Wednesday, 21 February 2018

End of the Beginning ~ My Hero Academia Volume 11 Review


My Hero Academia is back, and as the cover shows, there is a lot to go over here. This review is going to be filled with a lot of spoilers for material to come in season 3 of the anime so if you don't want what is sure to be the greatest moments in the series spoiled for you-- tune out now.

Those still with me had better hold on tight.

As has been mentioned previously, My Hero Academia has an unwritten creed that every volume of the manga that does not have Izuku Midoriya, the main character, on the cover means the focus of the volume is centered on whoever is. This was the case when we learned about Todoroki's past, and the truth behind the chip on Bakugo's shoulder (which seemed innocuous at the time), back in volumes 5 and 7 respectively. This volume having not only All Might on the cover, but in the middle of a desperate battle and covered in blood, as well as the official title being "End of the Beginning, Beginning of the End" is a mark of how important its contents are to the overall narrative of the series.

Of course, it's also a really cool looking cover. Kohei Horikoshi always nails these out of the park.

Even with the spoiler warning I already gave, it is difficult trying to explain this volume without ruining the impact. You really should read it first. I'll just get right to the point. All Might is the Symbol of Peace in the world of My Hero Academia. He is the Superman. He represents the Golden Age of superheroes as a whole. He is the man who faces danger with a smile on his face and is always there for people at the world's darkest moments. He is the symbol of a bright era where heroism and light has lead humanity forward from those in the shadows languishing in anger and bitterness. He is a symbol of something much bigger than he is.

This is also what eventually comes back to bite him in the back. All For One, the enemy of the original holder of the One For All power, has made his move in order to save Tomura Shigaraki and his men from being captured by the heroes. He has chosen this moment to make his final stand and allow his student to escape before everything is ruined. The ones hiding in the shadows have been amassing forces and power, building their time for the right moment to strike while everyone else went on oblivious at what they were doing. They used Hero Killer Stain's warped ideals to further their own cause and sent the heroes in disarray after attacking a summer camp for kids that they should not have known about. The villains are turning the tables.

The era is changing fast.

And All Might knows it. Though he exchanges blows with All For One, the two quickly learn that they are both not what they used to be. All Might no longer has the stamina he used to since he gave away his power to Midoriya, meaning he is living on borrowed time. All For One's body is not immortal despite all the quirks he has stolen over the years. He is rotting away. His body is a horrible mangled sack of skin and bone that is barely shaped like a person anymore, and it can barely contain or use any of his powers like it used to. These two titans know this is their last battle, and they put all they have left into it.

The old era is dying, and now their two figureheads do battle to prove who really has the right to move on as the true victor. Who will rule the next age?

But All For One still has tricks to spare. As it turns out, Tomura Shigaraki is actually the grandson of the previous holder of One For All before All Might, who was deliberately sought out by All For One to tarnish her legacy. This battle was planned for a reason. Just as he chose this moment in Kamino Ward to fight and reveal All Might's true decrepit form to the public. He doesn't just want to kill All Might, he wants to destroy him and everything the Symbol of Peace stands for.

What follows is an earthshaking battle that sets the tone and atmosphere for the manga to come. The Earth trembles, chaos shakes the foundations, and all the cards are on the table. Things will never be the same after this battle.

Even when All Might wins, as he always does, at the cost of his power and the villain loses and is jailed, like they always are, everything is different. It shouldn't really be, but it undoubtedly is. All For One is expended, generations of terror has finally been stopped. If anything, the heroes have come out ahead.

But they haven't.

They lost the pillar of the hero society, and the villains are still out there plotting and scheming. There is now an All Might shaped void in the world and nothing is going to be able to fill it. Now he must step aside and make sure the next generation will be up to the task. The future is more uncertain than it has ever been.

There's a very good reason the chapters directly after this fight and the fall out are very lighthearted ones focusing on the students moving into dorms (because the school needs a better way to protect them) and yet still has to make a point that what happened is never going to go away. Things are different now that All Might is no longer the Symbol of Peace and All For One is finally imprisoned. The All Might era is over. And the manga has a distinctly different atmosphere from this point on. It really does feel like the end of the beginning.

Of course I wouldn't recommend anyone starting the series to do so with this volume. Too many big reveals and dramatic turns happen here and there are far too many past references to brush aside for the impact to be felt. But for those following since the beginning? They are in for a treat. This is the best volume of My Hero Academia to date and the most important one to boot. Do not pass this one by.

Highly recommended. Season 3 of the anime is going to be quite the experience when it gets to this material.


I've also got a book of my own with plenty of action. It's the most fun you'll ever have on a planet with mud men.


2 comments:

  1. I still like the thought put ahead, maybe it was by you, that My Hero Academia is basically "The Death of Superman" but done right.

    The history of One for All is one of struggling against the impossible, going beyond, and death. A lot of death.

    As a result, it seems that the carriers of One for All put a lot of concern into that 'hole' they leave behind. When Superman disappeared in DC, the world had a giant hole. When All Might shuffles off, he seems to want to leave a legacy not to fill his absence, but to supersede it.

    Quite a lot of the heroes in My Hero Academia are interested in legacies and new heroes (Although I'm not sure if Midnight's love of young heroes is entirely wholesome), which I think is due to the fact the heroes in My Hero Academia know they're not going to be in comic books at age 30 for 75+ years like say in Marvel or DC.

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    1. Death hangs over much of MHA. There's an arc later on where that is practically the central theme.

      One thing I do like about this series is that, unlike Marvel and DC, death is a real threat and it is permanent. When you're dealing with a battle between good and evil you can't do it without permanent stakes.

      It's one of the reasons I fell out of superhero comics years ago. If Superman is going to die, then he should die. But he can't because DC can't afford to let that happen.

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