My Hero Academia 241-243 – 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 are beginning to move, bringing about greater threats to society.

Review:

After a long side story building Shigaraki and the League as a credible threat, we return to our heroes with a couple chapters resetting the status quo and beginning the next arc in earnest.

Despite the near total destruction of a city, Japan hardly seems phased by the events. While that’s sort of understandable seeing as villains are masquerading as heroes, and have twisted the facts, in some ways it also feels like Horikoshi just doesn’t want to have society to crumble that quickly just yet. Academia is a slow-build series, often only developing the status quo in incremental changes. While the series has by and large gotten away with that for 240 chapters, it feels a little unbelievable here that the general public would be so calm, even if the heroes won, after having seen the sheer destruction leveled by Shigaraki. Especially since All Might is gone from the front lines. Horikoshi wants us to believe one outburst in support, on TV, from a random Endeavor fan, is enough to quell all the unease.

Horikoshi also attempts to justify this when Mt. Lady arrives to teach our heroes the art of self-promotion and handling the media, claiming that people’s belief in heroes becomes strongest when times are dire. Personally I don’t think that’s true at all, people are eager for hope, but frequently plummet into panic and distress when danger rears its head. That distress and fear are not often solved so quickly, and see the rise of other problems, like persecution for certain groups of people (When are we going to get an arc about persecution against people who have similar quirks to our baddies?) It’s here I think Horikoshi is getting caught up in youthful shonen optimism that ultimately divorces Academia’s society, as it does does for other Shonen titles, from a more grounded, realistic reaction.

That said, the rest of Chapter 241 is much more aimed at giving each member of the class a quick spotlight, seeing as everyone was gone for quite some time. We also readdress little lingering sub-plots, like Bakugo’s attitude, Todoroki’s issues with his father, and more importantly Midoriya’s new ability, which has manifested itself once out of control and now as a embarrassing little gimmick that Midoriya hasn’t harnessed yet. It seems now like it’ll be a whole arc or more before that ability is worth a dime.

The other point of Chapters 241-242, besides resetting the status quo, is to provide a lighter, more fun atmosphere. We just spent 10+ chapters following the villains and now it’s time for some low-key class hi-jinks. The entire media lesson isn’t actually much of a lesson, and everyone passes with flying colors, heck even Midoriya, who looks to have failed compared to everyone else, never actually has that lack of PR-ability addressed. It’s all just fun and games to offer a reprieve from the harrowing antics of the last arc.

Despite society on a whole acting as if nothing is amiss, we learn that the upper government agencies, the public safety commission namely, are certainly concerned, and have been doling out instructions to the hero course schools to prep their students for combat. What follows though says that Horikoshi might be having trouble coming up with fresh ideas for what our heroes should be doing. We’ve hit the point where the Academia setting is becoming more of a hindrance than a boon. Instead of some kind of heavy, intensive combat course, or survival missions, or what have you, we abandoned the school setting entirely again for a second round of work studies.

This was always bound to happen. You can’t exactly keep our heroes as students if they’re ever supposed to actually challenge evil. (Heck even Naruto jettisoned the Ninja School stuff pretty quickly, although that series was a lot more upfront about things going to shit.) You also can’t have the school getting attacked again and again without making the teachers look like bumbling oafs. The gradual move away from school to our leads becoming full-fledged heroes, in all but name, was inevitable. That said, I think Horikoshi could’ve found a couple other ways to extend that setting, but my guess is we’re going to see the school-life take an increasing backseat the further we go.

While the students are all partying for Christmas, Midoriya and Bakugo are left unsure of where to do their second work-studies. Midoriya’s last field instructor died, and Bakugo’s is missing. But Todoroki comes up with the answer: Join him under the tutelage of his father. Because we’re only just getting going there isn’t too much to say about Chapter 243. It’s only just the start of a new arc that thrusts a number of plot-lines and characters back together. I certainly love the idea of Midoriya and Bakugo studying under Endeavor and what that could mean. There’s also Hawks, and for as much as I feel his plot line has been mishandled, his appearance here, and the inclusion of a surprise new villain, make for some immediate conflict that certainly has potential.

Ultimately this batch of chapters is pretty ho-hum. Horikoshi keeping society in this positive limbo, where it doesn’t feel like they’re reacting as a populace honestly would to such cataclysmic destruction, is kinda frustrating. I’m ready for society to turn on its heroes, and for villainy to really start smashing apart all All Might sought to protect, but I’m dubious we’ll ever get there, as Horikoshi rarely lets our heroes outright lose, making it difficult for villains to ever actually succeed at tearing the world apart.

The hi-jinks are cute, and All Might’s hands off approach as a mentor seems like it might be building to him dropping the ball after getting called out for missing visiting Midoriya on Christmas, but overall it’s all padding and set up until we’re ready for the next big thing. That though, seems just around the corner, and that has me eager for more.

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 22 releases December 3rd, 2019.

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