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Review: My Hero Academia Volume 1-5

Review: My Hero Academia Volume 1-5
By Kohei Hirokoshi
Viz Media
Rated T, for Teen

My Hero Academia started in 2014, quickly becoming a hit both in Japan and here in the U.S. With superheroes now being cool, it was the perfect time for a manga about them to debut. These first five volumes introduce Izuku Midoriya and his classmates, all of whom have dreams of becoming heroes, and the trials they have to go through to not just get into U.A., Japan’s premier high school for heroes-in-training, but also survive the classes.

The series follows Izuku Midoriya, or Deku as he’s often called. He is one of the 20% of the population that was born without a super power, also known as a quirk. That doesn’t stop him from dreaming of becoming a hero. After impressing his idol, the number one hero All Might, he is given the chance of a lifetime to inherit All Might’s quirk, “One for All.” Having grown up quirkless, Midoriya starts out weak and timid, especially after being bullied by his childhood friend Katsuki Bakugo. Once he does get one, he puts in double the work to learn to use and control his power, since he didn’t have the last 10 years like his classmates. Through these volumes, Midoriya can only access 5% of the power, causing himself harm after using it. But his determination, bravery, sense of responsibility and strategic mind help to build his confidence and make him feel worthy of the power he’s been given.

My Hero Academia is an ensemble series. The Hero Class 1-A that Midoriya gets into is filled with likable and interesting characters. The first two classmates that Midoriya befriends are Uraraka Ochoca, a girl that can make things weightless with a touch, and Iida Tenya, the son of a famous hero family who has jet engines in his legs that make him super fast. Uraraka is open and friendly, while Iida is the more studious and serious type. Shoto Todoroki is a boy with the power to control fire and ice. He is smart, good looking, and not very emotional. He is the most powerful person in the class, but he isn’t brash or prideful. Katsuki Bakugo is the opposite of Shoto and seems more like a villain than a hero. He has nothing but disdain for not only Midoriya but all of his classmates, and he considers them nothing more than pebbles in his way. He does recognize Midoriya in his own way, however, as he starts to see him more as a rival than obstacle. Other classmates I enjoyed were Asui Tsuyu, a girl with frog-like powers, and Fumikagi Tokoyami, a boy with a bird-like head and control over a sentient shadow.

While I did enjoy the students, my favorite character in these volumes was All Might. He is very much a Superman equivalent, with his super strength and strong desire to protect the weak. He is called the Symbol of Peace and gained his fame by rescuing over 1,000 people single-handed after a natural disaster. He appears very muscular and always has a smile on his face. He is even drawn in a different style from the rest of the characters, something that Midoriya notes in a short bit of breaking the fourth wall. But this is just a facade. All Might was injured in a battle with a villain some years ago, and can only hold his appearance for a few hours a day. His true form is a tall, thin figure with deeply sunken eyes that are all black. He is starting as a teacher at U.A. where he intended to find his successor. He comes off as kind of awkward with the students but really does want the help them become heroes.

There is plenty of action in these five volumes. The Entrance Exam to get into U.A. requires the students to battle villain robots for points. They go through a battle simulation with half the class as heroes and the other half as villains. The freshmen get their first taste of a real world battle when their rescue simulation class is interrupted by villains looking to kill All Might, and the last two volumes feature tournament style battles in the guise of a Sports Festival. What’s nice about these battles is that they aren’t done for the sake of battling as most shonen manga. There is a lot of character development that happens during and even because of them. During the battle simulation, Midoriya and Bakugo end up turning the exercise into a grudge match, which not only reveals Midoriya use of strategy, but lets them get some of their animosity out of their system. The rescue simulation, and especially the Sports Festival helped to develop several of the other characters such as Tsuyu and Tokoyami as well as showing Todoroki’s origin. It also gives a more in depth look at other Class 1-A students as well as introducing students from Class 1-B and the Support and Business classes.

My Hero Academia is very much a shonen manga, with the usual themes of friendship and teamwork standing out, but they don’t feel forced or contrived. Horikoshi takes the one major trope that can drag down the story, the battles, and makes it work in its favor. The fights aren’t just couple of characters punching each other for the sake of fighting. They can have a deeper purpose. The powers he has given the characters, and their designs are both original and fun, and he gives everyone limitations, so no one character is all powerful. Not even All Might. I didn’t think I would find a shonen manga that could pique my interest, but this series has managed to do just that.

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Lori Henderson About Lori Henderson

Lori Henderson is a mother of two teenage daughters and an avid reader. She blogs about manga at her personal blog Manga Xanadu as well as contributing and editing for Manga Village. She blogs about all things fandom (mainly Doctor Who) at her other personal blog Fangirl Xanadu. She's been at it so for over 5 years now and counting!

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