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My Hero Academia: Smash!! Vol. #01 Manga Review

4 min read
With a spin-off like SMASH!! we get to unwind and enjoy our colorful cast of heroes in the throes of their high school days.

Creative Staff
Original Concept: Kohei Horikoshi
Story & Art:
Hirofumi Neda
Translation:
Caleb Cook
Lettering:
John Hunt
Designer: Julian Robinson
Editor:
Hope Donovan

My Hero Academia SMASH!! is unashamed fanfic come to life!

What They Say:

The story of My Hero Academia has captivated readers across the world. But have you ever wondered how some events could have gone differently? Then have no fear, because My Hero Academia SMASH!! is here! This collection of 4koma’s (4-panel, vertical comics) rewrites the story of MHA to great comedic effect. With their personality flaws turned up to 11, our heroes show a side of themselves we don’t often see in the original manga. Relive your favorite MHA moments like you’ve never seen them before!

The Review

Content (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):

With the success of My Hero Academia, we’ve seen a helping of spin-offs and side-stories pop up over the past few years. From the Vigilantes manga to the School Briefs light novel, the world of My Hero Academia has expanded exponentially. And now, SMASH!! brings us yet another perspective on Midoriya and Class 1-A. Unlike Vigilantes, which ties in new narratives and characters, SMASH!! loosely follows the original manga, creating alternate conclusions to major story events. Hirofumi Neda’s manga is one part blatant fan fiction, and another part utmost respect for Horikoshi-sensei. SMASH!! is akin to Marvel’s What If series – letting our heroes hang up their capes and have a little fun in this alternate reality.

The events of SMASH!! Volume One cover the manga’s story up to the USJ training arc. If you’ve read the manga or watched the anime up to this point, then it’s pretty easy to follow the main story beats. Of course, none of these stories end the way you remember. Some of my favorites go absolutely off the deep end, completely derailing the original story. In “American Dream”, Deku tries to follow All Might’s training regiment, only to become an oil tycoon and forget his hero training altogether. For some stories, a more realistic approach can also change the entire outcome. While the original Hero Entrance Exam found exception to Deku failing the practical portion, “Reality” takes a less forgiving approach, giving Midoriya a pat on the back, encouraging him to try again next year. Aside from the main story comics, it’s a nice change of pace to see comics focusing on side-characters like Mt. Lady and Kamui Woods. SMASH!! will consistently keep you laughing out loud, with each comic more ridiculous than the last.

Neda isn’t afraid to make a fool of Horikoshi’s characters, and so he paints them in a new, albeit sometimes disturbing, light. Midoriya’s All Might obsession reaches creepy new heights, Iida’s straight-laced conduct borders on fetishism, and somehow Mineta is even hornier than ever before. Each individual is a caricature of themselves, but still maintain a personality that we recognize as their own. It’s clear that Neda is very acquainted with Horikoshi’s work. So despite their clowning around, he has taken care to (somewhat) respect the original characters.

In SMASH!! our characters take on a cute, chibi appearance befitting of a short-form comic. Overall, Neda’s art is rather faithful to that of Horikoshi. There are even some key-frame panels that almost looks like a 1:1 recreation of Horikoshi’s original art. Most of the characters are instantly recognizable despite the tweak in art style. I will say that sometimes the designs for Bakugou and Midoriya look a bit off, but that’s a small gripe. I really do give Neda high praise on this one – Horikoshi has a beautiful art style, so being able to capture it in his own way is very impressive.

Text translation and lettering are handled nicely by VIZ. With very little space provided by the comic’s format, the text still comes across clearly and never feels too crowded or wordy. Dialogues are witty and consistent, nailing each character’s personality. Aside from some outdated word choice (really didn’t need to see ‘derp’ used multiple times), most of the jokes land with poise. Some of my favorite wordplay came from the individual comic titles. Some of my favorites include – “With Great Power Comes a Great Disclaimer”, “Red Riot Gives You Wings”, “Fated Rivals Or Whatever”, “And Nobody Died!”, and “A Black Hole Ate My Homework”.

SMASH!! comes with a surplus of bonus material that’s sure to titillate most fans. The first of these bonuses includes a handful of gender-bending comics, with an official gender-bend art piece from Horikoshi. There’s also an MHA trivia quiz, as well as a short comic depicting Neda’s first interaction with Horikoshi. Neda notes at the beginning of the book that its embarrassing reading through his work, but it’s obvious that he had fun making it, and that translates to an entertaining read as well.

In Summary:

In a way, My Hero Academia SMASH!! is exactly what every shonen fan base needs. We love watching our characters grow and go beyond their limits, but usually there’s no downtime before their next big adventure. With a spin-off like SMASH!! we get to unwind and enjoy our colorful cast of heroes in the throes of their high school days. Why not kick back and join in the fun?

Content Grade: A
Art Grade:
B+
Packaging Grade:
B
Text/Translation Grade:
B+

Age Rating: Teen
Released By:
VIZ Media
Release Date:
August 6th, 2019
MSRP:
$9.99 USD


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