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My Hero Academia 253-258 – 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:

My Hero Academia’s latest set of chapters are messy. There’s no two ways about it. There’s a lot of elements in play. Heck, this present arc may be Academia’s most complicated arc yet. It’s ambitious without a doubt, but Horikoshi hasn’t laid all this out properly, forcing the story to jump wildly as we cram in a few much needed, last minute details, making these most recent chapters some of the series’ messiest. Let’s Jump In!

Chaptera 253-258 jump between various sets of characters, sequences and time frames in an effort to lay out all the final pieces needed to make the next major event make sense. Each chapter serves near singular purpose: To set up a particular story element. We learn things like what the Nomu really are, the importance of the Hospital where they’re being created, Shiguraki powering up, Midoriya’s next ability to gain, detailed information about the league, and Hawks and Twice’s budding bond. All these elements are fun, interesting ideas, but the execution is a jumbled mess as we jump around in a last minute rush to set every little thing up just before the big showdown arrives.

Starting with 253-254, much of our attention is set on Aizawa. It’s these chapters that make it clear why Vigilantes had that Aizawa flashback a few months ago. Aizawa and Present Mic are tasked with interrogating Kurogiri. It’s here we learn the horrible truth about Nomu: They’re actually reanimated corpses, infused with additional quirks and brainwashed into a new persona. And Kurogiri, as it turns out, is Aizawa’s dead former friend from the Vigilantes flashback. These developments are emotional, and impactful, but not nearly so much if you haven’t read the Aizawa flashback. Not only that, but the Aizawa flashback isn’t all that special. Not having been handled by Horikoshi himself it’s got a stumbling, inept start to it, and only really becomes emotionally impactful in its final thrust. It’s weird Horikoshi did it this way, and another sign to me that he’s, for some reason, rushing us ahead in the story, trimming as much ‘fat’ as he can in order to push ahead certain developments.

At the same time though there’s additional irrelevant details forced in here. As Aizawa passionately tries to reach out to his friend we learn that Aizawa isn’t the strict teacher we thought he was. Sure he’s expelled kids, flunking them in the primary hero course, but did you know he also re-enrolled them as heroes secretly? Apparently it’s all to give the kids a kind of ‘death and subsequent ‘rebirth.’ Not only is it a very shonen, unrealistic concept, but it’s inclusion here feels almost pointless. It’s likely purpose is to re-contextualize the kind of person Aizawa is, but that’s what the flashback would’ve done if it had been placed here as normal. It’s weird this way, and feels awkward. It doesn’t help that Aizawa hasn’t really ever been a focal character, so the sudden shift to exploring his past, but not really exploring it, is strange.

Chapter 255 feels like a loose ends kind of chapter. Aizawa and Present Mic get some minor details from their former friend before he passes out, and Shiguraki seemingly powers up yet again. There’s really very little to talk about here because it’s all little details to help set the stage for things to come.

256 though, as we’re catching up with the kids and learning how awesome they all got, is where I’m reminded that Endeavor’s focus in 252 just kinda ended. We had that line about him not moving to live with the rest of the family, which feels like a really big development worth commenting on, and yet we abandon that focus right away. It’s another way in which it feels like Academia is on some kind of fast forward kick, rushing us to get somewhere and fast.

257 is another jump in focus. After 256 reminded us that Midoriya is more awesome than he was before (It feels like we do that A LOT these days.) we shift focus to what abilities he’ll be gaining next. Again, what’s here is cool ideas, but just kind of regurgitated on the page at a random point in the story so these ideas are floating in our heads when everything starts going down. We get to see All Might’s Master Shimura looking buff, which is cool. We learn Midoriya is going to learn her ability next (likely the big take away here) and some cool world building about how many of the All for One users died young when society was in major upheaval over Quirks developing. It makes me wish the series had focused more on how lawless society used to be before things improved. It feels like we’ve rarely explored that idea, and only paid it lip service on occasion, outside of the flashback on All for One’s initial rise. It really makes me wish stuff like this was included so much more often to really flesh Academia’s world out.

258 then suddenly snaps back 2 months to follow Hawks, who I guess might be becoming a double agent, or is looking to try and convert Twice back towards Justice? Whatever the case we then rush right back to the present, making this a very awkwardly paced read.

What’s frustrating is we don’t need to be doing this. Horikoshi has all the time in the world as My Hero Academia is stupidly successful. It’s clear he has a wildly ambitious story he wants to tell. There’s tons of characters, details he feels are pertinent, and drama, but the execution here feels rushed and rough. I don’t know if the rushed pacing is for health reasons, struggling with prep time from involvement in the anime (though I thought I’d heard he’d pulled back on his involvement?) or whatever. I might go so far as to say Horikoshi is trying to do a story near as complex as One Piece, but doesn’t seem to quite have the skills Oda does in laying ground work for the future. Really there needed to be a few ‘fluff arcs.’ What I mean by that is smaller stories, like the Endeavor plot, that pushed these events back, allowed developments to space themselves out, and our characters and plot to grow more naturally and over a greater time period. Right now Academia feels rushed and messy. Enjoyable, but not nearly as cohesive as it once was. My hope is that Horikoshi will slow down once he’s gotten the story to where he wants it, which I think we’re right on the cusp of (Unless we do another surprise flashback!).

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 via Shonen Jump. Volume 22 released December 3rd, 2019.

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