My Hero Academia Vigilantes 36-40 – 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:

Chapters 36-38 continue to sideline our heroes, keeping them locked into slice of life style plots that sit far and away from what you’d expect of a series with a title like “Vigilantes.” While Koichi is still fighting crime, and mostly getting his ass kicked, Pop has transferred fully into an amateur idol (although the manga claims later on she’s still fighting crime at night, we just never see that.) It’s these chapters that made me realize Vigilantes almost operates on the exact opposite of Academia Proper’s formula. Academia predominantly focuses on heroism, training, all the big staples of action. It’s only between arcs, and briefly, we get a slice of life chapter or two. Vigilantes however seems to place slice of life and comedic shenanigans at the top of its priorities, leaving the vigilante content, what you would think would be the focus, for the sidelines.

Chapters 37-38 keep the ongoing plot on life support, utilizing Tsukauchi and Eraser Head as the leads for it. Rather than tying Koichi to Villain Factory, and the battle against it, Vigilantes seems more interested in playing the long, drawn out game of injecting Koichi into the world of vigilantes sparingly. While Koichi is off getting his ass kicked by no name thugs, Tsukauchi and Eraser Head lead the charge on figuring out who or what Villain Factory is exactly. We even force in an All Might appearance for comedic shenanigans that feels strained and utterly predictable. It’s not a high point for the series at all and leaves it feeling like Vigilantes may never really grow out of Academia’s shadow.

That said, Chapter 38 does start to right things, and that comes full circle with Chapters 39-40. Koichi, through dumb luck, manages to learn a new ability he can pull off with his quirk, giving him the potential for extra fighting power. This then plays heavily into the series best chapters since Knuckleduster left, with Koichi coming to the aid of Eraser Head when another villain comes rampaging through town.

These last two chapters are exactly what Vigilantes needs to be. We get some great action sequences, begrudging teamwork between a pro hero and our lead, and Koichi as a major component to victory. Chapter 40 ends on a cliff-hanger as Koichi fires a powerful blast of repelling force, leaving us to wonder just how effective his new attack can be. What’s here is fantastic and really my only complaint is I want to see Pop kicking ass like this too.

Sadly I still get the impression that at its heart, Vigilantes is destined to be a gag/fan service manga for Academia fans, rather than a spin-off that will truly grow into its own thing. It has those elements, it has fleeting glimpses of what that might look like, but too often it settles for cameos and lukewarm slice of life comedy. I’d love to be proven wrong however, because Koichi as a character is compelling. Even without Knuckleduster as part of the gang, I’d still love for Koichi to grow into an actual, formidable vigilante and find himself a target of not only villains but the pro heroes too.

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. Volume 2 (Chapters 6-11) released on October 2nd. Currently Chapter 12 and on are still available for free through the Viz website.

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