My Hero Academia 150-152 – Manga Review
Synopsis: Izuku Midoriya has wanted to be a hero all his life. He lives in a world where people are born innately with quirks, and if so chose, can go down the path of becoming a hero, choosing to fight those who would use their birth given abilities for evil rather than good. It’s a difficult path for anyone, but near impossible for Izuku, who was born quirkless, without any innate powers of his own. He’s mocked by his classmates, who rudely nickname him Deku, but Izuku holds onto his dream no matter what.
Izuku’s life is forever changed however, when he has a fated encounter with All Might, the mightiest super hero of them all. Through this encounter, Izuku found his path towards becoming a super hero, a path not easy by any means.
Warning: Spoilers to Follow:
Now, having fought several villains seeking to defeat All Might, and learned to properly control his quirk, Midoriya and the rest of his class became targets by the league of villains, culminating in a battle against All Might’s nemesis, All for One. All Might managed to defeat this great evil, but at the cost of his powers, now no longer able to act as the symbol of peace. With a shift in the status quo, Midoriya and Co. manage to get their provisional licenses so they can prepare for the great rise of villains just on the horizon. The world is in for a turbulent time.
So, I’ll start by saying that these three chapters are my favorite of this Yakuza arc yet. They’re tense, have a lot of back and forth, a focus on the emotional impact of the battle, primarily on
Buff Tintin Mirio and plenty of incredible action and a ‘death’ like moment to sell it all. There’s quibbles here and there, but overall I really feel like these are a high for the arc, if not the series itself.
That said I’ve been glancing at comments from various communities on this latest arc and I’m surprised to see even these chapters have sparked ire. There’s a growing narrative that this arc is weak, disinteresting, overly wordy and needs to end now, rather than later. I think that’s really interesting, because a lot of the criticisms would seem to apply to Academia as a whole, but the preceding content is otherwise beloved. So what’s happening?
I have a couple theories and I’ll discuss them as we review these next three chapters. Chapter 150 opens with Mirio confronting Overhaul. There’s a bit of attempted psychological warfare here as the villains try to shake Mirio’s resolve by revealing his inner conflict over having previously left Eri behind. While I’ve really taken to Mirio’s character, I think so much focus on him speaks to a potential problem Academia has had underneath it’s skin for sometime: Too many characters.
Academia offers a wealth of interesting characters, mostly due to their incredible and unique designs. Each character is visually memorable, and as someone who doesn’t consider himself a die-hard fan, but more of a casual one, I may not remember names but I usually remember faces. Up till now Academia’s sheer wealth of characters hasn’t been a burden, but rather a bonus. It’s allowed people to gravitate towards any number of the smaller characters and as long as people take to Midoriya, Bakugo or All Might as well, it fosters a kind of bond with the series.
Academia has also, up till now, done a great job of balancing focus on the smaller characters, while keeping Midoriya close by. What I’m wondering is if perhaps the focus on Mirio, who could be considered All Might lite, and the other two of the big three students, is perhaps damaging in some way. It’s only speculation, as I like Mirio and even his two buddies I find enjoyable enough. But they come at the cost of giving the rest of Midoriya’s classmates the opportunity to shine. Mirio and his ilk have only been a part of the manga for a short time and I can see fans of Midoriya’s other classmates, becoming frustrated that their favorite characters are ‘shafted’ for the spotlight in favor of someone else.
The other issue could be a lack of build up. By this I mean compared to the League of Villain’s shenanigans Overhaul and Co. haven’t been as active and for as long. Their operation was only really introduced after All Might and All for One’s battle, giving little time for them to build up as a powerful, and formidable threat. This battle has the dual purpose of both really introducing these villains and seemingly acting as a final collision between them and the heroes (save Overhaul, who’ll probably get away.)
What I find most interesting is the complaints about ‘wordyness.’ Indeed these are wordy chapters, but they hardly seem any ‘worse’ than the rest of Academia, and I’ve been skimming back over the series’ first three volumes. So I think the issue truly lays within the focal characters. Too much attention is away from Midoriya and Co., who feel like bit players in all this (although it looks like Midoriya is about to take center stage again) the villains are, perhaps, less compelling, maybe even due to their shared motif, all wearing the same masks giving them an almost uniform look when Academia is known for it’s plethora of unique designs.
Whatever the case, I feel these chapters stand out. We get a solid look into the inner thoughts of Mirio, understanding how he views himself, his heroism, and what drives him to keep fighting. It’s important stuff, particularly for the emotional impact of Chapter 152, but we’ll get to that.
With Chapter 151 we see Mirio square off against Overhaul with some incredible art. Mirio and Overhaul really go toe to toe and even with Mirio handicapped by having to protect Eri, he’s holding his own. But the tides turn with Chapter 152 as we get a late development/reminder that they’ve perfected the quirk killing drugs. Mirio makes the big sacrifice as he takes the bullet for the girl, stripping him of his quirk for good (presumably). There’s a heartfelt flashback, one that does a great job of selling how tragic this choice is, even if it is the right/heroic one.
Mirio starts to falter, but has managed to hold his ground long enough for Midoriya to come smashing onto the scene. I think it’s solid stuff, but seems weighed down by earlier content that’s made some readers turn on what makes Academia, Academia. While I’ve had issues with the flashbacks, which may have compounded whatever issues readers have had, I think what we’ve gotten with this arc has generally been pretty good and what’s here should be the series next biggest emotional moment.
So what does Academia need to do to turn the fan base around? This arc seems close to concluding and Midoriya is about to be front and center again, so I think critics are about to get their wish as I can’t imagine this arc lasting more than 4-8 more chapters. I think something else that could help is if the bad guys got a win or two, really upping the manga’s tension. Right now we haven’t seen our heroes fail to stop the villains since All Might fell, and I think a big incident like that would make more critical readers sit up and take notice.
But again, I think these are incredibly solid, emotional chapters and are Academia at its best. I’m dying to see what Midoriya brings into the fight against Overhaul, whether they can actually save Eri, and if Overhaul gets away.
That’s it for today. Please let me know what your thoughts are on these chapters in the comments below!
My Hero Academia is published weekly in Shonen Jump. Volume 9, Chapters 72-80, released on August 1st, 2017. Chapters discussed today will be collected and released sometime next year (or maybe even next next year?)