“Read a Damn Book – 175: My Hero Academia Volume 1”
Howdy folks, it’s time for another manga review! This go-around I’m looking at a popular comic, and one that my wife and I bought copies of for my older daughter’s husband for Christmas this year. He had already watched some of the anime version of this story and liked it, so we bought him the first couple of volumes of the manga series (because we're cool and buy people books as gifts!) He rather quickly bought several MORE volumes of the title and told me that the book was good and that I should read it. Thus, I bought a digital copy of the first volume. Do I agree with his assessment? Look out below to find out!!!
[This is a photograph that I took of the actual digital comic that I read. The image is included for review purposes only!]
My Hero Academia is a combination superhero, sci-fi, and teen drama manga written and drawn by Kohei Horikoshi and published in the States by Viz and Shonen Jump. The book is almost 200 pages, but as with most manga, it reads rather quickly---with the one caveat that this is a RIGHT-TO-LEFT book, which some folks might be bothered by. Honestly, after the first few pages, I don’t even notice that I'm reading the "wrong way" anymore. The thing that I WAS a bit bothered by is that this book doesn’t have a panel by panel option, that a lot of digital comics have, and I’m almost 50, so I had to zoom in to read some of the smaller text. (Horikoshi does a lot with flashbacks and mumbling, and the words in these panels are usually printed much smaller than the regular text. My Kindle screen is pretty big, but not quite as large as an actually comic, so the smaller print gives me some grief. I;m getting old…)
The STORY is interesting. (I read it three times, just to make sure I got it.) In the universe presented here, MOST of humanity (about 80 percent, they say) is born with a “quirk”---what we would call a “super power”---and being a superhero is what almost EVERY school kid wants to do when they grow up. To help train superheroes, various prep schools have come into being, with the most elite getting to choose who they accept and who they let go, like Ivy League schools do.
Into this "super-powered" world is born one Izuku “Deku” Midoriya---a super-fan of heroes who, naturally, wants to become a hero himself---BUT who is, sadly, one of the few people born with NO QUIRK. He wants to be a hero more than anyone, and he is brave and caring and tries to protect people, but he has NO POWERS.
In a way, this set-up reminds me of the Monty Python skit about a town where everyone is Superman, but the one person who is considered a true HERO is BICYCLE REPAIRMAN, who can fix a bike when nobody else knows how! It’s nonsense but funny. Horikoshi, however, treats Deku’s strong desire to become a hero as more TRAGIC that humorous, and it’s surprisingly effective. The twist, however, comes when Deku meets his favorite hero, ALL MIGHT, who saves him from a weird mud-monster, and All Might reveals a strange secret---which eventually leads to Deku getting into the superhero school that he’s always dreamed of entering… (I'm trying not to give away too many spoilers...)
The art is pretty good, with Horikoshi being particularly solid with facial expressions. (When Deku realizes that he doesn’t HAVE powers, and won't be getting any, the teary-eyed look on his face is almost heartbreaking.) The action is also pretty good, although it’s not as excitingly drawn as in a book like One-Punch Man (although to be fair, that series is exceptional.) However, there is some fun stuff going on in this book. I was particularly amused by some of the jokes that had a meta-fictional element to them. On two different occasions, characters talk about how cool All Might is and mention that he’s even DRAWN in a different style than they are! To me, that’s funny!
The book is rated for teens and up, mostly because of the violence, I think, although it isn’t any more graphic than a standard U.S. superhero book. (It’s certainly NOTHING compared to stuff like Octopus Girl or Museum of Terror, although those books are rated for Mature readers, not teens.) The characters are pretty interesting, though there are a quite a few introduced here---it is the first volume, so Horikoshi is building his world from scratch---but it helped for me to read the book a few times to be able to keep the different characters straight.
Though the book is pretty funny, has decent characters, and has a bit of heart---it didn’t really capture me, completely, like some manga titles have. It’s not BAD, by any means, and the concept is solid---and it’s not impossible that reading one or two more volumes might hook me, but at the moment I don't feel compelled to run right out and buy the next book. (If my daughter’s husband loans me his copies, I would certainly read more, but I’m not dropping any cash right now---at least until I’ve read another issue or two of One-Punch Man.) But don’t just take my word for it. If you are a fan of manga, especially humorous adventure books, then there is definitely a lot to like with this title---or if you already like the anime, (which I’ve never seen), then it might be worth checking out the books.
Alright, that’s it for this review! If you enjoy this series and think I need to give the next volume a look, let me know in the comments. If you have any OTHER manga or comic titles that you’d suggest for me to read, feel free to do that, too! I’m particularly fond of HUMOR titles---and horror---and humorous horror---and really weird stuff… If you know any titles that fit these criteria, let me know! In the meantime---GO READ A DAMN BOOK!!!
---Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Holy Fool)
SUPPORT INDEPENDENT FOLKS WHO ARE JUST MAKING STUFF BECAUSE THEY LOVE IT!!!