Wednesday, June 17, 2020

My Hero Academia Vol. 24 Review

My Villain Academia! 

Story and Art: Kohei Horikoshi
Translations: Caleb Cook
Lettering: John Hunt
Cover Price: $9.99
Release Date: June 2 2020
Publisher: Viz Media 

Review by Luke Hollywood

(Spoilers ahead!

Long time no see, Get Fresh Crew! If it feels like it’s been a while since we last visited the Plus Ultra world of super-heroic showdowns here on the site, that’s because it has been a while! Volume 23 landed all the way back in February, and with it the end of publisher Viz media’s speedier release schedule for this series to catch up with Japan. However, the important thing Is that volume 24 is finally here! If the striking cover didn’t give it away for you, this time we’ll be focusing exclusively on My Hero Academia’s resident bad boys (and girl!), the League of Villains! I really enjoyed their snappy comeback towards the end of volume 23 so I’ll admit I’m excited for these handsome rouges to take the spotlight! Will they handle it smoothly like Breaking Bad, or have we got another final season of Dexter on our hands? Let’s find out!

Explain It!:

A nice and chunky 11 chapters on the docket this time around, and after a quick catch up on the current situation (Mean ‘ol Re-Destro has kidnapped the League’s Broker buddy Giran, and now a daring rescue mission is underway against a whole town’s worth of MLA fanatics), we’re tossed head-on into the action. The league has two main objectives at this stage of the fight: extract Giran out of the Meta Liberation Army’s headquarters, and survive the onslaught until their big gun, in the form of Gigantomachia, arrives to back them up. Easier said than done, however, because, on top of the almost cultish legion of followers in the town, Re-Destro’s top brass is also in the field to throw a spanner in the works for our favorite scoundrels. All this chaos splits the league up, giving us a chance to see some stellar one-on-one battles, and a decent excuse for Mangaka Horikoshi to deliver some meaty backstory for some league members, many of which have remained tantalizingly mysterious since their debuts so long ago.

One such example of this is the equal parts adorable and terrifying Himiko Toga. Toga has been an instant fan favorite ever since her first appearance in chapter 57, But Horikoshi has yet to delve into her bloody past, or better yet, her... unique fixation with blood. That is, until now. In pairing her against the aptly named MLA lieutenant Curious, Horikoshi delves deeper into Toga’s twisted mentality in the guise of Curious’s frantic mid-battle interview with her. Curious is desperate to get the juicy details behind this cute schoolgirl’s decent into madness, with the goal of twisting her tale to the MLA’s advantage. Of course, this doesn’t track with Toga. After all, for Toga her life is completely normal! She’s fully content with living in her blood-obsessed world, and she certainly doesn’t want to be a martyr for Curious anytime soon! The bloody battle between Toga and Curious with her gang of goons leaves our poor little bloodsucker on her last legs until something quite unique happens. Similar to the concept of hysterical strength in near-death situations, Toga finds herself with an unexpected power boost for her Transform quirk, exponentially increasing her threat level in the League. And none of this bodes well for Curious, either! Fans of the bubbly bloodsucker rejoice because these early chapters do a lot for Toga. She’s still a little too creepy in my book though!

I’ll be honest, as good as the Toga section was, it was the next couple of chapters that really sealed the deal for me, and is a large part of the overall score I gave the volume below. Jin Bubaigawara, AKA Twice, has been my favorite member of the League and a standout character in My Hero Academia's already impressive ensemble cast since his debut alongside Toga. Though often played for laughs, his clashing and contradicting split personality proved to be quite the tragic tale once we got his traumatic cloning gone the wrong backstory in later volumes. Well, it turns out that was just the tip of the iceberg! In the immediate aftermath of Toga’s takedown of Curious, Toga herself is out for the count and Twice takes it upon himself to locate his missing comrade in anarchy in the midst of the raging battle. Twice and Toga have developed quite the unlikely companionship over the course of their many team-ups, so it breaks your heart to see Jin so desperate to help his fallen friend. Of course, this is the most opportune time for Re-Destro and his cronies to strike, this time in the form of MLA member Skeptic, who possesses the meta ability to transform and commanding human-sized objects as his own puppet army. Once again, the MLA is looking to utilize the league for their own nefarious ways. The man who can create near limitless clones of himself and others would be quite the catch for a master puppeteer, after all! Skeptic isn’t afraid to get rough to earn his prize either. In a particularly grizzly sequence, Skeptic alters his puppets to share Jin’s appearance and then begins to slowly twist Toga’s neck to its breaking point, all while forcing Twice to watch.

As you can imagine, this sends the already mentally unstable Jin into a frantic state of delirium and also triggers a meaty flashback that finally paints the full picture of Twice’s past. After his clones turned on him and basically waged war on each other, Jin was never quite sure if he was the real deal or just a copy that survived the onslaught, and as a result, he was always on edge, aware that a simple broken bone is all that it would take to potentially destroy him. In the present, Skeptic deems it necessary to hobble Twice in order to break his spirit, first starting with his arm. If only he knew how that decision would come back to haunt him! After the puppets snap his arm, Jin starts to scream, first in pain, but then in ecstasy. He survived that level of damage without crumbling like a copy. Looks like our Twice is the genuine article! By destroying the mental blocks that once weighed him down, Twice gets a quirk power-up of his own. The Sad Man’s Parade is unleashed, and it is a sight to behold!

While that may have been the highlight for me, we’re not done with the action just yet. The Twice-pocalypse  is able to turn the tide in the league’s favor, and while other members like Dabi and Spinner are still fighting their own battles (and looking pretty darn cool while doing so, no ice pun intended!) the wave of Jin even manages to storm MLA HQ! Though it takes a lot of Twice’s doubles to get there, the league manages to successfully extract Giran before Re-Destro’s main building all come crumbling down. The big bad Shigaraki is done waiting on the sidelines! Shigaraki has been a fascinating character to watch throughout the series, seeing him develop beyond his pompous man-child persona to a competent, tactical leader of the League, and a formidable foe for any hero! He’s gotten a bit of a power upgrade too it seems, as earlier in the volume his Decay quirk managed to dismantle an entire crowd of attackers, including those he wasn’t directly touching. In keeping with the pattern, this also means a meaty flashback is on the way for Shigaraki, and this one might be the most harrowing one yet.

In the climactic showdown between the two big bosses, Tomura Shigaraki and Re-Destro (who’s powered up himself thanks to his imposing Stress meta ability), Shigaraki suffers some significant damage. Combine this with the destruction of one of his precious hand accessories and its enough to trigger a BIG flashback, as all the memories of Tomura‘s repressed past come bubbling to the surface. We finally learn the reason behind his strange fixation with the hands (and it’s a DARK reason, at that) before getting a peek into his very unhappy childhood years. We see abuse, neglect, and manipulation twist and mold an innocent boy into the beginning of something broken. At some level, there’s a warped sense of reasoning behind the maltreatment from Tomura’s father, which in a way makes it all uncomfortably human, and all the more traumatic for it. You will certainly look at Shigaraki in a different light after witnessing his past, and the final chapter of this volume promises that we haven’t seen the half of it yet!

Bits and Pieces:

In the afterword for this volume Mangaka, Horikoshi admits that our protagonist Deku has been notably absent for a decent chunk of chapters, almost to a negative extent. However, I would argue the exact opposite is in effect. Volume 24 delivers some of the most thrilling, heart-wrenching, and downright disturbing chapters we’ve seen so far from this series. The action is intense, the character work is sensational and the cliffhanger is a killer! By temporarily switching the focus away from our favorite heroes, Horikoshi has delivered a fantastic arc that breathes new life into an already solid series. Even I find myself rooting for the league now, and I’m a total hero nut! This storyline has become a fan-favorite for many readers, and it’s easy to see why! A must-read indeed!


No comments:

Post a Comment