My Hero Academia Vol. 4 & 5 - Manga Review

The U.A. High Sports festival continues as Deku and the gang fight to be the last hero standing!

The Lowdown

The students of the Hero Class at U.A. High have already gone through the preliminaries of the U.A. High sports festival, a super powered competition and showcase of their quirks, and with some quick thinking Izuku was able to eke out a win! Now, the students team up and put their points on the line in a cavalry contest before competing in the final one-on-one battle tournament! Izuku wants to show the world that he can inspire the same hope that All-Might does, but he’s not the only one trying to match the Symbol of Peace because Todoroki’s father, the second-ranked hero Endeavor, has the same goal for his son...

How Was It?

One of the things that My Hero Academia has done exceptionally well is combining meaningful character development with explosively exciting action, and volumes 4 and 5 of this series are no different as U.A. High holds its sports festival which takes up the entirety of these volumes. The action is fast and furious here, with much of the fourth volume being taken up by a super powered cavalry battle as the team’s attempt to protect their points, and this ends up being an awesome showcase which continues this series’ strong trend of using the powers of its characters in creative ways to create exciting action set-pieces as the characters team up. The one-on-one competition which follows is similarly exciting and creatively done, but what made this part of the competition even better was the way that it was used to progress many of the characters.

Izuku and Todoroki in particular take centre-stage in arc as the action proceeds, and I definitely enjoyed following these two as they attempted to come out on top in the festival. Izuku’s development continues as he tries to live up to All-Might’s challenge to him to become someone who can inspire people as the Symbol of Peace, and this is linked in well with Izuku’s challenging process of trying to master his new powers. I really liked the way that we continue to see his determination grow very visibly over the course of this arc as he contemplates what his responsibilities are to both himself as well as his classmates, and this is explored well as Izuku becomes embroiled in Todoroki’s own struggles.

Izuku’s own development becomes intertwined in this arc with that of Todoroki, and Todoroki’s character is fleshed out significantly in this volume. Todoroki’s father, Endeavor, is the second-ranked hero to All-Might and as a result has focused completely on building Todoroki up as a hero capable of surpassing All-Might. I really liked the look at the backstory of the world that was used to set-up this plot line, and Todoroki’s inner struggle was exceptionally well explored here because of the way that this was linked into the use of his powers throughout the tournament as he battles other contestants. We see very visibly how his past affects his self-limitation of his own powers, and I liked the way that this contrasted with Izuku’s own struggle to master and get the most out of One-For-All.

Izuku becomes involved in this storyline as well as he begins to find out Todoroki’s secret, and this culminated in a particularly strong segment which saw both of them having to consider for themselves how a hero should act. This built upon the thematic threads developed throughout the series in an interesting way as the two consider the varying dimensions of their responsibilities especially with the rivalry between All-Might and Endeavor in the background overlaying Izuku and Todoroki. I liked that there were no easy or simple answers presented for Todoroki in particular as he grapples with the type of hero he wants to be, and this is brought out in an excellent series of confrontations against Izuku and others in the one-on-one competition. This arc did a great job making Todoroki one of the more interesting characters in the series because of his inner conflict, and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing this story line progress going into the future.

While Izuku and Todoroki get the most significant development, I really enjoyed that the other characters weren’t forgotten either. The competition is used to explore the motivations of many of the other characters competing, with Ida, Uraraka, and Bakugo among other all having their reasons for fighting examined here and incorporated into the story line. One of my favourite segments of this arc was seeing Uraraka taking on Bakugo in the one-on-one competition, and this scene provided plenty of interesting character development as we see the two both tangibly affected by this fight in a way that pushed each of them forward. The actual mechanics of the fight itself were used to illustrate this extremely well as Uraraka tries to outwit Bakugo, and this made for an exciting yet meaningful sequence which was really well-rounded in this regard. I continue to be just as interested in supporting cast as I am in Izuku’s development, and this has definitely been on the successes of My Hero Academia thus far in the series.

The art in this series continues to get stronger and stronger, and the action in this volume is enhanced significantly by the detail Horikoshi-sensei is able to imbue in all of his panels. This is especially true during the one-on-one battles, and the detail definitely reaches another level in a few of the most explosive fights such as the one between Uraraka and Bakugo. This series does a great job emphasizing the sheer power of all of the quirks involved, but I really liked that the action never becomes difficult to follow thanks to the skillful panel layouts which cleanly portray the action from a variety of angles. The expression work done in these two volumes are also impressive, with expressions such as Bakugo’s sneers, Todoroki’s indecisiveness, and Ida’s determination emphasized really well in detailed close-ups which do a lot to draw out some additional emotional resonance.

Final Thoughts

My Hero Academia’s tournament arc is utterly fantastic for its combination of explosive action and compelling character work. The tournament is as creative as you would expect it to be as these characters clash, and I was consistently on the edge of my seat watching the stunning portrayal of the powers and strategies involved. The emphasis on Todoroki and Izuku’s burgeoning rivalry is also very enjoyable for the way that it further explores this series’ investigation of the nature of being a hero, and I was excited to see some of this world’s backstory developed through this storyline. All in all, this is an extremely well done arc just as I’d expect from this series given how good it’s been thus far, and these two volumes should definitely not be missed.


My Hero Academia, Vol. 5
By Kohei Horikoshi
My Hero Academia, Vol. 4
By Kohei Horikoshi

My Hero Academia Vol. 4 & 5 were translated by Caleb Cook and published by Viz Media on May 3nd, and August 2nd, 2016. Authored by Kohei Horikoshi, the series began in 2014 and is still ongoing in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump magazine. Volume 6 will be published in English on November 1st, 2016.

Verdict:

A+

Date of Publication: May 3rd, 2016, and August 2nd, 2016

Translator: Caleb Cook

Author: Kohei Horikoshi

Publisher: Viz Media




Matt

Matt is a broke law student by day, broke law student by night, and one of the co-founders of Taykobon in his dwindling spare time. Although his favourite series tend to be shonen adventure series, he also has a soft spot for slice-of-life shojo romances. He enjoys following the manga industry, and is a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays in other nonexistent spare time. 

Favourite series: Bakuman

Favourite author: Io Sakisaka