, are the editors going to be like, “Whelp, that’s a wrap, Hokikoshi-sensei. Just slam Modoriya and Uraraka together, give ’em a couple of babies, chop off Modoriya’s hair so he looks like crap, destroy any power Uraraka had on her own beyond being a breeding female, and call it the end, okay??!!”
Not that I’m bitter.
But, you can’t deny, it’s a WSJ trend.
A lot happens in Volumes 2 – 8. We get the sports area competition (and Todoroki Shoto’s tragic—seriously tragic–backstory,) the heroes choosing their names (very glad that Midoriya went with “Deku”), the injury of Iida Tenya’s onii-chan, and so, so much more including an internship for Midoriya in which he finally gets a better sense of how to control All For One.
Speaking of the transferable quirk, we also discover that there is an opposing quirk out there called One For All, and that maybe the origin story of the super-quirk is not entirely wholesome.
As I allude to above, there is also the introduction of the Hero Killer villain and his intriguing philosophy…. which was kind of a turning point for me.
Mason saw me reading these further volumes and he asked me what I thought of everything so far. At the time, I was reading volume 4, and I still wasn’t sure.
As long-time readers of my reviews know, I’m a hard sell. Comedy is hard for me, but also I really like my stories to have some… meat, some substance. Barring that, I want a sense of the edges of the world, the places where dystopia and disaffection lurk. I like action-action-action, but I can get bored of that if there’s nothing more there. I managed to drop out of Assassination Classroom after having read a ton–almost 11 volumes? So, yeah, I need a strong hook–for me, I especially want a kind of dark hook, something that tells me that the mangaka has created something that could be thought about deeply, in a real-world context.
With the introduction of the Hero Killer, we’re getting somewhere.
And, more importantly, WSJ seems to recognize the interesting bits of this darker side, too. They’re currently running a spin-off to this manga called, Vigilante: Boku no Hero Academia Illegals. I just started reading that, and might have a review of that up separately. (I promise I will get back to yaoi, but my heart is shounen, so bear with me.) This seems to follow people who don’t fit into the hero mode, who still want to do good, but because of the laws of society, they’re illegal–criminals.
Heroic bad guys.
Okay, you’re interesting me, WSJ.
The other thing that intrigued me in the main story and got me thinking I may have found something deeper is that the heroes of the universe of My Hero Academia get very worried when clips of Hero Killer’s speeches get out. His point? The world is overrun by heroes. All these quirks mean that no one is really special. You don’t actually have to be heroic to be a hero. In fact, as we see in the internship arc, some heroes spend their time selling products on TV.
Hero Killer HATES that sh*t.
Plus, and he doesn’t talk about this explicitly, but his quirk has made him physically deformed. A lot of people don’t get the good quirks. There’s a lot to find problematic about this quirk-filled world.
So we’re starting to ask the question that has been on the opposite side of of hero, Midoriya’s journey. His question has always been: what makes a hero? Like Captain America in the Marvel comic universe, his answer is pure. It’s your heart. Quirk or not, being a hero should mean “doing the right thing, even when that’s the hardest thing.”
Now, we’re starting to ask, “What makes a villain?”
In fact, in these volumes, there have been some serious questions about the hearts of some of our colleagues at UA. When Hero Killer takes out Iida Tenya’s older brother, paralyzing him, Iida starts to walk down the path of revenge. Similarly, we see the instructor, Eraserhead, keeping a shadowy watch on Bakugo Katsuki since he is still so consumed by his hatred of Midoriya (he makes them work together on the final exam–which KIND OF works, except he’s still so angry.)
However, the implication of his concern over Bakugo appears to be that UA may have produced villains in the past, and they’re keeping an eye out for villainous behavior–which, of course, FASCINATES me.
So, I mean, this one has got a lot of what I love. A LOT.
I will certainly follow the volumes as they come out. The only question is… how much further will I fall into it?