My Hero Academia 249-252 – 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?
Chapters 249-252 snap cut to the Endeavor/Todoroki family plot line that was teased in the last couple chapters. It’s been building a long while now, since Chapter 60 or so I think, and finally we put it front and center, bumping the building threat of Shigaraki, and the Boy’s training, in favor of this far more weighty subject. Horikoshi largely succeeds at the focus on Endeavor’s quest for atonement, but not without a number of detracting missteps in other ways. Let’s Jump In!
249 dives right into the family drama, skipping over any potential training or mini stories that might’ve showcased Midoriya, Bakugo and Shota gradually improving. The problem with skipping over this is that Horikoshi then has all three massively improved from the last time we saw them fight, with Midoriya now even potentially having mastered his black whip quirk. The trouble with this is Midoriya is starting to feel like a very thin, Gary Stu type character. His wins are sort of handed to him, his developments artificial, randomly presented whenever the narrative requires it, rather than earned. I think this is, in part, a result of Midoriya getting increasingly less focus over the course of the manga’s run. It definitely feels like Horikoshi has taken those readership character polls to heart, perhaps too much so, forcing characters like Bakugo, Todoroki and others into the spotlight, causing Midoriya to be all too frequently sidelined in his own manga. Focus away from the main character is great sometimes, heck Horikoshi, much to my surprise, generally nails Endeavor’s quest for atonement here, but it comes at a time when Midoriya doesn’t truly feel like the main character in his own story anymore. The same thing is happening in Vigilantes, the spin off, with its main character Koichi existing as this sort of loose vehicle to drive us from one narrative to another, with little influence or relevance in the events.
Moving on, Endeavor’s focus gets off to a rocky start. We sit down with the whole Todoroki family, only for Natsuo, Todoroki’s oldest brother, to leave the table almost right away. The dialogue that acts as the catalyst isn’t great I feel. It’s either too short to really hammer home the awkward atmosphere, or fails to act as a crescendo of tension that makes Natsuo unable to stay at the table.
That said Fuyumi, Todoroki’s sister, and her efforts to bring the family back together are touching, and it’s her human warmth and compassion, perhaps even when it isn’t deserved, that helps to keep the emotions in this story flowing when other elements, like Bakugo, seek to undo it.
Bakugo’s usage in these chapters is incredibly frustrating. He’s meant for comic relief, to ease the tension, but Bakugo’s screaming and instance at being the center of attention instead detract from the otherwise awkward, upsetting and emotionally tense atmosphere that’s building here. If you took out Bakugo it’d be a lot easier to get sucked in, and for every panel he’s screaming about his own ego centric view of the situation, it’s that much harder to get invested in the family struggle.
It’s here, as Fuyumi is apologizing and Shota is contemplating, that on my first read I was actually a little worried about where this narrative was going to go. As Shota ponders the internal struggle he’s having over his father, Midoriya chimes in that perhaps he’s getting ready to forgive his father for his mistakes. What’s frustrating about this is line is that it implies Endeavor has somehow already done enough atonement to achieve that forgiveness from his family. To be fair, Endeavor’s crimes against his family feel vague. At times it feels like he subjected them to physical abuse, other times it’s more implied to be mental, or even just neglectful. It’s that vagueness that almost makes Midoriya’s comments make sense, save for the fact that we continually tease Dabi, or perhaps Toya as we come to learn, as being this much much darker ‘fumble’ on Endeavor’s part. It’s those extra wrinkles that make Midoriya’s comments feel kinda stupid. Endeavor has done little so far to make up for his grand missteps as a father, making it difficult to see why anyone in the family should forgive him. We as the audience know he regrets things, but he’s done little to show that to everyone else.
But it’s not long before the drama comes to a head. It’s clear with the short chapters and the abrupt developments, that Horikoshi is really trying to keep his story to the point. It definitely feels like he’s spread himself too thin these days, and Academia proper is suffering for it. Ending, a bad guy who’s broken out of jail and has significant beef with Endeavor, is introduced abruptly, without a flashback to set the stage for who he is. I think it would’ve been cool to flashback to Endeavor’s days as #2, tie it into the family drama a bit, and conclude with introducing Ending that way. It would’ve helped to visual how exactly Endeavor has been a terrible father, while also allowing Ending to conveniently pop back up again.
It’s not long before Ending strikes, capturing Natsuo and threatening his life. Endeavor freezes, only for his wards to jump into action. As a brief aside Natsuo’s capture does make me wonder why there aren’t laws that allow a citizen to utilize their quirk in extreme situations where their life is threatened, but I don’t think we’re supposed to think too hard about things like that. Frustratingly Midoriya, Bakugo and Todoroki capture Ending, and prevent any civillian injuries in just a few pages, making this baddie look like a right chump. But it’s here, when Endeavor embraces Natsuo, that Horikoshi nails Endeavor’s internal struggle and the strain on the family.
Chapter 252 is all about this, save for Bakugo’s obnoxious crowing. Natsuo I think even vocalizes frustration some readers have felt about being asked to forgive someone so abusive as Endeavor. Natsuo’s “Why is it on me to forgive?” really rings true, and Endeavor response about not seeking forgiveness, but atonement finally drives home that Endeavor himself understands what a failure he is as a father. It’s probably the most powerful and direct address of this darker thread in all of Academia. It helps too that by the end of the chapter, we get the sense that Endeavor truly wants to make amends, but is still going about it the wrong way. He tells the family his plans to build a new family home for all his children and his estranged wife to live in, but he himself will remain at the old home, self-ostrasized. It screams of Endeavor understanding how badly he fucked up, but not understanding that in some ways his presence is required to restore what was lost. It’s a difficult subject, and I increasingly think Endeavor will be redeemed through heroism in the upcoming fight, one that will either see him lose his life, or more likely become too crippled to be a hero. I don’t know that sending him out that way is the right conclusion to a story like this, but I do applaud Horikoshi for the efforts he’s made in these chapters, which feel far and away a step up from previous attempts to address this weighty topic.
Ultimately the main thrust of the story is great, but there’s a lot of frustration around that: Bakugo’s crowing, Midoriya’s dump comments and easy achievements, and Ending’s abrupt introduction and even more abrupt defeat. I do get the sense that Horikoshi has simply spread himself way too thin. Chapters are continuing to often come in at a meager 13 pages, and the story feels like it’s approaching cliff-notes levels of trimming to get things to fit and move at an absurdly fast pace. For as much as everyone loves all the side media, Smash, Vigilantes, Light Novels, the Anime, the Movies, I do wish Horikoshi maybe distanced himself from some of those extra projects and gave more focus to the main manga, because that’s the story that matters the absolute most.
That’s it for today. Please let me know what your thoughts are on these chapters in the comments below!