My Hero Academia 194-196 – 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 finds 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. Shortly after Midoriya has a vision, where he sees the past wielders of All for One, and talk of an oncoming “singularity.” Before he can achieve greater understanding Midoriya and Class A are pitted against rival Class B in a team face off to see who has improved the most over the last few months.
The tease we got last time, and in Chapter 194 here, for Midoriya’s All for One visions and talk of singularity remains one of the more spine-tingling aspects to these latest chapters. On a whole these chapters are generally quite solid, pulling back in characters introduced some time ago and allowing them an opportunity to better shine as supporting cast mates.
Sticking with the singularity stuff a minute, what I hadn’t thought too much about last time, but struct me here was the two shadowed characters. If All Might isn’t fully visible because he’s still alive (or retains a smidgen of All for One?) are the two shadows perhaps a future, older Midoriya and his successor? At least one of the two seems to have the same hair. Whether this actively plays into the story or not (It could really just be a tease for the future/epilogue to the series) it’s a neat little treat.
Class B returns, giving them a chance to feature heavily again. Most of these characters are perfect examples of intriguing designs/ideas, but ultimately underused up to this point in the manga. They featured decently during the tournament arc, but by and large fell from importance shortly after, only some of them mattering during the Summer Camp attack. To see them get another chance to spotlight, and act as rivals for Class A is a great use of these characters rather than inventing new side characters for our heroes to face off against.
But more interesting is the proper return of Shinso. It’s a perfect time to bring him back, what with Midoriya seeing the vestiges of All for One again. The manga even calls attention to it, potentially foreshadowing a deeper connection between Shinso, his ability, and the visions. Shinso himself is a great focal character, someone denied access to the hero program initially, only just now gaining an opportunity to transfer into the program. There’s also the baggage he has from people making assumptions about his quirk being a calling for villainy. I think it’d be great if he could become a regular cast member, though he and Bakugo kinda share the same trajectory: people who possess ‘villain’ traits yet want to be heroes, so perhaps he’d merely be a doubling of that role.
All that said, this Class A vs B match up feels a bit derivative of the other training practical exam arcs. Characters take to a preset battlefield and have to defeat each other or the teachers in order to pass. It has some unique elements, and if we really use it to focus on teamwork, and rivalry especially, it could feel different enough to stand out.
There’s a few odd choices here however. Like when we get a splash page for the five different team vs team match ups. Only the top row of characters have their names listed, and only on Class B’s side. It’s weird, because all these characters already debuted, so it’s not like we’re meeting new people for the first time. The names are helpful, seeing as much of Class B has had such flitting appearances, but why then not name the rest if we’re showcasing them all right away like this?
There’s also a moment later on where Jurota dumps exposition for their plan, which feels forced. The story would be better serviced by either Froppy or Shinso deducing Class B’s plan, or a quick flashback to what the other team discussed before launching an offensive.
I also think it’s a missed opportunity to put Midoriya and Shinso on the same team. While a rematch sounds like a fun idea, I’m not sure it’ll play out as such. Shinso’s ability relies entirely on getting the opponent to respond, as showcased again in these very chapters. The manga even exemplifies how weak that ability really is. It doesn’t have great versatile use in team combat when someone can just get knocked out of Shinso’s control, even with his new voice changing gear. If anything this story feels like a struggle for Shinso to fully prove himself and while rechallenging Midoriya might have some merit, I feel like it’d have been more powerful for Midoriya to inspire/help Shinso into finding his footing. We’ll, of course, see what’s to come over this next month.
Another issue this brings up is Class A’s ability for near total victory. Class A rarely loses, a recent example being the Provisional License exam. Class B being the underdogs doesn’t give a lot of confidence that they’ll pose a credible threat, particularly as the manga makes note that Class B has mainly being training extensively where as Class A has greater field experience. As much as it’s nice to see our heroes win, I’m pulling that Class B manages a 3-2 win, that way our heroes don’t seem to have everything coming easy to them.
Most of these are minor complaints, and the general flow of these chapters is strong. There’s a lot of back and forth action here, ramping up tension, Class A’s Team 1 struggling, etc. There’s still a couple things that bug me, mainly the usage of female characters such as: Putting looks above all else (Midoriya’s continued focus on Nana Shimura’s looks) or how the girls are often focused on love (Uraraka’s primary appearance here to ‘crush’ secretly on Midoriya, or Mina’s comments about All Might and Midnight.) This is however alleviated by allowing Froppy to take the spot of team captain and generally coming away as the GOAT member of Class A’s Team 1. She continues to be one of the stronger female characters, lacking the sexualization of the other heroines, and generally avoiding usage in love subplots/commentary. There’s nothing wrong with women in love, or a little fan service here or there, but too often it seems that’s mostly what the female characters are used for. Breaking that mold more often, as Froppy does, would be a treat.
Overall though these are indeed strong chapters and make me eager to see where this arc will go. Academia has a habit of rushing through its story, both to its benefit, and sometimes to its detriment. I’d like for this arc to stick around longer, perhaps spend 3-4 chapters per match up (for a total of 20 chapters total) to really let us see these characters shine, particularly those who are more often on the sidelines.
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 15 releases on October 2nd, 2018. Chapters discussed today will be collected and released sometime next year (or maybe even next next year?)