My Hero Academia, Vol. 1

By Kohei Horikoshi. Released in Japan by Shueisha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Weekly Shonen Jump. Released in North America by Viz.

It has to be said, if you’re looking to succeed in Weekly Shonen Jump, ‘write the same thing as everyone else, only your way’ is a pretty good description of how to go about doing it. And to a degree, that’s what the author does with this new series. Even though the front cover parodies Marvel and DC Comics, and the kids are ‘superheroes’ in a Western sense, this is very much in the classic Jump mold – indeed, some of the amusing yet insane superpowers reminded me of the late lamented Medaka Box. Our hero as well is a sweet kid, the Naruto sort who starts off weak and bullied but will improve by leaps and bounds because he tries hard and refuses to back down when his principles tell him it’s wrong.

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Our hero Izuku (abbreviated to ‘Deku’ for reasons that Viz won’t explain because Jump titles don’t have endnotes) is the small guy on the cover, as you no doubt guessed. The world about 25-30 years ago evolved superpowers in about 80 percent of the population. And Izuku really, really loves superheroes – he’s pretty much an otaku. Sadly, he’s in the 20% that doesn’t have powers. This, naturally, leads to bullying on the part of all his school classmates, particularly Katsugi, who plays the role of the selfish ass quite well in this volume, though I suspect he will gain greater depth as the title goes on, particularly give his childhood past with Izuku.

Luckily, Izuku gets a superpower transferred to him from the other guy on the cover. Even more luckily, the power does not just magically make him a superhero – he has to go through an amusing and heartwarming training montage, complete with the usual ‘drag a refrigerator across the beach’ stuff, till he’s no longer a wimpy kid but rather a wimpy kid with a muscular build. And he doesn’t really get a chance to train with his powers, either – which means he’s in trouble when he applies to Superhero School, where the goal is to be awesome immediately.

Nothing here is really original, but also nothing here is really poorly done, either. The author has learned from Barrage, his previous series. Izuku is a bit of a shy coward without being unlikeable, All Might’s secret allows him to be hilarious as well as inspiring, and his new friend Ochako is cute, and not Shiemi from Blue Exorcist despite all appearances saying she is. The fight scenes look smooth and non-confusing, and there is actual tension as you wonder how this will get resolved – it also allows Izuku to be clever, which is the best way to advance when you also have cool superpowers. Add on a reluctant mentor and some random giant woman fanservice, and you can see exactly why this became a bit hit while Barrage was cancelled after 2 volumes.

If you want something you’ve never seen in Jump before… why do you read Jump, exactly? But if you want something light and fun, with potential for more, My Hero Academia may be right up your alley.

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