It took me a while to get into this spin-off. I’ve had the first volume for a few months and I picked up volumes 2-4 through my local library. The first volume started a little slow but it could just be with the first volume of a manga you have to get the tempo. I wasn’t sure what to expect but halfway through I started to warm up to it. Vigilantes is set several years before the beginning of MHA and it seems to be darker in humor and so far not as heavy as the original.
One of the main characters is a middle-aged man called Knuckleduster and he is hilarious. Why is his reaction to punch everybody?! Who knows. I laughed so hard at his interaction with Eraserhead. The concept behind Vigilantes is an interesting one. There are people with quirks who fall through the cracks. They’re powerful enough to be Pro Heros but at the same time, they want to do something good in the world. Pro Heros can’t be everywhere, just like the police can’t be everywhere, and these vigilantes fill that space. There’s a driving need to be someone in the gray area because there are people day-to-day who need help but they aren’t seen and you can’t just leave them out there to fend for themselves.
We’re introduced to Koichi Haimawari, or the Crawler, who’s the kind of person who cleans up litter and makes sure people can walk across the street. It was really cute when he ran across Knuckleduster in the beginning and he doesn’t want to work with him. Naw, dude, you’re crazy and I’ll never be a hero because I don’t have a powerful enough quirk and no I’m not going to take you up on your offer to be your apprentice. Knuckleduster, being a man of action, doesn’t take no for an answer. LOL
The next main character we’re introduced to is Kazuho Haneyama or Pop Step. Koichi just wants to live a normal life but he has to deal with the hijinks that come from Knuckleduster and Kazuho. They even take over his little single trailer and make it their base of operations. Their main mission is tracking down some illegal drugs on the market called trigger lock that is a massive quirk enhancer.
Through the story, a major villain of this arc has a quirk called Queen Bee. While I was reading I kept thinking back to fanfiction story that I had read a few days before. In the story, there was a major villain who controlled bees out of her eye, which is disgusting but whatever, and I couldn’t figure out why it was so similar. I took a look a the fic again and realized that the fic was tagged with Vigilantes so it was a character based on this. I really do need to pay attention to the tags on fanfics I read. 😅
In this volume, Koihichi also meets Tensei Iida, Ingenium. I really love how Vigilantes gives attention to characters who don’t get a lot of shine in the original manga.
Volume 2 My initial thought was that Knuckleduster reminds me of Katsuki because he’s so pouty that he didn’t get to fight anybody. They were solving an issue by using social media and he’s just kind of helping them walk around kicking stuff like I really want to punch somebody. Also in the story notes from volume one Koichii is modeled off of what would have happened if Deku did not get One for All and he wasn’t able to be a hero but he didn’t commit suicide or anything horrible. He just had to live his life. We learn that Koichi and Kazuho crossed paths when they were younger but she holds that as a secret for now. One of the running jokes is that people can’t get The Crawler right because some middle school guys heard cruller as in like the pastry so they call them The Cruller and Kuckleduster is Grandpa Knuckles or something but not his real name LOL
So, have a new hero or villain who calls himself Stendhal. His values at first aligned with our little crew, our Trio, except he wants to actually kill villains at one point takes out a yakuza group. The Queen Bee chick seeks him out and gives him a list of folks to go after because she’s like I helped you with your vendetta so you should help me with mine. I mean these are small fries that really should not be on this dude’s radar but whatever. Stendhal finds and starts fighting one of the small-time villains and I’m thinking in my head, uh, they created this character as a copycat of Stain. Why would they do this when Vigilantes is supposed to be an expansion of the MHA universe. But we get to the end of the chapter and I realized that this actually Stain’s origin. So he starts off as Stendhal by the end his values have changed and we get the beginnings of Stain. And I found that very interesting. I liked how they wrapped that in.
Volume 3 And we get the “overbearing mom” trope. YAY. We’re introduced to a few new characters, Detective Tsukauchi’s younger sister, Makoto Tsukauchi, who is writing a thesis on vigilantism and then we’ve got this really ridiculous hero from the US called Captain Celebrity. (I don’t even want to spend much time on him.) And Koichi’s mother who’s overbearing but I guess, kinda pushes him to enhance his powers. Eh. Makoto ends up in a bit of trouble because of this stupid Trigger serum and uses it on a cat who’s sitting on top of a bus. The cat merges with the bus into some sort of catbus and I kept wondering how did Totoro get mixed into this. LOL The volume ends with some special chapters from Shonen Jump Giga.
Volume 4 We learn some background on Knuckleduster, his real last name, his wife is in the hospital and that he’s looking for his daughter. So, I wanted more for this volume. At one point we see a girl who’s infested by those bees using them to attack the good guys and the bees appear to come out of her crotch. Um, ok that’s A LOT. Captain Celebrity shows up again and Koichi and Kazuho help the neighborhood put on a pop show which flushes out Queen Bee. Knuckleduster fights her to get his daughter back.
Something of note is that at the beginning of every volume, there’s a word and definition that I guess is the theme for the volume. Volume 1 is vigilante, volume 2 is villain, volume 3 is professional, and volume 4 is idol. There are three more volumes out there (two of the three translated into English) and I’m interested to see how this story continues. From some screenshots I’ve seen we get background into Aizawa’s high school days at UA and how he became a teacher so I’m all for that.