My Hero Academia’s Spinoff Ends & Proves it’s Better Than the Original

After 126 chapters and over 5 years in serialization, the My Hero Academia spinoff My Hero Academia Vigilantes has come to an end, just a few months shy of the main My Hero Academia series’ intended end date later this year. Spinoffs can be a mixed bag, especially when it comes to anime and manga, as they’re usually written by different people with different perspectives that aren’t guaranteed to match those of their parent series. But with its ending now behind it, it can be said with confidence that My Hero Academia Vigilantes not only avoided many of the pitfalls of prequels and spinoffs–it’s arguably done a better job than the original series that spawned it.,Vigilantes (known in Japan as My Hero Academia Illegals) launched in Japan in August of 2016, about 2 years after the first chapter of Kohei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia released. Having seen the original’s success, Horikoshi’s editor wanted to look into creating a spin-off and got into contact with illustrator Betten Court and writer Hideyuki Furuhashi to run the project. As it turns out, Horikoshi was a bit of a fan of Court’s work and was eager to have him contribute to the My Hero Academia universe. This was likely a big part of Vigilantes‘ eventual success: Horikoshi worked closely with the creators of this spinoff to ensure that everything matched up and made sense in terms of character and continuity.,Related: My Hero Academia’s Spinoff Ends By Revealing a Major Hero’s Final Fate,Although Vigilantes isn’t the only spinoff manga to come from My Hero Academia, it is the only one that doesn’t focus on U.A. students. Yet, at a cursory glance, Vigilantes may look like a weak copy: its protagonist is another young boy who looks up to All Might, but he just doesn’t have what it takes to get into a place like U.A. as it stands. Instead of getting a miraculous quirk boon like Izuku Midoriya, however, Koichi Haimawari is offered a vastly different path–one that Midoriya might have pursued had things worked out differently, and that’s vigilantism, or unsanctioned hero work. He finds his own mentor in the form of Knuckleduster, an older, quirkless vigilante, and starts to learn what it actually means to be a hero without the rules and uniforms and equipment that U.A. students are expected to use.,From this slightly altered starting point, Vigilantes sets off to explore a very different side of the My Hero Academia world, traversing the back alleys that pro heroes rarely have the time to check and dealing with crimes wildly unlike those that hero students prepare for, like underground quirk fight clubs and illegal quirk-boosting drug use. This change in setting and subject matter gives the story a grittier, grungier aesthetic, but it does this without abandoning what made My Hero Academia fun in the first place. And, as the story progressed, Vigilantes wasn’t afraid to bring in various characters from the main series, both villains (like Hero Killer Stain) and heroes (like future U.A. teacher Shota Aizawa), radically expanding their backstories and drawing them closer to the plot. Unlike some spinoffs, Vigilantes was even allowed to use the biggest characters like All Might and All for One, offering a glimpse at what All Might’s reign of peace was like and how All for One set the stage for the atrocities he’d soon engage in. The origins of the Nomu, the sources of some of All for One’s stolen quirks, how My Hero Academia’s super soldier serum, the quirk drug Trigger was designed and distributed–for fans who wanted to delve more deeply into this world, it’s hard to imagine a more satisfying spinoff.,Related: My Hero Academia’s Spider-Man Gets The Happy End He Always Deserved,Vigilantes even (arguably) handled some aspects of its story better than My Hero Academia: the developing relationship between Koichi and his fellow vigilante Pop Step, for example, progressed more realistically and received far more attention than Ochako and Midoriya’s My Hero Academia relationship has. While My Hero Academia‘s story has expanded in scope from Deku’s journey to a potentially world-ending disaster, Vigilantes was able to keep its focus on its cast of local heroes and vigilantes, only occasionally brushing against the bigger machinations at work. This narrowed focus helps its characters and their development to stay front and center, albeit at the cost of keeping the story relatively small-scale. But Vigilantes doesn’t need to be an epic battle of good and evil on its own–the main series already has that covered. This focus on character combined with the grittier tone of Vigilantes gives it the feel of a more mature story, and may better appeal to some Western fans of the series as a result.,Thematically, Vigilantes does share a lot in common with its parent series, offering a look at why quirk use is so restricted, how people identify with their quirks, and what a world where nearly everyone has some kind of power works like. Koichi’s quirk, Slide’n’Glide, is initially considered to be pretty weak (and common–there are three criminals with the same ability), but through his vigilante work, he’s able to find increasingly clever new ways to use it–going from simple hovering to Koichi using boosted leaps akin to All Might’s and projectile-based attacks. Quirk restrictions mean that most people really just don’t know what they’re capable of, and it’s clear that Koichi’s view of his quirk as weak directly affects his view of himself. When the most respected people in society are also those with the most powerful quirks, then of course people’s self-worth will be reliant on how their quirk is perceived, and having a “weak” one is barely better than not having one at all. Yet, Koichi proves that the public idea of what a quirk can do is often wildly incomplete and sometimes downright inaccurate. It works well as a metaphor for talents or skills, and the importance of exploring one’s own abilities.,With its story now complete, My Hero Academia Vigilantes brings a lot to the table, both for fans of the My Hero Academia main series manga and fans of superhero comics in general. With an interesting cast, focused character and relationship development, expansions to established lore, and a distinct tone and atmosphere, Vigilantes has turned out to be one of the best manga spinoffs of recent times.,Next: My Hero Academia Prequel Ends by Proving How Hero Society Is Broken,Look for the final chapter of My Hero Academia: Vigilantes on Viz Media’s Shonen Jump App!