My Hero Academia Vigilantes 6-9 – 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, 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:
I’m awfully behind on Vigilantes, but hopefully this week I can at least come close to catching up to the latest releases. Today let’s focus on chapters 6-9, which see the series shift from a healthy thirty-five pages a chapter to a shorter nineteen. I was of the impression that Vigilantes was published, in Japan, monthly. So I’m surprised that the chapters shrink so significantly in size from chapter eight and on.
Anyway, chapter six primarily focuses on a sillier storyline as KnuckleDuster and the Crawler start out by chasing down a trio of skirt flipping, panty stealing villains. It’s all in jest, but I wouldn’t begrudge anyone frustrated with Vigilantes making light of sexual assault in this current climate. It doesn’t help that The Crawler (formerly Nice Guy), as part of his character, tends to sympathize with the bad guys. He’s a fairly understanding hero. It wouldn’t normally be an issue, but he approaches ‘yikes’ territory when he suggests we ought to respect people’s fetishes when discussing alternative methods for the villains to acquire the used panties they desire. I think it’s pretty clear that this is all an unintentional side effect of the manga coming from a society not struggling publicly with even more abhorrent behavior, and shouldn’t really be read as condoning such actions, but still unfortunate and understandably off-putting all the same.
Moving on though, the chapter primarily centers on KnuckleDuster being in some kind of funk. As Koichi wonders what’s bugging his master, we witness our unassuming villain handing out more of the quirk boosting drug. This quickly leads to another confrontation between our vigilante heroes and the latest villain of the week. It’s all KnuckleDuster needs to snap out of his funk. It’s a cute little story, but nothing all that special and really reeks of the ‘side content’ nature Vigilantes really offers up to this point. While nothing bad, Vigilantes really could use more meat to it and feel more significant outside of existing as extra world building for Academia proper.
While Chapter 7 doesn’t entirely address this issue, it at least offers meatier side content. Namely we get a look at Ingenium prior to the terrible accident he faces later on in the main series. As pointed out by Commenter Dj Quinn on the last article, this story takes place a little over half a decade before Midoriya’s story. This gives the events of this chapter a real melancholic feel. Ingenium, Iida’s older brother, is such a nice guy. He’s super friendly to our Koichi, even after he learns that the young man is a vigilante. It makes that knowledge of his ultimate fate that much more heart-wrenching.
The chapter primarily tells the story of Koichi’s chance meeting with Ingenium and their joint effort to catch the Mad Runner. It’s a sweet chapter, with good comedy, as well as development for Koichi and his slip and slide ability. It’s probably the best iteration of side content yet, offering a sweet little story that has no bearing on Academia proper, but let’s us see more of the world and its secondary characters.
Chapter 8 pulls back from that and instead tells a more personal story, which goes a long way to making Vigilantes feel more like it’s own thing, rather than purely a series subsisting off of Academia proper’s popularity. Here we learn how Koichi fell off the rails toward becoming a hero (and his school’s lack of leniency in him performing a heroic deed and thereby being late to his exam speaks volumes about the world’s lack of true heroic morals that Academia proper keeps hinting at) as well as learning that him and Pop Step are actually tied to that event. While perhaps a little too convenient, it helps foster a greater relationship between these two and deeper meaning to their involvement. I initially wondered, perhaps even feared, that Koichi would have saved Midoriya as a kid, and again pinned Vigilantes as extended fan service. So I’m really glad that wasn’t the case.
Concluding with Chapter 9 for today we’re introduced to a new character and Vigilante, Stendhal. Currently Koichi has been built as this kind hearted, understanding individual who sees the potential good, even in these street level villains. The story on several counts make note that he sympathizes with them. Stendhal, someone who believes in harsh justice, is the exact mirror of Koichi’s beliefs and is clearly introduced as a foil. This is probably Vigilantes greatest step towards developing its own, core, narrative that elevates it above a fan service side story.
Not only do we see Stendhal’s version of justice, but we also get clear cause for Koichi and Stendhal’s eventual confrontation. Koichi and Pop Step learn that the first chapter’s alleyway villain, who Pop Step notes as “Rape ‘N Murder Man” is seeking to be a vigilante hero himself. While Koichi will probably come around to the idea, we see that Stendhal instead already recognizes our reforming villain as his next target. This chapter, more over any of the others, gets me most excited to see where the story is going. Hopefully I can finish playing catch up soon.
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.