Does a hero really need superpowers?
This is the main question explored by 'Hero Mask', a manga focusing on the 'Heroes Club', created to help anyone in need. With the introduction of the mysterious 'hero masks' spread around by an anonymous person, can Shibuya, who has lost hope in the existence of heroes, become one himself?
This could have been a 7 or above if it was longer than 29 chapters for more development and without the poor buildup to the ending. There's not much unique about this manga, but I read this expecting that.
The Heroes Club consists of Sasaki, the president, Kurumi, the Vice President, Shibuya, Kabayama and Yagi.
The existence of 'hero masks' had mixed reactions from me. Although the idea was pretty good, their properties were not explored deep enough. When I finished reading this I still couldn't understand certain things - for example, why couldn't Kurumi have the power enhancement from the mask when she wore it, unlike Shibuya? Therefore, I wouldn't recommend you to try to apply logic over these 'hero masks'.
I didn't really understand why they introduced romance in this manga. The least they could do was to give us a proper conclusion... Instead it felt like they completely forgot about it. I understand that this is mainly about heroes but they could've done something...
The buildup to the ending, as I said before, wasn't the best. Some of the decisions made by certain characters were not explained in detail. I kind of thought that the chain of events were too convenient only to reach a predictable conclusion. This is why I think the manga should have been longer. On the other hand, I did like the ending itself, despite its predictability.
I also liked the way the members of the Heroes Club developed a strong bond with each other pretty quickly, which enabled them to dive into their adventures/cases right away. The challenges they faced came about at the right time to keep the reader interested. The development in their teamwork was pretty good too, although it could have been better with more clarity.
But the best part about this manga was the way there was no common villain they had to fight all the time. Their approach in the meaning of a hero is much more simplistic than others - often, it just involves helping out with school chores, patrolling certain areas and getting rid of graffiti. It's not always saving someone from a near-death situation. The definition of a hero here is realistic.
Overall, the story wasn't great, but it wasn't bad either.
The art was really good and detailed. It's not all flowery either, basically suitable for a manga involving heroes. Only downside might be the length of the fighting scenes - they're pretty short - but then again there are people who wouldn't want fights getting dragged on for too long... Really liked Sasaki's character design.
Shibuya has lost his belief in the existence of heroes but soon becomes one himself through the help of a hero mask. His development is pretty predictable - he quickly becomes dependent on the mask and whenever he doesn't have the mask he stops becoming a hero. He learns a lot from Sasaki in the path to become a true hero. But there were also things I liked about him: his quick instincts and intelligent deductions, despite his usual behavior.
Sasaki quickly became my favorite character of the series. She's the equivalent of Captain Obi from Enen no Shouboutai or Mumen Rider from OPM. She doesn't have any powers since she doesn't find a hero mask, but she trains every day and has the most courage. That's what I like about her - she doesn't care about having superpowers and is always the first person to take action when someone is in danger - friend or enemy. The only thing I don't understand about her is - how could she not recognize the difference between Shibuya with the hero mask and without? Maybe I'm being a bit too picky.
The other 2 main characters are Kabayama and Kurumi. Kabayama initially does whatever he wants with the mask but soon changes and joins the heroes club. Kurumi has a strong trust for Sasaki - she admires her bravery - and that's why she became the Vice President of the heroes club. I don't think these two had enough development - I felt like we could've known more about them once the manga ended... There is also Yagi, the final member of the Heroes Club, but she was introduced too late to be even considered important. I didn't really understand her role in the story aside from what happened in one of the club's adventures.
Overall, there wasn't enough development for any of the characters except Sasaki and Shibuya. But considering the length of this series and importance of the two for the plot, I gave a 7.
I don't think this is one of those manga where you should expect something original, since there clearly isn't much to point out. I just enjoyed it without really caring about the rushed scenes and some parts which weren't properly explained. But this could be different for you.