My Hero Academia has come a long way since it began. Kohei Horikoshi’s weekly series approaches the concept of superheroes with a sense of fun creativity that has made it one of the genre’s biggest standouts of the last decade. Vol. 13 collects chapters 109-118, and boy are they eventful. The U.A. High students complete the final portion of their provisional license exam, All Might visits All For One in prison, a new member of the League of Villains is introduced, and Bakugo challenges Midoriya to a one-on-one fight. This is definitely a significant volume, but is it good as well?
The provisional license exam portion of this volume is fantastic. The examinees have to take part in a simulated disaster situation where they look after victims who need first aid, as well as fight off villains. The exercise requires teamwork, critical thinking, and split-second decisions. As a result, it feels highly analogous to the sort of challenges the heroes will encounter later in their careers. These sorts of details help make the series’s world that much more convincing. Horikoshi has clearly spent a lot of time thinking about what superheroes operating in a government sanctioned capacity would actually entail. The exam’s results are also very well-handled, and are sure to push some of the characters to grow in interesting ways.
This volume continues to impress even after the license exam arc ends. One notable portion involves All Might visiting All For One, who is being held in a supervillain prison referred to as Tartarus. This touch of the dramatic is delightful, and it’s also cool to see the pair duke it out intellectually rather than physically. Even better, however, are the ending scenes with Bakugo and Midoriya. Bakugo’s development reaches new heights, and he gains a previously unseen level of vulnerability while still remaining his usual hotheaded self. His battle against Midoriya here feels more significant than any of their previous conflicts, largely because it stems so directly from their clashing desires and statuses as heroes.
Horikoshi also kills it on the art. So much of this volume is grounded in the characters’ hopes, dreams, and frustrations, and none of those would be as affecting without the strong visuals. Bakugo and Todoroki’s reactions and body language are especially well-rendered. The flow of action during the rescue test is also great. When it comes to badass superheroics, few series can match My Hero Academia.
As far as cons go, my main qualms with this volume pertain to the League of Villains. We get introduced to new member Twice, who is a generic antagonist with multiple voices in his head. That trope has been used so frequently in fiction that it’s easy to get bored of, and nothing about Twice distinguishes him enough to make up for it. On the plus side, there’s a great reveal about Himiko Toga that makes me excited to see what the League has planned next.
Overall, My Hero Academia Vol. 13 is a great read. The provisional license exam arc ends on a great note with unexpected twists, and Bakugo receives more depth than ever before. The artwork is also strong throughout and sells the volume’s key emotional moments. There aren’t many downsides here; Twice is kind of lame so far but he’s not downright terrible. This installment continues Horikoshi’s track record of fantastic superhero storytelling.