By Kouhei Horikoshi and Anri Yoshi. Released in Japan by Shueisha. Released in North America by Viz Media. Translated by Caleb Cook.
Shonen Jump series tend to have a lot of light novels based off their parent series, but just because those come out in Japan does not mean they are a success over there. Even Naruto, the juggernaut, had its post-series light novels quietly dropped after only three of the six books were out. But My Hero Academia is the new Juggernaut, the Deku to Naruto’s All Might, and so it seems appropriate that we give it a try with this first in a series of books about the “daily lives” of the cast. No major plot points, just fun. This book seems to take place around the 7th volume of the series, though if you haven’t read the 11th volume you may be spoiled for Bakugo’s mom. As that sentence indicates, the subject of this book is Parent’s Day, where out student heroes have to have the family visit. This being UA, the teachers have a surprise in store for them, however…
As you might guess, with a cast this big, not everyone gets a spotlight – even Bakugo is mostly sidelined. Not everyone is fond of Parent’s Day either, particularly Todoroki, who wants his mother to go but knows that she can’t, and really does NOT want his father to know about it at all. (Which leads to a great punchline at the end, that does not shy away from Endeavor being a horrible dad.) Fortunately, his sister is able to go. Meanwhile, Iida has tickets to an amusement park, and invites the main cast, but none of them can make it. So we end up with the odd foursome of Iida, Tokoyami, Kaminari, and Mineta. Meanwhile, Uraraka is trying to buy supermarket bargains (the book is great at reminding us how poor she is compared to the rest of the cast, particularly Yaoyorozu), but is distracted by an apparent shoplifter. And then there’s Parent’s Day itself, which turns out to be a lot more dramatic than the kids thought.
There’s good and bad in this volume. It’s trying to strike a balance between “engage new readers” and “write for fans of the series”, so there’s a lot of introductory stuff telling us who the cast is and how quirks work, etc. It makes it feel like a book that’s geared towards younger readers… were it not for Mineta, who is in this book quite a bit, and remains the worst thing about the series. Even something that is meant to be heartwarming, such as Tokoyami bonding with a lost little girl who’s scared of birds, gets ruined by Mineta saying that when she grows up, she’ll be a hottie and hitting on the girl’s mom. I hate him. He also drags Kaminari down with him, though that’s true in the manga as well. The book is best when it’s delving into things that Horikoshi has not had the time to really delve into, such as what’s it’s like for a child when their quirk first manifests (it can be terrifying), or enjoying the friendships of a group that is still learning about each other at this stage.
This is a fast read (don’t let the page count fool you, it’s short) and, Mineta aside, a lot of fun. There’s even a few touching scenes, particularly with Todoroki and Tokoyami. Fans of the series should like it quite a bit.