My Hero Academia 244-248 – 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:

Villainy is afoot, and gaining power by the day, yet greater society remains none the wiser. While Midoriya and Co. begin another round of work studies, to prepare them for an epic battle ahead, pro-heroes catch wind of the League growing power, having absorbed another counter society movement: The Liberation Army. In just four months society could see a level of unprecedented destruction, and the fall of heroism as they know it. Will our heroes be ready in time to save the day?

Review:

MHA 244-249 act as a slow transition between the Villain’s overarching plot/upcoming fight and Midoriya and Co.’s training. This adds real stakes compared to previous training arcs, making it feel like there’s an end goal in sight rather than training for training’s sake. Let’s Jump In!

Last time Endeavor and his new proteges stumbled upon an aged fortune teller, Starservant, who is subsequently defeated rather abruptly, and his warnings about Endeavor, whose shining light beckons the dark, are left without so much flair that I almost wonder how much this warning really foreshadows anything.

This ties into my concern that the villains won’t win in the upcoming battle, since villains have been the whipping boys of the series, never actually eking out a meaningful success. The lack of weight and how quickly the warning is passed over leaves me feeling its true purpose is merely to foreshadow the battle ahead and less because Endeavor will fail to prevent things becoming an utmost catastrophe. I want this to change, and badly, but I don’t have the same faith in Horikoshi that others do. The problem I have is that Horikoshi hasn’t really proven himself yet. Till now Academia has been a manga of foreshadowing, dropping hints, set up and very rarely pay off. Some of the manga’s most hyped qualities are these hints about future events that haven’t yet come to pass. So I pause when lauding Horikoshi as some kind of shonen-story-telling genius because we haven’t really gotten to see what hints like Dabi, Shigaraki coming into his own, or Endeavor’s fall really look like yet. They invoke the idea of hype-worthy content, but we still haven’t reached them.

I would’ve had the same apprehensions about Oda and One Piece, although the difference between Academia and One Piece is that early One Piece arcs left a lot less lingering plot threads hanging about, only choosing to build up the more epic narrative after quite a ways into the story. Academia, conversely, has been building up hints and teasing events almost since Day One. The only event that was teased and has happened is the ‘final battle’ between All Might and All for One and in that case I kinda feel like that fight, for as epic as it was, didn’t quite deliver as promised. All Might didn’t die, and while death isn’t the ultimate shocker, All Might’s presence has felt pretty ghost-like/unimportant, almost as if death would’ve been a more effective use of the character. He’s virtually out of the picture as it is. Basically, I want to be proven wrong at this point. I want these dangling plot threads and hints to culminate in the kind of epic shockers we’re all pulling for, but right now I’m apprehensive about getting too enthralled with the what ifs and what could bes.

Moving on, Hawks’ efforts to alert Endeavor are interesting, though again I think you could do this narrative while leaving audiences in the dark as to Hawks’ true allegiance. It might’ve been even more fun that way. I think Horikoshi was trying to reinvent this kind of plot, namely by removing questions as to his allegiance and instead keeping us in suspense as to whether he’ll be caught or not, but there’s a reason tropes are tropes, because they work well. If we kept Hawks’ allegiance a mystery, along with Endeavor putting together his hints from the book, and saved those reveals for later, we could’ve had some really shocking developments. As it stands what we get instead is a definite date for the upcoming collision between good and evil, which is nice to be fair, and a slight worry that someone in the League might realize what Hawks is up to. Right now I don’t find Hawks all that compelling a character, so that element doesn’t carry a lot of weight for me.

Also random side comment: Midoriya would get converted to a cult easy as all hell. He takes Hawks recommendation on the book to such an excitable degree that I think if Hawks really was a bad guy he could corrupt poor little Midoriya in a heartbeat.

I also want to note that I like that we’re keeping the kids in the dark. It make sense from a character’s perspective as, if you’re Endeavor or other top heroes, you don’t want to panic them and it makes a nice explanation as to why we can have a more easy going/character focused tone, rather than everything being on edge for the upcoming battle. Since Academia fans tend to love the slice of life, easy going atmosphere this helps to make it feel natural and less forced than usual.

Turning back to the overarching plot: With the League going to collide with the Heroes in just four months there’s only one outcome that’ll satisfy me: Villain victory. The Villains need a win. A true one. Not a half victory, not a semi-slide towards chaos, but they need to trounce the heroes, cause devastation and preferably kill someone. Up till now they haven’t managed jack. All Might was always going to eventually lose his powers, and outside of that Society has barely shifted at all in public opinion of heroes. We need that loss of faith and it has to come now, otherwise Shigaraki and Co. are simply jokes, more so after this recent power up that’s supposed to have cured their woeful inadequacy.

Conversely, I love the tease that Shigaraki could become even more powerful. Learning that Shigaraki can become even more dangerous is very intriguing and really pins my hopes that by the end of this, he’ll be a true forced to be feared.

The potential focus on Endeavor however, I have concerns with. On the one hand I want these darker elements of his character addressed, but up till now we’ve kinda been dismissive of them, or downplayed how much Endeavor really has to apologize for. I don’t know if that’s because Horikoshi doesn’t really want to go quite that dark, or if his editor is against it, or if we’re merely keeping the extent of Endeavor’s abuse in the shadows for a more shocking reveal. There are hints that Dabi knows the truth, even plays a part in it, but I wouldn’t put it past Horikoshi to send Endeavor out as a hero, sweeping aside his more abusive and problematic aspects without really hammering home how awful he used to be and how much he needs to apologize for. I’m all for Shonen addressing heavy-hitting topics, but they need to do it with grace and care, and not include them merely for shock’s sake. We’ll see what comes to pass, but I have trouble imagining an outcome with Endeavor’s character that doesn’t spill into controversy, heck it’s not like Bakugo ever actually had to apologize for the awful bully he was. We swept that right under the rug and moved on like it wasn’t even a thing.

Ultimately these chapters are okay. They’re mostly teasing and set up as we move into a training arc/character focused plot line with the ultimate goal of Academia’s most epic fight yet. The next several chapters, perhaps dealing with Endeavor’s character, should prove more interesting as we finally get an idea of how deep Horikoshi wants to play into one of the manga’s most troubled characters.

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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