What would the world be like if 80 percent of the population manifested superpowers called “Quirks”? Heroes and villains would be battling it out everywhere! Being a hero would mean learning to use your power, but where would you go to study? The Hero Academy of course! But what would you do if you were one of the 20 percent who were born Quirkless?

That is the first paragraph of the synopsis on the back of My Hero Academia Vol. 1. I know the anime is super popular here in the United States so I thought I would give the manga a try before watching the anime. And truth be told, it took only the first paragraph to pique my interest in buying the book. I wanted to learn more.

When I completed reading the first volume (or first book), I understood the need for a “shakeup” in the hero/villain trope. Why do I say that? Because this book goes so far out of its way to illustrate that point. Superpowers are called “Quirks” and those without are called “Quirkless”. Not much to the imagination on defining opposites but I got the feeling that was also the point.

Izuku Midoriya wants nothing more than to be a hero like his friends. But he doesn’t have a quirk like them. He’s part of the 20 percent who were not born with a Quirk. All the while, he idolizes hero icons like All Might. A hero is in his own right but loud and boisterous like a campy but cringy version of Robert Downey Jr.’s ego. Midoriya’s dream is to attend the U.A. High School even though he knows he doesn’t have a quirk.

Caught in the wrong place at the wrong time while out on a walk after some mercilessly bullying from friend to bully Katsuki Bakugo, Midoriya is caught between a slimy villain and All Might himself. The slimy villain escapes from imprisonment from inside a soda bottle following several hilarious and not so hilarious moments. Later, Bakugo is being slowly enveloped by the gelatinous creature. Midoriya unexpectedly finds himself running towards the villain, ultimately saving his former friend’s life.

This doesn’t go unnoticed.

I won’t spoil the book further.

There were plenty of things to enjoy about this first volume, but let me tell you what I didn’t enjoy: the time jumps and pacing. I get it, it’s good to include a backstory early on. Its use was appropriate in this book, but it constantly shifts back and forth between a backstory and current time over several pages. Volume one’s pacing felt rushed as if trying to cram in as many details as possible rather throughout the book. Certain conflicts felt rushed when they could’ve been drawn out by just a couple more pages, if not an entire chapter.

Overall, I would give this book 4 stars out of 5.

What did you think of the first book?

Were there any moments you enjoyed more than others?