Saturday, July 6, 2019

My Hero Academia Vigilantes Volume 5 Review

Story: Hideyuki Furuhashi
Art: Betten Court
Translations: Caleb Cook
Lettering: John Hunt
Cover Price: $9.99
Release Date: July 2, 2019

Review by Luke Hollywood

(Spoilers ahead!)

After the climactic showdown with the series' first major antagonist in the previous volume, this next volume of Vigilantes was always going to have a tough time following up. Volume 4 featured such a decisive finish to a lot of plot points we've been building up since the beginning of the series, and with the Bee User Hachisuka off the board, and the potential for her opponent (and mentor to our protagonist) Knuckleduster to take a leave of absence from the main plot, This volume definitely feels like it's plotting a course through new territory for the series. It might be a bumpy ride at first, but will that trademark Vigilantes quality hold through for this new story arc? Read on to find out!

Explain It!:

In the author comments at the beginning of this volume author Furuhashi suggests this volume could be the start of "Season 2" of the series, and this sentiment rings true throughout the volume, but especially in its opening chapters. This volume gives a very "Back to Basics" feel to the series, while still delegating the proper page time to the fallout of events of volume 4. I got the vibe of an American comic book off these opening chapters, specifically whenever a new creative team jumps onto a pre-existing title. Obviously the creative team on this manga hasn't changed, but that similar feel of returning to the status quo of the book still felt evident, so much so that I'd go as far to say this volume could serve as a potential jumping on point for new readers, but I'd advise against that as you'd miss out on the great story from the previous volumes! Anyway, the most interesting moments from these early chapters are the repercussions of Knuckleduster's showdown with Hachisuka, and their ramifications with those involved both directly and indirectly with the battle. As Oguro has rescued his daughter from the control of Hachisuka, he no longer has to patrol the streets in search of her or take down Trigger users to follow the breadcrumbs like he did before. In rescuing Tamao, Oguro has gotten his life back, and as such, Knuckleduster no longer needs to be a part of it. This is evident from Oguro leaving his signature items, his mask, and knuckledusters, at Koichi's residence, in a sort of passing of the torch moment. At the very least you get the sense that Knuckleduster is now confident enough in the proficiency of Crawler and  Pop☆Step to handle the streets of Naruhata by themselves. I was definitely sorry to see Knuckleduster depart from the main Vigilantes trio, as he has brought such an excellent dynamic to the characters as well as the action, though it is worth noting in one of the page breaks between chapters Furuhashi points out that while it is sad to see Knuckleduster depart, his absence will provide the catalyst for Koichi to grow, something that we will see later in this very volume.

Unfortunately, the rest of the events in these chapters do begin to get on the overly familiar side. I know I mentioned that Back to Basics feel earlier, but seeing Kazuo and the gang perform at another Narufest so soon, especially when the previous one was such a big focal point of the previous volume, was a little unfortunate, and having Koichi as the comic relief while Captain Celebrity show up to save the day once again in just a page felt pretty abrupt. Don't go all the way back on the Back to Basics scale, guys! It's actually a scene of talking heads that raises the most intrigue here, as Pro Heroes Eraser Head and Midnight happen to bump into each other during the Narufest performance, and they're later joined by everyone's favorite detective Tsukauchi to discuss the next-level villains present on their streets, as well as the possibility of a coordinated organization pulling the strings on these attacks behind the scenes. This feels like the next step up from the Trigger-boosted foes the Vigilantes have had to contend with in the past. As Koichi and his powers grow, so does those of his enemies. Following this thread into the middle of the volume, things start to get interesting. Kazuo takes a trip down to Naniwa to take part in an Idol show and as her manager, Koichi, tags along for the ride (and in the process of almost missing the train, gains a new suction upgrade to his Slide and Glide quirk!). On their way to the event the duo bump into some colorful characters, Including fan-favorite Pro Hero Fatgum, who has received a neat redesign and an even rougher and ready attitude to fit this appearance earlier in the timeline of events. He is already based in the city, but he's making his way to the event to assist Tsukauchi in a drug deal investigation. Kazuo and Koichi then meet an eclectic personality in the form of Kaniko, a fellow idol with a quirky personality and a terrifying crab face that she's trying to incorporate into a comedy routine (it's not working out so well). It turns out that she too is in on the investigation, and is, in fact, operating undercover as an idol to try and scope out potential suspects on the ground level. All these Heroes and Vigilantes at one little idol event, no crazy action is bound to kick off, right?

Some crazy action kicks off!! Kaniko starts to make some headway to in her investigation, and thanks to a brief intermission from Idol antics with Eraser Head taking down a couple of grasshopper goons, we learn that a nasty variation of Trigger is being shipped via "the crab route". Kaniko's undercover role is as an idol for the Kanidoge clan, a company who supply frozen crabs... I smell something fishy (or crabby?) going on here! She investigates the loading dock in search of suspicious packages, and finds not only a hidden crate of drugs but a shady part-time worker, who promptly reveals (along with a nasty looking facial scar) his intentions to destroy the crab route and all the drug evidence he can get his hands on. Reinforcements are called in, but this scarred dude isn't giving up so easy, instead opting for a quick escape with his speedster-esque quirk. When the police corner him, our new antagonist pulls off a move similar to the slowing down time shenanigans of QuickSilver in the recent X-men movies, showing that he's just as much of a threat as the Bee User, if not more so. He's crafty too, hacking the loader bots to self-destruct in order to create the perfect distraction to escape. Definitely, one to watch in future chapters. Crawler, Kaniko and Fat Gum all team up to stop the exploding robots, with a heroic selfless action from Fat Gum being a particular highlight to the volume. The day may be saved, but it's clear the battle against this new organization and their speedy representative has just begun!

Bits and Pieces:

This volume had a slow start that I found slightly underwhelming, but it quickly regained it's footing with a fun undercover romp with exciting characters. It was great to see some favorites like Midnight and Fat Gum in the spotlight again too. Furuhashi has a neat knack for showcasing familiar characters in his story and capturing their character accurately without allowing them to overshadow his own creations, as seen by Kaniko stealing the show here (Koichi only dreams he was a comic relief character this badass!) The trip to Naniwa was a short but sweet arc that provided something fresh and promised more to come with the debut of a new threat. Looks like season 2 of Vigilantes is off to a solid start!


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