My Hero Academia is a relatively new shonen manga series that has really exploded in popularity since its debut in 2014, not only in Japan but also in the Western world. It's surprisingly innovative and unique from other shonen manga of recent years, as it blends traditional shonen tropes with Western superhero comic book tropes. The result is a manga which is very much grounded in Japanese culture and life, but still has plenty of elements that comic-book fans will find very familiar. This first volume covers the first seven chapters, and serves as a great introduction to the series as a whole, giving a solid sampling of the characters, the tone, and the general themes of the manga as a whole.
The main character of MHA is Izuku Midoriya, a young man who dreams of becoming a superhero one day like his idol, "All Might", who serves as a hyper-earnest cross between Superman and Captain America. In the world of MHA, a vast majority of the population has developed super-powers, or "Quirks", from an early age, leading to many people using them for crime, and many others using them to become heroes and protectors of the people. Izuku, however, is one of the few people to be born "quirkless", and he has no powers to speak of. Nevertheless, when the manga begins, Izuku is not willing to let that get in the way of his dreams, and he's preparing to apply for a place at the most prestigious superhero academy in the country, U.A. High School.
My Hero Academia uses the setting of a superhero academy to great effect, as it provides a wide pool of characters to flesh out, including classmates, teachers, and rival classes. The characters of MAH are some of the most interesting and diverse that any shonen manga has introduced, and a huge part of what makes the story so good are the friendships, rivalries and betrayals that come with the large cast as they grow, are fleshed out, and evolve.
If you have any interest in manga, or in superhero comics, I would absolutely recommend My Hero Academia. It's earnest, funny, thrilling and very relateable. Izuku is a fantastic main character, one of the best underdogs that I've seen in any manga series in recent years. If you really cannot stand shonen manga, this series may not change your mind, as it does still draw on many of the usual tropes that the genre is known for. To anyone else, I implore you to at least try the first volume. It's a fantastic sample of the series as a whole, and a great introduction to what will likely become one of the dominant shonen manga of the next few years.
+ Interesting new shonen manga
+ Good introduction to the overall tone and direction of the story
+ Cast of diverse characters, both teenagers and adults
+ Mixture of Western superhero tropes and Japanese shonen manga tropes
- Falls into some common shonen tropes, for better or worse
- First volume only has time to introduce a small number of the great cast
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