What would the world be like if 80 percent of the population manifested superpowers called “Quirks” at age four? Heroes and villains would be battling it out everywhere! Being a hero would mean learning to use your power, but where would you go to study? The Hero Academy of course! But what would you do if you were one of the 20 percent who were born Quirkless?
Middle school student Izuku Midoriya wants to be a hero more than anything, but he hasn’t got an ounce of power in him. With no chance of ever getting into the prestigious U.A. High School for budding heroes, his life is looking more and more like a dead end. Then an encounter with All Might, the greatest hero of them all, gives him a chance to change his destiny… (Goodreads)
My Hero Academia (also known as Bokuno Hero Academia 僕のヒーローアカデミア) is a popular Japanese manga (and anime) series created by Kohei Horikoshi and follows the trials and tribulations of a young man named Izuku Midoriya. In a world where the majority of people are born with powers called “quirks” the job of pro-Hero is given to those who chose to use their quirks in the pursuit of justice. Midoriya, a quirkless middle schooler dreams of enrolling in the Hero course at the prestigious U.A. High, the alma mater of his idol All Might. We follow as he begins his journey towards becoming the world’s number one hero and the new symbol of peace.
Volume One, which includes chapters 1-7 both introduces us to the majority of the series key characters as well as introduces you to the world and its quirk system. Following the introductions, the series goes into what might as well be its first arc, which I will call the “Deku v. Kaachan Pt. 1;” which follows the first fight between the protagonist Izuku and his rival Katsuki. The end of the manga marks the beginning of this arc.
From what I’ve seen the main arguments against this book is that the plot and world design is considerably derivative, reviewers often citing its similarities to Marvel’s X-Men series. Though i agree that at face value this is true, I will argue that this argument is not sufficient with all things considered. Borrowing different concepts is a common practice in comics and all storytelling mediums for that matter, and as a result, what really matters is how it is executed. It is well known that the author Horikoshi is a fan of American comics, so it is reasonable to conclude that it did, in fact, influence his work, but that isn’t a bad thing. Having only read the first volume is the reason most focus more on what is evidently derivative, but that is not enough of a sample size to call the series itself that. I will simply say, if you don’t like this volume because of its similarity to other works, at least read up until the third volume. Due to this volume’s focus on character and world-building, I would say that the true story doesn’t start until the following volume. (I’d like to add that I find this series to be a good introduction to America comics to Japanese readers, and vice verse with Japanese manga and American readers.)
When it comes down to it, this volume does a good job at what it set out to do, though I believe it is probably the worst of the beginning volumes. I wouldn’t find it fair to complain much though, considering this was a very formative and challenging time for the writer who was relatively new to the fame this series would gain. Additionally, many serial writers often need some time to truly fall into rhythm with their story.