Up until recently, I hadn’t read much shonen manga. I started out with horror series and, on the opposite side of the spectrum, cute cat manga. Recently though, I started reading some of Weekly Shonen Jump’s ongoing series and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I like them. One of my favorite Jump series is Kohei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia. American comic-esque superheroes rendered in a manga art style? That premise is right up my alley. Vol. 8 of the series collects chapters 63-71, which feature the remainder of the U.A. students’ final exams as well as the beginning to the summer training camp arc. Is My Hero Academia Vol. 8 good?
This volume’s opening chapters are awesome. The students’ final exam battles are chock-full of enjoyable details. Horikoshi does a great job pairing up the characters as we get to see plenty of new dynamics form and grow. Todoroki and Yaoyorozu, for instance, bring out the best in each other. Yaoyorozu is particularly well-handled, as she gets the most character development she’s ever received. We also get a clearer sense of how she utilizes her Quirk, and it’s a perfect match for her opponent, Eraser Head. The writing for most of the battles is excellent, as we get to see Quirks collide in interesting ways. There are also multiple minor characters who receive their highest amounts of page-time thus far. Even the more well-established characters get chances to shine in new ways.
Another one of this volume’s main strengths is its artwork. Horikoshi is at the top of his game here; the line-work is impeccably clean. This series’s action scenes always look dynamic, but they’ve never looked better than in this volume. The motion lines help build excitement, the page compositions effectively establish flow, and the characters have great body language. The backgrounds are also impressively detailed; the series’s world has never felt so fleshed out. Also worth noting is how well Horikoshi slips into alternate art styles where appropriate. The traditionally heroic and uber-masculine All Might stands out from lesser heroes, and Tomura Shigaraki’s design could easily fit into a horror movie.
Very little about this volume is weak. The worst scene by far is Mineta’s final exam. Horikoshi delves more deeply into the character’s past than ever before, and all we learn is that even Mineta’s most major life decisions are influenced by how big of a pervert he is. There is neither an increase in depth nor an addition of any redeeming qualities to even start making up for his revolting creepiness.
Thankfully, the volume’s quality quickly rises back up once the focus is off of Mineta. The summer training camp arc gets off to a good start, with excellent visual comedy and lovely nature imagery. We also get the sense that future chapters will focus heavily on strengthening the characters’ Quirks, which is exciting. My main con with the training camp portion of this volume is just that the students’ initial uphill battle through the forest feels rushed. This specific setting, with its abundance of terrifying monsters, could have provided more pages worth of thrilling action than we actually get.
Overall, My Hero Academia Vol. 8 is another strong installment from Horikoshi. The artwork throughout is fantastic, most of the final exam battles are well-written, and the training camp arc starts off promisingly. With that said, some portions of the volume feel a bit rushed and Mineta is still…Mineta. Nonetheless, I would highly recommend this book to any action manga or superhero fan.