My Hero Academia Vol. 6 - Manga Review

The sports festival is now over, meaning that it’s time for Izuku and the rest of Class 1-A to being their internships! However, there’s a hero-killer on the loose that Ida has a score to settle with, and Izuku might be the only one who can save him.

The Lowdown

The sports festival may be over, but the excitement never stops as Class 1-A begins their hero internships! All of the students have received offers based on their performances at the sports festival, and the one who offers to take on Izuku is none other than All-Might’s former mentor, Gran Torino. While Izuku initially discounts this small and elderly man as a weird choice, he finds himself growing continuously under Gran Torino's challenging instruction. Meanwhile, Ida’s rage continues to fester after the hero killer, Stain, remains at large after maiming Ida’s brother, the hero Ingenium. Although Ida receives many offers from hero agencies for his internship, he chooses to pick one in the same ward that Stain is rumoured to be prowling in…

How Was It?

One of the strongest aspects of My Hero Academia has been the way that this series continually spends time developing all of its characters in a meaningful way both in terms of their powers as well as their personalities, and this was one of the things that made the previous tournament arc a truly masterful event. This volume continues this process with the gang embarking on a bit of a training arc as they get assigned to different hero agencies for an internship in villain-fighting. This was a really cool way of showing the development of many of these characters while simultaneously beginning to flesh out more of the world outside of U.A. High in an interesting way. I really liked the way that we got some insight into the workings of the broader hero society here, and this played really well into the moral themes that this volume draws up during its ending confrontation.

The first part of this volume primarily follows Izuku as he begins his internship, and I thought that these sequences were both fun as well as very effective at showing his progression in a logical context that also added to this series’ growing backing mythos. Izuku gets assigned to All-Might’s mentor, Gran Torino, and is immediately challenged in a way that is very different from the ways he has been pushed so far in the series. Izuku has been endearing in this series because of the way that he actively works to better himself by taking inspiration from others, but this training session was interesting because it turned this idea on its head. We’ve seen the way that Izuku attempts to imitate All-Might in terms of his fighting style, but in contrast here we see the way that this has limited his development. Gran Torino’s instruction is cool to watch because he gives Izuku just enough to push him to come to his own conclusions, making for a thoroughly satisfying sense of development as we see him gain some new powers that feel wholly earned in the context of this training. This also shows Izuku maturing in a strong way in terms of becoming more of his own person separated from All-Might’s tutelage while still paying tribute to his hero, and I thought this entire bit of development was very engaging and well done.

While Izuku gets plenty of development here, the secondary main character of this volume is Ida as we see him attempting to grapple with the attack on his brother by the hero killer, Stain, in the previous volume. We’ve seen Ida primarily characterized as a rigid do-gooder so far, and it was particularly interesting to see his character fleshed out in a dark way as we see thoughts of revenge beginning to consume him. This storyline links into the overarching story concerning Tomura Shigaraki and the rest of the League of Villains as they plan another attack on the area Ida has his internship in. Naturally, this leads to an explosive confrontation between Ida and Stain after Ida attempts to seek him out for revenge, and this confrontation was very exciting because of the way that it raised some really cool philosophical ideas as well as for the usual excellent action that this series continues to portray.

One of the things that really stood out for me in this volume was the way that we begin to really see this series engage with some of the differing conceptions of what really makes someone a “hero”, and Stain’s introduction as a villain in this volume serves as an excellent way to look at these ideas. The series has shown an interesting dissonance so far in the way it treats heroism - it’s been hard not to notice that certain characters such as Bakugo are about the furthest thing from a hero, but this speaks more to the undercurrent to this hero-obssessed society that has been built-up so far. It seems more like heroes gets celebrated by virtue of their heroism and their powers rather than for actually saving people, and in turn this fuels those like Bakugo or Endeavour who are consumed with being the “best” hero in terms of power rather than with being a “good” hero.

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This gap in ideals is highlighted in Stain’s introduction earlier in the volume as he is immediately shown to be driven by a principal of wiping out heroes who don’t live up to his idea of altruistic heroism as opposed to Shigaraki’s simple desire to watch society crumble, and this makes him by far the most interesting villain that has appeared on the scene so far. Stain and Ida’s confrontation at the end of this volume becomes extremely engaging because of the way that it investigates what it really means to be a hero as Stain chides Ida for being motivated simply by revenge, and we see Stain’s motivations as trying to shine a light on the dark undercurrent of hero society portrayed quite vividly as Izuku arrives on the scene. This illustrated the juxtaposition of the ideals at hand quite explicitly in terms of comparing Izuku’s reckless desire to save people with Ida’s need for revenge, and I’ll be extremely interested to see how this tension continues to be investigated with Stain now on the scene to challenge the underpinnings of the society portrayed here. This philosophical wrinkle added a lot of depth to this sequence, and this made for another thrilling battle when combined with some awesomely drawn action scenes as Izuku shows off some dynamic new moves.

Final Thoughts

My Hero Academia continues to impress with the introduction of Stain in this volume, and I was enthralled with the way that the series has begun to investigate the driving motivations of heroes on a society level. This added a lot of depth to the story that complements the continued individual development of all of these characters extremely well, making for an increasingly layered story to frame some excellent action scenes. We also get an enjoyable look at Izuku again working to develop his powers, and I really liked the way that Gran Torino’s addition to the cast helped to bring to light some more of this world’s backstory. There’s hasn’t been a dull moment in this series so far, and if you’re reading one action series right now it should probably be this one. 


My Hero Academia, Vol. 6
By Kohei Horikoshi

My Hero Academia Vol.6 was translated by Caleb Cook and published by Viz Media on November 1st, 2016. Authored by Kohei Horikoshi, the series began in 2014 and is still ongoing in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump magazine. You can read it as it releases in Japan in Viz Media's digital Weekly Shonen Jump Magazine

Verdict:

A

Date of Publication: November 1st, 2016

Author: Kohei Horikoshi

Translator: Caleb Cook

Editor: John Bae (WSJ), Mike Montesa (GN)

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