My Hero Academia (Chapters 76-79) – Review Discussion

My Hero Academia:

Chapters 76-79

Reviewed by: Tom
MHA Chap76-79 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 found 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 finally properly control his quirk, Midoriya and the rest of his class retreat to a summer training workshop where Aizawa sensei hopes to speed up the groups development in order to prepare to fight this budding league of villains. However, the league of villains learned of their location and have mounted an assault that seeks to capture some of the students, including Midoriya’s childhood frenemy and rival, Bakugo. Can Midoriya prevent Kacchan’s capture?

Review:

My Hero Academia has impressed me thus far. It’s a manga I’ve enjoyed ever since it was first introduced in the western release of Shonen Jump, and frustrated me when they decided to skip all the way to the current issues, making it slightly difficult to follow the story if you’re trying to maintain a legal approach to your manga consumption. That said, even then I’ve found My Hero Academia enjoyable as we concluded the tournament arc, dealt with the hero killer, and now find ourselves in this battle against the league of villains during our heroes’ summer training.

Starting with Chapter 76 today, I have to say I love My Hero Academia’s use of color panels. Generally I’m unimpressed with the color pages for manga, as I feel like the color, used so infrequently, doesn’t always work with the manga’s artwork and tends to come off like a monthly or bi-monthly gimmick, rarely adding anything to the manga’s art. But here I feel Horikoshi, Kouhei does a phenomenal job adding that extra color to his work that, in some ways, makes me wish we could see the whole thing in color (I guess the anime will partly satiate that desire.)

Here we’re treated to Midoriya’s first, as I feel, true solo victory against a villain. Up until now we’ve seen him require the help of others, either through All Might’s intervention or by teaming up with all his classmates against the hero killer. Seeing Midoriya finally become a hero, if not in true title, is powerful and seeing him become Kota’s hero and breath life back into this kid’s soul is great. I’ve always enjoyed Midoriya’s path of progression, struggling much more than the average shounen hero, who often find victories handed to them through acquiring last minute abilities or simply through an explosion of rage. While Midoriya’s victory certainly smacks of a sudden burst of rage, it feels earned this time as he’s always required assistance to achieve any accomplishment before this moment.

MHA 76-79 image 2

With this victory under his belt and the muscle bound maniac out for the count, Midoriya still charges forward, taking Kota with him in order to aid his classmates who are in danger. It’s reckless, and I’m wondering if this gung ho approach will ever cost him, this constant and relentless push even when he’s already been bashed about himself. However, the manga preaches that heroes charge in no matter the cost. I’d really like to see a more nuanced and realistic portrayal of heroes here, and I’m crossing my fingers we’ll get it, but if we do it’ll fly in the face of what all Shounen has taught us so far.

Moving on we get another look at the league of villains headquarters, where Shigaraki Tomura is currently thinking over his strategy. He equates his change in tactics to video games, something I feel, as an older reader, makes Tomura feel a bit stupid, childish even, incapable of understanding the greater complexities of real life versus gaming. But I also think this choice of comparing his strategy to games is in part to make it more relatable to the younger members of the audience, to really hammer home how he’s moved away from using himself as a combatant to instead using his followers as pawns to achieve his goals. I currently see Tomura as a stepping stone, someone for Midoriya to defeat before the true evil, the man who wounded All Might so greviously, comes into play.

MHA 76-79 Image 3

We finally flash back to Aizawa’s fight outside the classrooms and, of course, find him unscathed and it doesn’t really work as much of a reveal, seeing as there was no way a character of his importance would have met with defeat or serious injury from that attack. What does impress me though is as his opponent escapes we see him outwit Aizawa, having utilized another villain’s quirk to attack in the first place, thus confusing Aizawa as he escapes. So basically the entire encounter ends in a stalemate, which I find much more satisfying than what Bleach’s Tite Kubo would’ve been inclined to give us, a full three-sixty ending exactly where we started with Aizawa in jeopardy again.

What impresses me most as we move into Chapter 78 is the next twist we get. So Midoriya manages to drop Kota off with Aizawa, warn the rest of the students, and head off to find Kacchan. At this point we’ve had a few more villain reveals, one of them is behind the gas, forcing a confrontation between this villain, Tetsu-tetsu and Kendo. It’s an okay exchange, but it acts more as filler for Midoriya’s trip off to save Kacchan, which is interrupted thanks to the twist I mentioned earlier. Midoriya is narrowly saved by Shoji from a massive black claw that comes flying out of the forest. Caught up in the confusion it initially seems like we’ve got another villain to contend with, but in actuality its Tokoyami’s quirk gone out of control. It’s a wonderful twist that fools the reader, raises the stakes, and sends the story in a new direction without falling back on the, “yet another new villain is here.”

MHA 76-79 Image 4

As we head into Chapter 79 Midoriya is posed the question: do you go to save Kacchan or stay for Tokoyami? It’s a fair question, and a realistic one, asking Midoriya to consider a no win scenario. I think it’s unfortunate that My Hero Academia chooses to take the tried and worn answer most Shounen manga take: You can do both. It’s unrealistic, and I think it’d be bold for My Hero Academia to one day respond to that answer with: Yeah, you really can’t do both. For now though I can’t really fault Academia for doing what we all expect of shounen manga.

As Chapter 79 concludes Tokoyami and his raging quirk has followed Midoriya and Shoji all the way to Kacchan’s battlefield, squashing the freaky tooth blade villain along the way. I’m optimistic that Tokoyami’s out of control quirk will proof difficult to overcome and we’ll see the students struggle a bit here, as I feel like Chapters 78 and 79 see our heroes really hand it to the villains with relative ease, where as Midoriya had really struggled in his fight. I’d like to see more struggle, that’s the big appeal of Academia to me because it does it so well that I’d hate to see it shy away from its strengths now.

My Hero Academia is published weekly in Shonen Jump. Volume 4, Chapters 27-35, will be releasing May 3rd, 2016. Chapters discussed today (76-79) will be appearing in Volume 9 to be released sometime next year.

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