My Hero Academia Vigilantes 15-20 – Manga Review

Synopsis: Vigilantes: People who work outside the law in the name of ‘justice.’ These are the individuals who aren’t registered as licensed heroes, not permitted by society to use their quirks in public. While Heroes like All Might, Eraser Head, and the aspiring Midoriya confront villainy with the power of the law behind them, other heroes lurk in the shadows, pursued by the police for their disregard of the rules.

When Kindly Dude: Nice Guy, Koichi, a street level hero who does little more than help the average citizen in the most pedestrian of tasks, meets Knuckleduster, a grizzled and hardened Vigilante, Nice Guy finds his life forever changed as he dives into vigilante heroism in order to combat a growing epidemic of ruffians who’ve their quirks boosted with illegal drugs.

Warning: Spoilers to Follow:

Review:

Due to the suggestion of one of my regular readers, and now with the time for it, I’ve decided to come back to Vigilantes and do a series of reviews over this month to see how the manga has evolved in the year I’ve been away. My biggest issue prior was how ‘side-story’ this series felt. It’s obviously a spin off but I felt that Vigilantes mostly lives in the shadow of the main title, when it has potential to produce its own, compelling character arcs and plot.

Chapters 15 through 18 don’t really address those complaints, content to bask in near one off comedic tales. For example Chapter 15 focuses on the trouble of Captain Celebrity and his negative effects on Koichi’s life, all for comedic effect. It’s a continuation of Chapter 14 and ties the Captain’s story up with a nice bow, effectively ending him as a true character. Koichi’s mother takes center stage as the new troublesome character in Chapter 16, and ultimately leads to a two part story where Koichi has to help Ingenium save the day from a run away bus. Nothing here is awful, but rather too ‘one off’ for my tastes. Thankfully the series starts to do stuff that feels like it’s actually building its world with the elements introduced.

Chapters 19-20 start to build on the ongoing narrative, one that’s been rather lukewarm, with our evil girl, Kuin Hachisuka, little more than a quick catalyst to give us a cheap villain of the week. For one Knuckleduster gains a tragic backstory as we learn his wife is in the hospital. It’s a bit cliche, but finally gives us more to a character who’s largely been unexplored. We also make headway here on learning who this creepy girl is, and Knuckleduster even starts to close in on her by the end of Chapter 20.

The series also starts to pull more so from previous elements. While Captain Celebrity is largely a solved problem, he’s used by Makoto as a new solution to issues Pop Step is dealing with. Makoto also isn’t reset, one of my biggest fears from Chapter 18. Typically with spin-offs like Vigilantes you can see where the story forces itself to reset, making its character inept and forgetful in order to never allow things to advance. But here Makoto managed to piece together who Koichi really was, and now the dynamic has changed in the group. There’s also a wonderfully creepy scene where it turns out Kuin Hachisuka has actually killed a family in order to give herself a ‘home.’ That’s great stuff and sells her as more of a danger than previously.

I still think Vigilantes feels more like fluff complementary content than a series that could stand on its own legs, as any good spin-off should do. But the strides made in Chapters 19 and 20 really help to try and sell the series more so as its own thing, with a stronger focus on the narrative and evolving the dynamics between its characters. Next week I’ll catch up further with the series as I look over chapters 21-30.

That’s it for today. Please let me know what your thoughts are on these chapters in the comments below!

My Hero Academia Vigilantes is published monthly in Shonen Jump and currently available for free through the Viz website.

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