My Hero Academia: Vigilantes is the perfect spinoff manga. Like many spinoffs or spoofs, it’s based on a popular series, but from a different perspective. It’s sillier too—key to all spoofs. But in this case, Vigilantes honors the original My Hero Academia (MHA), while poking fun at it, and doesn’t fall too far into slapstick or easy goofs. There are joke characters, some pretty silly situations, and lots of jokes made at the expense of some of the cast of the original series, but there’s also a serious plot.

In Vigilantes, the main character is a 19-year-old fanboy of All Might, the top professional hero in this world, and kind of a loser. In a world where superpowers (called quirks in this universe) exist, he’s got a not-so-super power, and he isn’t in college or a pro hero. His eventual teammates are equally unusual; a freelance idol who goes by Pop Step who might be a high school student, and the Janitor of the Fist: Knuckleduster, a man possibly in his 60s. Together, they form an awkward team working to keep the streets clean of minor villains and everyday problems. That is, until a bigger threat in the form of a drug that amplifies quirks starts showing up in the hands of small-time villains, making them much bigger threats.

Vigilantes gives the fans of the original series a chance to see different perspectives. Instead of the shining gifted high school students destined for greatness, we have misfits and outcasts, almost regular people, but not quite. We see the obstacles of daily life and the strangeness of knowing someone’s hero name but not their real name, age, or even face. We also get to see what it’s like as a young adult, or even adult, as well as dealing with the police as civilians with quirks who aren’t heroes. This adds depth to the whole world the two series are set in, for a fuller picture if read together.

That being said, Vigilantes could be read alone, though it would lose a lot of its impact both in the funny and serious moments without that context. The writing isn’t as emotionally charged as the original and the plot takes a little longer to pick up, but the story also isn’t as high stakes as MHA. The story Vigilantes is spinning is still good, though, so this is where not having context can help. Without the expectations of Midoriya-level hijinks, there’s no disappointment. Volume two was significantly more serious and emotional than volume one, so it’s worth getting through the introductions and establishing shots before the plot gets going.

While the art is recognizably inspired by Kohei Horikoshi’s work on MHA, it’s also clearly Hideyuki Furuhashi’s own style, and it’s very effective at keeping the reader engaged and moving through the story, thanks to very solid paneling. And despite Pop Step’s revealing costume, the art does not lean heavily towards fanservice. The lines are consistently good, and there aren’t really scenes where characters look odd or flat.

When it comes to age range for Vigilantes, despite the general older ages of the characters I would still put it in the teen reading audience, per the publisher’s rating. There are slightly more adult themes and content, but nothing drastic compared to MHA. It’s a fun read, but likely will appeal primarily to people who are already fans of MHA, so that’s something to consider when purchasing. If your library’s population is asking for MHA, then they’re likely to want to read Vigilantes as well.

My Hero Academia: Vigilantes, vols. 1-2
By Hideyuki Furuhashi
Art by Betten Court
vol. 1 ISBN: 9781974701599
vol 2. ISBN: 978197470185
VIZ Media, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: Teen

  • Shannan

    | She/They Teen Services Librarian, San Antonio Public Library

    Features Writer

    Shannan waffled between English professor and librarian as career choices for all of college; eventually librarian won. She is a Teen Services Librarian with the San Antonio Public Library. When not running TTPRG games for their teens or teaching them how to bake, she's doing what she can to promote comics to anyone who will listen. At home they're likely deep in the middle of their latest cosplay project or watching B movies with her husband, while generally pushing the cats out of the way.

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