Anime and manga have grown in popularity outside of Japan and spread across the world over the decades, earning praise and fans for their distinct art, storytelling, and more. Some of the most popular anime and manga franchises include Dragon Ball, One Piece, Naruto, and One Piece, and also movies made by studios such as Studio Ghibli.
But publishing manga in magazines can be quite a challenge, as it’s a very competitive industry. Even manga stalwarts such as Eiichiro Oda (One Piece) and Masashi Kishimoto (Naruto) took the time initially before finally landing that elusive serialization. In recent years, another manga has joined the pantheon of the most popular manga in the world: My Hero Academia. And the mangaka, Kohei Horikoshi, didn’t quite have to struggle like his predecessors did.
What was Kohei Horikoshi’s first manga?
Horikoshi didn’t start his career with My Hero Academia; instead, his debut was a manga called Tenko, which was published in 2007 by Akamaru Jump (now Jump Giga). Though it started as thirty-one pages long, the current edition is almost fifty pages. The story focuses on Hana, a young woman who wants to become a warrior but is held back by her gender in a patriarchal society, and the titular Tenko, who hates the samurai due to them killing his family. Tenko is also known as the Battle Vandal as he possesses the ability to destroy whatever he touches. Tenko’s character design also seemingly inspired the My Hero Academia villain Tomura Shigaraki.
Speaking on his debut manga in an interview for The Shonen Jump Guide to Making Manga, Kohei Horikoshi said:
“Just one work, thirty-one pages long. The first manga I created was picked up. From there until my first serialization, I guess I had another one and a half series.”
While his career started off well enough, Horikoshi’s road to publishing My Hero Academia wasn’t all smooth sailing, and he dealt with disappointment too.
How did Kohei Horikoshi start writing the My Hero Academia manga?
After Tenko, Horikoshi turned his attention to another one-shot release, this one titled My Hero. As the name suggests, this became the eventual basis for the highly popular My Hero Academia series. My Hero focused on Jack Midoriya, a regular employee at a company that sells items for heroes, but Jack wanted to be a hero himself.
Horikoshi then shifted to serialized manga after one more one-shot, Shinka Rhapsody. This serialized manga was Oumagadoki Zoo, which is about a clumsy zoo employee named Hana who discovers that the zoo is cursed. This was published from July 2010 to April 2011. His next series, Barrage, took place on the planet Industria when humanity and aliens were at war, focusing on a kind orphan named Astria and his lookalike, the titular Prince Barrage. Unfortunately, it had a short run of only a few months and lasted for just sixteen chapters before being canceled.
Dejected and disappointed, Horikoshi resumed work on My Hero. After several revisions, edits, and new additions, it became the My Hero Academia that fans know and love today. It has, as of January 2023, sold over 65 million copies with many volumes featuring on The New York Times Graphic Novels and Manga bestsellers list.