This review is for those who saw All Might on the cover and thought this manga might resemble a decent read, but this is cut from the same cloth as Naruto or Hunter x Hunter. The main character, Deku, is the absolute star and if you don't care about a high schooler's boring, emotional, cliché-ridden rise to prominence, there is little else at offer in this story.
To get right into it, the manga opens on the premise of a world where superpowers have become commonplace. One superhero, All Might, stands above all and is idolized by many. Unfortunately, All Might's time is running short
and he must pass on his power. All Might in his infinite wisdom chooses a loser named Midoriya who is shown to be a complete pushover who nevertheless, won't stop trying! (If you've read any shonen manga before you'll know where this is going.)
Midoriya and his edgy rival join the superhero high school along with a plucky teenage girl who randomly befriends Midoriya because that's what happens at high school. A bunch of events happen. Not very interesting events, basically your average shonen stuff, the kids race and throws balls really far, they vote for class president. There are some fight scenes that I'll get to later. This whole section is where you're assumed to care about the high school characters' personalities, but they're all tired stereotypes. You have the prefect, the dumb blond, a teacher who'll really put the class through their paces but has a heart of gold. God help you if you are like me and hate a high school setting, it's pure torture.
This manga has many, many similarities to Naruto. You have the fake out "I will expel you if you fail, oh you failed, that was the point!" cliché from the teacher at the start of the school year. Melodrama between Deku and his rival because his rival is a massive unlikable douche. Many, many flashbacks even in the first volume because that's not lazy. The author has stated his main inspiration was the masterpiece Naruto and it's obvious if you suffered through that garbage for any length of time. The art style loves to focus on EXTREME CLOSE-UPS of characters supposed to evoke emotion, but it's so predictable. The writing takes absolutely no chances and is as cookie cutter as it gets.
Fights in this manga center around the idea that you are tired of good fights, so lets throw in tons of "strategy" of people talking and nothing happening. Then the protagonists win in a handful of panels. That's what happens in the first real "fight" of the manga around 20 chapters in. This was also done in Hunter x Hunter to great fanfare from the MAL crowd. I can see why it would have its appeal by subverting rules set by series like DragonBall, Kinnikuman or JoJo where fights have any impact or long-standing effects, because apparently this approach isn't a thousand times more overdone at this point. The main character broke his limb for the tenth time! I wonder if he'll go to generically have it healed up for the tenth time too...? Really keeps my interest.
The art and pacing of this manga has its ups and downs, some designs like All Might are good, unfortunately he immediately is shown to have a weakling form that looks like a starving The World Ends With You protagonist. That's not not necessarily a bad thing, but he is by far the best designed character. Being on the cover is basically a statement that he is an extreme compared to the boring, lame high schoolers. They dress in ridiculous outfits you'd see at a high school fair, though elementary school might be more accurate, and of course there's a sexy student whose cleavage is always exposed. She apparently designed it this way herself, I wouldn't mind if she wasn't 14! I also liked Noumu's design, but he is a Goomba for all intents and purposes, not a character.
One of two main villains of this manga is an absurdly edgy and shallow character called Shigaraki. The author will dangle the keys in front of the reader that he might do anything impactful, but after almost 30 chapters nothing happens after the big confrontation, everyone is fine and Shigaraki just returns to his boss. The boss character's design, looking it up, is fun but he blatantly does nothing and is replaced by Shigaraki because Shigaraki is a beloved character, apparently. Shigaraki talks in his own EVIL EDGY WOBBLY TEXT but what he's saying is obviously meaningless and for effect. I might have read further if this first encounter wasn't such a letdown and red flag.
I will give some credit to the art and humour, as it's the one enjoyable part of the manga. The art style is cartoony and befitting of a comic book, superhero setting, only let down by constant flashbacks a la Naruto. The humour especially with All Might at the start is good, but once you get introduced to the other high school characters it goes into the cringe Naruto territory. Many side characters exist purely because their quirk, or superpower in Hero Academia terms, is a gag, most have essentially a gag personality.
I am personally in the mindset that shonen comes in two forms, there's DragonBall, Kinnikuman and One Piece, and there's Naruto, Hunter x Hunter and Fairy Tail. This definitely comes in the form of the latter, where every character is trying to be either cute, edgy or comic relief, the story is insanely predictable and obviously cashing in on the latest craze without any real plan for the future. After being strung along once or twice by these kinds of series I don't get how manga readers continue to be fooled, but if this is your first manga I can't blame you. If you like those three series I mentioned, or even one of them, you may like this, and there's nothing wrong with that. Just be warned too if you hate any of them that this manga will be as much of a letdown.