Wednesday, March 1, 2017

"Never Forget Who You Want to Become!" ~ My Hero Academia Volume 7 Review

"This is just how I feel personally, but the most exciting part of any superhero movie or comic is the process of becoming a hero. And I mean "exciting," which goes a level beyond "interesting" in how it creates a sense of anticipation. 
"So I set out to make a story about becoming the greatest hero there ever was that would perfectly capture that excitement, even for myself as the author. 
"The stage for that was set way earlier than expected, but I've still got a ton of story in me, so I'm going ahead at full throttle."

~ Kohei Horikoshi

And this is where we are in volume 7 of My Hero Academia. If you thought things were heating up in volume 6 you ain't seen nothing yet. When we last left our heroes, Midoriya, Ida, and Todoroki, were doing battle with Stain the Hero Killer, and were on the ropes. Volume 7 finishes the battle and ends the Hosu City Incident in a brutal and dynamic way. The world of My Hero Academia will never be the same.

To fans, this battle is when My Hero Academia went from a great series to an excellent one. You have separate threads connecting to each other, a thrilling battle of good and evil, incredible detailed art (and this is a weekly series, don't forget), and the start of upped stakes that Kohei Horikoshi takes to heart. Everything is on the line here. This is top shelf material.

But the battle with Stain and the aftershocks, which take place over half the volume, as incredible as they are, don't slow the pace down whatsoever. There is no down time. The story continues on, continuing to ramp up the scale.

As you've noticed from the cover, just as with volume 5, this is the second cover to not have Izuku Midoriya, the main character, on it. Just as that volume was called Shoto Todoroki: The Origin (which came back in a big way during the Stain fight), this volume is called Katsuki Bakugo: The Origin. Horikoshi's covers when focusing on one character at a time are quite incredible, and this is no exception. There's a really nice one coming up, but I can't mention it for fear of spoilers. Trust me, these covers are always great.

Bakugo, despite his early characterization, is a much better character than you would first think. Horikoshi does not sit on him as a stock bully character. Bakugo is thought as, even by his teachers, to be going down the wrong road and away from the path of good. It's easy to think that. He had been going the wrong way when he was young and got his quirk. In the first chapter and at the start of the series, he's a chump. He was arrogant, a bully, and had a volatile personality as a result of life not working out the way he wanted it to.

That was the way it was. Until he was surpassed by Izuku Midoriya and continued to be time and time again. Super special Bakugo is really just a boy with a good power, and little else. And Midoriya annoys him because the weakling was nothing special before he got his quirk: he was just a pebble in the road toward Bakugo's deserved greatness. Yet, he keeps getting in the way and reminding him what he is not. What is it that Midoriya has that even All Might sees? What is Bakugo missing, and how can he find it?

This leads to two things. The first is a great confrontation at the end of this volume where Bakugo teams up with an unlikely ally against an unlikely enemy, and the first tease of a very important event to come later in the series. Suffice to say, there is more to Bakugo than what you see on the surface.

Don't get me wrong: he's still a jerk. His behavior is not justified, or ever thought of as anything but repulsive for a hero. But very slowly, it appears that he knows it himself. He knows he is insufficient to be a hero. Watching Bakugo grow from an arrogant bully into a hero should be just as fun to watch as Midoriya has been.

One of Horikoshi's strengths is to never rely on cliches with his characters. They might start with a simple personality like nerd, cool guy, or bully, but they always turn out to be more than that. Bakugo is a bully done right, and he goes beyond what you would expect. Whatever he eventually ends up being should be interesting to see.

Unfortunately, Mr. Horikoshi once again leaves readers on a cliffhanger with this volume! This will have readers grinding their teeth, but I assure you that My Hero Academia is worth the wait. Volume 8 will be worth the wait. It's currently over 120 chapters long and is still the best running manga out there.

In other news, season 2 of the series is a month out. It might even cover material in this volume. Suffice to say, if you enjoyed season 1, you're definitely going to want to catch this, especially if the rumor of it being twice as long as season 1 is true. Fans are in for a treat. My Hero Academia just gets better and better as it goes.

Here's hoping 2017 is the year the series finally achieves mainstream recognition!

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