You could say the big fight in volume 11 of My Hero Academia has been a long time coming. For me, it’s been more like two weeks. But these two weeks of binge-reading and acclimating to the world of Quirks and underdog victories have been more than enough to exhaust my adrenal fatigue once I got to the extremely PLUS ULTRA showdown between All Might and All For One…right from page 1, Volume 11 gobbles up your eyes, senses and feels with a roaring crescendo of momentum. (Confession: I cried while reading on my commute ride home.)
But even if your tear ducts are not as prolific as mine or Midoriya’s, rest assured that you’ll be cheering alongside both the UA students and civilians for All Might as he pours out every last ounce of strength into taking down All For One. While Midoriya and his friends focus on whisking Bakugo out of the fray, All Might goes full throttle on his nemesis.
It’s the classic light vs. darkness battle, played to all the appropriate tunes. All For One is suitably unlikable, with the characteristic tunnel vision scruff of a shonen villain (with bonus metallic mask). He’s the perfect foil to All Might’s dogged sense of justice, goodness and pearly whites. While All For One may have his crazy power-ups and rage-inducing revelations to boot, All Might’s journey from Quirkless youth to No. 1 Hero is placed on full display as he lays punch after agonizing punch on his opponent. For the man who won his power through sheer will and grit, this battle is more than just an outcome. It’s the culmination of his entire journey as a hero.
There’s a magnetic current that carries you from panel to panel, even as All Might’s true form is revealed to the public. Despite All For One’s taunt to take away All Might’s pride and image, what actually happens is both surprising and rewarding as a reader. At the end of the battle, All Might goes through a transition that will have an effect on the manga for the rest of the story.
And at that moment, All Might knows what’s worth fighting for, no matter the cost. Once you get to the battle’s close, prepare for a catharsis…and also the question of what this all entails for Midoriya and his friends in the days to come.
But, before all of that, the UA students need to get situated in their new dorms! And, before that, parent-teacher conferences to gain permission for communal living! Life just doesn’t stop for heroes-in-training. And volume 11 doesn’t end with All Might and All For One, but jettisons into the next foray of the story with this new generation of heroes. After All Might’s climactic fight, life returns to its unforgivingly normal pace. (Which, in My Hero Academia, is still pretty fast.)
It was precisely these more mundane aspects of school life that I found to be most refreshing to read. Nothing beats slice of life like a slice of cake… and the real icing on the cake for me was the final two chapters of the volume. No worries, spoilers shall not be divulged, but it was a light-hearted turn that re-centers the spotlight on the plucky core of My Hero’s charm: the endearing cast and those moments you can only have when you are young.
My Hero Academia Vol. 11 by Kohei Horikoshi is available here.
by Jessica Kim
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