My Hero Academia by Kohei Horikoshi

My Hero Academia is a title aimed squarely at tweens in Japan (e.g., Yigi Oh, Pokemon, Dragonball Z, etc.). The art and dialogue are exuberant and very consistently over-the-top. But at heart, it is a riff on American comic superheroes (just look at the main character, All Mighty, and his chiseled jaw, blonde hair, muscular build, American flag colored suit, and unrepentant self righteousness).

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Story: in a world where superpowers are quite common (called ‘quirks’), Izuku Midoririya can’t wait to see what his quirk will be so he can save the world. But fate is cruel to Izuku – turns out he’s a norm and hasn’t ‘evolved’ like his friends. It means his hopes of becoming a superhero and joining the prestigious UA academy are destroyed. That is, until a classmate is endangered by a supervillian and Izuku rushes in to save him automatically. Witnessed by All Mighty, a superhero who can bestow his power upon a lucky person, Izuku becomes his mission. Armed with All Mighty’s power and guidance, Izuku is granted admission to the U.A. superhero academy – and now his new life begins.

Mangaka Horikoshi is having quite fun with the series, with brash, bold, and very crowded panels with a lot of dialogue ending in exclamation marks. Nothing is ever said in this book – it is always exclaimed or emoted – emulating American brashness, no doubt. And really, the entire series is inspired by DC and Marvel type superheroes and has a very American aesthetic as a result. And not as adululation, either – All Mighty, for example, is a puffed up blow hard that in reality is a sickly pipsqueak in private.

The art is a bit shaky – I’m reminded of Tite’s work on the first few Bleach volumes. I imagine it will clean up quite a bit in the next few books. But for now, those who liked Dragonball Z or One Piece should definitely check this out. Reviwed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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