Warning! Contains reveal for My Hero Academia Chapter #394!
My Hero Academy There are already some of the scariest villains in the Shonen manga, but it’s using a neat trick to make these villains even scarier, giving Toga a new look out of a nightmare. It’s no surprise that mangaka Kohei Horikoshi was able to add an element of fear to these characters further based on the prowess he’s shown drawing panels from a horror manga series in the past, but now he’s taking it a step further by metaphorically expressing the terror inflicted by these villains.
In chapter #394 of My Hero Academia, translated by Caleb Cook, Himiko and Ochako are having a heart-to-heart as part of Uraraka’s attempt to stop Toga’s wrath. The manga shows this metaphorically in a children’s version panel of Ochako confronting a monstrous and monstrous form of Himiko holding a knife above the girl’s head. Himiko is already intimidating enough at this point in battle, covered in blood and bared for all to see, but this fantasy version makes her even more terrifying, with her face sunk in a grin and muscles unnaturally exposed and elongated. It inspires a horror that a literal shot of the villain can’t, which is what makes this console so powerful.
My Hero Academia isn’t the first Shonen Jump series to use this technique to make villains more intimidating. Yusei Matsui’s The Elusive Samurai did this too, using visual metaphors to turn real-life historical figure Ashikaga Takauji into one of Shonen Jump’s most unsettling villains. But while The Elusive Samurai’s metaphors are considered real by the series and its characters, Himiko’s metaphor clearly doesn’t actually occur in the story, instead being a symbolic representation of the emotions involved. This actually on the contrary increases how scary it is.
Because Himiko is not usually portrayed as a nightmare monster, the panel showing her as such is truly shocking. Also, since brute force cannot be used to thwart metaphorical threats, portraying her this way makes her far more terrifying than some of the more powerful villains in My Hero Academia like Dabi or Gigantomachia. This also highlights her danger by showing her preparing to slaughter Ochako as a helpless child, a form of hero unable to defeat the monster in front of her. It also highlights why Ochako feels like the way to stop Himiko can only come from an honest dialogue rather than a physical fight.
This visual trick works amazingly, and there’s nothing stopping Horikoshi from applying it to other future villains like Shigaraki. This would even be fitting since Deku sees Shigaraki as a victim that needs to be rescued from the darkness within him, which can be portrayed as similar to Himiko’s metaphorical monster form. Hopefully other Shonen manga will learn from that horror as well My Hero Academy was able to do Toga Himiko and started using more visual metaphors.
Chapter 394 My Hero Academy available to read from Viz Media.