My Hero Academia Volume One is set in a world where a mutation created “exceptional people,” and this mutation eventually became the norm. People with this mutation have what’s called a “Quirk,” and many of them become superheroes and use their Quirk to stop crimes. However, this story focuses on a boy who makes up the 20 percent of the population that was born without a Quirk.

My Hero Academia Volume One
Written by: Kohei Horikoshi
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: August 4, 2015

The main character of My Hero Academia is Izuki Midoriya, a teenager who dreamed of becoming a superhero, but learned while he was in kindergarten that he was born without a Quirk. However, he hasn’t let his lack of a Quirk stop him from continuing to pursue his dream.

His classmate, a hotheaded and pompous boy named Katsuki Bakugo, mocks Izuki for his dream. Katsuki believes that his Quirk is better than anyone else’s, and thinks that someone without a Quirk could never become a hero. As a reader, it was clear that at least to start, Katsuki will be the main antagonist for Izuki, especially with the scenes of Katsuki bullying Izuki that appear early on in My Hero Academia Volume One.

One day, Izuki finds himself being attacked by a monster, and is saved by his idol, All Might. In the process, Izuki learns a big secret about All Might that becomes important later on. But the story takes an interesting turn with the monster that attacked Izuki absorbing Katsuki and wreaking havoc. None of the heroes nearby can fight against Katsuki’s Quirk, and Izuki surprises everyone by jumping in and rescuing Katsuki without a Quirk. But even more important than this is the fact that this scene shows the reader that Izuki is willing to save someone who’s been bullying him because it’s the right thing to do. Of course, Katsuki isn’t grateful for Izuki’s help.

This event sets the story of the series in motion, as it’s revealed that All Might’s Quirk lets him pass on his Quirk to someone else and that he himself had been born without a Quirk. We get the shonen trope of training to get stronger before All Might passes on his Quirk to Izuki, but the difference with this trope is that Izuki isn’t able to get a real feel or handle on his newfound ability before he’s forced to use it.

Izuki goes to apply to U.A. High School, a prestigious school that trains people with Quirks how to become superheroes. The remainder of My Hero Academia Volume One focuses on Izuki and his issues with trying to pass entrance exams without understanding how to use his Quirk.

I have to admit that when I first saw that this series was about people with a genetic mutation becoming superheroes, I was afraid it was going to be a Tiger & Bunny clone. Thankfully, that fear was quickly dispelled, because the setup for the two series is vastly different. After finishing My Hero Academia Volume One, I thought the story was off to a strong start. I may not have found it to be quite as strong as Tiger & Bunny, but it’s good for what it is.

When it comes to the art, the first thing that grabs the reader is the cover. The front cover art is designed in such a way to look like it’s the front cover of an American comic book. And the image on the title page for the second chapter was also designed in this manner as well. Personally, I found this to be a nice touch.

Horikoshi gives his characters very distinct looks which makes it easier to tell the characters apart. One of my favorite character designs is the one for Katsuki, because Horikoshi gives him these very psychotic looking expressions that include his eyes bulging out of his head. This design really sticks out and in a good way. I’m also impressed with the way that Horikoshi draws his action sequences.

I believe that My Hero Academia Volume One will appeal to readers of shonen manga who also have an appreciation for superheroes. This series may contain tropes associated with shonen manga, but Horikoshi has found interesting ways to incorporate them so they don’t stand out as tropes as much.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

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