And here’s why:
This contains spoilers for the My Hero Academia manga up to chapter 292.
Shonen Jump is a beast of its own in many ways. It has delivered some of the most amazing manga I have ever read. It has its flaws but I will defend One Piece for the rest of my days. I think that both Naruto and Bleach have some amazing qualities, and even though I think both dropped in quality later on in their run, I still consider them part of the big three, like many. Somewhat recently people have started talking about a new big three. Manga that are offered as suggestions for this are mostly Black Clover and My Hero Academia. I will put my opinion on Black Clover in another post, but to summarize; I think it is very effective at what it does. It’s a shonen action comedy manga that lives or dies by its characters, and its characters are great. The manga I want to talk about today is the other one, My Hero Academia. This text will contain spoilers for anyone who has not read the manga, so please keep that in mind as you proceed.
I was one of many people who read My Hero Academia right as it started coming out. I remember reading chapter one and immediately being drawn in. This was going to be the next big thing, I could feel it. Many others did the same, because it quickly rose in popularity to the point where it got an anime soon after starting. And to me, the first few arcs were very good. I especially enjoyed the whole Overhaul arc, and I thought there were some clever hints in the story that allowed for Lemillion to eventually get his powers back. (Which I admit was a hype moment in the latest chapter). It’s after that where I started getting worried. I did not like Gentle. I appreciate what the author was going for, but I just couldn’t get into that arc. I did admittedly enjoy it more when it got animated, which I still can’t really explain why. The following arc that was centered around the villains had an interesting start, but the ending wasn’t quite what I wanted it to be. At this point I was still very much with My Hero Academia, and barring One Piece it was my favorite ongoing manga. It’s the current arc that changed this for me though. I would like to break down why I think the current arc is scary to me.
What was the main selling point of the current arc? For me it was quite obviously the concept that heroes are fallible, maybe even making society racist to a certain point. This is the theme that the manga hit upon earlier on as well, with Stain. Not every hero is a good person, and not every villain had a fair chance in life. Mental health being neglected is a big issue that we face in modern society that could be reflected in My Hero Academia and brought to an extreme. Most people with mental health issues don’t end up founding a villain organization bent on the destruction of society. I think.
This brings me to how I think this arc could succeed. Because I’m worried about My Hero Academia not because I think it will fail, but because I also see its potential. Potential that might be hampered because it is in Shonen Jump. Shonen Jump has been getting darker over time in its themes I think, which is good. But I’m not sure if this will be visible in My Hero Academia per se. This arc had a chapter titled “The day when heroes vanished from the city.” This was chapter 259. To me, this strongly implied that the author was going for a chaotic conclusion to this arc. The heroes will fail to save the people, society will riot against the current system, and the hero society that we know will disappear, resulting in chaos. Best Jeanist was murdered by Hawks, who couldn’t live with having done this, and retired. Endeavor would die at the hands of his own son (which still might happen), and society would collapse, with Re-Destro and the Liberation Army taking over. And that would be the end of this arc.
At least that is what I hoped for. What we seem to be getting instead is more of a bait and switch. I think Endeavor might still die, but Hawks clearly did not kill Jeanist. Even worse, Jeanist showed up with no proper explanation to what went down like some deus ex machina. And this is why I’m worried. I’m worried that this bait and switch means that somehow the heroes will pull through. Lemillion is back, Jeanist is back, things still look hairy, but when has a fight ever looked favorable for the good guys in a shonen jump manga? As far as I am aware, no one of importance has died yet at this point in the arc, and I think the manga is going to keep it that way. I think with the missing heroes swooping in suddenly they will save the day somehow. Not win the fight per se, but at least chase away the villains. What I would much rather see is the heroes losing. Endeavor, Jeanist, Hawks all gone from the picture, the remaining heroes persecuted and hiding elsewhere. Not only would this make for a great narrative where the heroes go into hiding, train and come back to try and fix society again, but it also opens the door for a new way of life. Maybe heroes as they are right now are not the solution for society. Maybe the next generation of heroes will have to figure this out somehow. Perhaps find inspiration in a foreign country during a training arc.
But I believe the series isn’t meant to run for that long, so what I think is more likely to happen is that everything gets resolved in this arc and society goes back to the boring way it was.