My Hero Academia 221-226 – 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. With Class A triumphing, it now seems new evils at beginning to move, bringing about greater threats to society.

Review:

Horikoshi has taken focus away from Midoriya and Co. and placed our sights squarely upon the series’ long time villains: The League. This focus goes a long way to fleshing the characters out and allowing this small-time, ineffective evil crew to grow and be reborn as something much more threatening. But even as our baddies are put to the test these chapters show they still have a long way to go, and not everything about this renewed focus is as strong and rejuvenating as it could be.

Let’s start with the positive. Shigaraki and Co. are given a chance to prove themselves by a villainous Doctor who worked for All For One from the shadows, Daruma Ujiko. (He technically showed up way back in Chapter 59, but this is his first, real big showing.) Perhaps the most interesting part of these chapters is that the visual design for this character bares a striking resemblance to the Doctor who first diagnosed Midoriya as Quirk-less in Chapter One. For an author like Horikoshi, who is so adept at creating multitudes of unique character designs, it feels unlikely that he utilized the same design unintentionally. The possibility that there’s more to this Doctor’s character, with ties to Midoriya’s history, are tantalizing. Then again, this could merely be an ‘Easter Egg’ with the idea being that this is something simply for the fans to speculate with. Either way it’s a fun little nugget and I’ll be interested to see if anything comes of it.

As weeks pass and Shigaraki and Co. make little progress, they find themselves targeted by the Liberation Army, hellbent on using the League’s defeat to bolster themselves as the true ‘heroes’ meant to free society from its ‘oppressive’ nature against those with quirks. This builds into a rough and tumble battle between the corrupt heroes working for the Liberation Army, their higher ups, and Shigaraki’s ragtag team. The battle is exciting, brutal and altogether more violent than what we’ve seen from the series before. Peppered throughout is some character focus meant to impart a greater understanding of each character. Shigaraki’s backstory gains a few details prior to the battle, but still feels choppy, like Horikoshi has so much he wants to hide that we only get the briefest smattering of extra definition. The problem is that such a weak look into the character’s past ends up feeling insignificant, especially when compared to Toga’s backstory not a few chapters later. While this one also seems to be hiding details, the point that Toga isn’t some poor girl who lived through trauma that made her crazy and that instead she simply always was, rings home.

Toga’s focus also begins the League’s power up in earnest, putting the characters through hell in order to strengthen them and turn them into characters to be reckoned with. Toga is put under such duress that she gains the ability to harness other people’s quirks when she takes their visage, making her a much more deadly adversary (although I still doubt all that much will ever happen with, say, Midoriya’s blood sample since other characters can’t seem to copy his quirk.) If the rest of the League is getting power ups like this it could make them feel so much more threatening, especially if they’re allowed to ‘play in a sandbox’ away from Midoriya and Co, so they can grow and evolve away from the main story.

But one problem with these chapters, and convincing us that Shigaraki and Co. are truly deadly villains, is how ill-defined the Liberation Army is. We know they’re bad, their leader murders his assistant without much care, and tortures the League’s information broker to get what he wants. But we don’t really know what the Liberation Army is capable of. We haven’t seen any of their members in action, making their ‘power level’ rather nebulous. Sure, our baddies are getting swarmed, but we don’t know if that’s by some low-level jobber characters or by people who could go toe-to-toe with some of Academia’s toughest heroes. It makes The League’s victories here feel ill-defined.

Otherwise though this focus away from Midoriya and Co. is a welcome one. It helps grow characters that have felt under defined and utilized, while also fleshing out the world and giving us a better idea of the other hidden forces that threaten society. I’m excited to see where our villainous crew will end up before we snap back to Midoriya and Co.

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 at Shonen Jump. Volume 20 releases on August 6th, 2019. Chapters discussed today will be collected and released sometime next year (or maybe even next next year?)

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