Tuesday, December 12, 2017

"Well . . . Shall We Begin?" ~ My Hero Academia Volume 10 Review


The world of My Hero Academia is a normal place. Yes, the majority of the population has one trait, a quirk, that sets them apart and reflects their innermost person, but they are all normal people with hopes, dreams, and ambitions. It's not all that different from our world.

When powers first appeared the world could have easily fallen into chaos, and almost did. However, those that fought for a stable society managed to preserve their humanity instead of devolving to barbarity and savagery. We're always one bad decision away from destroying ourselves. Human beings are capable of both good and evil, but it is our choices that prove what we really are.

As the cover of this volume of the series shows, Katsuki Bakugo, our main character's childhood friend, is now at the time where he must make a similar choice. Captured by the League of Villains because of his savage performance at the Sports Festival, they are looking to recruit him to their cause. After all, he is an arrogant and pompous jerk who only thinks of himself, and he is far more interested in beating people down than saving them.

He is villain material.

Now, Bakugo is a very divisive character. He's incredibly aggressive. He's conceited. He's arrogant. He's not a good person. He's a shallow human being. All these are by his own choices. Every piece has fallen into place for him to join their group. It's no wonder that even fans of the series can't stand him.

He shouldn't have been let into UA. He shouldn't even want to be a hero.

But this volume also tells you why he can't ever be a villain.

While main character Midoriya's struggle in life has always been that he had no quirk, he had the soul of a hero. He had to work and scrape away with nothing behind him to become that hero he is. Even with power from All Might he can't help but shatter his body, and in this volume it is revealed that he can no longer continue on this road or his arms will never work again. Midoriya's battle has always been against himself first and foremost. It's his body that isn't aligned with his soul.

Bakugo is the opposite. Bakugo has an amazing quirk that he has trained his body to withstand since childhood. He has sharp reflexes, an inability to stay down, and tenacity most could only dream of. But because of how he let his quirk and abilities go to his head, he never learned to be a human being.  He has the skills, but his soul is stained. Most of the jokes centering on Bakugo are about his terrible sociability and one track mind, which are often hinted that those are the very things holding him back from being a hero.

No matter how much Bakugo wins, he is never satisfied. A simple loss in a fight would not be enough for him. His problems are of a different sort than others.

Midoriya has the heart and soul, but his body is a mess. Bakugo has the body, but his heart and soul are warped. That was the lesson they learned back during their first training session where Midoriya won despite destroying himself and Bakugo lost despite overpowering him and not even being hurt. It was a one-sided defeat despite this. For someone who has victory come to Bakugo so easily, it was a hard lesson to learn.

And despite all that, despite his hatred of Midoriya for succeeding where he has failed, despite his villainous temper and attitude, and despite showing no love for anything at all, Bakugo refuses the offer to become a villain.

Normally this wouldn't make any sense. But it is perfectly sensible when you look back at the clues Horikoshi had been giving since chapter 1.

The reason Bakugo refuses is because of All Might. Just like Midoriya, Bakugo is a huge All Might fan. The reason Bakugo smiles that creepy grin whenever he fights is not because he's arrogant and loves fighting. It's because he's trying to be All Might and throw fear into the hearts of villains just like his hero does. While Bakugo might not understand the point of saving people when he can't understand other people as a concept, he does have a sense of morality and wants to do good. Even if he doesn't know what it is. He knows what villains are, he knows what evil is, and he knows both must be crushed.

This volume starts Bakugo's long journey to be a good person and a true hero, and one that had been hinted to be coming for some time now. If this were all the volume had going for it, it would still be a recommend. However, there's more.

This volume is also about All Might's fight against an evil that won't die.

Volume 10 finally reveals the mastermind behind the villain Tomura Shigaraki, the attack on UA, the man behind hiring Stain, and the attack on the camp. This is the big man himself. The villain named All For One finally reveals himself and unleashes his wrath on the city. Before Bakugo can be turned to the villain's side, All Might and his crew arrive to save the day. But this battle might be more than even the greatest hero can handle.

Meanwhile, the students suffer from the guilt of having failed saving Bakugo during the camp raid. Midoriya, Kirishima, and Todoroki in particular have taken it the hardest. There's a big blowup argument between all the students over everything that has happened since the Stain arc leading to a near fracturing of relationships. Five decide to find and help Bakugo, breaking the rules in the process, and risking their lives, while the others choose to trust the professionals to rescue him instead. This leads to more unexpected development from some of the characters.

One thing MHA always succeeds on is characters, and you will see every one of those characters grow. You will see the students continue their journey from fledglings into real heroes. A particular favorite of mine being Kirishima's development. You wouldn't think a character with hardening powers and nothing else could be anything great, but you would be wrong. However, that's for a bit later.

All in all, this is the best volume of My Hero Academia to date. You would do well to continue your collection with this one. This is also a great spot to jump on board. The story has hit a new high.

This volume and the next are the most important in the series so far. You won't want to miss these. This is where My Hero Academia begins to head down a path it can never come back from and reaches new heights. What happens in this arc is a world-changer.

Is the world able to be saved, or is it destined to fall to chaos and disarray? Can the heroes stand tall under the growing villainous assault? It looks like we're about to find out.

If you're looking for a fun action book in the meantime, I've got you covered.


  1. Bakugo is my favorite of the supporting cast because although he's such a jerk, I love his fighting spirit, and I like that he's not just a one-dimensional bully. As you say, he might not make for a great hero, but he's no villain either. I much prefer him to Todoroki, who seems to be more popular (angsty characters with daddy issues tend to bore me).

    1. Bakugo's development is literally about him growing a soul. That's pretty different for Shonen which is usually fine enough leaving jerk characters alone and pretending there's nothing wrong with them.

      Bakugo is easily one of the best characters in the series because his journey is much different than the one most heroes go through.

  2. Kirishima got a whole lot of development in the just concluded (and long) Internship arc. But this is the start of one of the most impressive set action piece of the manga, those of us that have read past that will know what I'm talking about.

    With regards to Bakugo, you will get to see a bunch of student's families and you'll definitely see where Bakugo comes from. In pure sports cliche term, he's a small town bigshot who went off to the national level and realize that he's no longer the biggest shot around. The ones he belittled from his hometown have surpass him, and his egotism have prevented him from even making friends (except those that went out of their way to befriend him like Kirishima). It was humbling experience and the writer want to humble him more to give him proper growth.

    1. Exactly! Season 3 should show a lot of people just who Bakugo really is.

      The characters in this series are extremely well developed, and I eagerly await each week to read a new chapter. It's been a long time since a manga made me that excited to read week after week.