WARNING: Spoilers Below!
After their tense clash with villains in the previous volume of My Hero Academia, the up-and-coming heroes of U.A. high continue with their training as Midoriya takes center stage. Having finished 1st place in the qualifiers, he now has 10 million points, making him the target of pretty much everyone else in the class:
Midoriya now feels increased pressure not just from All-Might, but also the fact that he’s gone from being a Quirkless nobody to one of the top-performers in the highly competitive UA hero program: a point that the manga addresses well, even though it’s brief.
With such a big target on his back, the last thing he would want to do is have to team up with other heroes – so of course the next exercise is a team competition! Forming groups of four, each team is composed of three heroes that make up the “horse” and a fourth hero that is the “rider”. The rider wears a headband that reflects the value of the team’s points, and the objective is to steal away headbands and try to get as many points as possible. With such a staggeringly high amount of points, Midoriya realizes that his classmates are avoiding him, with the exception of one person:
That’s right, Urakara’s positive attitude comes to the rescue yet again! He’s also approached by Hatsume, who utilizes superhuman sight with her quirk “Zoom” along with jetpacks and other explosive technology with explosive efficiency. To round out the group, Midoriya recruits Fumikage Tokoyami, a hero with a crow-like appearance who manipulates a shadow-monster for offensive and defensive purposes.
The four take to the arena and are quickly targeted by other groups, but Midoriya utilizes the strengths of his team to great effect, dodging many of the attacks and fending off enemies, that is until the Todoroki, with the help of Iida’s explosive speed, snatches Midoriya’s 10 million point prize from his head!
One of the elements of this arc that I appreciated was seeing the competition expand from simply being Midoriya vs. Bakugo. Sure, Bakugo might want to focus on Midoriya and capture that prize, but there are others gunning for it, and as a result we see some thrilling clashes on the field as new heroes are introduced. The primary antagonist against Bakugo in the horse/rider competition is Neito Monoma, whose quirk allows him to copy any quirk for up to 5 minutes.
He snatches Bakugo’s band and proceeds to talk smack about Class A, inciting Bakugo to go after him with all his might.
Here’s something I really appreciate about My Hero Academia thus far: they’re doing a good job at giving their characters more and more depth with each encounter. Bakugo’s spar with Midoriya in vol. 2 revealed that he’s more than just a hot-head. His superiority complex is a result of his upbringing and sincerely powerful quirk. He has great instincts for battle, and can use his quirk to give him the edge in hand-to-hand combat. In his clash with Neito, we see a different aspect of Bakugo: a relentless student who has the drive and dedication to make it to the top. Sure, his motivations might not be entirely pure, but there can be no doubt that he won’t stop until he makes his mark on the hero world.
Bakugo goes after Neito mercilessly and strips him of all of his headbands, resulting in his team finishing 2nd after Todoroki. In 3rd place is a shocker with a previously unseen hero: Hitoshi Shinso.
Meanwhile, Midoriya is able to capture a headband from Todoroki, though it’s not the 10 million point prize, and secures a 4th place finish which puts him and his classmates in the final round of 1-on-1 battles!
Following the battle, we get more backstory on Shouto Todoroki – yet another hero with a complicated past. Blessed with ice powers from his mother, and fire powers from his father, Endeavor, Todoroki is seen by his father as nothing more than a tool to surpass All-Might. As a result, Todoroki refuses to use his fire-powers – a decision that frustrates his father to no end.
The final arc of volume 4 sees our heroes engaging in a series of 1-on-1 battles. Midoria’s first fight is with the surprise victor from the calvary challenge – Hitoshi Shinso.
With a quirk that might be better suited for a villain, Hitoshi is able to control the actions of anyone who responds to him verbally (as long as he wills it). When he spurs Midoriya to respond to him, it seems as though our young hero is set for his first crushing defeat before he gets a chance to fight back! However, Midoriya activates All-for-one to injure his own fingers and stun him out of the mind-control. Demonstrating once again that the over-the-shoulder throw is not to be messed with, Midoriya puts Hitoshi out of the ring and reigns victorious.
The Hitoshi/Midoriya battle was interesting, but I wish there was a bit more action. Once Midoriya broke the mind control, the battle was over within a few pages. Granted, the young heroes are all still learning and so may be heavily reliant on their quirks, but I hope that in the future we see more drawn-out fight scenes – even when someone’s quirk is nullified or worked around.
There are a few more matches that get wrapped up fairly quickly following Midoriya’s fight, all leading up to the next volume, which will feature Urakara vs Bakugo! Unfortunately, we have to wait until August before it arrives. Still, keep an eye out – we’ll definitely be reviewing it when it lands!
Are you caught up with My Hero Academia? What do you think so far? Let us know in the comments, or log into our Discord server and chat us up!