Saturday, February 9, 2019

My Hero Academia Volume 17 Review

A True Hero

Mangaka: Kohei Horikoshi
Translations: Caleb Cook
Lettering: John HuntCover Price: $9.99
Release Date: February 5, 2019

Review by Luke Hollywood

The "Internship Arc" (consisting of a total of 4 volumes so far with the release of volume 17) is definitely Horikoshi's most ambitious story arc so far in this series, with a much larger scope than the shorter arcs that we are used to in this manga. This has granted him the opportunity to really delve deep into some of the supporting cast, something I really praised him for in my review for volume 16. However, as nice as that momentary shift in the spotlight was, the volume ended with the main objective of the heroes of rescuing Eri from Overhaul's clutches remaining unaccomplished, and leaving a certain Tintin-esque hero's whereabouts unknown. Adorning the front cover of this volume with all his stoic might, Lemillion promises a return to the main event in this volume. It's up to Mirio Togata to save the girl and win the day for the heroes, but how much is he willing to sacrifice to put a smile on her face?  Read on to find out!

Explain It!:

Continuing from the somewhat abrupt ending the last volume, the opening chapters succeed in getting us back on track with the main group of Deku, Sir Nighteye and Eraserhead as they contend with the room-transforming power of Irinaka. Surprisingly, Much of the opening salvo is focused on The League of Villains role in the raid, in particular, the two fan-favorites Twice and Toga, who were revealed to be working with Overhaul and his Yakuza in the previous volume. We get a lot more background on the how's and whys of this unexpected partnership, and while it is nice to see the League take a step towards more cunning tactics in the form of playing the long game with the Yakuza, ultimately these chapters feel a little more padded than they needed to be (for instance, we see Twice and Toga explain their quirks in full to Overhaul and his cronies, which we are well aware of as readers at this stage). However, the pair do have some nice character moments and are in fact quite instrumental in how the heroes progress through the compound throughout the volume, so it is necessary, if somewhat slow, start to the volume. But as the path is cleared for our heroes in the present, we rewind time back to Mirio's initial departure from the team to see he has finally caught up to Overhaul and Eri in a very dynamic two-page spread. It appears the action for this volume has only just begun.

The "meat and cheese" of volume 17 (took that one right outta Jim and Eric's review playbook) consists of this confrontation between Lemillion and Overhaul. This has been a long time coming, especially for Mirio. Ever since his initial encounter with Overhaul and Eri back in volume 15 Mirio has been kicking himself for not doing more to help Eri at the time, a regret that only grew larger as Overhaul's sinister plan were made more clear, including the cruel and gruesome role that Eri was used for. We've seen real hardship and struggle from Mirio (and Deku too, it's worth pointing out) for not saving Eri when they had the chance, resulting in an increased drive from the pair going into this raid on Overhaul's compound. There's nobody who wants to save Eri more than Deku and Mirio, so as soon as one of them gets the chance to do so, he's going to give his all. As Lemillion and Overhaul confront each other, more light is shed on Overhaul's relationship with Eri. Even more than seeing her as a mere tool to achieve his goal of "curing" the world of the disease of quirks, there is a level of emotional manipulation and abuse that he launches at Eri that makes Kai Chisaki a truly despicable villain. A few of his lines, in particular, made my blood boil, A similar reaction to how I felt to a few of All for One's digs at All Might in their big showdown back in the day. As a result, you can fully empathize with the rage Mirio feels, and you find yourself rooting him on as he takes on Overhaul and his subordinates.

In the end, no matter how hard Mirio fights, he can't avoid the underhanded tactics of the Yakuza, and in a particularly low move from one of Overhaul's fanatical subjects, Mirio is forced into action, willing to risk it all in order to save one little girl. In the space of 7 short pages Horikoshi displays a masterclass of character work, as we see the pure heroism of Mirio Togata distilled from his humble beginnings with an untrained quirk, to his rise in the ranks of U.A and earning his status as a member of the "Big Three". It's a glorious crescendo to all of Mirio's actions at this point of the series, and it is all brutally demolished in two quiet but devastating panels on the following page. It's a heartbreaking moment that works so well due to Horikoshi putting the time in to establish all the threads beforehand, and it's by far the highlight of this volume. That isn't to say that the rest of the volume is downhill, by any means. Mirio's actions as vanguard have given the rest of the heroes their best chance yet in putting an end to Overhaul's plan and completing the mission, and with both groups reuniting it seems they might just have the ability (and the heropower) to do so. It is here that we really see a sense of desperation rise in Overhaul, who has thus far been mostly calm and collected regarding the raid. He knows the heroes have a real chance to stop him, and as such he is willing to push his own quirk of disassembly and reassembly to its limits. The nature of his power, and the affect of him using it on himself, transforms him into a freakish monster. A somewhat fitting result, as the evil on the inside is finally reflected on the outside.

With this grisly power up Overhaul is an even bigger threat than usual, as evidenced by his brutally efficient takedown of one of the hero team's strongest components, until soon only Deku himself remains standing against the threat. It is here, the lowest of the low for our heroes, that it seems Overhaul has regained his control and order of the situation, and more distressingly, control over Eri. All hope seems lost for our heroes until a surprise appearance from a particular cavalry of heroes that made this reviewer very happy indeed turns the tide in favor of the side of good, giving Deku the same chance that Mirio had to make things right and save Eri from Overhaul's demonic grasp. And so the volume ends with the promise of a bombastic final showdown to wrap up this epic arc, and a tantalizing tease that the upcoming fight will be unlike anything we've seen in this manga before. The wait for Volume 18 is going to be a painful one!

Bits and Pieces:

I think it should be pretty obvious at this point of the review that I'm a big fan of this volume, as I am of this series in general. I hope I've succeeded in proving these high scores are not hyperbole but, fully earned and achieved with powerful character work, solid action and amazing art (which I think I have done justice with my choices for this review.) The last couple of volumes have been a fantastic payoff to all the setup Horikoshi has worked on for this arc, resulting in a simply epic read (and that's not faking the funk). Apart from a somewhat lukewarm start, this volume had no trouble following up on the stellar previous volume with some greatness all of it's own, Showcasing true heroism in conflict with true evil, and all the while setting the stage for an epic final confrontation in the next volume that, if successful, is sure to put this arc down as one of the very best that this series has to offer. 


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