Thus far, My Hero Academia: Vigilantes has paled a bit in comparison to MHA proper. It’s not that Vigilantes is outright bad–the art is consistently solid and bits of the franchise’s lore are incorporated in fun ways. With that said, the core characters are dull when compared to those of the main series. Most of the antagonists have also just been generic villains of the week. Vigilantes’ third volume, written by Hideyuki Furuhashi and drawn by Betten Court, is now out from Viz Media. It introduces some new characters, as well as features side stories starring major pro heroes. Does this installment help the spin-off stand out more in its own right? Is it good?
Without a doubt, this volume has the series’ best character work to date. Koichi continues to be a bit of an exhausted everyman. His frustrations are both relatable and a good source for comedy. His frequent annoyed reactions to various conflicts help keep the tone lighthearted. The back-up stories also include some nice moments with pro hero characters that fans will recognize from the main series. These chapters are a nice breath of familiarity while Vigilantes’ core cast is still being developed.
This volume also introduces Makoto Tsukauchi, Koichi’s tutor who’s eager to learn all she can about vigilantes. Cue, of course, various gags as Koichi tries to conceal his secret identity. The funniest moment in the book pertains to Makoto’s quirk–the ability to tell if someone is lying or not by touching them. Makoto asks Koichi if he’s a specific vigilante she’s seen around town, but he’s able to truthfully answer “No” because she gets his codename wrong. All in all Makoto isn’t the most interesting character ever, but she plays her role well and is likely to continue adding good comedy in future installments.
Betten Court continues to do a good job with the series’ art. The flow of movement throughout is clear, which helps make the action scenes easy to follow. The rendering of the characters is great; there are humorous facial expresses aplenty as well as some cute disguises we’ve never seen before. Knuckleduster’s civilian garb, for example, shows off a new side of him. The inking throughout is also well-done, and no part of the volume looks too busy or too empty. The page compositions aren’t innovative by any means, but they’re perfectly serviceable and keep plot events nice and legible.
With all that said, this volume still suffers from some of the same problems as its predecessors. Most notably, the villains are bland. The big bad continues to lurk behind the scenes, sending out villains of the week for the heroes to take down. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if the temporary antagonists were at least interesting, but they’re not. They receive little to no backstory and their designs are among Court’s least creative. There’s seldom any sense that these peons are credible threats, robbing the action scenes of any sense of stakes. There are also some plot revelations that come across as being suspiciously convenient. This doesn’t happen frequently enough to be a glaring issue, but Furuhashi and Court do test the reader’s suspension of belief a bit.
My Hero Academia: Vigilantes Vol. 3 is easily the manga’s best installment to date. Koichi has grown into a likable protagonist at this point, and the new characters introduced are solid as well. The artwork is also good, with great facial expression work and flow of motion. This volume is also the series’ funniest; there are very few jokes that fall flat. With that said, the action scenes continue to lack a sense of importance. The villains are very bland and replaceable, and some events test the reader’s suspension of belief a bit too much. Nonetheless, this book is an enjoyable supplement to the main series.