Kazuho Haneyama, also known as Pop☆Step, is the deuteragonist/main heroine of the 2016 Japanese superhero My Hero Academia spin-off manga series My Hero Academia: Vigilantes. As Bee☆Pop, she acted as the unwilling secondary antagonist of the Final Performance Arc.
As a child, Kazuho Haneyama wanted to become an idol who would perform for the masses. Her quirk, called Leap, allowed her to leap incredible distances. One day, while practicing with her quirk, Haneyama fell into a river and was rescued by a young boy named Koichi Haimawari. From that day forward, Kazuho was intrigued by the boy who had saved her.
Eventually, she took the alias Pop☆Step and began operating on the streets of Naruhata as a freelance idol with a small yet dedicated fan following. Pop☆Step teamed up Koichi, going by the alias the Crawler, and Knuckleduster, forming the trio that became known as the Naruhata Vigilantes. Without legal permission to do so, the trio protected the streets of Naruhata from various threats.
The main foes of the Naruhata Vigilantes were Instant Villains and Next-Level Villains, innocent people transformed into monstrous threats by quirk-based drugs and body modifications. The group behind the creation of the villains was referred to as the Villain Factory, who for whatever reason sought to sow discord upon the streets of Tokyo.
Eventually, due to the machinations of the Villain Factory operative known only as Number 6, Pop☆Step was possessed by Kuin Hachisuka's Queen Bee quirk. As Bee☆Pop, Kazuho wreaked havoc upon the streets of Naruhata she had protected for years. In the end, she was freed from Queen Bee's control by the Crawler, although her body was badly damaged in the process and she was hospitalized.
Kazuho Haneyama was a young woman with a pretty face who gave off a timid impression. She had sky-blue eyes and long fluffy pink hair that she left unhung. She had a slim figure and a noticeably well-formed bottom that earned her many fans. When she joined the Naruhata Vigilantes, Kazuho stood at five feet and two inches tall, although she grew slightly over the next three years. She usually wore a pair of large, round glasses that helped her see properly and concealed her eyes with their glare. Most of the time, she was seen wearing her school uniform that consisted of a black pleated skirt, knee-high white socks, sneakers, a black blouse that had a white sailor's collar, and a red neckerchief. She occasionally wore casual wear that usually consisted of unstylish and unrevealing clothing that helped emphasise the impression of an unsociable girl.
The clothing and accessories Haneyama wore as Pop☆Step were in complete juxtaposition with her normal preferences. Firstly, her glasses were replaced with contact lenses that made her eyes appear pink and her face was coated with thick makeup which made it hard to tell what Pop truly looked like. Her fluffy hair was tied into twin tails on either side of her head and a pair of silver pearl earrings adorned her ears. Her sensual clothing was meant to evoke the image of an imp and was far more revealing than her normal outfits.
The ensemble of Pop☆Step consisted of black knee-high boots, a black strip across her eyes that hid her identity, a pair of long black fingerless opera gloves with pink love hearts on the hands, a reddish-pink bow tie, a black super-miniskirt, a black belt with three pink love hearts, and a backless black leotard with black bat-like wings attached to the back and a love heart-shaped opening at the center of the chest.
Kazuho Haneyama was a Japanese girl born into a superhuman society where eighty percent of the world's population had superpowers referred to as quirks. In order to ensure that the abuse of said powers would not cause society to crumble, the governments of the world including Japan passed a law that made it illegal to use quirks in public. There was however an exception to this rule—professional heroes. Heroes were individuals who protected society from evil-doers known as villains and as such were able to freely use their quirks in pursuit of justice upon obtaining a hero license. Haneyama was born with a quirk called "Leap" that allowed her to jump very far/high and suffer no damage from the fall that followed.
One day, the infant Kazuho asked her mother who the people on the television were. Kazuho's mother explained that they were celebrities and that they were likely either professional heroes or performers. The young child, interested in the role these people played, wondered out loud which profession would be easier. Her mother told her that a hero's job was to protect and help those in trouble and a performer's job was to make everyone happy by singing and dancing. Haneyama's mother warned her that both jobs could be difficult, but nevertheless asked her daughter which one she'd rather be. After a moment's thought, Kazuho bore a smile on her face and told her mother that she wanted to be a performer.
Sometime later, Kazuho made the first step into making her dream a reality by deciding to become a freelance idol who would perform on the streets of her rundown neighbourhood Naruhata. Donning an imp-like costume, the young girl ventured out into the streets as Pop☆Step. Although her voice was tone-deaf and she only sung parodies of pre-existing songs at first, her youthful innocence greatly endeared Pop☆Step to the locals that watched her perform. One day, Kazuho was practicing with her quirk after a heavy rainfall the night before. Unfortunately, the slippery ground made her lose her footing and she fell into an overflown river. Eventually, a boy a couple of years older than Haneyama noticed the drowning child and leapt into help. As he was in a hurry, the boy rushed off after saving Kazuho without giving the young girl the opportunity to thank him. The only thing he left behind was a hoodie of the number one hero All Might that he gave to Haneyama so she could keep warm.
From that day forward, Kazuho was intrigued by her saviour. Although she never had the chance to interact with him, she occasionally saw him helping people around the neighbourhood. Eventually, the boy took on the persona "Nice Guy" and illegally utilized his quirk to help the people of Naruhata as a licenseless vigilante. Nice Guy's selfless deeds coupled with the fact that he had saved her life made Kazuho slowly develop a crush on the boy. In the years to come, Pop☆Step earned a loyal following and became somewhat famous among the locals. Her unlicensed concerts and the unpermitted use of her quirk occasionally got Pop in trouble with the police, although she was never really punished.
Genesis of the Naruhata Vigilantes
One day Pop, who was in her mid-to-late teens at this point, hosted another one of her unlicensed performances for a crowd on the streets. Eventually Nice Guy showed up in his civilian attire and watched the performance from the pavement below. Partway through a song, Nice Guy warned Pop that the police were coming, allowing her to bounce away before she could get into trouble. Later that night, Pop☆Step approached Nice Guy for the first time since he saved her as a child. She gave a water bottle to the thankful vigilante who had been working himself to the bone all night and had been beaten up by a trio of thugs. In order to conceal her nervousness, Pop casually insulted Nice Guy's name, appearance, and his lack of combative ability, causing an argument to break out between the two.
As Pop began to leave, she accidently bumped into one of the thugs that had beaten up Nice Guy earlier. Irritated by Kazuho, the thug and his two accomplices pinned Pop to a wall before she could jump away. The delinquents repeatedly mocked the helpless girl and revealed their intent to sexually assault her. Seeing the horrified look in the girl's eyes, Nice Guy tried to intervene, only to get beaten down again. As hope began to run dry for the pair, a large man in a trench coat came hurtling down from the sky and landed in a pile of trash bags. The masked man wearing a trench coat slowly got up from the trash pile and struck the spikey-haired ringleader of the thugs with a pair of brass knuckles he brandished.
The man introduced himself as Knuckleduster, an unlicensed vigilante who chose to take action against villainy. Knuckleduster swiftly took down the three thugs and checked to see if their tongues were black, as a black tongue indicated a person had been using a particular drug he was investigating. As Knuckleduster and Nice Guy conversed, the ringleader woke up and threatened to kill Kazuho with his quirk. Nice Guy courageously tackled the villain, allowing Knuckleduster to knock him out properly. Pop then went off on her own, leaving Knuckleduster and Nice Guy together.
The next day, Pop found Knuckleduster chasing around people in broad daylight and Nice Guy trying to stop him. Nice Guy, who told Kazuho to call him by his real name Koichi, told her that Knuckleduster was trying to look at people's tongues to find out whether they were junkies or not. Naturally, assaulting random people in broad daylight to look at their tongues was neither a subtle or affective strategy, which was why Nice Guy was trying to stop him. The drug the vigilantes were searching for was called "Trigger" which boosted the power of a person's quirk and turned them violent.
Pop suggested that the vigilantes should use the internet to search for villain hotspots to help them locate the "Instant Villains" more efficiently. However, Knuckleduster ignored her and began harassing a man who was holding a briefcase and wearing a suit. Before the hulking vigilante could see the man's tongue, a professional hero known as the Erasure Hero: Eraser Head arrived on the scene to stop Knuckleduster's spree of violence. As Eraser Head and the vigilante battled, Kazuho figured out that the man carrying the briefcase had been seen on the scene of several Instant Villain rampages.
Pop and Nice Guy began pursuing the suited man they believed to be the Trigger dealer until they were halted by the thugs from the day before who used Trigger to enhance their quirks and attack the pair. Nice Guy hung back to deal with the thugs while Kazuho continued her pursuit of the dealer who used Trigger on himself to turn into a ginormous four-armed man. The dealer picked Pop up and dropped her. Although her quirk cushioned her fall when she jumped, the same couldn't be said for when she fell due to an external factor. Before Pop☆Step could meet her demise, Koichi saved her life. Eraser Head, who had realized Knuckleduster's intentions, arrived on the scene and used his quirk "Erasure" to temporarily erase the dealer's quirk, returning him to normal.
After the incident was wrapped up, Pop☆Step bashfully thanked Koichi while once again acting passive aggressive to hide her embarrassment. Knuckleduster then approached the pair and asked Nice Guy to team up with him, seeing that the boy had potential as a hero. Koichi Haimawari agreed to the brawler's offer, taking the alias "the Crawler" to give himself a more serious impression. Pop☆Step subsequently teamed up with the two protectors, becoming one of the three Naruhata Vigilantes dedicated to protecting the neighbourhood from villains and unmasking the mastermind of the Trigger operation.
Powers & Abilities
- Superhuman Leaping: Like eighty percent of the superhuman society, Kazuho Haneyama had a superhuman ability known as a quirk that was probably inherited from her parents. Kazuho's quirk, called "Leap," allowed her to jump incredibly far and/or high into the air when activated. Furthermore, the quirk acted as a cushion, ensuring she would never take fall damage when descending from a jump. That being said, the quirk would only protect from falling if she activated it by jumping, meaning she could still fall to her death if she plummeted due to an outside source. Although her large bounds gave the impression of flight, she did in fact need a stable foothold to leap from. Additionally, the affect of the quirk would lessen in the event that Kazuho leapt from a soft surface such as mud. Pop☆Step would use her quirk to bound through the sky, traverse across rooftops with uncanny swiftness, and bounce around during concerts.
- Performing Arts: Ever since her youth, Kazuho wanted to become a performer who would make people smile. As a young girl, she took up the stage name Pop☆Step and began illegally performing on the streets as a freelance idol. Using her quirk, Pop☆Step would leap around the streets while performing, impressing her audience. In fact, her flashy movements (as well as her charm) were considered the staple of her performances, as opposed to her lackluster singing that could only be described as tone-deaf. Later, after facing confliction due to her feelings for Koichi, she wrote songs relating to her troubles that were able to touch the hearts of those that heard them.
- Support Skills: Unlike Knuckleduster and the Crawler, Pop☆Step wasn't suited to dealing with her opponents directly. Instead, she usually supported her fellow Vigilantes in other integral ways. Although she wasn't the most experienced, Kazuho was the most intelligent of the three and acted as a voice of reason for the Vigilantes. Haneyama occasionally came up with plans that made achieving their goals easier and also used her charisma to quell hostilities. During fights with villains, Pop would use her Leap quirk and microphone to safely evacuate the battle zone while her teammates fought. The Crawler once noted that Pop's support during a villain fight was surprisingly important when he struggled to simultaneously evacuate the area and fight. Lastly, she occasionally carried around a first aid kit that she used to tend to small wounds.
List of Appearances
|My Hero Academia: Vigilantes|
- Pop's given name Kazuho contained the kanji for "harmony, peace, soften" ("kazu") and "walk, a step" ("ho"). Her surname Haneyama contained the kanji for "feathers" ("ha"), "root, source" ("ne"), and "mountain" ("yama"). The kanji in her name may or may not be a reference to Pop's free-spirited nature and the power of her quirk that allowed her to move through the sky like a bird.
- Kazuho's favorite food was yogurt.
- Her birthday was on the 28th of May, the same day as Mashirao Ojiro.
- Pop☆Step's vigilante costume incorporated several design aspects from the titular character of the cancelled 1995 superhero manga series Shadow Lady. Hideyuki Furuhashi, the author of My Hero Academia: Vigilantes, was a huge fan of the Shadow Lady series and thus wanted Kazuho's vigilante design to be inspired by the title character. The artist of the Vigilantes series Betten Court initially removed the wings from Pop's design as he was worried that they made her design too similar to Shadow Lady, however after a request from Furuhashi, Court added them back in.
- According to Furuhashi, Pop initially had more of a devilish motif befitting of her vigilante costume. However, once her friendship with Koichi Haimawari was solidified, her chaotic characterization was toned down as she mentally matured more. The artist Betten Court also revealed that Kazuho was supposed to be a lot sharper tonged, however as development progressed there were less and less opportunities to display this side of her so the concept was eventually dropped.