Thursday, December 24, 2015

Let's Go Hero Training!

Since the last time I've posted about My Hero Academia, several things have happened. The first was that the sales of the first volume did extremely well to the point that it's a bit ridiculous for a manga series without an anime to do so well. The second thing that happened was that it got an anime announcement recently aiming it for a Spring premiere in April.

Keep in mind that the manga has only been running serialized in Shonen Jump in Japan for only a little over a year. This is how much faith everyone has in this series to be huge.

I was surprised, too. Here's the trailer:

Not only is it being done by Studio Bones (the studio behind Blood Blockade Battlefront), but it's also being written by Yousuke Kuroda, writer of the Trigun anime. To say that I'm not as excited for this as anyone else would be an understatement. This is what I have been hoping for since the series first began, Not only that, but by a staff I would have never thought possible.

But enough of that, let's get to volume 2 of the manga instead. That's why we're all here.

As I contended at the end of my review of the first volume, My Hero Academia is a breath of fresh air in the manga world for being not only hopeful but rather action packed without having to rely on gore or over the top fetishisizing on the violence.

In the second volume, Izuku Midoriya, our hero, now starts his first semester at the prestigious U.A. High School officially and has his first few tests and assignments as a hero in training. These include a two on two villain battle to stop a bomb from leveling the city and an exercise in rescue training to save lives. Of course much else happens, but it requires a lot of spoilers to go through and I don't want to ruin it. Suffice to say, in volume 2 we meet a group of villains that are actually quite terrifying to behold and out main characters become more fleshed out.

While volume 1 established the characters (mainly those of Midoriya, All Might, and Bakugo), volume 2 shows us the other members of Midoriya's class and how they have just as much potential to be heroes as he does. Midoriya's rivalry with Bakugo officially starts in their very first battle against each other, requiring a lot more cooperation with their team members in order to win. Oh yeah, and the heroes get their costumes.

It also must be said that the pacing in volume 2 is very brisk. A lot of modern manga (and by extension, anime) has a tendency to navel gaze a bit too much and take forever to get to the end. Bleach, for example, can go months on just a single fight (at one chapter a week) which can absolutely kill the momentum. My Hero Academia doesn't suffer from this. Fights between heroes and villains are quick, strategies are key, and dramatic battles are given exactly the gravitas they need without feeling long at all. And I can confirm the series continues in this vein after this volume. Kohei Horikoshi's feel for pacing is probably second only to Akira Toriyama (author of Dragon Ball) in how sharp it is.

On the other hand, I have to mention the negatives here. The first volume didn't really have any due to just being set up, but the second only has a couple. The first is the character of Mineta who is as cowardly as he is perverted. He is constantly told off for his actions, but he is still quite annoying to deal with compared to other characters. The second is Bakugo from the first volume. Bakugo takes a while to really learn anything in this series compared to just about anyone else and he can seem annoying to those who don't like hot-headed characters. But I'm going to go into a bit of spoilers in the next paragraph, so skip it if you don't want it.


Bakugo is frequently hated in fan circles because he is hot-headed, arrogant, stubborn, and a jerk. Which he is. The thing that is never pointed out about him is that he isn't stupid. You know this when they mention his test scores and when you see how smartly he fights. He's actually on par with Midoriya. The problem is that Bakugo wears nothing on his sleeve. Nothing at all. If you want to see him develop, you have to pay closer attention to the way he says things. He was arrogant until he came to UA High School and slowly lost it over time. It isn't blatant because he never outright says it, but it's there. Also, his superiority complex over Midoriya is another thing that very slowly changes until a very recent chapter when the two get past their differences and work together for a common goal. Bakugo is a hero despite his faults, just like the others. His problems are more internal and how he deals with them externally is part of his character's appeal. It's no coincidence that his quirk is to cause explosions.


Anyway, in this volume, Bakugo gets pretty obnoxious as the cover would have you believe. As I said, at this point he's a bit more annoying than heroic, but he slowly gets better as the series goes on.

Despite those small faults, volume 2 is actually an improvement on the first and a great introduction to the wider world of My Hero Academia. If you liked volume 1, there's no real chance you won't like this one even more.

But I've rambled. My Hero Academia is a great manga, and on its way to being a classic of the genre. If you like superheroes, shonen manga, or action adventure stories, this series was made just for you. It's a real gem.

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