Kohei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia Vol. 2 picks up right where Vol. 1 left off, shortly after protagonist Midoriya began attending U.A. High School. We get to learn more about Midoriya’s classmates and their powers (or, to use series terminology, quirks), and the League of Villains shows up to put those quirks to the test. This is an action-filled volume, but is it good?
There’s a lot of combat in this volume, and fortunately it all feels significant. Even the high schoolers’ practice battles matter, as they serve as a great backdrop for their personalities and rivalries. Bakugo continues to be absolutely insufferable, but he’s consistently written and his actions make sense within the larger context of his motivations and egotism. Standouts include Asui and Iida, who have some of the coolest quirks and most endearing personalities. Iida is very much an overly-strict hall monitor type character (think Kiyotaka Ishimaru or Joe Kido), but his family background and penchant for doing the right thing distinguish him from other examples of that trope. The only character in this volume with an abundance of page-time who doesn’t feel needed is Mineta; while Bakugo is insufferable but serves a narrative purpose, Mineta is insufferable and contributes nothing.
As good as the opening chapters and their practice matches are, things really pick up once the League of Villains attacks. They show the potential to be great long-running antagonists, with fantastic character designs and a variety of quirks. The action in these scenes is also fantastic, as both the heroes and villains utilize their quirks in imaginative ways. The high schoolers’ personalities shine when placed under the high-stress situation, as Iida does his best to help his classmates and Midoriya deduces critical information about the villains’ assault. The volume ends on a pivotal high-note as well, successfully building interest for Vol. 3.
As good as the writing is throughout, My Hero Academia Vol. 2 would only be a fraction as good without its stellar artwork. The action scenes are very well rendered, with excellent flow of movement and attention to detail. A lot of the characters’ costumes are very cool and unique compared to those in average Western superhero comics. The best character design is without a doubt Tomura Shigaraki’s. His intense eyes and multitude of hands are straight-up terrifying, and feel like something out of a much more traditionally horror manga. The unique style Horikoshi uses when drawing All Might is also fantastic, and re-enforces the character’s imposing presence. My main complaint with this volume’s art is just that there are segments in the battles where characters’ actions aren’t very clear. This issue doesn’t occur frequently enough to be a major deterrent, but it still hinders things somewhat.
Overall, My Hero Academia Vol. 2 is a great read. There’s a lot of action and the majority of it is very well-rendered and significant. Most of the characters also have fantastic designs, and many of them receive strong development. Iida and Tomura Shigaraki are the volume’s most memorable presences, and the ending builds excitement for Vol. 3. My main qualms are just that some of the fight scenes aren’t clearly depicted and Mineta is insufferable while adding nothing pivotal to the story. Other than those cons, there’s virtually nothing wrong here. I’m looking forward to reading the series’ next installment.