Imagine a world where everyone could be a superhero. Now imagine you are born into this fantastic world, but without powers of your own. Welcome to My Hero Academia, a fantastic take on the superhero genre by Kōhei Horikoshi published in Weekly Shonen Jump. Collections are available in English via VIZ Media
The story centers around Midoriya Izuku, a Japanese high school student who is born without powers, or “quirks,” as they are called in the manga. Essentially everyone in the world is born with some kind of quirk. They range from controlling fire to being able to shoot a beam of light from the belly button. Quirks have an infinite amount of possibilities to them, as every quirk is nuanced in various ways.
Horikoshi is incredibly inventive with the powers and abilities of the characters in the series. Several of the characters are based off other superheroes from American comics. For instance, the major hero of the series, All Might, is sort of a proxy-mashup of Superman and Captain America. However, his abilities, while similar, are not the same as those two characters. Characters have inventive abilities, one person has a shadow that, while controllable, is able to attack, to defend, to jump higher, grab things or people from a distance, used as a chariot, and so on. This is true for all of the abilities in the series. There seems to be a detailed back story and analysis of almost every quirk in the series.
Midorya’s back story is simple – he has always wanted to be a professional hero. To compensate for his lack of quirks, Midoriya thoroughly researches heroes, their abilities, accomplishments, etc. All the while, he is mocked by his former friend, Bakugo.
Luck is on Midorya’s side though. Through a twist of fate, he encounters All Might and, through that meeting, is thrown headfirst into the world of professional heroes at the prestigious U.A. High School, the top academy for heroes. There he mingles and meets with other young hopefuls as they all learn to become pros. There is a huge cast of characters in the series, and all of them get to be the focus from time to time. Midorya is the star, but each supporting character is fleshed out and given their due.
Many of the chapters deal with the growth of the characters, either through their abilities or characteristics. One character has family issues stemming from his father, a pro hero. The manga delves in depth into the personal struggles of the character and what kind of resolution is needed for that character to grow. Other characters deal with issues of inadequacy, either with their quirks or personalities. Many characters feel that they are unable to compare to others in the series, or in reverse, they believe themselves to be so amazing they become over confident and stunned when they lose.
This is a series very much about growth, not just in character, but growing up in general. Characters learn to deal with more and more issues that adults have to deal with. It is very much a story about learning to become an adult. It is about high school life, change in yourself, and acceptance of others. Through the trials and tribulations that arise, through the fights with villains and other heros, these young wannabe heros become something more. They become heroes in their own way. This is a wonderful series to read. Go read it.