My Hero Academia 167-171 – 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.
Continuing from the last set of chapters, Academia goes all in on a lighter tone compared to the Overhaul arc, focusing on brief bouts of character exploration, and set up for a more ‘comical villain’ over the next few issues. Personally I prefer my Academia gradually descending into darkness, pushing our heroes to the limits, but ultimately a more light-hearted story was coming either way, it’s how Shonen tend to operate.
But despite my disinterest with a more comical affair, Academia handles the tonal shift better than other shonen. Typically shonen that dive into a darker arc end up undoing the damage shortly after, in order to ‘reset’ the series’ status quo. A good example of this is an arc from a year or two ago in Black Clover, where the main character, Asta is gravely injured, only for a few chapters later to find him fully healthy again, despite what characters said about his situation being hopeless. Tonal shifts that end up undoing the drama are usually detrimental to a series, especially in the long run, as it starts to send a message that there’s no permanence for consequences. Everything will just reset next week, so no need to worry.
Academia avoids that here by instead focusing on its more comically minded side characters, and introducing a villain to shift the tone away, rather than actively undoing the consequences of Overhaul’s arc. Buff Tintin is still quirkless, and Sir Night Eye is still dead. The manga even hammers home at least twice that Eri, our potentially game-breaking girl capable of reversing Buff Tintin’s misfortune, is currently incapable of doing so since her powers having dwindled, for now anyway, after the battle with Overhaul.
While it’s not my cup of tea, these chapters are solid for anyone seeking a few of the lesser used characters getting a bit more page space. It’s very slice of lifey as Midoriya connects with Yuga Aoyama over a perceived similarity in their bodies being unfit for their particular quirks, and Kyoka Jiro taking center stage as the class attempts to give back to the community by putting on a show/dance for the rest of the U.A. Students.
There’s a slightly disjointed feel to these chapters, diving into one narrative, before snapping back in the next week to discuss something else. It’s largely because all these plot lines, Eri’s recovery, the School Festival, and Gentle Criminal, the youtube hopping ‘Robin Hood” of the Academia world, are going to collide. Still, part of the problem comes from the manga’s strong desire to tease. While planning the School Festival, and looking at youtube videos for ideas, a video of Gentle pops up after everyone’s turned away from the screen, but by the next chapter we don’t immediately switch to that, making the tease fall flat as we focus on another plot line before finally coming back to that idea.
Gentle himself however feels like a fun character, and works well for this tonal reset/shift away from how dark Overhaul’s arc ended up becoming. What’s also fun is how he’s a more romantic/romanticized version of a villain, someone who wants to right the wrongs of society, but does so by flaunting the law. He’s similar to Stain in that regard, but perhaps in a much more grey and relatable area.
Outside of another minor quibble with how many of these U.A. Students turn out to be insanely talented with each of their hobbies, and how well that builds into their school festival plans (i.e. this is super convenient) I generally think these chapters are a solid answer for how to shift the tone of the series back to something a little lighter, without undoing the building consequences. Gentle also has my attention as a fun, more silly threat to our heroes and I look forward to seeing how he’ll disrupt the school festival.
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 11 released on February 2nd, 2018. Chapters discussed today will be collected and released sometime next year (or maybe even next next year?)