My Hero Academia Vigilantes 66-70 – 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:
It seems like we’re geared up for the conclusion now, as indicated by some narration provided by Koichi at the end of Chapter 66. I wonder if it’s due to flagging interest, but I don’t actually know how readership is for Vigilantes. Anecdotally I did notice quite a few comments during recent Academia proper chapters totally unaware of the Vigilantes connection. Whatever the case I can’t say I’m all that sad that Vigilantes is coming to an end. Koichi has often been passed over as the lead character in his own manga, and while recently he got to be a bad ass when Captain Celebrity needed help, we didn’t build off of that into anything cool. That’s been Koichi’s entire story, brief snippets of something greater and then back to same old same old slice of life shenanigans that keep him and the main through-line plot near totally separate. Let’s Jump In!
With the series positioning itself for a wrap up it’s got a hell of a job thanks to fleeting efforts to do anything with its leads. In fact, as we begin to close things out it’s Pop Step, rather than Koichi, who takes center stage. I’m at least glad one of the other two mains is front and center and we aren’t punting the ending to an Academia proper character, Eraser Head. Here we see that Pop Step’s budding career has tapered out since Makoto left the scene. I actually really like Pop being confronted with her life coming to pieces: Koichi’s hanging it up, Knuckle Duster is possibly dead but certainly gone, and now her career as an idol is going no where. It’s a great way to position her as having to decide what happens now and where she’ll ultimately end up: Back in the gutter, performing on the streets like the kid she started as, or something more?
However, One of the ways we start to bring things to a close is by pushing the Pop likes Koichi narrative front and center. It’s an awkward choice since Pop’s affection for Koichi has more been a goof than anything significant. What’s more frustrating though is the sudden intense interest Makoto displays for Koichi, forcing a love triangle in purely for drama’s sake. Maybe Makoto is toying with the two to force the romance herself, but either way I’d actually prefer this story be about Pop seeing Koichi so willingly hang his dreams up and that pushing her to renew her efforts. As it stands this love subplot feels forced and without enough preceding footwork to feel all that compelling.
What compounds it further though is that Pop’s new manager has feelings for her, ends up rejected, and not only that, turns out to be our main baddie we thought Knuckleduster had successfully taken to the grave with him! Why is Nomura/Number 6 interested in Pop Step? I don’t recall an interest previously, and only the scantest of interaction between Koichi, Pop and Number 6, if any, and unless it’s all purely a ploy, which the dialogue seems to signify it isn’t, it’s a major leap without any set up. (Also a quibble: Nomura supposedly has a hero license that lets him hold a regular job but also use his powers on the side in event of crisis? If real, why doesn’t just anyone have this? Why didn’t Koichi go for this license when he missed the high school entrance exam? Why would anyone need to be an illegal vigilante if this exists!? Why are we only just learning about this now!?)
Again though, for the guy that started this story, Koichi feels more like a supporting character still. All attention is on Pop and very little on Koichi. Sure he’s the guy that’ll have to jump in and save Pop when it all goes bad, and maybe finally get to show his stuff as a hero, but for a finale Koichi seems just as boring and uninteresting a lead as he’s always been. He’ll do the heroism, but he’s like Midoriya-Light, where if you took out all of Midoriya’s ambition and drive to be a hero you’d end up with lackluster Koichi here. Maybe that’s the point, the kids been so beaten in his ego he doesn’t see himself as potentially special or important, but we don’t dwell on that, or give it enough thought to make it feel like Koichi has any conflict inside of him. He’s already accepted his fate, and that makes for one hell of a dull lead.
I don’t know how many chapters are left, though I suspect just one or two volumes worth, so between 5 to 10. Unless we finally dig deep into Koichi there doesn’t seem that much more left to happen. We gotta throw Pop in danger with our villain, force Koichi to save the day, and then I guess wrap this all up? That’s certainly double in 5-10 chapters, but I can’t say I’m all that excited, not unless our author finds a way to breath new life into Koichi’s character right before we send him off.
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.