My Hero Academia Vigilantes 21-25 – 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:

Vigilantes continues to improve with chapters 21 through 25, allowing its characters to take center stage in arcs devoted to them and their development. Much of the attention is on Pop Step, as the gang puts together a local performance to promote a town shopping center. At times the set up lingers too heavily on logistics and side characters, but ultimately this is Pop Step’s story, and when attention turns to the actual performance her character gets to really shine. She’s probably my personal least favorite part of the manga, as I don’t particularly enjoy pop idol stuff, but for the type of character she is, and those who do find her appealing, this is a great use of her character.

There’s some more fan pandering in between though, bringing Present Mic and Midnight in for merely guest star roles. Neither does all that much, and it’s again Aizawa who’s drawn in to do any actual fighting. It seems a missed opportunity seeing as Midnight and Present Mic get far less action than Aizawa does in the main manga. If we’re going to be getting guest appearances, it really needs to be for more underutilized characters.

Peppered between the Pop Step storyline is Knuckleduster’s own battle with Kuin Hachisuka. There’s a big reveal here: Kuin is actually possessing Knuckleduster’s daughter, a young innocent girl who merely ran away from home after a disagreement with her father.

The story becomes a little hit or miss in places, like with Kuin explaining things about her abilities to Knuckleduster during the fight, which feels odd, but even the main series has bizarre moments like this where people spout dialogue more for the audience’s sake. Knuckleduster also has a lot, and I mean, a lot of internal dialogue, some of which feels superfluous, or perhaps doesn’t quite work with the style of the battle. Namely there’s a sequence where Knuckleduster is mentally strained from an attack, his life potentially on the line, but the rapid nature of his thoughts don’t match the more tame artwork, neither aspect working together as well as they could.

Overall however, there’s a great fight scene here, and Knuckleduster avoids becoming the stereotypical father, his more smirky, easy going persona shining through still. He doesn’t fear for his daughter overtly, or became strained with emotion, but rather remains his badass, almost carefree self, which is a nice change of pace from how the confrontation could have gone.

There’s also a missed opportunity for a proper flashback between Knuckle and his daughter, the series choosing to utilize his internal dialogue as the explanation for their estrangement. It’s one place where I feel actual dialogue for the flashback panels might work better, letting us feel the moment his daughter left rather than leaving it to the character to explain, especially one as easy going as Knuckle is.

Still, I feel the series continues to improve with these chapters. Possible missteps aside there’s a lot of focus on Knuckle and Pop Step, only making me wish Koichi could get as meaty a narrative as these two. His bus rescue doesn’t quite hold the same air of importance, I think in part due to how integral ingenium’s inclusion in the plot is. Here Pop Step isn’t saved by either Present Mic or Midnight (although that also means neither really has anything to do.) and Aizawa remains largely detached from Pop’s events. Knuckle also gets to go toe to toe with our villain without a pro hero in sight. It still feels like it took longer than necessary to get here, but I now feel like Vigilantes is shaping up to be a title that stands more on its own than in the shadow of its big brother series.

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. Chapter 1 is available for free on Viz’ Website, while 2-5 are collected in Volume 1. Currently Chapter 6 and on are still available for free through the Viz website.

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