If there ever was a manga series to get non fans interested, this is it.
I haven’t watched an anime since I was super into Sailor Moon as a kid. I haven’t read a manga since Fruits Basket back in 6th or 7th grade. I am now obsessed with My Hero Academia.
The very first panel of this manga sets up everything about our two characters, Izuku Midoriya and Katsuki Bakugou. There’s no wasted space here. Within the first handful of pages, the reader learns Midoriya is a kind-hearted, quirkless boy in a world where the stronger your quirk, or superpower, is, the more popular and loved you are. Heroes are real and bigger than celebrities in the world of My Hero Academia, showing up to save the day and also getting in the way of daily commutes. Midoriya is one of the unlucky 20% of the population born quirkless, and his classmates equate that lack of quirk as weakness.
Bakugo is the typical foil to our lovable future hero. He’s been told how special he is his whole life, but also has the grades, determination and power to back it up. Bakugo is everything Midoriya isn’t on the surface; notably surly, rude and physically strong. Midoriya tries so hard to be his friend, and in return Bakugo pushes him further and further away, not wanting anyone to take pity on him or make friendships.
Through a series of circumstances, Midoriya is attacked by a villain and in turn, saved by the #1 Hero in Japan and his forever favorite, All Might. All Might swoops in and saves Midoriya, signing an autograph for him before flying away, but not without Midoriya hanging onto his leg and causing him to drop the captured villain. While All Might and Midoriya have a heart to heart about what it takes to be a hero and if someone quirkless can ever reach that height, the villain escapes and attacks none other than Bakugo. As All Might returns to the scene to try and save Bakugo, Midoriya does as well and with true hero instinct, runs to try and save the day without a plan or power. He is willing to run into danger in order to save his classmate, even as other professional heroes stand on the sidelines waiting for someone with a better power to do the heavy lifting. All Might springs into action and saves them both and confronts Midoriya later about his actions.
All Might reveals that not only is his power, One for All, passed down through the generations, his time with the power is coming to an end. We are presented with the visual of the true All Might, a sallow faced, incredibly thin man who barely looks able to stand. He informs Midoriya that his bravery and willingness to help others has inspired him, and All Might has chosen him to be his successor.
This is the perfect set up to get any reader pulled into the story. With the popularity of superheroes in the American market right now, readers of any age can relate to the underdog Midoriya who just wants to be given a chance to succeed and prove himself.
Midoriya works hard to get his body physically prepared to accept All Might’s power, and we see him single handedly clean a beach in order to prepare for his biggest test, the entrance exam for UA high school. UA is the premier school for future professional heroes, and their admittance test is twofold; written and practical. The practical exam involves students taking on giant robots and using their quirks to their advantage. Midoriya, unable to fully control All Might’s quirk so quickly, struggles, but ultimately his altruism wins out and he is accepted into the school. At this point in volume one we’re introduced to the secondary characters of the story; his classmates in class 1-A including of course, Katsuki Bakugo. Learning more about the kids, their quirks, and how they’ve worked to get into the class is really fun, sort of like watching the first Avengers movie and seeing how everyone fits together. My favorite character of all has to be Shota Aizawa, the homeroom teacher of Midoriya’s class. His intense approach to teaching directly contrasts with All Might, who quickly becomes another teacher, and his dynamic with the students is fantastic. He puts the students to the test day one and forced Midoriya to learn to control his power quickly, which helps everyone accept him as worthy to be there.
Also, All Might is basically an awkward dad joke king and he’s great. The little comment about how he’s drawn so much differently than the rest is a great gag and there’s a lot of tiny meta jokes in this series.
This is a perfect first volume that gives the reader exactly what they need to want to continue on. Midoriya is loveable and sweet, a perfect main character a reader of any age can root for. The story is relatable because even if we don’t have the quirks the manga characters do, we can all relate to feeling overlooked, underpowered and underestimated. The secondary characters in the story keep it light and fun, and while the mangaka has a huge undertaking here in creating an immense cast of characters, he does a great job at balancing out the introductions to these characters and their relationship to Midoriya.
There is an anime that corresponds with this manga series, and I personally think it is beyond excellent. Plus Ultra even! I actually really appreciated the visuals the anime provided as it helped me distinguish between Midoriya’s classmates and their quirks. I’ve watched both the dub and subbed versions and the voice acting is excellent. Overall, I would HIGHLY recommend both of these to fans!
Also of note:
Episode 1 of the anime ends with Midoriya asking All Might if a quirkless boy can be a hero
Volume 1 of the manga ends roughly halfway through episode 6 of the anime.
If you’re watching/reading along like I did, hopefully these facts help you figure out where to start/stop!
Title:My Hero Academia (Volume 1)
Author: Kohei Horikoshi