My Hero Academia is no doubt one of the most popular mangas currently going on. Along with the success of its anime adaptation and several standalone movies, My Hero Academia has also had a ton of mainstream success. To expand on the franchise’s success, we’ve had a spinoff ongoing series titled My Hero Academia: Vigilantes published by Shonen Jump since 2016. My Hero Academia: Vigilantes is a prequel series, taking place several years before the events of the current My Hero Academia.
WHAT IS MY HERO ACADEMIA: VIGILANTES
Original Concept: Kohei Horikoshi
Writer: Hideyuki Furuhashi
Artist: Betten Court
As a spinoff title to Kohei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia, Vigilantes was written by Hideyuki Furuhashi and artwork by Betten Court. Both Furuhashi and Court have been long time mangaka’s having worked on various creator owned and licensed manga before My Hero Academia: Vigilantes. To make sure that Vigilantes prequel story did not contradict My Hero Academia’s established history Horikoshi and editor Tetsuya Sato approved all script and story details developed by Furuhashi and Court.
My Hero Academia: Vigilantes takes place several years before the present day events in Horikoshi’s series. It stars Koichi Haimawari, also known as The Crawler, who uses his Slide and Glide Quirk powers to help people even without being a licensed Pro Hero. Along with fellow vigilante heroes Kazuho Haneyama, known as Pop Star, and Iwao Oguro, known as Knuckleduster, Koichi protects Tokyo’s Naruhata District. Over the course of the series the trio of Naruhata vigilantes not only meet various Pro Heroes like All Might and Eraser Head but also get caught up with plots All For One and other villains are working on in the shadows.
EXPANDING OF HISTORY OF MY HERO ACADEMIA UNIVERSE
While the current events of My Hero Academia have taken us out of focusing on Izuku Midoriya and his classmates time learning to be heroes at U.A. High School that wasn’t always the case. That is where My Hero Academia: Vigilantes filled a unique hole for multiple reasons.
For the first time we were looking into another avenue previously only teased with what it means to be a Vigilante in the My Hero Academia Universe. As we learned in the prelude chapter, Vigilantes are seen leaning more towards the villains side by government officials even if they save people and stop villains. This sets the stage for how we are supposed to view every character in this series with a different edge than the students who are the stars of the main My Hero Academia series.
This leads My Hero Academia: Vigilantes to give us a different perspective from the hero side of things. We do not follow students of U.A. High School hoping to become licensed Pro Heroes. The series lead Koichi Haimawari is already active as the The Crawler in his late teens looking for his place in My Hero Academia’s hero society. He along with Pop Star and Knuckleduster have different views that end up making when we do see what well known heroes like All Might, Endeavor, and Eraser Head appear more unique from the main series counterparts.
Which in particular made a character like Captain Celebrity standout so much. Captain Celebrity is very much a combination of Booster Gold and Irredeemable Ant-Man as he makes full use of the fame that being a hero brings to his advantage. Those advantages he takes the opportunity to use is most seen with how he openly basks in attracting all sorts of women as he clearly is cheating on his wife even though he denies it. It is certainly a different look at how fame that being a Pro Hero brings to people we don’t ever see touched in the main My Hero Academia series.
As this is a prequel series we see what various characters were up to before All Might passed down his powers to Izuku Midoriya. The three year time period that My Hero Academia: Vigilantes takes place in. This includes in early chapters of My Hero Academia: Vigilantes getting a story arc titled “Stendhal Arc.” For those that may not be aware, Stendhal was the previously vigilante name Chizome Akaguro took on the better known name of Hero Killer: Stain. The story arc provided us with the missing details of the full transformation of Stain’s character in the present.
UNKNOWN HISTORY OF MAIN CHARACTERS
While we got a lot heroes and villains that we know about appear in My Hero Academia: Vigilantes what made this series such a great follow is that it starred characters with history we don’t know about. Koichi Haimawari, Kazuho Haneyama, and Iwao Oguro are all characters that we have not seen appear in the Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia, at least for the duration Vigilantes run went on. This immediately created an air of mystery for what we were witnessing when it came to the fates of Koichi, Kazuho, and Iwao. This allowed the Watchmen inspiration that My Hero Academia: Vigilantes clearly had shine through.
Was there lack of appearance in My Hero Academia because their careers as The Crawler, Pop Star, and Knuckleduster led to great tragedy? We just did not know what their ultimate path would follow by the time My Hero Academia: Vigilantes ended. Which was honestly refreshing since it made the bigger, darker moments have an air that things could end for one or more of the characters in Vigilantes since we don’t see them in the present.
Having new characters as the leads also opened up the opportunity to have a blank slate with how we view the My Hero Academia Universe. While her costume is questionable what made Kazuho Haneyama’s Pop Star gimmick standout was how it was a different look at how heroes gain popularity in this universe dominated by Quirks. Especially at a time when there weren’t as many restrictions for what heroes where, as seen with what Midnight’s original risqué costume that made her known as the R-Rated Hero, Kazuho as Pop Star spotlighted this aspect of hero society.
The same goes for Iwao Oguro whose own history as a vigilante, being the elder of the Naruhata Vigilante Trio, showed how that can impact a person’s family. This pointed to how Iwao was a vigilante that falls more on the darker edge of what we normally see from heroes like Batman and Punisher. His appearance was the direct opposite of All Might even though they had similar motivations. Which made were his character ultimately leads to be something that you could see impacting the main series at some point.
KOICHI HAIMAWARI AS STRONG LEAD VIGILANTE
Which all brings us to the lead of My Hero Academia: Vigilantes, Koichi Haimawari. Right away similarities to Izuku Midoriya with how he wears an All Might hoodie as part of hero costume. But as we quickly learn Koichi is much more of a Peter Parker Spider-Man hero. Those Spider-Man similarities early on are best seen with his Slide and Glide Quirk powers allows him emit a repelling force from his hands and feet that gives him the ability to slide and glide, as his powers say, through most surfaces. Throughout the series we see when Koichi uses his powers to gain superior agility he has similar stances to Spider-Man.
Though Koichi certainly starts off as My Hero Academia’s Spider-Man he quickly evolves from that. As the series progresses Koichi figures out new ways to use his Slide and Glide Quirk so it is not just a defensive Quirk. Koichi’s evolution speaks to how Quirks don’t necessarily get more powerful over time. Instead it is the efforts and creativity of the Quirk wielder that allows the Quirk to appear to grow stronger. Everything about how Koichi adapts his Quirk speaks to just that as he never becomes an All Might-level character in terms of power. Its just his determination that pushes him to be the hero he ends up becoming.
At the same time, because of being a vigilante Koichi’s path is much different from Izuku and other Pro Heroes. While he does save the day many times he clearly will never get the credit he should because of the perception of vigilantes since they are licensed heroes. But even though he never gets the credit he should Koichi’s natural good heart still makes him a person that still strives to help others the best he can. That effort is rewarded by how the friends and allies does gain over the course of My Hero Academia: Vigilantes do recognize him as a hero and person.
CONSEQUENCES OF ONGOING HERO VS VILLAIN BATTLES
Another thing that is expanded on is what this time when All Might was still active. My Hero Academia: Vigilantes does take place sometime after All Might suffered his life threatening injuries fighting All For One based on the fact we see him in his skinny form throughout this series. You also get that villains are becoming more active in their plotting as threats beyond All For One start rising up. While it is nowhere near where things are at in the present day of My Hero Academia it is notable that major villain plots were taking place before All For One returned with Tomura Shigaraki as the center piece of his plans.
It all further emphasized how the whole concept behind government licensed Pro Heroes was a very delicate status quo for society. While not at the level of what we know All For One has done all the villain attacks in Vigilantes stacked up on one another. The threats continued to grow as the scale of each story arc grew larger.
That is best seen in the Vs. Queen Bee Arc and Sky Egg Arc that early on in My Hero Academia: Vigilantes. With the Vs. Queen Bee Arc we see one of our series leads in Knuckleduster dealing with his own family history that gets dark. Then in the Sky Egg Arc a large scale terrorist attack takes place that it even takes Pro Heroes like All Might to step in.
In many ways Vigilantes gave us a preview of how dark things can get when All Might wasn’t around to save the day in the last minute. That all culminated in the final story arc of My Hero: Vigilantes where a full-scale war takes over Naruhata as All For One took on an active role in the series with his proto-Nomus. Without a last second save from All Might to give Koichi the opening needed to ultimately save the day the state of the world would have been changed to what it is now with the anti-hero sentiment.
In the end My Hero Academia: Vigilantes was a strong spinoff to Kohei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia. Hideyuki Furuhashi and Betten Court expanded on the My Hero Academia Universe in ways that were refreshing. Both from the type of lead characters we got to the storytelling the way things developed made me love the My Hero Academia Universe even more.
If you haven’t read the series yet I highly recommend you check this out if you’re a My Hero Academia fan. Hopefully it is not the last we see of the characters that do make it out of My Hero Academia: Vigilantes and we see them appear at some point in Horikoshi’s main series.