Gabbing Geek Manga Review: My Hero Academia Volume 4

As I was reading volume 4 of Kohei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia, a few things stuck me about the way Kohei treats his superheroes.

So, I sometimes find these manga reviews a little tough to write.  Unlike most American trades I purchase, these are often relatively short books where, in terms of plot, not much happens.  I don’t generally want to give away too much.  As such, I don’t say much.  Truth be told, I’ve been a little concerned about the length of many of my articles here.  I know my readership is basically nonexistent.  I don’t get feedback, and the site doesn’t get that many hits.  I’m fine with that.  I do this out of a general labor of love.

But that doesn’t mean I like just dashing off something short and calling it a day.  I’m working to make what I do here more substantial if for no other reason than to improve myself.   As such, I’m looking to have just a bit more to say beyond a very rough plot outline and a short “I liked/didn’t like this!” statement at the end.

So, here goes:  I’m not overly knowledgeable on Japanese culture.  As a result, the superheroes of My Hero Academia don’t behave in ways I, as an American, generally associate with superheroes.  Many of them seem hyper-competitive and only interested in being “the best”.  My general way of thinking is American superheroes don’t go out just to be recognized as the best.  That’s what the bad guys do.

However, I have also noticed that many of these manga series I follow tend to go a similar route.  The protagonist has a long term goal.  He wants to be the next best thing in whatever field he’s entered.  Why shouldn’t superheroes be any different?  The big difference here is lead character Midoriya isn’t out to be the best.  Well, not quite.  He does want to be the best now.  However, he just doesn’t want to be the best for himself.  He wants to be the best for everyone who ever supported him in his life.  That puts him far ahead of many of his competitors who just can’t stand losing, including Midoriya’s old bully Bakugo.  Bakugo’s quirk is he can create literal explosions.  He’s bad tempered and comes across as mean.  And he’s not the only one.

As it is, all of Volume 4 is part of a big hero tournament.  Round One ended in Volume 3 with Midoriya using his brains to get first place and a few million points.  Everyone else had at best a few hundred.  He’s now got a target on his back.  Bakugo isn’t the only one out to get him.  Heck, even a friend or two will set themselves against Midoriya at this point.  Why?  They all need to prove themselves the best.  There’s talk that such positioning leads to better hero placement after schooling ends, but like I said above, that sort of stuff seems weird to me.

I suspect that’s in part because of how Kohei set up his world.  Since most people have quirks, being a superhero is as much about having a good job after school as the prestige of saving the world.  Then again, that may be what attracted me to a character like Midoriya in the first place.  He’s one of the few selfless protagonists in the book.  Everyone else seems to be out for other reasons, even if those reasons are showing up other people.  These aren’t altruistic heroes for the most part.  That’s actually rather refreshing.

Now, if only I could keep track of who many of the supporting characters are.

8.5 out of 10 cheerleader tricks.

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